Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti’s Green New Deal has promised to raise the shade and cool some of the sun-drenched, low-income neighborhoods in LA.
In 2019, the city set an ambitious goal of planting 90,000 trees by the end of the year, but delays caused by pandemics may make it impossible to meet that deadline.
Scientists and other environmental researchers say more trees are critical to the health and environment of some of LA’s most vulnerable communities.
Vivek Shandas, founder of the Sustaining Urban Places Research Lab, has studied the distribution of trees in Los Angeles.
“What we’re seeing here in LA is a very skewed distribution of tree capital,” Shandas said.
Shandas explains that disinvested communities – those minority neighborhoods that have historically received less funding and had fewer opportunities to grow – tend to have fewer trees than wealthier neighborhoods.
In 2019, the city set an ambitious goal of planting 90,000 trees by the end of the year, but delays caused by pandemics may make it impossible to meet that deadline. Lolita Lopez will report for NBC4 News on Friday, October 1st, 2021.
“Trees shouldn’t be seen as a luxury, they should be seen as an essential part of any corridor,” he said during a recent presentation hosted by Streets LA.
Research shows that canopy communities can have significant consequences.
A recent study from the University of San Diego looked at surface temperatures in urban neighborhoods across the country. Researchers found that on hot days, communities with higher black, Hispanic, and Asian populations were several degrees hotter than wealthier, mostly whites.
Not every neighborhood has shade and there is an urge to change that. Lolita Lopez will report for the NBC4 News on Wednesday, September 22, 2021.
“We don’t want an older Angelino waiting for the bus to get heat stroke. We want them to be cooler,” Rachel Malarich, the city’s first forest officer, told the NBC4 I team.
One study found a link between “having a more robust urban canopy and better public health outcomes”, including “increased immune system function and lower levels of inflammation”.
One way to extend the benefits to other Angelenos: free trees. If you live in the city of LA, you can purchase up to seven trees for your own property if you commit to following the care instructions.
Tree adoptions are taking place all over the city and are part of the work of the non-profit group City Plants.
They work with the City of LA and several other nonprofits to plant trees across the city, especially in neighborhoods where trees are scarce.
“Trees just give back. We should give them back,” said Robin Dixon, a Crenshaw-based entrepreneur, at a tree adoption in South Los Angeles.
“We are trying to upgrade our outdoor area,” says Myra Cordova, kindergarten teacher in Val Gardena.
City Plants will also take into account local residents’ requests to plant trees in public spaces in their neighborhood.
“You can request trees on their website to have some trees delivered to your home, or have the process begin and have the nonprofit partner inspect your location, place an order for the tree, dig the hole, and have it plant you,” he said LA City Forest Officer Malarich.
“You just have to commit to watering the tree for the first three to five years and making sure it gets the water it needs if it sets in the ground in front of your house,” she added.
Malarich explains that these planting projects are part of the overall work to increase the canopy of the city.
“We know that nature and green spaces do so much for our mental and physical health and well-being,” said Malarich. “It’s a critical issue that we need to address,” she added.
For the first time in decades, the city is conducting a tree inventory, reviewing the types and condition of trees in Los Angeles, and identifying bald spots, some of which have been vacant for years.
“We already have 100,000 vacancies that you have recorded,” said Malarich. “So if a resident calls and says, hey, I live here in this part of South LA on this neighborhood council. And I want, you know, to get new trees, I could say you know what? believe in 4,000 vacancies in your neighborhood. “
The city has a public website that tracks inventory. It also shows how much money can be saved by planting more trees.
Malarich says a calculator embedded in software developed by the US Forest Service quantifies the benefits of trees via shade, moisture and better air quality, dollar savings from less CO2 and less energy and water consumption.