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Will Tree Trimming Make the L.A.'s Budget Problems Real?

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This week much of the news coming out of City Hall deals with the newly-adopted City Council redistricting maps and whether to provide free wireless access at the Los Angeles International Airport. Instead of addressing those topics I will instead address something that may be of deeper concern: tree trimming.

Over the past few years I have wondered how many people living in our city or our state directly feel the consequences of the Los Angeles' financial crisis. Unless one works for the city or regularly uses city services, is L.A.'s financial distress only felt indirectly?

This week brings news that a city service we may all need at some point could be threatened by budget woes. Please take a moment to look out of your window and onto the street. Are the trees trimmed? The answer is "no" in a number of areas because the city's tree trimming schedule has been delayed.

Now what exactly does trimming trees have to do with how people are impacted by the city's financial crisis? Apparently some of the trees are so overgrown that it will be difficult or impossible for fire trucks and other emergency vehicles to drive down streets and respond to emergency calls. This is scary stuff.

How often are the trees trimmed? According to the the Daily News, every 40 years. Yes, that's right, every four decades. We used to cut the trees every 15 years, but that's apparently no longer possible in our current fiscal mess. The Street Tree and Park Maintenance budget was cut more than $1 million this year, from approximately $9.6 million to about $8.5 million.

Angelenos live in the city with the country's largest urban forest and this tree trimming issue is a real one. If you live in an area with overgrown trees you can all 311.

Jessica Levinson writes about the intersection of law and government in Los Angeles every week. She is a Visiting Professor at Loyola Law School. Read more of her posts here.

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