Advocate photo by SOPHIA GERMER -- A crack in a building is visible from the subsidence caused by the Chinese Pistache trees in the Central Business District in New Orleans, Wednesday June 22, 2016. Someone has been poisoning multiple water-thirsty Chinese Pistache trees along Baronne street, which have caused issues for surrounding buildings.


I was surprised to learn that the damage the Chinese pistache trees are causing to the buildings in the CBD is not new. In 2009, Lawrence Weidermann, a former neighbor, sued the City of New Orleans and the Downtown Development District over the damage those trees are causing.

According to The Advocate article published Sunday, July 3, they reached an undisclosed settlement with Mr. Weidermann. However, seven years later the same trees are causing property owners the same damage. Obviously, the settlement did not fix the larger problem.

Peter Trapolin, an architect, explained that the Chinese pistache has an aggressive root system causing the ground under the historic buildings to subside, foundations to shift and facades to crack. It appears that these undeniable facts about the Chinese pistache have long been known to both entities. Nonetheless, the problem remains.

I urge the Downtown Development District to have a frank discussion with the affected property owners (all of whom contribute to the agency’s budget) about the ongoing damage the Chinese pistache trees are causing.

Mr. Trapolin’s comments illuminating this known long-standing problem should finally bring the city to quickly move forward with a well-thought-out plan. Clearly, strong consideration should be given to replacing the Chinese pistache trees with a more suitable species.

Danae Columbus

business owner

New Orleans