Residents say trail of destruction left by Monday's strong winds in South LA could have been avoided

Los Angeles City crews are cleaning up the debris from enormous trees that toppled over from the strong winds that blanketed the area. 

"It could have been avoided," say residents off West 59th Street and Denker Avenue, where several tell us they have been calling city services about the enormous sycamores on their block. 

They say the ones that fell have been drying up and sick for a while, dropping branches. Since they are on city property, they have been calling the Bureau of Street Services, which is in charge of maintaining city trees. 

"But we were told they couldn’t touch them because they are protected," says one woman.  Ficuses are not in the protected tree list, that includes oaks, black walnuts and sycamores. But according to the website, we found this under the questions about pruning city trees: Can I prune a street tree myself?

PREVIOUS COVERAGE: Downed trees smash cars, homes as strong winds batter Southern California

Property owners may prune street trees at their own expense by obtaining a no-fee tree prune permit by calling the Bureau's Service Request line at 800-996-2489. The permit will be provided within five working days.

"We did that," say residents. 

The residents told FOX 11 they were willing to pay out of pocket for their removal. Ficuses are notorious for expansive roots that damage pipes. But they insist they were told they couldn’t touch them. 

We have reached out to the city services bureau for further explanation.

For now, the residents we talked to are just happy that it’s just their vehicles, crunched up by the large trees, that were damaged. 

"I can replace the car, but not a life," we were told.

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