Protesters obtained a restraining order Friday to stop the destruction of a stand of ficus trees in downtown Santa Monica that the city had planned to remove starting Monday as part of an $8-million downtown development project.
Local activist Jerry Rubin got the order approved by a judge on behalf of Santa Monica Treesavers. The order prevents the city from removing 54 ficus trees on 4th and 2nd streets unless they pose a danger to the public.
The city planned to remove 23 trees that its arborist considered damaged or diseased and to replant 31 of them elsewhere in the city.
Protesters doubt the trees are damaged and want time to get a second opinion.
"If the trees were truly a danger to the public, they would have been removed already," said the group's attorney, Thomas Nitti.