Saturday, December 17, 2011

Free Mulch 'til Eternity

Our street is still lined on both sides with piles of tree branches, although we can see the clean-up approach and it looks like the crews will get to us this weekend if the weather holds. It's been fun, but I guess it'll be nice to have street parking again.

Few members of the relevant Pasadena city staff have had much sleep these last two weeks.  I've spoken with sanitation workers on garbage pick-up rounds, streets workers repairing damaged street lights and electrical workers doing that stuff they do with the wires. Everybody's been working long shifts, trying to put the city back together again. They're tired but still going, still keeping their spirits up as far as I can tell. At least nobody's snapped at me. Honestly, I'd be so nasty by now if I'd been working 12 hour shifts for 16 days straight. They are amazing and they're not finished yet.

Because, you know, GAME. PARADE.

If you're a regular here at PDP you know of at least one tireless city staff member who's been keeping us informed since the early morning hours of December 1st: Ann Erdman, Pasadena's Public Information Officer. Thank you, Ann. You're the best.

I've received more information from Ann's office--four more press releases over the last few days. I'm going to edit them down here to the most pertinent stuff.

The first one is in the "better late than never" category. Ann was on time, just--I wasn't. Fortunately the weather wasn't too bad yesterday. Today we may not be so lucky.

Topics of the press releases include, in this order:
more storm warnings
a fund to replace our lost trees
debris pick-up and dumping
free mulch! dude!

Questions answered. Contact information. Scroll through and find what you need.


December 15, 2011
5:34 PM
MEDIA CONTACT: Ann Erdman, (626) 744-4755


Following a ferocious thunderstorm that swept through Pasadena this afternoon, a second windstorm with predicted gusts of up to 60 miles an hour is expected to hit Dec. 16 and 17.

Pasadena Public Works Department crews will be working all weekend to continue the process of debris removal.

“The city of Pasadena has extra crews on call to respond to emergencies should that be necessary,” said Pasadena City Manager Michael J. Beck. “This is a good time for residents to make sure they are prepared in case of an emergency.”        

A page on the city website – – includes comprehensive information about windstorms, including instructions for emergency preparedness, important phone numbers, answers to frequently asked questions and more.

To report power-related issues, call (626) 744-4673;
to report fallen or compromised trees in the public right of way, call (626) 744-4321;
to report fallen or compromised trees on private property, call (626) 744-4009;
to report building damage, call (626) 744-4200.

To report a life-threatening emergency, call 9-1-1.


December 15, 2011
5:03 PM


The city of Pasadena lost close to 1,100 trees of all sizes and species during the recent hurricane-force windstorm and at least 70 more park trees have been damaged and are being assessed for their chances of survival.

Now two local foundations are working together to help renew the public portion of Pasadena’s urban forest by replacing those lost trees.  

The Pasadena Community Foundation has teamed up with Pasadena Beautiful Foundation to establish the Windstorm Tree Fund for Pasadena to raise money for the purchase and planting of replacement trees on city property.

Pasadena Community Foundation, a non-profit, tax-exempt public charity created by and for the people of Pasadena, will match up to $10,000 in donations to the fund. All donations to the Windstorm Tree Fund for Pasadena are tax deductible and organizers stress that every penny donated will be used for the sole purpose of planting new trees.

“Without us having to ask, these two organizations saw the need, came to the city and offered their help," said City Manager Michael J. Beck. "In a time of very tight budgets, this kind of support from our residents is especially welcome and we’re very grateful.”

“Our urban forest is what makes our community livable,” said Emina Darakjy, past president of Pasadena Beautiful Foundation, a non-profit community organization that has worked with the city of Pasadena for 50 years to plant and protect trees. “Besides adding a natural beauty, trees provide quantifiable economic, ecosystem and health benefits.”

Donations to the fund may be made at (click on Make a Donation) or mailed to Pasadena Beautiful Foundation, 140 S. Lake Ave., Suite 268, Pasadena CA 91101.

For more information about the Windstorm Tree Fund for Pasadena and to follow its progress, visit and  Facebook users can “Like” the Windstorm Tree Fund for Pasadena page.

# # #

December 13, 2011
5:11 pm


The enormity of the windstorm recovery effort is becoming clearer every day.

Pasadena Public Works Department crews have been working tirelessly to clear the city’s 325 miles of roadways of storm debris and so far have collected a year’s worth – 18,000 tons – in just one week.

“It’s an incredible amount of material,” said Public Works Director Siobhan Foster.  “We’re going to be devoting the next several weeks to picking up all the green windstorm debris that residents have put out at the curb.”

A small contingent from L.A. County Department of Public Works continues to assist Pasadena Public Works with the massive project. Primary and secondary arterial roads have been cleared and now crews are concentrating on residential streets, moving east to west across the community while responding to day-to-day issues.

Foster reiterated that the Dec. 12 deadline for putting green storm debris at the curb for pickup has now passed and urged residents not to keep adding more, especially if crews have already cleared their streets.  

“Once we finish a street, we’re finished,” she added.  “We won’t be making a second pass to pick up more debris put out at the curb after the deadline. Our crews have to get to every part of the city.”

Residents with additional storm debris not placed at the street are advised to break it up to fit in yard-waste bins or take it to drop-off sites at the parking lots of Robinson Park, 1081 N. Fair Oaks Avenue, or Eaton Blanche Park, 3100 E. Del Mar Boulevard, by Friday, Dec. 16. All green debris, whether already at the curb or taken to a site, should be unbagged.

For more information call (626) 744-4087.

# # #

December 13, 2011
5:30 pm


The recent hurricane-force windstorm that rocked Pasadena has finally yielded one benefit: free mulch for gardens.

Green debris taken by residents to two drop-off points has been ground up and will be returned to those locations starting this week as free mulch available to any Pasadenan with a shovel and something with which to carry the mulch.

Mulch will be available daily from Dec. 16 to 29, 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., at Eaton Blanche Park, 3100 E. Del Mar Blvd., in the parking lot on Millicent Way; and Robinson Park, 1081 N. Fair Oaks Ave., in the parking lot on Morton Street.

Mulch is an important organic protective cover placed over soil to help retain moisture, return nutrients, discourage weed growth and encourage seed germination and healthy plant growth. 

To prevent contamination of mulch, residents are reminded that yard waste must never contain any non-green items such as mattresses, fence material, roof shingles or other debris.

In addition to a great deal of free mulch, the unprecedented amount of storm debris has led to an increase in illegal dumping on streets, in parks and public rights of way. Pasadena Police are on the lookout for illegal dumping and will issue citations.

For more information about green debris collection and free mulch, contact Environmental Programs Manager Gabriel Silva at (626) 744-4721.

# # #

Ann Erdman
Public Information Officer
City of Pasadena
Public Affairs Office
100 N. Garfield Ave., Room S228
Pasadena CA  91109
(626) 744-4755
Cell: (626) 375-2742
Facebook:  Pasadena PIO
Twitter:  pasadenapio


Shell Sherree said...

Can one ever have too mulch? I hope you don't have another chance to test that out, Petrea. It's still a bit wild and woolly over there, isn't it. Take good care. I think after our last summer of disasters here, we're holding our collective breath to see what's ahead for us. Hopefully, no mud and not a lot of mulching.

Dina said...

"Urban forest" is a new term for me. I like it.
Still admiring so much your community's spirit and efficiency.

Enjoy your mulch.

Dina said...

Oh and Petrea, thank you for adding to my post your story about the park man wanting to save the one fallen tree as an example of an ecosystem. Very interesting. It would give city kids the chance to see how a tree gradually disintegrates over the years.

Kalei's Best Friend said...

Maybe the gusto in those workers is due to the fact that they know that it could happen even in their neighborhood... When El Nino hit, and our area which was new, had mud sliding down our virgin streets, a neighbor knew a city worker who lived a block down.. he made a call and sure enough there was a crew doing clean up within hours.

Petrea Burchard said...

Thanks, Shell. I remember your awful fires last year. Mulch won't protect us from fire but our trees did get trimmed by the wind, and a lot of mulch might protect us from ensuing mud slides.

Oh Dina, I didn't mention on your blog, that man was recently forced to retire. He was just what an urban forest needs. I abhor politics.

Kalei, although I'm sure it happens I don't believe we're seeing favoritism on this particular project. The mayor, for example, lives on the west side. My city councilman lives a block from me and it doesn't look like we're getting any preference. It was main roads first, now residential streets east to west and that is that.

Michael Coppess said...

Just like other areas, our street on the east side of Pasadena is lined with downed branches. It's a mess, but I don't hear any complaints. I think everyone knows the parade route, Rose Bowl and main streets come first for clean up. That's a lot to do right there.

Kalei's Best Friend said...

Oh, I didn't mean it as favoritism.. I just meant they knew the stress homeowners were under... Empathy is the word...

Bellis said...

Kudos to Ann for her excellent work in keeping us updated.

I had the biggest wood and leaf pile of all outside my house in West Pasadena, and was feeling pretty ashamed about it, but it was all removed on Thursday and the street looks good again now.

If those workers are getting overtime, it'll be a nice Xmas bonus for them, and I don't begrudge them that. The windstorm's seriously hit our pockets, but at least I've got a nice new car out of it. The guy towing the old battered one away said that he's been dealing with nothing but cars totalled by tree branches for the past two weeks.

Petrea Burchard said...

Michael, I'm surprised they didn't start with your place first! What's up with that? I wouldn't mind if they skipped us, too, for now. The parade's got to take precedence.

Oh, now I get you, Kalei! Yes, when we were trapped on our street by fallen trees it was fun at first until we realized the downed wires could start a fire, and emergency vehicles wouldn't be able to get onto the street. A few phone calls helped put us on top of the list for downed tree removal, not because of favoritism but because we really needed to be there.

Bellis, I'm glad you got a new car. You being on the west side and having your tree debris removed makes me think the parade route is getting its due. From the discussion here, I gather we all support that.

dive said...

Mmm … Mulch.
That's a great photo, Petrea. I hope they get your street cleared up soon. We've just had three days of 100mph winds and I'm happy to say I've not lost a single roof tile or tree. Where my fence is, however, is open to conjecture. I think maybe it landed somewhere in Holland. There's certainly no sign of it anywhere around here.

Petrea Burchard said...

Three days? How did you cope? We had one night of 90mph winds and we'll be talking about it for the rest of our lives.

pasadenapio said...

Thanks for helping me get the word out, Petrea. The latest addition to our comprehensive webpage is a map that shows which streets have been cleared of tree debris so far and the ones that are awaiting service. It's on the right side of the screen under a short feedback survey I hope everyone will take a moment to complete. The map will be updated every weekday beginning Monday.

I truly love my job. Thoughts about my March 31 retirement are bittersweet at a time like this but I know I'm doing the right thing for me.

Petrea Burchard said...

I know the new people will be just fine, Ann. But we already miss Linda and we're sure going to miss you.

alex said...

can Pasadena give South Pas some of its mulch? our yard needs it and, unfortunately, our city doesn't shant provide.

Petrea Burchard said...

Alex, I have a feeling if you go to the designated spot with your bucket and shovel, Pasadena will be pleased to share mulch with you. It's not like we don't have it coming out of our patoots in mass quantities.

Susan Campisi said...

I just drove around Pasadena and I can attest to the piles of branches, leaves and palm fronds lining the streets and crews hard at work to clear them.

Hmmm... I wonder if should get in on this free mulch action too.

Petrea Burchard said...

Boz and I saw another crew of workers when we were out for our walk. Their job is clearing tree debris from residential streets. They said they were getting tomorrow off, and they'd had last Sunday off.

They're working hard and I'm sure it's great to make extra money around the holidays, but I got the feeling they enjoyed being thanked.