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Old 08-29-2009, 09:33 PM
GreenRider's Avatar
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blush HELP: Low-Income Senior/Disabled Property Needs Solutions



ADVICE/HELP NEEDED:

Trying to Save Shrubs & Plants from
Gravel Landscaping at a Disabled/Senior Property


<< PLEASE NOTE >>


Since I am new here, it is important that you know that:

--- This is the posting by one concerned individual representing others -- there are no promotional, commercial or unethical motivations involved. It is simply a request for feedback and advice.

--- Any supportive images included within this post or future ones are only for purposes of documentation and clarification--in this case, I created what you see herein.

--- Security-wise: all such images are and will be hosted in a directory at my website, not by an anonymous or "spam" server.


OK, that out of the way,
on to the subject at hand...



Hello,

The image above sums up the gist of the situation; it is the color version of a flyer* that has not yet been used because I opted for creating a fairly well documented proposal that I submitted to the power-that-be.

*I have redacted the actual name of the property in this image for courtesy, privacy and other reasons.

It's taken me months to get the first on-site walk-through meeting with them last Thursday after I mentioned that a local City Council Field Deputy may be interested. But the meeting didn't go well for resident concerns.

So that's why I am here -- to get some pro input in terms of suggesting reasonable win-win alternatives. And since I'm a simply a concerned citizen who has taken on this cause, I'm not here to drum up business or hire anyone.

Hopefully this is acceptable to all of you.

"OK, So What Is Your Role In This?"

I am both a resident of said 270 1-bedroom units property in the West San Fernando Valley (just north of Los Angeles, CA) as well as the resident representative spearheading the effort minimize the long-lasting effects of some rather drastic re-landscaping that has already begun.

The reason I have chosen to take on this role is because while I never owned a landscaping company, I have worked in the industry in years past in more or less humble positions, but have a passion for the beauty of plants and greenery. I also was a professional designer in other industries, so I have a good eye for aesthetics.

Like most residents, this may be my last home for the next 20-30 years and so I have some natural emotional investment in preserving its beauty -- but I also have to deal with facts, one of them being that none of us own the property. It is essentially a HUD subsidized property but considered one of the "crown jewels" of the local low-income housing properties.

"Gotcha. So What's Going On?"

As with anything, everyone has their own opinions on what looks nice and what doesn't. But since I have been building a case and researching the situation for about a year, the vast consensus among residents who I have informally polled is that the new overhaul plan is sterile.

Words like "ugly" and "depressing" are common.

In a nutshell, here is the basic strategy which you can see in the flyer:

-- All bushes (Pittosporum and similar) and Agapanthus/Lily of the Nile that have been the signature green beauty of this place are being ripped out. To be replaced by lots of gravel, very un-green New Zealand Flax and scraggly Society Garlic.

And the flyer doesn't show some of the even more splendidly large bushes/hedges this property may lose.

-- It's not a water conservation issue for while xeriscaping desert plants, neither the Potisporri or Agapanthus are water guzzlers, and they are very common in the neighborhood. We've already cut back water and they haven't died.

Naturally, I do have to deal with given reasons for the drastic re-landscaping -- among which a possible, but as-of-yet to be confirmed Building and Safety citation about proximity of bushes to building issues. I'm working on this last one for it is may be the heaviest deciding factor, more so than Housing Authority budget (even in red-ink California).

I'll know more about it this coming week once I get access to City records.

So far, the only concession the meeting produced is that they may consider my offer to suggest more attractive green-leaved alternatives to the Flax/Society Garlic strategy even though about a quarter of the property has already been re-landscaped.
_______________

If this thread gets some good response and we get into more details, I can and will be able to upload video of the property giving anyone willing to help out a sort of virtual walk-through too.

Last but not least, please pardon for the length of this post,
but I had to give you the lay of the land, so to speak.

Thank you for input and wisdom.
__________________
.
Resident Representative for Landscaping Issues
at a Low-Income Senior/Disabled Property
Los Angeles CA Area

"Kindness is the language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see."~ Mark Twain

Last edited by GreenRider; 08-29-2009 at 09:44 PM..
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Old 08-29-2009, 10:38 PM
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agla is a jewel in the rough agla is a jewel in the rough agla is a jewel in the rough agla is a jewel in the rough
Speaking for myself only, I don't like people using this professional forum to impose their own agendas which I believe is the situation here. You are applying your own values and declaring them as the correct ones when the "powers that be" may or may not have developed criteria based on a wider ranging input and set of values and perhaps built a consensus prior to doing so.

I would suggest that you need work to discover the existing consensus of the values of your community that the "powers that be" need to consider. If there is none established you may want to work toward building a consensus amongst the community. It seems that you are declaring yours correct and want to come up with an alternative plan rather than to handle it through the governing structure of your housing group.

I don't think that is something many of us want to be a part of .... not to mention that this is a landscape professional network rather than a free help support group.

Many of us have experienced the rogue member of a HOA and learn the hard way that working outside of the governing authority causes more problems than it resolves.

If your values are in fact the more correct ones, building a consensus within the governing body of your housing group should be no problem. Start there before going around looking for free design help without that support. Then the design and execution should happen through "the powers that be" as it should be.
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Old 08-29-2009, 10:43 PM
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agla is a jewel in the rough agla is a jewel in the rough agla is a jewel in the rough agla is a jewel in the rough
Also, I have worked on several designs of low income and senior housing. Major considerations have always been initial installation budget, maintenance budget, and survivability of harsh conditions (both natural and human). Aesthetics tend to be limited to some degree by those other values.
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Old 08-29-2009, 10:46 PM
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I agree with AGLA 100%.
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Old 08-29-2009, 11:08 PM
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I understand your comments, but as I have made it clear, I have had a meeting with them and they ("powers-that-be") are awaiting my suggestions.

So allow me re-state it:

-- All bushes (Pittosporum and similar) and Agapanthus/Lily of the Nile that have been the signature green beauty of this place are being ripped out. To be replaced by lots of gravel, very un-green New Zealand Flax and scraggly Society Garlic.

The point is to keep try to keep as much of the green in.

They heard the concern but if they are to consider a different strategy and plants (and while I have already looked into it on my own), all I'm asking for is some more informed botanical suggestions.

No-one is asking anyone here to get involved with the government and property management. I'm the resident representative, that's my job. As stated in my first posting, I'm also quite aware of budget, soil, environmental, etc. issues to the best that one can as a representative with some landscaping experience.

What I don't know, I research.

Hopefully we can come to some mutual understanding here. It's just about plants and how to best serve the situation. Simple basic questions such as:

-- Is there a similarly priced, clay-soil Zone 9-10 alternative to plant A or B or C?
__________________
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Resident Representative for Landscaping Issues
at a Low-Income Senior/Disabled Property
Los Angeles CA Area

"Kindness is the language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see."~ Mark Twain

Last edited by GreenRider; 08-30-2009 at 12:06 AM..
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Old 08-30-2009, 12:22 AM
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P.S.:

One of the comments was that this is a professional landscaping forum/network and that maybe I don't belong here. But it is why I hoped this would be a good place to ask:

-- You deal with bulk purchases, landscaping strategies, etc. Asking a homeowner at some garden forum isn't the same thing. My response to the powers-that-be needs to be informed, accurate, and feasible.


Who else better to ask than those who know best about all of this (you)? :)
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"Kindness is the language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see."~ Mark Twain
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Old 08-30-2009, 01:06 AM
Mac Mac is offline
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ready for the insensitive response?

You live in a property that is subsidized by tax payers, one of which is me.

Please dont come here asking for advice on how to spend more of my money. I can see, as a maintenance professional, that nearly regardless of the re-investment, they are going to be saving a sick amount of my money in maintenance costs alone.

Here is the reality you need to know: as a tenant (not an owner), you are at the mercy of the powers that be as you call them. They are stewarding my money in what appears to be an intelligent manner yet somehow you think you have a say in them doing otherwise??? Good luck with your case but honestly if I were a power that be, I would squash you like a bug and move on with my project.
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Old 08-30-2009, 03:36 AM
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Mac,

Who said anything about spending more of your money? It's about using what is there. It's called a "budget."

Just because the tenants are low-income elderly and disabled doesn't mean they can't have a right to voice their preferences. I'm not telling the company to overall everything, just hear our side of it. Then work out a compromise that still works for everyone.

Isn't that what you do with your customers -- or do you just ram your solution down their throat thinking more about profit than that they enjoy their homes?

Sure, we don't have much leverage in this situation, but if I were to go down the street anywhere with the flyer in my first posting and ask anyone at random which side of the images would you like for your grandparents, it would be a slam dunk.

My random poll of residents is about 90%. Had it just been my one opinion, I wouldn't have ever started this, believe me.

_________________

All that said, I have to admit this is getting tedious:

All I'm getting here is lecture after lecture on how landscaping companies are infallible and tenant views are to be "squashed like bugs." No-one is perfect, no-one has the one-&-only answer -- that's part of what meetings, business, government and compromise are about: arriving at some kind of win-win solution.

So, one last time:

--- The Housing Authority and its property management company are waiting for my suggestions soon. Is there anyone here willing to help out with some advice, yes or no?

If yes, let's put the lectures and my having to constantly defend my legitimacy aside and get down to business. If not, no problem, I'll just go somewhere else. No point you wasting my time, or I yours.
__________________
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Resident Representative for Landscaping Issues
at a Low-Income Senior/Disabled Property
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"Kindness is the language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see."~ Mark Twain

Last edited by GreenRider; 08-30-2009 at 03:45 AM..
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Old 08-30-2009, 08:52 AM
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agla is a jewel in the rough agla is a jewel in the rough agla is a jewel in the rough agla is a jewel in the rough
GrenRider,

A good resource for you would be gardenweb. Lots of forums on a numbe of subjects and a very large amount of knowledgable people (mostly gardeners) that are really into helping people out for a sense of accomplishment. You say nonprofessionals can't help you, but it seems that all you want to know after all that writing is what some alternative plants might be. They can handle that.

If you are looking for our sources for plants and materials you have to realize that there is no secret society. Our sources don't hide from people wanting to buy. Some give us better prices because we buy volume and are long term repeat customers. We can give you the names of outr sources, but they are not going to charge you any more or less than they would if you approched them on your own.

Most people on this forum are people who are trying to eek out a living based on their knowledge and neither can afford the time nor relish the idea of taking away work from other members of our industry.

Part of the reason why some of us are particularly negative has nothing to do with you or your project. It is that his messageboard is about the only one for landscape professionals that has not digressed into a zillion threads of people looking for free advice. We really want to have our own space where we can discuss things amongst ourselves without sorting through a million threads from people asking for free advice.

Another good resource for you might be monrovia nursery's web site. I believe that you can select plants by choosing hardiness zone and other criteria.
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Last edited by agla; 08-30-2009 at 09:00 AM..
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Old 08-30-2009, 09:05 AM
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OK, Got It

Hi Agla,

OK, now there's a response I can relate to :) I understand what you are saying and I respect it.
Especially in these economic times.

And thanks for the referral, I've got it in another tab ready to check out.

Feel free to delete this thread, and my account for I won't be back.
No point clogging up your cyberspace.

Kind regards,

~ P.S. Knight/GreenRider
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"Kindness is the language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see."~ Mark Twain
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Old 08-30-2009, 11:10 AM
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Fine Edge is just really nice Fine Edge is just really nice Fine Edge is just really nice Fine Edge is just really nice Fine Edge is just really nice
Not to beat a dead horse here but have you even considered going to one of the local garden centers that are more familiar with the hardiness zone, rainfall amounts and terrain? That would be one way to get some ideas for plants that might meet your criteria.
It's going to be almost impossible for many of us on here to offer ideas without actually seeing the property, knowing the allocated budget requirements, etc..
We would really just be wasting our time in that respect.
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Old 08-30-2009, 12:44 PM
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Lanelle will become famous soon enough Lanelle will become famous soon enough
Another factor that I haven't seen mentioned is the flamability of the plants being used, both the existing ones and the proposed ones. Seems that it could be a significant issue in your area, based on the current news reports I see.
As others have said, you live in an area with fairly specific needs. I work in an area that is vastly different, so I can't offer much that would be useful. Often, your local extension agent, urban forester or other environmental agency can offer a list of desirable plants.
Good luck.
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Old 08-30-2009, 05:32 PM
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Well, I'm contradicting myself by saying I wouldn't be back, but I'm kind of courtesy-compulsive about responding to responses.

Thanks to both of you, and yes, I did hit the local garden center (OSH) -- 'twas the first thing I did and in one sense why I was even taken seriously. I had taken samples of most of the properties plants in and it was the woman in charge of the store's garden section who helped form my "opinions."

In short, she agreed with me in terms of aesthetics, gravel isn't the way to go (generates too much heat-it's the hottest part of the SFV, etc.) But again, there are more than one moving parts in this equation to consider.

But right now, I want to have a nice end-of-week and set all this aside.
No reply necessary.
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