Soon the Los Angeles City Council will consider a measure that will make sidewalk repairs the financial responsibility of homeowners, and not the city, which has been taking care of such repairs since l974.
People ask: What does it matter? Well, it matters a lot.
Past history tells us that, even with a permit process in place, in order to avoid having to repair the sidewalk homeowners will too often butcher trees or even take them out entirely, replacing them with something that might be called a tree, but is actually a glorified shrub. Shrubs cannot provide anywhere near the same benefits as trees.
Sidewalk parkways, where street trees are planted, are public rights of way. They are a space for the public good, traditionally controlled by city agencies. City leaders had the prescience to understand they needed to maintain authority over these strips of land to manage them for maximum public benefit. Trees were traditionally put in these parkways not just for beauty, but for shade and other dividends. These purposes have been forgotten by many, and now trees are too often seen just as decorations and nuisances.
Public parkway trees need protecting now more than ever.
At a time when Los Angeles'economic, environmental, and physical health is increasingly compromised, the public parkway is the interface where city actions can make a big impact. We need our trees , and we need to enable them to do what they are designed to do. That little crack in the concrete is a result of trees trying to spread their root systems to get access to water, as they do in nature. Trees are designed to take the rain and water run-off, clean it in the spongy, porous soil in their root zone, and store it for further use. Healthy trees also filter the air, and by shading, cooling, and lowering urban temperatures, they reduce air pollution and save energy.