The West Hollywood City Council will be asked tonight to replace flowering pink trumpet trees on Sunset Boulevard at the city’s eastern boundary with Los Angeles with other shrubbery and trees to approve the visibility of an iconic billboard.
The billboard owner, E.T. Legg & Associates, is offering to spend $40,000 toward construction of “Welcome to West Hollywood” sign and a public art display at that location, which is just east of Pink Taco restaurant.
Legg proposes to replace nine of the 11 pink trumpet trees, which can grow as high as 50 feet and whose foliage can be as wide as 50 feet, with mature Mexican fan palms. The two trees currently in the area where the “welcome sign” is proposed, which obscure the view of the billboard behind them, would be replaced with shrubbery. Mexican fan palms have slender trunks topped with a relatively small crown of fronds and are a common sight in Los Angeles.
All in all, Legg proposes to spend as much as $250,000 to redevelop the property on which its billboard and the trees are located, which includes installing an irrigation system,
In a memo to the Council supporting the Legg proposal, the city’s Public Works Department notes: “The removal of the two trees can be perceived as precedent setting as it will increase and enhance visibility of the adjacent billboard. City
Tree Removal Guidelines do not allow for removal of trees for purposes of enhancing sign visibility. However, the opportunity to enhance and program the eastern gateway to the Sunset Strip is a unique situation that provides a substantial public benefit and warrants Council consideration.”
E.T. Legg & Associates, is a major billboard company whose founder, Elmo Legg, helped create the Sunset Strip billboard culture. In the 1950s Legg purchased 8225 Sunset Blvd., which was built in 1926 by Preston Sturges, the famous screenwriter and director. When Legg purchased the property it housed the Players Club, a nightclub that once was home to celebrities such as Lana Turner and Fred Astaire and Clark Gable. Legg realized there was room next to the club and came up with the idea of erecting a billboard there.
Eventually it became the location of the Marlboro Man, perhaps the nation’s most famous billboard, which was removed in 1999 as part of a $206-billion agreement by cigarette makers to settle state lawsuits.
The Council will consider its proposal at its meeting at 6:30 p.m. tonight at the City Council Chambers, 625 San Vicente Blvd., south of Santa Monica.