It seems Villaraigosa’s MillionTrees LA initiative has made its way to El Sereno. Two weeks ago, unbeknowst to the property owners 3 trees were planted on our street. In theory, that sounds really nice and I have to admit to a twinge of jealousy. I would love a tree on my parkway. That would save me the time from buying one and digging around the services and streetlight in the middle of it. It would also force me to stop pretending it’s not just a patch of weeds and dog poo.
When I attended the Cherry Blossom Festival in Little Tokyo last weekend, I picked up a form from the Million TreesLA table. The form is basically a oath you sign promising to water the sapling the city plants on your parkway. The trees above are planted in front of an empty house. The property owner doesn’t live here and his partner asked me about the trees showing up. The trees have been watered once since they arrived. The other tree down the street is a goner. The branches are brittle, there is one lone dried leaf on it. The property owner hadn’t even noticed the tree until I asked after it this morning.
Getting information was difficult. My councilman’s local office is generally useless, but I still call on the off chance that they’d be helpful. The lady there told me the usual…that she’d call me back, but it’s been 9 days and I’m still waiting for a call back from May ’07. I can’t connect by phone to the Million TreesLA office, but I did send an email a week ago. The LADWP office initally had no idea who I should talk to about this and I was tranferred 4 times, but I did get help from Mr. Rodriguez when I paid my bill. He gave me a new number that worked. It turns out that the property owners are totally responsible for care of the tree. This is watering, mulching and tree trimming. I couldn’t get a straight answer on if there’s a fine if the tree is not taken care of properly. The lady I spoke to didn’t seem too concerned that the property owners were not notified of their new tree(s), but since they may or may not get fined I suppose it’s not that big a deal.
Much as been written about Million TreesLA; how many trees are given away and not planted or given good care. Many people are like me and concerned that the trees are given away just to go on a tally sheet. Despite the fact that you need to complete an online workshop to get shade trees on your property, there is no followup to ensure that you’ve actually planted them properly. It’s one thing to give away trees at a street fair and hope they’re planted, but it’s quite another to actively plant trees in front of a property and not inform the owners about their role.