A Million Promises, but Not Many Trees
I actually wrote this two months ago, but waited to post this because I did not want to jeapordize Parkman Triangle, the project on which I have worked for several months.March 25, 2010 One thing I have noticed about Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and his deputies is that they are really good at telling Angelinos what they are going to do, but never discuss what they have accomplished. I've witnessed this trend of empty platitudes at several events I have attended over the past year, where the deputy-to-the-deputy-to-the-deputy assistant will crow about the Mayor's plans--especially on anything smacking of sustainability. Unfortunately, they have nothing to brag about because 5 years later, the mayor really hasn't done anything. He's a great salesman, very personable, but I have to say he's an empty suit. One of Villaraigosa's first initiatives was his 1,000,000 Tree Campaign for a greener Los Angeles. The project was ambitious. By having residents take online tests and then getting trees for their yards, homeowners would plant these trees, which would provide shade and help heal LA's dirty air. Other trees were given away at city events and street fairs. But even a few years ago, it was clear that the million tree initiative had problems: the city had no way of monitoring how the trees were taken care of, while other trees sufferred from lack of water. Furthermore, while the city gave young saplings away, other trees were chopped down because of sidewalks buckling or street widening. Well, never mind those facts: today I went to the city nursery to pick up some trees for Parkman Triangle. The task seemed simple enough: pick up three trees between 7:30 and 4:00. Well, long story short, neither of the employees were there. The miscommunication was annoying, but even more upsetting was that the problems with the million tree initiative lie at the source. Never mind the fact that the two city employees at the Los Angeles Conservation Corps, which maintains the trees, were not at their Griffith Park office, despite the fact that this location was supposedly open all day, four days a week. Walking around the yard revealed some disturbing facts: employees were trying to water nursery plants, though they were more successful at watering the asphalt; another employee used so much water washing his forklift (while another employee sat their and watched) that the asphalt road going down the hill was slathered in water; most of the trees, in 5-gallon buckets, looked as if they lacked any watering; and a peek through the chain link fences revealed many trees and plants that were dead or dying--some were just strewn around the yard. I guess they don't think, or care, that some local residents may drop by the facility. Word is out that the program is being dismantled. And we ended up buying trees from a nursery. Regardless, dealing with this one city program was a heinous experience. My peek around the Griffith Park nursery was one example why so many Angelinos are just tired of him . . . and tired of disengaged city employees. Is this million tree initiative really that ambitious, or has it been ambushed by mismanagement? I'm curious what other Angelinos think.