Ah, billboard companies. The cartoon villains of Los Angeles.
Outfront Media (formerly CBS Outdoor, formerly Viacom Outdoor), the third-largest outdoor advertising company in the United States, owns a billboard on top of El Condor restaurant in Silver Lake, just a few paces north of Sunset Triangle Plaza. Sunset Triangle Plaza is a famed pocket park in L.A., consisting of a tiny section of street that was blocked off to drivers and painted with green polka dots, and a triangle-shaped median with grass and about 12 trees.
The little urban parklet hosts the Silver Lake Farmers Market every Tuesday and Saturday, where you can sit and lounge under a shady tree and listen to some weird hippie play bongo drums and sing songs to kids.
All except the part about shady trees.
Here's how the plaza looked a few years ago, the last time Google sent its magic Street View car:
You'll notice that the billboard across the street from the park — a Spanish-language ad for a delicious-looking McDonald's crispy chicken sandwich — is barely visible through the trees.
And so it was that, sometime in December, Outfront Media hired some contractor to trim the trees. But they went a little overboard. Here's the plaza last week:
Three trees have been "topped" — arborist lingo for when you lop off the top of a tree, which is often fatal. That tree, and a couple others in the plaza, likely will die long before their time. And Silver Lake residents are pissed.
"They did a horrible job," says Pasqual Lombardo, an attorney who lives in the area. "They butchered those trees."
Lombardo and other residents were astonished to learn that Outfront hadn't even gone to the trouble to obtain the easily obtainable city permit to trim the trees.
"This large corporation can come into a public space without permits and basically destroy trees that were just becoming beautiful," says Silver Lake resident Bobby Peppey. "It's a travesty."
"There's a pattern — this isn’t just an isolated incident," Hathaway says. "They didn’t get a permit in this case. But they could have. They could have just walked right in there and gotten a permit without anything, without any city oversight, any regulations."
"They have done it before, and they’ll do it again," Lombardo says. "The sign should be taken down to send some kind of a message to these guys that they can’t get away with this.
"If this is not an act of vandalism, what is?"