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 'A PROMISE IS A PROMISE'

Special to CityWatch: Can Jorge Ramos Save The American Immigrant Dream?

Tony Castro
TONY CASTRO’S LA- President Barack Obama’s disappointing failure to champion immigration reform, what The Washington Post called his “immigration train wreck,” may be the consummate example of the failure of the Obama presidency on Latino issues. It is also a tell-tale sign of the potential trouble the Democratic Party could find itself in…

Museum Row’s Billion Dollar Block Party

Tim Deegan
EXCLUSIVE TO CITYWATCH--City planners, developers, community members and other stakeholders are having a block party in the Miracle Mile: no champagne but plenty of stress served to order, depending on who you're aligned with. Issues with development: take a seat. Raising hundreds of millions of dollars for development, take several seats. Here…

What Is It About The Homeless That Makes Us So Angry?

Bob Gelfand
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Kill the Transit Tax, Kill the Olympics

Ken Alpern
ALPERN AT LARGE-You know, it's indeed possible that there will be enough voters who won't remember (or care about) the current shenanigans and budget games in the City of LA--enough to allow a 2/3 vote to pass a new sales tax measure in November 2016. Then again, maybe enough voters will remember, and the initiative will (like its predecessor…

Headlines Don’t Lie – LA Needs Leadership

Dennis Zine
JUST THE FACTS-I’m talking to you as a man who policed Los Angeles streets for over 30 years and established policy for another 14 years -- two years as an elected Charter Reform Commissioner and 12 years as an elected Los Angeles City Councilman. Take a look at the latest Los Angeles News and Breaking Headlines. They tell a frightening story…

Airbnb Just Floats by the PLUM Committee

Tony Butka
THE CITY-I was going to do my usual flip and cynical kind of a piece on the Airbnb hearing, but the issue is too important, and just maybe, all is not lost. The Planning and Land Use Management (PLUM) Committee hearing was scheduled in the Public Works Hearing Room, but so many people attended that they had to move it to City Council Chambers…

Bikeshare Comes to Los Angeles … Sort Of

Richard Risemberg
WAITING ON LA--Here’s photographic confirmation that bikeshare has arrived in LA: Not the City of Los Angeles, though; not quite yet. That’s a live bikeshare station in Santa Monica, on Main Street, next to one of the two bike corrals that grace the block south of Ashland. (There’s another and very busy bike corral two blocks north.) This is a…

The Summer of My Discontent ... LA Version

Denyse Selesnick
MY TURN--I think there is such a thing as the "Dog Days of Summer" since my usual sunny disposition ... glass half full demeanor ... seems to be out of sorts of late. There is a litany of things that are annoying me, aside from the heat. I am disappointed in our local government ... not all of them, but a majority. Like many of you I studied the…

Marilyn Who? Ask Councilman Krekorian or Mayor Garcetti

Richard Lee Abrams
PRESERVATION POLITICS-Who doesn’t like Marilyn Monroe? Councilmember Krekorian, that’s who! Why else would Councilmember Paul Krekorian support the demolition of one of the most significant homes of Marilyn Monroe? With the blessings of Mayor Garcetti, who believes in eradicating as much of Hollywood’s history as possible, and with the support of…





Record Breaking! Josh Groban sings Trump


LADWP Rates Overview

 

 

  

 

 

 

City Hall has a drinking problem

LANDSCAPING IN LA - As the threat of a water crisis looms on the horizon, the City of LA finds itself immobilized, tethered by garden hoses and irrigation systems to an unsustainable municipal lifestyle that costs money, wastes water, and sets a poor example.

Consider the unintended consequences of the recent Occupy LA encampment surrounding City Hall that killed the turf lawn, prompting Emily Green of the LA Times to declare it a “positive achievement” that provides LA’s leadership with an opportunity to “walk the talk” of a water-wise commitment.

Many cities use the landscaping and maintenance of their municipal property as a teaching opportunity, showcasing drought resistant options to the traditional turf lawn that is neither native nor sustainable.

LA’s City Council, on the other hand, has spent more time debating lawn-watering strategies in the midst of municipal water rationing than it has on setting a citywide standard that would wean the City of LA from its dependency on sprinklers and fertilizer.

In the wake of the Occupy LA “restoration” of City Hall Park’s open space, LA’s Department of Recreation and Parks (RAP) has taken its “restoration” responsibilities on the road, engaging “a large cross section of City professionals and officials, renowned landscape professionals, and the public to solicit a variety of input, concerns, and suggestions.”

RAP has advanced three proposals that range from a traditional “putting green” gestalt to a design that incorporates permeable sidewalks, water reclamation, drought resistant ground cover and decomposed granite paths.

Missing from the dialogue is an option that liberates City Hall from the need to install an irrigation system. It’s not as if the City of LA is a stranger to the notion of irrigation-free landscape design and maintenance.

The City of LA owns and operates the 110 year-old South Seas House as a community center and RAP maintains its beautiful Xeroscape front yard without relying on an irrigation system, resulting in a beautiful demonstration of alternatives to the traditional turf lawn and a dependency on water.

The City of LA is also home to the Charles F. Lummis Home and Garden, an acre of drought tolerant  and native plant landscaping that demonstrates our ability to give up the garden hose habit in favor of low maintenance designs that incorporate water reclamation elements.

The fact that the City of LA actually maintains public space landscaping that is free of the need to install and maintain wasteful irrigation systems has not impeded its commitment to labor intensive landscaping choices that squander a dwindling natural resource.

LA’s new Fire Station #82 is being build on Hollywood Boulevard, a huge training facility that has approximately 500 square feet of streetside landscaping, requiring 134 sprinkler heads. The complexity of a system such as this belies the environmental and budget realities of the City of LA.

In fact, LA has a strong track record of designing and building facilities while neglecting to budget for ongoing maintenance, a pattern of failure that has prompted downtown residents to “adopt” the lawn surrounding the LAPD’s $600 million headquarters.

Now is the time for the City of LA to step back and to look at the barren lawn of City Hall Park as an opportunity to set a standard, to connect traditional turf lawn landscapers with training that prepares them for the future, to demonstrate to Angelenos water conservation techniques that are beautiful and low-maintenance.

Los Angeles is home to the Theodore Payne Foundation, an organization that conducts a year round education center in an effort to promote the use of California native plants and wild flowers. TPF has a presence on the streets of LA, appearing at Park(ing) Day LA events and Farmers Markets to demonstrate the advantages of landscaping that is pleasing to the eye while providing a water conservation solution.

Surrounding communities, such as Santa Monica, San Fernando, and Manhattan Beach all operate municipal facilities that are free of a dependence on extravagant irrigation systems and maintenance commitments, also serving as a teaching opportunity that encourages the community to engage in water conservation efforts.

Covina’s library is surrounded by a 3,300 square foot water-wise Native Plant Demonstration Garden that replaced the turf lawn and now captures run-off water for its irrigation needs.

The Crescenta Valley Water District Demonstration Garden offers ideas for replacing turf with California Friendly plants and serves for a promotion for its policy of offering rebate money to residents who remove turf grass from their yards.

Santa Clarita’s Castaic Lake Water Agency Conservatory Garden features 350 low-water-using plant varieties and 1,500 roses, along with instructional signage and classes to help gardeners be water-wise.

LA’s own Pierce College features the S. Mark Taper Botanical Garden, 1.9 acres of plants from the seven major worldwide Mediterranean climate zones, all suitable for Southern California’s climate.

Meanwhile, the City of LA struggles with an artificial dichotomy between what is functional and what is sustainable, a battle that relies on the assumption that City Hall’s full roster of public events all require a turf lawn landscape.

It simply isn’t true and there is a groundswell of advocacy in favor of exploring the full range of sustainable options. Community leaders, such as Sherri Akers and Melissa Stoller of the Mar Vista Community Council’s Green Committee, have formally asked the City of LA to seize this opportunity and to surround City Hall with sustainable landscaping.

The Downtown Los Angeles Neighborhood Council, long active in community sourced  solutions to land use, sustainability, and open space issues, has also jumped in with a commitment to help design and maintain a sustainable City Hall Park landscape.

Why then the drama?

Does the City of LA own a warehouse of water sprinkler equipment that must be used up before it can conceive of giving up its water-wasteful habits?

Does the City of LA have an endorsement deal with Toro, one that requires the city to keep riding lawnmowers active in all 15 council districts in order to qualify for compensation?

The time is now for the City of LA to think beyond the putting green, to give up the turf lawn, and to embrace this opportunity as the fork in the road, the one that the next generation will look back at as the defining moment when the City of LA began to actually walk the talk.

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(Stephen Box is a grassroots advocate and writes for CityWatch. He can be reached at: Stephen@thirdeyecreative.net.)
–cw

Tags: Stephen Box, 2012, resolutions, City Council, LAPD, LAFD, meetings, audits, community meetings, neighborhood councils, City Hall



CityWatch
Vol 10 Issue 6
Pub: Jan 19, 2012

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