Garbage, Graffiti and Weeds. Oh My!

For several weeks drivers taking Washington or Venice Boulevard through our community, experienced garbage can after garbage can overflowing with refuse.  Concerned neighbors flooded CD10’s phone lines to find out why.  
Backstory: Garbage cans, along with cages surrounding trees along Washington Boulevard were installed by Councilman Wesson during his first term in our district.  Mid-City Neighborhood Council (MINC) had begun the process to install garbage cans and small tree guards along the bottom of the trees and had partnered with local businesses willing to commit to keeping the cans emptied. Much to the chagrin of MINC, Councilman Wesson took over the project as part of his campaign to beautify our corridors. Instead of working with MINC, CD10 came up with their own plan for the cages and the multitued of garbage cans and contracted Los Angeles Conservation Corp (LACC), an organization focused on helping at-risk youth by providing job skills training, education and work experience, to empty the cans.
According to LACC, the contract with the city recently ended and wasn’t renewed promptly. They were willing to work for free for a month or so, knowing they would receive payment once the contracts were renewed but when they could not get a confirmation date on the renewal of the contracts, they stopped worked.   According to CD10 “The funding problem regarding LACC was a city-wide funding problem caused by an approximately $50,000 shortfall in the account out of which the city paid for those services.  Because of this glitch, the Controller did not have authority to issue payment.  The funding for LACC services came from another account.”  CD10 found the funding through the Capital Improvement Expenditure Program and LACC went back to work. 
The trees planted along Washington Boulevard from Normandie to Crenshaw were installed by the City in response to the efforts of UNNC members to bring foliage to their section of the Boulevard. The city planted approximately 100 trees, which were originally watered and cared for by the Korean Youth Community Center (KYCC) under contract with UNNC.  After two years, the contract was up and the care and maintenance ended.  The trees continue to look healthy but are in dire need of trimming. According to the Urban Forestry Division (UFD) of the Bureau of Street Services, the trees are City owned and responsible for their care.  But funding for tree trimming by the city has been cut and funding to hire cheaper outside contractors to trim city trees has been made available to UFD. They were unable to identify the source of the funding. When TNN asked why those funds aren't being used to trim trees, they were told there were not enough funds available for contractors to trim all the trees in Los Angeles and many communities can be left waiting for tree trimming anywhere from one to 35 years.

There are easily attained permits that can be granted to businesses who have overgrown trees blocking their signage but the businesses will be required to pay for the trimming.  KYCC is ready to come back to work if CD10 or UNNC would provide the funding. 
The cages surrounding the trees were also a part of Councilman Wesson’s beautification efforts but weeds and refuse now surround the trees. Plaques announcing the name of the street had been placed on all four sides. When it became clear they were being used for graffiti, 3 of the 4 sides were removed. Several of the cages have been bent or vandalized.  CD10 claims that property owners and businesses are responsible for the upkeep but recognizing that the businesses do not want the responsibility (no effort to bring them on board was made prior to the installation of the cages) CD10 told TNN:

“Therefore, the tree guards and any weeds are jointly dealt with by LACC and CD 10.  This is always a focus of the many community clean-ups organized by the community and our office.”

EDITORS NOTE:  2 weeks after our inquiry and 2 days before the magazine went to press, a notice was sent out that Council Office had organized a community clean up along Washington Blvd.

Photos by Dianne Lawrence  

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Established in August of 2008 by writerartist Dianne V. Lawrence, The Neighborhood News covers the events, people, history, politics and historic architecture of communities throughout the Mid-City and West Adams area in Los Angeles Council District 10.

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