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Saturday, July 22 2023 15:59

Universal was fined $250 for trimming a tree near a picket line location

UNIVERSAL CITY, California — Universal has been fined by the city of Los Angeles after a tree was cut near a location where the actor and writer had taken precautions during the ongoing strike.

The issue sparked controversy after several trees were cut down near Lakeside Drive and Barham Boulevard, depriving them of shade and protection from the sun.

SEE ALSO: Writers strike 2023: WGA rally held in Chicago outside the NBC Tower

In a tweet posted Friday, LA City Controller Kenneth Mejia provided an update, saying the company will be fined $250, the highest amount allowed by law for a first-time offence.

He previously provided before and after photos of the trees and said they were managed by the city.

“Currently, investigations of illegal tree felling are driven by complaints,” Mejia said in a series of tweets. “We also found that permits to cut trees were issued by the City instantly. Due to staff shortage issues, there was no initial check whether trees needed/should be trimmed.”

He continued to point out other problems, saying StreetsLA, which deals with these types of issues, was “underfunded and understaffed” so the city “couldn't protect our trees effectively through timely and effective services.”

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“In addition, the outdated laws limit the amount of fines and are unfair to violators, especially large companies,” said Mejia.

“Based on our findings, the system is not working properly,” he continued. “As City overseers, our job is to provide transparency and accountability for the systemic issues facing our city. The information we share empowers policy makers and people to create change.”

According to the Los Angeles TimesThe Writers Guild of America (WGA) and Screen Actors Guild – American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) also accused NBCUniversal of undermining their prevention efforts by blocking sidewalks.

Universal has yet to issue a response to the fine.

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