Another Failed Landscape – When Ideology Trumps User Needs

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    Rob Halpern

    We need a landscape architect who understands that parks are for people and not just to cleanse runoff water.


    Jon Quackenbush

    The question I pose is, if the new species are winning and the old ones are dying out, when did we become God to decide which stays and which goes? And how do we know we’re right?


    *Head slap

    Pat S. Rosend

    Well, I am unable to get enough information from that article to determine the story behind the park. We have over 400 parks in my county, and most of them look like they don’t do anything. I find it more a failure of communication/education than anything else. Maybe the park is waiting for funding to be completed?

    Alan Ray, RLA

    Good article….

    someone needed to say it.

    Andrew Garulay, RLA

    U wood of thunk Olmsted wood bee spelt write.

    Jon Quackenbush

    Whatdid you like about it, specifically?

        While I can understand his perspective about the edge of a desert and use of native plants, however he didn’t think this all the way through.  In the north east, this just wouldn’t fly to me.

        I believe in Darwin. I think in the main he got it right. We all compete. Plants compete for air, sunlight and space. Animals compete for food, breeding grounds, for mates. The stronger and more adaptive survive, the weaker die out, ultimately vanish, and become extinct.

    Yes, this may be how it works when spaced out over eons, however ecosystems aren’t adaptable to rapid and sudden changes in their environment, and that leads to the collapse of the whole system.  This guy is advocating using Darwin as a reason to throw your hands up and do nothing, and continue making vast and sweeping alterations to ecosystems that have existed for millions of years so we don’t need to feel guilty about introducing invasives, fragmenting ecosystems and eliminating the territory of apex predators so that all that is left are rodents and cockroaches.

    Sara Donohoe


    Trace One

    That article is so stupid, it must come from someone educated in the american public school systems..

    Just as humanity has developed political systems based on something we call ‘human rights’, a concept that did not exist 500 years ago, we similarly have used our brains and come to an understanding of something called ‘ecology’ or the interdependence of all species on the earth. This concept also did not exist 500 years ago -it is called ‘progress’, when we have increased our comprehension of the world, no?

    The animals and plants of the world are  hanging on by slivers, from the onslaught of human population explosion and resource exploitation.

    It is because we have the brains to understand the concept of ecology, that some  species continue to be able to survive. Those small spaces of native plants, that this person wants to be irrigated sweetgums, just like Brooklyn (except that it is Malibu) are providing for many lives other than  hers, and those lives are equally as important  – I think Ben Franklin said humanity could not survive four months without bees.

    Malibu has  no natural source of water, unlike Brooklyn. These natural areas serve to show us how we could live, by respecting the earth, and respecting water use. This is something  we need to take extremely seriously – the non-irrigated landscape. Georgia (Atlanta) already has it’s water wars. The Colorado, that supplies most of California, doesn’t even make it to the Pacific without being tapped out for human use. If  you can’t see the value of a non-irrigated natural landscape, for wildlife and as an appropriate level of water-use for our exploding population,   I recommend you not cross the street today, you may get hit by a bus.


    Heather Smith

    I wonder if this park was designed by landscape architects…I don’t know. But I guess the question I would ask is why can’t you have both? A good design should be able to incorporate the use of people with the needs of the environment. The fact that few people use the park tells me this guy is on to something, I just think he doesn’t know what that is. We did a design for a Water wise demonstration garden at our cities water department. There was a push back by native species group to the use of drought tolerant cultivars that were non-native. Some leggy, natives made their way in…but with education we were able to convince people that we needed to focus on the goals of this particular landscape which was to show people that a garden could be beautiful year round and be drought tolerant.

    David J. Chirico

    That’s a good point Jon.  I recall sitting in on a lecture a few years back where the point was made that spartina was an invasive species in the United States but not in Europe.

    In Europe it is kept under control by a certain insect, one that doesn’t exist in this country.  Without its natural predator it has quite an impact environmentally and economically.

    He makes it more a utilitarian arguement that the needs of the many outweighing the needs of the few.

    Jason T. Radice

    You hit the nail on the head. A good design would have seamlessly accomodated both needs. The author is right in what good is the park if people don’t use it? Just preserved space would have been a whole lot cheaper. I also don’t know too much about the place, so a quick Google was in order…



    Its one of those “fake” ecosystem “education” places where they cram a bunch of separate ecosystems in a small space, none of which is even remotely large enough to have any efficacy whatsoever. Then they put up a bunch of signs and call it educational. I for one am sick of that. Even the LEED credit for signage needs to go bye-bye. Its a cheap an ineffective credit. In reality, its a an overdressed stormwater basin. There is little there, or even around there other than retail/office. Who is the targeted user?? It is also very close, almost touching in fact, another state park and another state recreation area, and really close to another GIGANTIC state park. Did Malibu really need yet another park? Probably not. And not one like this. I subscribe to the Walter Hood thinking that there CAN be too many parks. Instead of building a new one, increase the usability and the quality of an existing or underutilized one. Consolidate them. If you are going to spend this kind of money, give people something.

    Alan Ray, RLA
    Participant least give them something they will use….

    what a waste!


    Jon Quackenbush

    …the needs of the many outweighing the needs of the few.

    This echoes my philosophy on many things, and I personally consider the needs of the many are not simply anthropocentric, which I feel the author of this article feels to the contrary.  The challenge I struggle with professionally is either my peers do not feel this way or are ambivalent.

    I don’t see the use of native plants to be a religion per se, but I do consider it respectful to our local ecosystem, and an spiritual and personal embrace to where you live.  Leave no footprints.

    Alan Ray, RLA

    Tracie, didn’t you go to U. of Penn?

    last time I looked it was a public school….

    you are so funny sometimes…

    Alan Ray, RLA

    i liked the part of it being such a waste since no one uses the park….not so much the Darwin thing….I loved Ben Stein’s movie “Expelled”….little tired of  the native species thing, too….”give me crapemyrtles or give me death”!!!

    all non-natives are not invasive, some are….”we have met the enemy and he is us” …how very strange.


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