Under cover of darkness, gardeners plant and maintain neglected plots of public land.
LOS ANGELES (AP) — More than a dozen people, some wearing orange protective gear, pulled rakes and shovels from a dingy shopping cart and started working on a parched patch of land along a busy off-ramp of the Hollywood Freeway.
It was a Saturday night and drivers whooshed past on their way to the Sunset Strip club scene.
But the crew was undeterred, and by the wee hours, they had transformed the blight into bloom with green bushes and an array of colorful flowers.
City workers on overtime? Nope, no budget for that. These were “guerrilla gardeners,” a global movement of the grass-roots variety where people seek to beautify empty or overgrown public space, usually under the cover of darkness and without the permission of municipal officials.
Getting approval to beautify public property can be cumbersome, so guerrilla gardeners in cities worldwide take matters into their own dirt-caked hands.
“We try not to let bureaucracy stand in the way,” said accountant Steven Coker, who maintains an unsanctioned garden across from his house near an exit of the Santa Monica Freeway in West Los Angeles.
After starting his garden about 12 years ago, Mr. Coker has tried several times to officially take over its upkeep but to no avail.
Los Angeles Councilman Tom LaBonge said he supports guerrilla gardening as long as people don’t present a safety hazard or impede traffic.
“I’m a guerrilla gardener, but I’m mostly just a maintenance guy,” Mr. LaBonge said. “I pull weeds when I’m out walking. Everyone is welcome to do it. The city needs help.”