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VENICE : Adding Greenery to Venice Blvd. Scenery

March 03, 1994|ADRIAN MAHER

A coalition of community activists, city officials and environmental volunteers hopes to transform part of recently repaved Venice Boulevard into a Los Angeles version of the Champs Elysees.

The group has embarked on the Venice Boulevard Landscaping Project, a tree-planting program to spruce up the roadway between Lincoln Boulevard and Pacific Avenue. The boulevard is lined with cinder-block apartment buildings, stucco houses, boat storage yards and parking lots.

Many volunteers say that foliage and the pedestrians it would draw can transform the broad avenue, with its 1 1/2-mile dirt median, into a European-style thoroughfare.

"It's a nasty, hot, dry, dusty street to walk on. It looks like a freeway to Japan," said Diana Pollard, a volunteer in the program and a member of the Venice Chamber of Commerce. "By planting trees, we hope to knit the street together, to bring some cohesion to the area."

The project was started five weeks ago by Jim Murez, a Venice computer consultant and member of the environmental group TreePeople. The group received a $420,000 grant from the state Resources Agency to plant 1,000 California Sycamore trees on Venice streets, 400 of them on Venice Boulevard. That money came from a program set up in 1990 to allocate a small percentage of transportation funds for projects to offset the adverse effects of roadway construction.

With the help of Venice High School students and others, Murez has planted more than 115 10-foot saplings, spaced 30 feet apart, along the roadway. In five to 10 years the sycamores will grow to 35 feet, eventually reaching heights of 60 to 80 feet. The trees have lush foliage with light green leaves and shredding bark.

The leafy colonnade, Murez said, will serve as "vehicles to get people out of their houses, to get people walking and talking."

"They will also add lots of texture and color to the area and provide a kind of filtered shade," Pollard said.

"The French and Italians recognize the value of their boulevards," Pollard said. "This project is a major opportunity to make the streets friendly. More green will be a form of psychological relief. Within 20 to 30 years there is going to be a big difference."

Information: (310) 399-6690.

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