Antonio Villaraigosa Still Hasn't Planted One Million Trees, But Is That a Good Thing?

L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa
L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa

So we were just reminded about Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa's "Million Trees L.A." program -- the much-heralded, but long-suffering initiative the mayor kicked off in 2006 to prove his green cred to environmentalists.

It's been long-suffering in the sense that Villaraigosa's program has run into major problems getting the job done over the past four and a half years, with reports about no one knowing exactly how many trees have been planted by Million Trees L.A.

So we looked at the Million Trees L.A. web site for an update and guess what? With only two years until Villaraigosa leaves office, there's still no indication that he'll complete his much-ballyhooed project. And, funnily enough, that may actually be a good thing.

The official Million Trees L.A. web site promises to post an official "Tree Count," but we can't easily find one. So who knows how many trees have planted?

New York City, on the other hand, shows a count on the home page of its million trees program -- 467,223 to be exact.

It can be safely assumed, however, that Villaraigosa is nowhere near a million trees.

When that day comes, if it ever comes, the trumpets will be sounding, TV cameras will be rolling, Villaraigosa will be standing next to the millionth tree with a silver-plated shovel in his hand, and City Council President Eric Garcetti will be standing behind him with a big, toothy grin.

So far, though, silence.

Char Miller, the director and W.M. Keck Professor of Environmental Analysis at Pomona College, also recently took a "poke" at Villaraigosa's program, writing on the KCET web site that planting a million trees has environmental repercussions in L.A. and California that the mayor may not have considered.

For example, more trees need more water to grow and survive, which takes away from the state's often delicate water supply.

Could it be that Villaraigosa's inability to plant a million trees is actually a good thing for the the state and local environments?

Now that would be ironic, wouldn't it?

Contact Patrick Range McDonald at


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