April 20, 2024 The Best Source of News, Culture, Lifestyle for Culver City, Mar Vista, Del Rey, Palms and West Los Angeles

San Vicente grass situation in Brentwood explained

San Vicente grass in Brentwood before it was cut earlier this week.
San Vicente grass in Brentwood before it was cut earlier this week.

Westside Today has received several inquiries about the grass in the middle of San Vicente’s median strip – where the Coral Trees are. Green grass became quite heavy in some parts of the median strip in recent weeks; other parts of the median strip have been parched and quite barren.

Teri Redman Kahn, who is playing an active role in San Vicente irrigation issues, said the City of Los Angele and a contractor who cuts the grass on the median strip needed extra time to hammer out a contract. For this reason, the grass went uncut for much longer than normal.

The grass has been growing wildly in some places; in other places, the median strip seems quite dry and the grass turned brown. The grass was finally cut earlier this week.

But the good news about this situation, according to Kahn, is that the grass situation was “kind of like an MRI” of what’s going on beneath the median strip: broken irrigation pipes leak water, resulting in the very green grass in some patches; the barren spots reveal sections of the median strip that receive little or no water – also the result of broken pipes.

The uncut grass has made it easier for Kahn to explain to city officials what the nature of the problem is. The irrigation system, she says, is in need of repair. The grass helps city officials better visualize the problem beneath the surface.

Watering on the median strip has been an issue for years. Grass requires a lot of water; Coral Trees suffer if they get too much water. Branches of Coral Trees are very porous and spongy and absorb lots of water. The excessive weight of the water-logged branches is what causes so many to break off and fall to the ground.

Getting the balance just right is difficult. Fixing the irrigation system offers an opportunity to get the water balance between the grass and the Coral Trees correct, with some drainage work required to make sure the trees don’t become over-watered.

But such a plan would be expensive and it’s not clear where the money would come from.  The city says it can’t afford to make the repairs. Private money, locally raised, is one option under consideration, but Kahn said she is concerned that if the Brentwood community “adopted” the median strip and Brentwood’s beloved Coral Trees, the city might figure it no longer needs to care for the grass and the trees. Ongoing maintenance is expensive.

But, given the drought, many think it’s time to consider alternatives that vastly reduce water usage. Kahn is exploring ways to replace the grass with drought resistant plants and natural materials that don’t require much, if any, water. Some very preliminary ideas have been put forth by local landscapers. But these plans would require significant funding, also.

Observers note that the grass and trees on the San Vicente median strip look much healthier as one crosses 26th Street heading west into Santa Monica. Santa Monica is financially healthier and less bureaucratic than the City of Los Angeles, and it’s easier for Santa Monica do deal with issues like these.

Maybe the recent “grass out of control” situation will draw some needed attention here in Los Angeles.

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