I'll begin with the errors, then add further commentary at the end of the quotes. To begin with, crape myrtles are not native trees of California; they are from Australia and Asia and are as much shrubs as they are trees.
Second, date palm speciment trees are not imported to this country from anywhere else, much less the Middle East. The date palms being bought by Las Vegas come from the date palm fruit orchards in the Coachella Valley down by Palm Springs.
Third, the writer has clearly confused date palms - which were very rarely planted in Los Angeles and almost never along the streets, with Canary palms which are one of the three species of (see below comments for correction that was made here) palms most often planted along Los Angeles streets. They are also not imported from the Middle East - or anywhere else - and they are native to the Canary Islands.
November 26, 2006
Los Angeles Journal
City Says Its Urban Jungle Has Little Room for Palms
By JENNIFER STEINHAUER
LOS ANGELES, Nov. 25 — The palm tree, like so much here, rose to fame largely because of vanity and image control, then met its downfall when the money ran out.
The Los Angeles City Council, fed up with the cost of caring for the trees, with their errant fronds that plunge perilously each winter, and with the fact that they provide little shade, have declared them the enemy of the urban forest and wish that most would disappear.
The city plans to plant a million trees of other types over the next several years so that, as palms die off, most will be replaced with sycamores, crape myrtles and other trees indigenous to Southern California. (Exceptions will be the palms growing in places that tourists, if not residents, demand to see palmy, like Hollywood and Sunset Boulevards.)
Palms are hard to care for, so hard that the city has a line in its tree-trimming budget just for them. Last year, it was approximately $385,000, but proper care dictates an expense of about $630,000 per year, said Nazario Sauceda, the assistant director of the bureau of street services in the city’s Department of Public Works.
Many of the trees planted in the 1950s are getting toward the end of their lives, Mr. Lai said. Some are 80 to 100 feet high and 70 years old, and these are not self-cleaning palms,which means they need maintenance to remove old fronds.
Last year, the city removed nearly 8,000 cubic yards of dried palm fronds from the public right of way, Mr. Sauceda said.
Date palms, which make a bit less of a mess, have become prohibitively expensive to import, mostly from the Middle East, because Las Vegas has snapped them all up. And with only 18 percent of the city shaded (the national average is 28 percent), Los Angeles wants trees that shelter people from the sun.
Unfortunately, this is just one more important decision that was arrived at without any outreach to the citizens of Los Angeles or the neighborhood councils and it is just one more example of the city doing far more harm than good in trying to solve a perceived problem. It is also just one more step towards politically correct botanical conformity that ignores both the diversity of this city and its cultural and physical history.