cutting concrete makes me happy

concrete cutting crew shows up in a cool blue truck today @ 7:30am

This may look like just an ordinary blue truck with construction apparatus in the back, but in fact this is the truck I have been waiting on for about a year now, to come cut some tree wells on by block so that I can plant some trees on San Pedro Street. I could barely sleep last night, I was so excited! (

Working with TreePeople, I have followed their guidelines to get all the permitting done, the paperwork signed and the tree varieties picked out. My planting is still two weeks away but getting the concrete cut has so far, been one of the most exciting things I think I have ever done…ever. Having never overseen anything like this, I talked to my dad (the architect) the night before. He has overseen lots of stuff like this, and suggested I “hold a clipboard, put on a hard-hat and try to appear official looking.” I did my best to follow his advice.

I had been curious about what was underneath the sidewalks on my street. I had no idea what would be below ground given that I needed sign-off from various City agencies to make sure there were no high-powered vaults or phone wires I was cutting into. I have also recently learned DTLA has a series of underground tunnels that connect prohibition era speakeasies to various “tony and/or official” addresses around town. Turns out, underneath my cuts was just…dirt. Nice dirt though. Sandy soil to be exact.

marking tree wells


this guy wanted to be in my shot, and said he wanted me to put him "on the internet" : )

this thing punched out the concrete in the center of the squares

cuts made, ready to be cleared

The level of excitement I had when the crew finally broke up the concrete and exposed the ground that was underneath made me feel like there was something going on a deeper level- something visceral. Skid Row has soooooooooooooooo much concrete and so little earth. I think this affects the psyche, and not in a good way. Since Skid Row is now being proclaimed the “Central City Recovery Zone“, I feel there needs to begin to be an in-depth analysis of the actual public space around here and how it should benefit the health of those that not only live and work here but also those that come here to heal. I had been thinking about this connection in Skid Row between health, trees, recovery and healing-tossing all these ideas about in my mind, trying to bring them together in a cohesive manner when recently I got a chance to hear Bill Roschen, FAIA -President of the Los Angeles Planning Commission speak about the future of planning in our City. Almost serendipitously, I heard him speak about this new emphasis LA will now be placing on HEALTH AND PLANNING. This crystalized a lot of what I had been thinking about for my neighborhood. I definitely want to begin working immediately on tying in greening Skid Row to what Mr. Roschen is talking about. Lots of work ahead for me on this, but it seems like a natural and obvious path towards not only beautifying but revitalizing Skid Row.

Once my cuts were made and the concrete cleared away- this is what my tree wells looked like.


Seeing this dirt made me want to celebrate. I swear I wanted to jump in this dirt and wallow around in it…like this!

Next up….the trees get delivered.

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5 Responses to cutting concrete makes me happy

  1. hooray! where is the picture of you in your hard hat? 😉

  2. Hal McMath says:

    Many thanks to Katherine for getting this project over the hump! This was the hardest part to achieve. Hopefully the project will come to serve as a demo project that can be replicated elsewhere in the area.

  3. Congratulations, Katherine! You’ve worked long and hard to get to this point. (And hey, you’ve earned some pig time… so to speak.)

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