Sunset Boulevard’s Bureaucratic Medians

I just finished reading an article today in the West Portal Monthly about the medians on Sunset Boulevard. I knew something was up because I’ve noticed they’ve been tearing them up recently. Not all of them, but only a six block area of them. This got me wondering when I saw the new turf laid down and wondered how much that cost the taxpayers.

Now I have to admit that the median has been nothing but weeds for years with a few bits of grass thrown in so in some ways I’m happy to see it replanted but at what cost? $1.2 million dollars is the cost and why are we spending this much? Well apparently our supervisor Carmen Chu got the idea that it would be good to replace the 25 year system and install a new more water efficient for of grass called bentgrass. It says it uses about half the water of the previous weeds grass so I had to look into this new fangled grass.

Apparently, bentgrass is mostly used on golf course putting greens, lawn bowling and lawn tennis courts so that already sounds like it’s a kind of luxury grass. Here’s the kicker on what the demands are for growing this grass according to University of California’s Integrated Pest Management ProgramHigh maintenance. Creeping bentgrass requires frequent watering, mowing, aerating, and dethatching, and high levels of fertilizer.

Oops! Little mistake there. The article goes on to state that this new grass and the low flow watering system will save seven million gallons a year which could serve 120 single family homes in the Sunset. There’s a little hitch to this problem. That’s all reclaimed water. The only thing it’s good for is watering your lawn and maybe washing your car. Reclaimed water is filtered sewer water with some of the impurities removed. It is not fit for human consumption in any way shape or form, so it’s not saving water for human consumption one bit.

I’ve driven by the medians that have been finished and I’ve seen the sprinklers popping up. Because it’s new turf you have to water it more at first. These look just like the sprinklers we installed in our lawn. There’s nothing really specials about this that makes them anymore water efficient than mine, but they’ve got a lot more of them. They’re about one foot apart and these are still not too cheap.

The next phases of this is to reinstall new turf on either side of Sunset Boulevard. First the east side, then the west side. I’m not sure what that’s going to do to all the new trees they planted around the area recently, but I expect that some of them might be injured if they don’t carefully remove them or use smaller tillers to dig up the soil. What’s even more baffling is that some of those big trees there are very old and have some big root structures that have been tearing up the boulevard causing bumps  in the far right lanes in places.

Now it’s time for what would Eric do? [WWED?], well they should have pulled out the grass altogether and planted some of those nice aeoniums and other succulent like plants that we found grow if we water them and grow if we don’t. It would give us a very distinctive median that they’re doing in other parts of the city and it would take about five minutes of water every couple of weeks and a drive by once every month or so just to check if there was any overgrowth happening that needed to be trimmed back. Out across from Java Beach is a small little park that was built by the residents and it has lots of succulents planted that are just doing fine and it’s only watered by the rain. There are plenty of drought resistant plants that would have been a much better and cost effective choice, plus they clone very easily.

The other thing I question is why the other nine blocks of the boulevard are being left as is? Were there fewer donators to Carmen Chu’s campaign living north of Sunset and Rivera? If they had done it my way they could have saved money and done the entire boulevard and the extra water could be used in Golden Gater Park to make that as spectacular as it used to be.

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