And the winner is . . .

Posted on | February 6, 2012 | No Comments

UPDATED 2/8/2012: Of three schematic plans for a new landscape around Los Angeles City Hall presented to the city council on Tuesday February 7th, the unanimous choice was Number 2, which initially proposed reducing turf by 58% and during tweaking into the “preferred option” reduced it to 51%.

The truth’s in there somewhere, possibly still in the changing room because there are always changes in this kind of process. The city hall agenda included a request for Recreation and Parks landscape architects to report back in ten days with details of what would be involved in applying the principles of the city’s 2011 storm water ordinance to the plans. This had been a point of concern in public meetings.

Perhaps the most eye-popping line in a recent Downtown News report is that outside the calculated costs of the three new gardens, Rec & Parks estimates of Occupy damage to the old City Hall grounds have been revised downwards from $400,000 to $76,000. The higher sum was released to the press by the city last October when the mayor and city council were becoming desperate to evict the Occupy protestors.

Small mercy that Rec & Parks staff do not work for the controller.

In the sliding scale of politicized best guestimates, the department is now claiming that maintenance costs will be higher for a low-water native garden than a lawn. There’s no evidence for this and a controlled study by the City of Santa Monica argues otherwise. One can only hope that this LA high number is revised openly and honestly as Rec & Parks familiarizes itself with dry gardening. Occupy and then the protest over how to relandscape City Hall into a state that it could become a public emblem of Southland beauty, pride in our native flora and water conservation may have all been a bit much for a department unused to these kinds of ructions. The Los Angeles City Council and Department of Recreation and Parks have done an admirable thing in conceding half of  City Hall’s home turf. To them and the activists who bugged them into it, hats off.



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