The Denuding of Los Angeles

Before he takes his war chest of political “donations” to the national arena, where his handlers will attempt to re-package him as “presidential,” our bumbling failure of a Mayor, the man who oversees an ongoing humanitarian disaster known as “homelessness in Los Angeles,” seems determined to wreck as many neighborhoods as possible.

The Eric Garcetti ethos: If a luxury real estate developer wants a favor, give it to him!

The latest proposed handout: tax breaks for the homophobic Colorado billionaire Phil Anschutz. He’s threatening to refuse to build more $950-a-night hotels suites downtown unless the City pays some of his bills.

Despite countless academic studies showing tax breaks to hotel companies don’t actually help a City’s fiscal prospects — indeed, they’re terrible for everyone but the politicians and their benefactors — Garcetti and several of his lackeys on the City Council, in this case, Curren Price, consistently cheerlead for giveaways to the rich. Because, you know, it will eventually somehow “trickle down” to working people. Right?

Why is this luxury hotel handout necessary when we have an affordable housing crisis? According to a representative from AEG (Anschutz Entertainment Group), the company needs the subsidy so L.A. can beat Anaheim and other competing cities as the “unrivaled destination.” Currently, we’re the winners when it comes to tent encampments; Anaheim’s the winner when it comes to theme parks; this will be the crucial tie-breaker.

Did we mention Phil Anschutz is worth $12 billion?

Meanwhile, as our compliant Mayor bends over backwards to reward his patrons, the city that he runs is heading toward an environmental disaster. According to NASA, operators of spaceships and satellites, because we continue to pave over our green spaces, Los Angeles is becoming a “heat island.” With global warming exacerbating the situation, we’re contributing to a feedback loop of increasingly dangerous heat waves that hurt every living creature, including human beings.

To make matters worse, our City Council, the one that allegedly looks after the best interest of the millions of people who live here is now considering a new ordinance (Council File 16-0461, for the morbidly curious) that would allow developers to cut down decades-old mature shade trees, worth anywhere from $10,000 – $75,000, depending on the species and size, and plant baby saplings in their place. (And not even in their actual place; just “someplace.”) For this privilege the developers would be charged an “in-lieu” fee of $2,600. In other words, if you can pony up the cash, the City will allow you to kill all the trees you wish, even those that are older than most of us currently alive.

As an enthusiastic gardener and arborist, I can attest that newly planted saplings take more than 10 years before they start providing anything like a “canopy.” They won’t become “shade trees” for nearly 20 years. Every day of those decades, the sun will continue to scorch the denuded sidewalks, intensifying the greenhouse effect. The lost oxygen — remember, trees eat carbon dioxide — can’t be readily replaced, even by checks made out to the City for $2,600 per chop-down.

The concept of allowing what would otherwise be criminal behavior to go unpunished if you’re wealthy enough to buy yourself a get-out-of-jail card offends the basic tenets of justice. De-greening a city infamously known for its poor air quality offends the basic tenets of common sense. “In-lieu” fees aren’t just a bad idea; they’re harmful.

Alas, getting more luxury condo “mixed-use” buildings constructed seems to be the Garcetti administration’s main concern. (That and prepping him for higher office). Now would be good time to hug a tree. And an even better time to let your elected representatives know that you oppose “in lieu” fees for killing trees.

District 1Gil Cedillo: 213-473-7001
District 2Paul Krekorian: 213-473-7002
District 3Bob Blumenfield: 213-473-7003
District 4David Ryu: 213-473-7004
District 5Paul Koretz: 213-473-7005
District 6Nury Martinez: 213-473-7006
District 7Monica Rodriguez: 213-473-7007
District 8Marqueece Harris-Dawson: 213-473-7008
District 9Curren Price: 213-473-7009
District 10Herb Wesson (President): 213-473-7010
District 11Mike Bonin: 213-473-7011
District 12Mitchell Englander (President pro tempore): 213-473-7012
District 13Mitch O’Farrell: 213-473-7013
District 14Jose Huizar: 213-473-7014
District 15Joe Buscaino: 213-473-7015

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4 Responses

  1. Susan Winsberg says:

    I already called all of them about the In Lieu fee. Is there anything else I can do? This must not happen!

  2. Rick Abrams says:

    Garcettism has been rotting Los Angeles since he was first elected councilmember for CD 13 in Hollywood. Thank you for reminding us all that there is no end to Garcettism, or apparently to the gullibility of Angelenos to believe everything this con man says. March 1, 2012, CityWatch, Hollywood Becomes Fraudywood, by Richard Lee Abrams

  3. Chris Zambon says:

    Soooo overwhelmingly horrible.

  4. Riley Monaghan says:

    I was upset about this when I originally learned of it a year or so ago, but then I talked to someone at Public Works who explained it to me. The law still requires a two for one replacement of trees and a public hearing when you want to remove 3 or more trees or a native tree. The only change here is that when there wasn’t room for the new trees on the project site, people or developers could drop off the new trees at the Bureau of Public Works for later planting. More often than not, those trees were never planted and died. So Public Works asked that this change be made so that people could pay Public Works instead of dropping off trees, and then it would increase the fund Public Works has to spend on trees, etc. You can read the whole thing here: