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L.A. City Hall Lawn Refurbishing Options Priced Between $350,000 and $1 Million (Really)

Turns out the Occupy L.A. cost estimate released by the City Administrative Officer last month -- $1.7 million -- didn't include the price of fixing the lawn outside City Hall.

Nope. That was just the bill from LAPD headquarters for the overtime it had to pay 1,000-plus riot cops to raid the peaceful Occupy camp.

The ravaged lawn will require another invoice entirely. And though we agree Los Angeles has wasted an inordinate amount of time talking about a patch of grass instead of Occupy's quite pressing grievances -- banksters/pols ruining America, etc. -- the continuing ridiculousness of the city's approach to tidying up after Occupy L.A. cannot be ignored.

Blogdowntown has a full recap of last night's sardine-packed meeting between the Department of Parks and Recreation and the Downtown Neighborhood Council, where officials "presented the public with three options for the future of the City Hall lawn."

We've contacted the department's Planning, Construction and Maintenance section for the documents in full. But until then, here they are, in the words of blogger Hayley Fox:

Option One uses the most turf (aka grass) and is the closest to restoring the lawn to its original appearance. The project would cost approximately $350,000 and use an additional $90,000 per year in maintenance fees.

Option Two seems to be the favorite so far, as it preserves large areas of grass but also integrates planting areas and decomposed granite walkways. Decomposed granite is a crushed stone material that's often used for driveways as well as garden walkways and national park paths. This option costs more than double option one, and maintenance fees shoot up to about $140,000 per year.

Option Three is the most radical and represents the most dramatic departure from the lawn as we used to know it. This uses the least amount of grass, with most of it located only along the area's perimeters. This plan favors drought-resistant plants and expansive areas of the granite material. ... [It] would cost a little over a million dollars to execute and about $180,000 to maintain each year.

Sustainability pushers will be glad to know that all three options include a patch of native, drought-resistant plants for the smaller north end of the lawn.

It's the price tag on all this gardening that's really bothering us. As we reported last month, various sod and sprinkler companies gave us seven-acre estimates of around $150,000 -- so it's hard to see how the barebones Option One could have doubled that figure.

Options Three and Four are even worse offenders. Spending between $700,000 and $1 million (and maybe even more) on a new backyard for City Hall seems way out of line, given the city's financial woes and lack of any parks at all in parts of South L.A.

But whatever. Decomposed granite sounds kind of cool. The real problem is that these luxurious figures will be tacked onto the Occupy movement, as if it's the protesters' fault that park pathways badly needed repaving or that green-hards won't be satisfied with plain old turf.

L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa announced in December that he'd have to make additional budget cuts to offset all the resources sucked up by Occupy L.A. Unless he retracts that statement and admits the city just really wants an awesome new backyard, this lawn makeover will be made to look like another burden Occupy left on the taxpayers. (And you know how the media goes crazy for those.)

Last thing. Why are these options being presented as if they're the only possible answer to refurbishing the lawn?

Occupy L.A. organizer Pete Thottam tells us he watched multiple protesters stand up at past City Council meetings and volunteer to donate their time and supplies toward the effort. (Some who work in the native-plants business.) And a different Blogdowntown piece last month addressed the collaborative upkeep of the LAPD lawn, whose "grass has been scorched by the intense reflection off the glass of the building." Volunteers have been recruited to help.

Why can't the City Hall fixup be as resourceful and mature a process? If only in fairness to the Occupy legacy.

[@simone_electra / swilson@laweekly.com / @LAWeeklyNews]