You Wanted Trees. You Got Trees.
For the past 6 months, the ERNC has been working to swing an unprecedented deal with the City of Los Angeles, to bring more shade trees to our sun-blasted boulevards in Eagle Rock. For decades, there have been blighted commercial blocks where no trees have been planted, often because there was no one to sign the tree-care contract required by the City, or because business owners refused to sign, since they believed that trees were bad for business.
But Council District 14 staff and the ERNC had a different idea: What if we could pay a third party, in this case, a local nonprofit (Northeast Trees), to care for and water the new street trees, so that the contract wouldn’t be required? The sidewalks belong to the people, and the people have told us that they want shade when they park and walk and shop, and they want nice green leafy things to look at.
So when the City of LA approached Eagle Rock’s community groups with the offer of free unlimited concrete cuts in our sidewalks, and free trees to put in them — as long as we could find the money to care for the trees for two years — the ERNC got to work. A couple of ERNC members (especially former Subdistrict 4 director, Kerry Tribe) pounded the pavement, crunched the numbers, and endured sunburn, tired feet, and missed work opportunities to collaborate with members of the Eagle Rock Association (TERA) and Collaborative Eagle Rock Beautiful (CERB) on a map of over 400 spots for potential street trees on Eagle Rock’s major boulevards.
The original plan from CD-14 was to have new parkways along with the new trees throughout Eagle Rock – an Extreme Makeover for our major streets. However in the end, as in all things, we made a compromise: we got fewer trees than we wanted – around 160 – and we ended up paying for a few dozen trees in Highland Park. The expanded parkways were a pipe dream, since there were no volunteers to take on the effort. But it’s a victory nonetheless.
Funding for the tree care is being split 50-50 between Eagle Rock (including the ERNC, TERA, and the Colorado Boulevard Specific Plan Parking Credit Fund) and Councilmember José Huizar. In the next ERNC newsletter, we’ll break down the numbers. But suffice it to say, none of this would be happening without the financial and organizational support of the Councilmember and his conscientious local staff, along with the dedicated tree people at the City of L.A.’s Environmental Services Group and Bureau of Street Services.