SJ lacks money to maintain landscaping


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San Jose's Department of Transportation is responsible for maintaining 232 acres of roadway landscaping, mostly medians. But after seven straight years of budget cuts, the projected landscape budget is down to $600,000.

"We won't be doing any active plant maintenance, trimming of plants, fixing the irrigation systems, trimming of trees, weeding; so, a lot of the work we're doing now won't be done anymore," Department of Transportation Deputy Director Kevin O'Connor said.

In 2001, there was a road maintenance staff of 31. This year the crew will consist of just six people.

Funding is so short maintenance on medians will be virtually nonexistent. Litter and debris will be picked up twice a year and weeds will be sprayed once a year but not removed.

The cuts are so deep and the situation so dire, crews are actually going around ripping out healthy green landscaping before it falls into a complete state of disrepair.

"A lot of people get upset and ask why we are taking out this foliage and our answer is, we are downsizing," city worker Chuck Beltramo said.

In the coming months if there is an attractive median property in San Jose, it is probably funded by a special financing district. Businesses in high profile areas will be given the chance to form such a district and fund the maintenance themselves. If not, what was green will soon be brown and sometimes even worse.

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