As 2008 comes to a close, here's a look (and in some cases, an update) to the more compelling and fantastic stories that stood out this year. And now a look at the neighborhood stories of 2008...
Biggest drama: While West Hollywood battled its Tasty Donut project and Silver Lake battled bird balls, Santa Monica’s battle with the ficus trees/Treesavers earns the area special attention. Backstory: The city claimed that 23 trees around 2nd and 4th streets were decaying and planned replace them with younger ginkgo trees; the Treesavers,a local pro-ficus group, argued the city was just trying to beautify the sidewalks to attract shoppers. Despite 24-hour tree watches and threats of hunger strikes, the Treesavers lost their battle on May 16th when the city swooped in to perform an early morning tree massacre. In September, more trees were removed--Treesavers founder Jerry Rubin was arrested after chaining himself to one of ficus. On the upside, the whole city got a nice lesson in the trees--everyone now knows what a ficus and ginkgo looks like. UPDATE: Rubin ran for Santa Monica City Council in November and came in 8th, with 4,772 votes, according to the Argonaut. It's immediately clear to us if the replacement ginkgos have been planted yet around 2nd and 4th street. UPDATE: Yes, the ginkgo planting started in about mid-September and the planting is about 90 percent about done, according to the city's community forester Walt Warriner. "As far as the ginkgos, their canopies will become larger than the ficus trees' canopies," says Warriner [the timeline is about 25-30 years for those big canopies]. Additionally, Warriner says the ginkgos will become bigger than the ficus trees. Additionally, the ginkgos "don't require pruning, they have a longer lifespan, and they don't displace the curbs and gutters like the ficus trees."
Reggie Award for Bringing Angelenos Together: Named after old friend Reggie the Alligator, the award for an animal/lizard/bird uniting the city goes to a herd of 100 goats trucked in to graze on a downtown field at Angels Knoll park in September. Efficient, low-cost, and good to look at--these goats had it all. UPDATE: Get out the curry powder, the goats are coming back! "There are definite plans to bring the goats back Downtown," writes Marlee Schroll, at CRA's Public Information Office, in an email. "Due to all of the rain we’ve received lately, they may be back to Bunker Hill in early Spring."
· Year In Review: 2008 Real Estate Awards [Curbed LA]