Take a good look at the tree in the picture. It's a ficus with a base that is 4 1/2 inches wide and stands 4 feet tall. It took two years to grow that tall in the trash that fills the gutter along La Tijera in Westchester, home to LAX. It's not the only spot that's been neglected, but it's the most obvious evidence of just how long it's been since our city council office has paid any real attention to providing basic city services. Well, instead of just complaining, we decided to host a community clean-up in Westchester this December 1 to take care of our neighborhood because we just can’t wait for our local government to do it for us.
This economy has struck my neighborhood hard. I can look down my block and out of 13 houses, I know of 10 where they are either underwater on their mortgage, have been unemployed at some point in this recession, or have struggled with fewer hours and higher demands at work. Between 2008 and now, over 6,000 teachers like me were laid off from their school at some point. I was one of them.
So, I look at this tree that’s been growing in the gutter for 2 years and I understand that times are hard. We all understand that times are hard. But two years? Can we really accept that the city hasn’t dealt with a tree growing in the gutter of a major thoroughfare that is, for many tourists, one of the first things they see after landing at LAX?
This is a management issue, plain and simple. This tree should have been taken care of, but it hasn’t because the people working in our city council office have done a poor job of managing our resources. It’s a combination of inattentiveness on the part of Team Rosendahl and a huge deficit in creativity. And I think it’s unacceptable because something can be done about this.
Unfortunately, it isn’t spending money – hence the difficulty our council office has in dealing with this issue. Well, it’s time to get resourceful in places where we don’t have the resources.
Did you know that nearly every high school requires its students to complete community service hours each year to graduate?
During the course of my campaign this year, I’ve run into these kids at events and they are desperate to complete those hours. Why hasn’t our council office created a program to proactively manage those hours yet?
I would put them to work doing all of the little things that require less skill and supervision – community clean-ups for instance. We kill two birds with one stone by putting these kids to work. First, they can take care of the little details that drive down our overall sense of pride in the community and simultaneously free the city employees to focus on larger tasks. Second, it builds in our children a sense of civic ownership that will live long after they complete their task.
Imagine a city where its young people feel a sense of ownership. Picture a Los Angeles where its youth have grown up as part of the solution to this recession under the careful stewardship of a city hall that pays attention.
Can YOU see it? I can. Join us on December 1 in Westchester and let’s just take care of this problem ourselves. We can’t afford to wait for the winter rain to wash all this garbage down into the storm drain and into the ocean. Go to our events page and RSVP to help out. More details to follow. Snacks will be provided.