Is your median a mess? Here’s why *

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Trolley cars once rumbled down the middle of such wide streets as Huntington Drive in El Sereno, Glendale Boulevard in Echo Park and Colorado Boulevard in Eagle Rock. Once the trains went out of service and their tracks ripped out, many of those same medians were planted with grass and trees and dotted with neighborhood monument signs to become sources of community pride.  Now, some of the same landscaped medians have turned into trash and weed filled eyesores. Faced with the budget cuts, the city’s Bureau of Street Services has all but eliminated regular median maintenance. As a result,  some patches of grass and newly planted trees in the middle of Colorado Boulevard in Eagle Rock were left yellow and parched  for lack of watering.  Water is plentiful, however, in Atwater, where the lush green grass and weeds in the Glendale Boulevard median grow knee high in places, helping hide newspapers, sheets of cardboard and other pieces of trash. Further south in Echo Park,  the Glendale Boulevard median resembles more of a desert dumping ground than a showcase for drought-tolerant landscaping, with everything from left over fireworks to a mattress sitting between the traffic lanes.

Not all medians have gone messy. Rick Coca, a spokesman for Councilman Jose Huizar, said that medians strips maintained by outside contractors have continued to be cleaned up. It’s the medians once tended by city employees that have been left without care.  That “isn’t fair to those communities who happen to have their maintenance
performed by City workers,” Coca said.  In response, Huzar’s office used discretionary funds to pay to maintain medians in El Sereno and Eagle Rock.

Meanwhile, Councilman Tom LaBonge, who represents portions of Atwater and Silver Lake, introduced a City Council motion to use street improvement moneyto pay city contractors to maintain the Highland Avenue median near Hancock Park and is working with the Department of Public Works to work on other medians in his district.  Said Labonge in a recent newsletter:

“Medians are so important to a City,” Councilmember LaBonge said. “They are part of the aesthetics for the surrounding area. I couldn’t allow these medians, which thousands of residents and motorists enjoy each day, to become overgrown or fall into disrepair.”

*Update: Councilman Eric Garcetti, who represents Echo Park and Silver Lake, introduced a motion last month to help pay for the maintenance of 2.6-million square feet of medians citywide, said his spokesman, Yusef Robb. The councilman used  Federal “stimulus dollars allocated to projects in his district and found dollars from under-budget or canceled projects that he redirected to median maintenance,” Robb said. Garcetti, in a statement, said:

“Without proper maintenance, these medians can become overgrown, litter-strewn eyesores that can drag down an entire neighborhood,”
Garcetti said. “In these tough times, we must work hard to find solutions, which is why we made it a priority to closely scrutinize our stimulus dollars. This scrutiny paid off.”

Correction: A previous version said some newly planted trees along Colorado Boulevard had died. But those trees are tougher than they looked a few weeks ago because a few of them are now sprouting new leaves.


  1. THE VOICE COMMUNITY NEWSPAPER as well as the GARMENT CITIZEN NEWSPAPER have made PUBLIC RECORDS REQUEST for the CLARTS FUND one of the “Discretionary Funds” that Councilman Huizar has available and to this date has not made it public on how he spends it, not until recently that the council office has started to mention the use of discretionary these funds.

    The Council office has not furnished what we have requested. An email response sent by ANA CUBAS (Huizar staff member) nine days after our request stated “it would take approximately 30 days for this information you requested to be gathered.” IT HAS BEEN OVER 160 DAYS, with out a word.

    We ask your readers: Why do you think that Councilman Huizar has not been forward and disclose the dispersion of these funds over the past couple of years?

    You can read the article on the link below


  2. It seems to me that Councilman Huizar has some political motives for not releasing the CLARTS Fund. In the recent weeks as Carlos Morales alluded to, the CD 14 Councilman has has used his “discretionary funds’ to clean up the Huntington Drive Median, this only after a enrage constituent post videos on the deploreable conditions of the median. Then he comes up with $35,000 for the Eagle Rock Music Festival. He matches $1,500 in donations to the Wilson High School Library. $$ Thousands in,postage flyers and graphics are spent promoting the Boyle Heights Farmers Market the one thing all these expeditures of discretionary funding had in common was that it highlighted the positive actions of Councilman Huizar. Wonder why, maybe it has to do with re election in 2011?

    But as the writer of The Voice story on the CLARTS Fund, I have never seen an CD 14 Councilperson stonewall on disclosing Public Records and that is saying alot considering that CD 14 has been represented by the likes of Richard Alatorre, Antonio Villaraigosa and Art Snyder.

    Scott Johnson in CD 14

  3. The cleaning of public medians, etc was cut from City Budget in July.

  4. Time for some guerrilla gardening!

  5. I pickup a hitchhiker one day at Fletcher and the 5 North. He had traveled all over the United States. Been to every major city and parts between. His opiniion of Los Angeles. The dirtiest city he had ever seen.
    The problem seems bigger than just the medians.

  6. I love guerrilla gardening, and have seen it put to great use, including near where I live in Silver Lake. But there are some medians that are too large, too dangerous for volunteers, and in need of too much future maintenance, makingg them beyond the scope of guerrilla gardening. My best example is the “Gateway to Silver Lake,” which is the median on Silver Lake Blvd. underneath the 101 Freeway and the Temple St. overpass. Cars speed around that median, and it is a real dangerous area for volunteers, whether they are working day or (as many guerrilla projects are) night. This is a large median, overgrown, and attracts large pieces off trash and shopping carts. In addition, there are a number of jurisdictions involved in the area that would have a say in any work done there, including CalTrans, so it is really even beyond the scope of community efforts such as the recently completed Parkman Triangle Park. This really needs City intervention.

  7. Okay, I will say it.

    Who the hell cares about the opinions of an indigent hitchhiker who is just passing through the area?

    I’m more interested in what the local stakeholders have to say.

  8. Huizar has continue to not inform the community. He only had one community meeting when he started, never again in Boyle Heights. At this time, I believe that is only right that Council District 14 Budget should be audited by Wendy Grueld on all expense, since he started, including all discretionary funds used by his office. Another issue in regards to these expenses, who are the contractors that are being paid, how many bids were accepted? There is a lot of questions about Council District 14 budget plan. Why does Huizar keep everything hush hush on small projects being contracted, one is the Retrofit for Lorena and 4th Street bridge, it was to take 6 to 8 months, in turn into a year and a half, than two years, it took three years to open 4th street four lanes, and is not finish. And this was after several calls from the residents, there were several AQMD violations, and consistant trash, and unkept area, Huizars Office would not call a meeting, to hear from the residence, but Huizar’s Office never answer the residence on any issue, everything is done underground. All projects that involved Huizars Office were never followed up on issues, or meeting promissed.

    He continues to claim the credits for new schools in Boyle Heights, and the credit for bringing the Goldline to ELA, if anyone believe that and they will give him the vote, I have have some deal for them. Lets give Huizar some credit for exercise machines at Hollenbeck Park being used by small children at the park without adult supervision. Eight and ten years old working out alone in the hot sun, no water, no guidance on the use of the equipment. Who is liable? there is no sign to prohite children under certain age to use them. Huizar’s staff plain out lie to us, Huizar presents motions at City Council with misleading information, specially about having community input. And when we do give him input on issues that are important to us, he does not represent to actual decisions of the meeting.

  9. What is wrong with the neighbors, who have to look at this daily, not just volunteering some time to clean things up. It wouldn’t take but a day if they all pitched in. Don’t they have any pride in their community?

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