After seeing ficus trees being cut down in Beverly Hills, Wendy Klenk started a campaign that she hopes takes root and convinces City Hall to stop the chopping.

Klenk told the Los Angeles Times she has started collecting signatures to deliver to the Beverly Hills City Council to halt the plan to cut down nearly 90 ficus trees, also known as Indian laurel figs, in the city as part of a sidewalk restoration project. The trees are blamed by city leaders and some business owners for leaving messy droppings and damaging buildings and sidewalks.

But Klenk said seeing the trees being cut down is motivating her to save the them.

“I’ve never done anything like this,” she told the Times while walking from business to business on the 100 block of Robertson Boulevard collecting signatures to save the trees. “But I feel responsible for the land, and I felt compelled to act.”

In addition to collecting signatures, Klenk has called and emailed the City Council, and addressed the council members at meetings seeking alternatives. A city representative says the trees create hazardous conditions for members of the community.

“There have been several trip and fall claims over the last few years and we can no longer repair the sidewalk without replacing it, which requires eight inches of excavation and would destabilize the trees,” Lauren Santillana, the city’s public information manager, told the Times in an email. “With the uplift of the sidewalk, there have also been drainage issues.”

The city’s plan is to replace the ficus trees with crape myrtles and Mexican fan palms, a project that is estimated to cost about $226,000, according to the Times.

In addition to removing and replacing the ficus trees, the city plans to install an irrigation system and electrical outlets.

Klenk isn’t alone in her campaign to save the trees. Environmental groups promote how important trees are to California’s defense against climate change by providing filters for pollutants, reducing storm runoff and providing shade during heat waves in the city.

“Those two combined processes can result in black asphalt surfaces that otherwise could be 140, 150 degrees in L.A., or out in Coachella 170 degrees, to be cooled down, in Coachella, about 100 degrees, and in L.A. down to 80 degrees,” Janet Hartin, an environmental horticulture advisor with the UC Cooperative Extension in Los Angeles, San Bernardino and Riverside counties, told the Times.

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