Budget cuts have meant fewer dollars for tree-trimming and this could cause problems for emergency vehicles that need feet of clearance to maneuver through city streets. Now, the crews who maintain LA's urban forest are hoping residents will alert them to overgrown trees in their area. Angie Crouch reports from Valley Village for the NBC4 News at 5 p.m. on June 19, 2012.
Massive budget cuts are making it difficult for the city to maintain hundreds of thousands of trees, the overgrowth from which is posing a hazard for emergency vehicles that need a 12-foot clearance to maneuver on city streets.
With the largest urban forest in the nation, Los Angeles consists of more than 700,000 trees.
LA’s tree-trimming budget is about half what it has been in the past. Ten years ago, city crews trimmed about 40,000 trees a year. This year, they are expected to trim about 18,000.
Officials said they are doing the best they can to keep up with growing trees and shrinking budgets.
“Yes, you can see we are trimming less trees, but I can tell you we are being more efficient and more strategic in this of the trees we are trimming,” said Nazario Sauceda, head of the Los Angeles Bureau of Street Services.
While low-hanging branches and overgrown trees can mean slow going for fire trucks, LA City Fire spokesman Cpt. Jaime Moore said the city if quick to respond when the fire department reports a problem.
The city is searching for ways to restore the tree-trimming budget, but for now, crews will have to work what they have, said LA City councilmember Tom LaBonge.
Residents are asked to report overgrown trees in their neighborhood by calling the city’s 311 hotline.