Mission Viejo

  Letter to the Editor
                The Vicious Cycle of Costly Replanting 

Vegetation can be both beautiful and drought-tolerant. This is a dry climate, and Mission Viejo residents should wonder if city hall's landscape planners acknowledge where we live.

During droughts, the city says the medians must be replanted with drought-tolerant vegetation. During a year with normal rainfall, they decide to beautify and upgrade with thirsty sycamores and Hall's Honeysuckle. If they're not replacing turf with jagged rocks, they're adding pillars, obelisks and big, brown pots. The vegetation is inconsistent.

When the city targets a street for landscaping, it can involve medians, corners and roadsides. Traffic is disrupted, and the area is unsightly for months. Thriving vegetation is removed for the new plants, which take years to fill out.
By the time the plants mature, the area is targeted again, either for refurbishment or drought-tolerant replanting, depending on what's there. Some targeted areas are allowed to deteriorate "because they'll be replanted," and other areas in north and south Mission Viejo are ignored. The medians near city hall are constantly redone while the Alicia slopes are the poster child for neglect. Apparently, the drought hasn't affected the weeds along Alicia Pkwy. 

Along Marguerite and Los Alisos, hundreds of sycamores have withered or died. This was the second attempt, as dead sycamores were replaced with more sycamores. Typically, sycamores are water-absorbing trees, naturally found in lowlands and river bottoms, not flatlands. Before selecting trees, find out if they are sensitive to dry climates and mineral-laced recycled water.

If I understand correctly, the medians rely on recycled water, so replacing the vegetation to "save water" during the drought didn't affect the water supply. If that's true, the primary beneficiaries of the replanting projects are the landscape contractors.

Joe Holtzman
Mission Viejo


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