A Million Dying TreesLA

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.

13 thoughts on “A Million Dying TreesLA”

  1. It seems like all that matter is that the trees get to a person, or in this case, get planted in some patch of dirt, and thats the end of it. If they make it or not is irrelevant, they can claim to have done their part. Not right at all but not surprising either.

  2. We get that all the time here in outer monrovia. Roaming bands of city trucks visiting neighborhoods planting trees in the city easements next to the curb. I like it though we don’t get a choice in trees. My house got the crepe myrtle which I am not too fond of. At least its green which we need more of.

    PS..great post and welcome to the block faboomama.

  3. Thanks to your post, the 2 One Million Trees on my avenue are now 5 gallons wetter. Hopefully the buckets of water I lugged will help them get through this hot weekend.

    The planting is pretty hap-hazard, these new trees don’t match the other street trees planted 5 years ago, and the ones planted 5 years ago, don’t match the Evergreen Ash trees planted 70 years ago.

  4. An issue that came up in Pedro about new tree planing were the concerns of business owners who were ticketed for watering street trees back in the last drought and didn’t want to take trees in front of their business, because they thought that they would just get in trouble for watering them again.

  5. There is a double edged sword here, we do have this water shortage to think about and trees are waterhogs in general. I have no idea how drought tolerant these new trees are because I’ve never bothered to look them up. There are over 30 kinds of trees that are given away. One would think that it would pretty easy to match at least by left type the or work in a pattern a tree that would complement the existing trees. But only 3 trees showed up here all on the west side of the street where they’ll get considerable shade from the houses from October to March and my street is all fat palm trees.

    When the other two trees die, I wonder if they’ll still be counted against the Million trees. It’s sad to think that they could have given me all the trees and they’d be very well taken care of right now.

  6. When I lived in DC I lived next to a street lined with Ginkgos. The thing is, the fruit of female Ginkgos (which these were) smells not unlike vomit. Really. It’s vile. Once a years these trees would sprout fruit, it would fall all over and all of 39th St. would smell like puke. So there’s that to be grateful for–at least they’re not planting female ginkgos.

    And like Fraz said: welcome aboard, faboomama

  7. OMG! Thanks for the warning Travis. I was about to plant a freebee Ginkgo I got from Northeast Trees outside my kitchen window. Its bad enough I have to contend with my neighbors tree that gives off a pungent “Semen” smell each Summer! Now, if I can just figure out if the Ginkgo I have is a fruity one or not.

  8. Wow. Who knew there were so many trees that stink of bodily fluids? I don’t know how you sex a ginkgo, walt, but I’m glad to provide the warning. I’m sure some nursery person would know.

  9. It always breaks my heart to see trees die. Here’s something with a potential life span longer than the average human, and we just cavalierly forget to water it. Really those trees should be deep-soaked for several hours straight several weeks in succession, so water can sink deep down, encouraging the roots to sink deeper–which will result in the tree tapping the water table–so you’d never have to water it much, if ever. The old trees here in my neighborhood are never watered, and they’re glorious. But it took a lot of early love for them to get to a place where they could “take care of themselves,” at it were.

  10. I agree with you Lucinda it is a little sad to see a new tree not make it. What I’d like to see more plantings of is the natives, especially those from the mojave that like the heat and tolerate drought well planted in our inland areas.

    What few trees I have are drought tolerant now that they have been in the ground long enough to tap into the moister layers around us (or my neighbors irrigation system).

    I wonder when the day will come for any of us in the basin to be enticed into doing all native or mediterranean type plantings like they are doing in LV to help minimize the drain on dwindling water resources.

  11. Forgive me for anthropomorphizing, but a lot of those older trees never bother stretching their roots down that far when they can just push on the city water pipes until they start leaking. The neighborhood I grew up in had huge, old trees that had lined the street since the 50s, and they were all cut down and uprooted over the course of two summers because they were breaking the pipes.

Comments are closed.