In the sparse shade of one of the many Queen Palm trees along Third Avenue in Hillcrest, Jose Ruelas was cleaning up hundreds of rotting, gumball-sized palm berries splattered on the sidewalk.
“The palm trees are pretty. They give the city a good look,” Ruelas said. “But now they kind of don’t.”
Ruelas has been a professional gardener for 20 years. This year is the first that he’s had to clean up the orange berries. Customers with homes on palm-lined streets have complained and asked him why the city hasn’t trimmed the trees to prevent the falling mess.
He doesn’t know, he tells them. All he knows is the berries have been littering sidewalks and gutters incessantly across the city, creating a slipping hazard that he has to clean up.
Overhead, dead palm fronds drooped low, ready to fall with a strong gust. Thick clusters of mature berries dangled beside them.