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PALM LATITUDES

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August 16, 1992|Mark Ehrman

Even in Los Angeles, it seems, not everybody loves a palm tree.

Part of a recent proposal by Councilman Michael Woo's office and the Community Redevelopment Agency to dandify four sections of Hollywood Boulevard called for replacing the existing ficus trees--whose roots, the CRA claims, threaten the Walk of Fame--with jacarandas and 40-foot palms. Sunny, palm-happy Angelenos gave the proposal an uncharacteristically chilly reception.

Many merchants and residents heatedly informed a council hearing that the public funds--project estimates run from $500,000 to $4 million--would be far better spent fighting more deeply rooted urban woes. Some suggested that falling fronds would benefit no one but the city's liability law firms.

If replacing a few old ficus trees can run into such resistance, putting palms in the place of a genuine icon invites outright hostility. At the old Bob's Big Boy in Burbank, a baby palm, rooted where once stood the restaurant's smiling mascot, had this missive tacked to one of its fronds. "Why did you take Bob away?" scrawled the irate Bobophile. "MURDERERS!"

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