Moreton Bay property still on community radar

Photo by Mary O’KEEFE Becky Raghavachary said it all with a sign at a recent weekend protest to save the Moreton Bay Fig tree.


The Moreton Bay Fig tree appears to be safe from the chopping block but the other trees along the lot did not escape the axe.

There continues to be speculation on what will happen to the property in the 2600 block Foothill Boulevard. Rumors abound from putting in a new parking lot to extensive remodeling and raising the sign post several feet.

“I am pretty sure the [owners] are not going to develop the property,” said Wayne Yee, the owner’s friend and an attorney.

The property was the site of a spontaneous recent protest when community members were surprised to find the Moreton Bay Fig tree, an iconic symbol of the Crescenta Valley, was in the process of being cut down.  The tree had been on the community’s radar due to the neighboring development that threatened the health of the tree.  After protests and enthusiastic community involvement, that developer, members of the Crescenta Valley Town Council, Historical Society of Crescenta Valley and design review board came to an agreement.  All seemed to be calm until Friday, Nov. 19 when owners of New Star Realty began chopping the Moreton Bay.

After some discussion the owner, Jinny Nam, agreed to save the fig tree but other trees on the property were taken out.  During that weekend protest to save the tree, several community members voiced concerned about the future of the big blue house/building on the property.

“As far as I know there has been no plans submitted to Regional Planning [concerning the property],” said Cheryl Davis, CVTC president.

Plans for specific remodeling or construction must first be submitted to the Los Angeles County Regional Planning office.  Those plans will be reviewed and, since Oct. 2009, will also have to comply with the region’s Community Standards District ordinance.  The development next to the Moreton Bay property had approved plans before the CSD went into affect.

“I had a discussion the morning [of Nov. 22] with Mr. Yee and told him about the [ordinance] and sent him a copy of the CSD before Thanksgiving,” Davis said.

Yee said he had read articles concerning the property next door and understood the community’s concern.  As far as the Nam property he said he was “pretty certain” that no major remodeling has been planned.

“They haven’t even hired anyone to do anything, “he said. “If there is anything there might be some [construction] on the inside.”

Dr. Young Seok Suh, newly elected CVTC member, advised caution and diligence concerning the property.  Suh said he had been in contact with Moon Nam, Jinny’s husband and co-owner, on several occasions before the Nov. 19 tree cutting.

“Mr. Nam assured me a couple of times he would preserve the Moreton Bay Fig tree,” Suh said.

He added his conversations were in Korean to avoid any misunderstanding.  The last discussion he had with Nam was on Nov. 17.  He last spoke to the company’s regional manager on Nov. 18 and again received assurance of saving the tree. That all changed on Nov. 19.

Suh, Davis and Yee are now keeping the lines of communication open and hope there will not be another misunderstanding.  There is now an agreement to save the tree. The historical society will be hiring an arborist to bring the tree back to health.