In recent months, the Windsor Square Assocation, Greater Wilshire Neighborhood Council and City Council Member David Ryu have all weighed in with motions, proposals and other efforts to improve the city’s documentation, maintenance and replacement of the city’s street trees. And on Thursday of this week, a third major voice – that of City Controller Ron Galperin – joined the arboreal chorus.
On Thursday morning, under “a very large, overgrown street tree” in Canoga Park (with crews standing by to trim the tree after the event), Galperin held a press conference to announce the release of a report in which he makes three major recommendations to support the city’s trees:
- Create an online street tree inventory based on up-to-date data. The inventory should map the location of each tree, and identify what type of tree it is and when it was last maintained;
- Implement a centralized electronic management system that helps prioritize the City’s day-to-day tree trimming work and track jobs completed; and
- Consider revamping the contracting process in case the City decides to supplement City tree trimming crews, so that L.A. can meet its tree preservation goals as quickly as possible.
While Galperin’s recommendations were a bit more specifically data-focused than the motions Ryu introduced to the City Council a few months ago (which called for re-vamping and re-funding the Department of Urban Forestry, along with other reforms), they definitely align on the recommendation of an overall city tree inventory as a starting point for better management of our urban forest.
In a statement released after the press conference, Galperin said:
“Preserving our trees is essential to preserving the quality of life in our neighborhoods, but our urban forest is at risk…While there has been a concerted effort to better care for our trees, the City needs to embrace a modern, data-driven approach to mapping and maintaining street trees so that they remain healthy and safe.”
The statement also noted that, currently, “City trees only get trimmed once every 14 to 18 years” and “Just three years ago, the City gave itself a “D” when grading the health of L.A.’s street trees.”
The statement went on to say that:
“…the U.S. Forest Service and City arborists agree that disease and pests could kill 30 percent of the region’s trees within a decade without proper care and maintenance.
The best way to keep trees and the urban forest healthy is through regular, proactive maintenance. Last year, the City spent $49 million to maintain trees, with $20 million dedicated to the Urban Forestry Division, but $11 million of that was spent responding to tree emergencies and only $9 million on proactive trimming and care.”
And, finally, the statement included words of support from Yujuan Chen, Senior Manager of Urban Forestry Policy for Tree People, who said:
“Trees are an essential part of urban infrastructure…They are just as important as roads, sidewalks and curbs. Therefore, a comprehensive tree inventory is needed for the City of Los Angeles. The tree inventory will serve as the foundation for sustainable urban forestry management because it can help us better understand urban forest resources, minimize potential risks and maximize our benefits from trees. TreePeople strongly agrees that it is a critical step towards the first urban forestry management plan for the City.”
You can read Galperin’s full report and recomendations for city tree maintenance at http://www.lacontroller.org/street_trees