Los Angeles built into a corner

LA’s improbable relationship with the San Gabriel Mountains makes the cover story High Country News: The list price was $1.125 million in August 2011, when Sotheby’s International Realty held the first open house for 1674 Highland Oaks Drive, in the Los Angeles suburb of Arcadia. Scented candles burned, classical music played and the air conditioner ran as potential buyers milled through the home’s three bedrooms, living room and combination den/dining room. Through sliding glass doors, a pool was visible in the rear garden; beyond it stood a sharply trimmed hedge. Past the hedge, in the ravine below it, a deep wash lay. Metropolitan Los Angeles ends at the edge of this canyon property, and above the wash, its steeply upland collar of national forest begins.

Once, like all the canyons threading the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains, Santa Anita Wash had a stream tumbling through it, lined with coast

And the winner is . . .

LA City Council voted for roughly 50% turf reduction in spite of unreliable and high maintenance estimates from the LA Department of Recreation and Parks.

The fourth option

Choices are best understood by those who make them. In the case of the decision about where to unveil schematic drawings of what new landscaping around Los Angeles City Hall might look like after last year’s Occupation, it may only be comprehensible to city hall’s caretakers at the Department of Recreation and Parks. Choosing last night’s meeting of the Los Angeles Downtown Neighborhood Council was, procedurally, rather like the federal government unveiling new plans for the White House grounds at a meeting of a DC neighborhood association.

LA supports 15 council districts and an estimated 90-plus neighborhood councils. An internationally recognizable symbol for most of the city’s 500 square mile reach could be a gushing lawn sprinkler. Depending on the location from cool coastal spots to hot valleys and foothills, from 40 to 70 per cent of our largely imported water is used outdoors. How fast and how seriously

Speak now or forever hold your peas

It’s a toss up as to which I like better about this Downtown News story, that the City of Los Angeles has called a public meeting to discuss plans for a landscape to replace lawn smothered by those wholly organic Occupiers, or that a reader is already making plant suggestions in the comment box. Either way, this story joins reports by KPCC and the LA Times that the Department of Rec & Parks will be weighing up the call to replace the lawn with something more befitting America’s only major metropolis with a Mediterranean climate. The meeting will be held on Tuesday, January 10th at 6.30 pm at the Los Angeles Theatre, 615 South Broadway. For background and links, there is no better source than the Mar Vista Community Council Green Committee. Click here to see a petition begun by Mar Vista activist Sherri Akers calling for a more

Mr Villaraigosa, rip out that lawn


Occupy LA sign on tree, LA City Hall, October, 2011. No nails used. Photo: Emily Green

Whatever the accomplishments of Occupy L.A. when it finally decamps — or gets evicted — from around City Hall, one positive achievement is already clear: It has killed the lawn.

The Times’ editorial board has harrumphed about the taxpayer expense of replacing one of downtown’s “rare green spaces,” and it worries that the “majestic figs” are at risk. Last week, the Department of Recreation and Parks sent an aggrieved letter to the mayor about signs nailed to trees, broken sprinkler heads and compacted soil. The nails and compacted soil are unfortunate. But really, Rec and Parks is missing the point. Occupy L.A. has given City Hall the chance to walk its talk.

Click here to keep reading my call for climate-appropriate landscaping around LA City Hall in the op-ed pages of the Los

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