In February, following a wave of community complaints, the city of Los Angeles allocated $800,000 to landscaping maintenance at the weed-infested LAPD Administration Building. Nine months later, a major portion of the site remains plagued by overgrowth and a pricey overhaul is still months away.
The scenario underscores a budgeting and planning miscue that has hampered the site from Day 1 — the city spent $440 million to build the headquarters that opened in 2009 but never accounted for who would maintain it.
In fact, at the outset, money for the most routine caretaking was not set aside. The question of who was responsible for maintenance was tossed among city departments like a municipal hot potato.
Now, workers are preparing for a replacement program that could cost up to $550,000, according to the city Bureau of Engineering. Given that Department Recreation and Parks officials have estimated an annual maintenance cost of about $125,000 for the site, the planned fixes could end up costing more than it would have to take care of the site regularly during three years.
After it opened, the site’s only landscape maintenance was performed by a volunteer group of residents and business stakeholders organized by the Downtown Los Angeles Neighborhood Council. Absent regular care, many plants have deteriorated.
A large sycamore on the elevated plaza east of the building, adjacent to an LAPD memorial to fallen officers, was sawed down after it died. Without the sycamore, which was so large it had to be installed by a crane, the section is completely exposed to the sun and is often too hot for use as a seating area.
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– By Ryan Vaillancourt