Have you heard? Last summer, TreePeople championed the protection of our urban trees as the City of LA prepared to launch its 30-year sidewalk repair program. Now, LA is starting to roll out steps to repair sidewalks across the region. That’s right– over the next 30 years, the City plans to spend $1.4 billion dollars after a city settlement to make our sidewalks more accessible for all Angelenos.
A large piece of this effort will likely involve removing many street trees– trees that provide shade and cool spaces.
We at TreePeople fully support repairing our city sidewalks so they’re accessible for all Angelenos– but we also know the public health impacts if we sacrifice our trees. Without proper protections in place for our street trees when we roll out sidewalk repairs, LA could be trading one challenge, inaccessible sidewalks, with increased heat and pollution, all at a time when drought, pests and extreme heat are already putting pressure on our urban forest. Too many communities in LA already lack adequate access to the many benefits trees provide, so that’s why we’re here to stand up for a vision for LA’s infrastructure that brings together improved accessibility AND a thriving urban forest.
You can help! Make your voice heard, and let your councilmember know that you want LA’s communities to be safe and shaded (you can check here if you need to confirm who your LA City Councilmember is).
Not sure where to start? Here is a sample letter template you can copy, paste and edit into an email (and don’t forget to let us know you did by sending us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org!):
Dear Councilmember __________,
I am writing to ask for your leadership to ensure that every community throughout Los Angeles has a healthy, thriving tree canopy now and in generations to come.
It’s no secret: as the City starts to spend $1.4 billion over the next 30 years to repair sidewalks under the Willits settlement, some trees will be removed to make sidewalks more accessible. As a City of LA resident, I care. I support the settlement and want all Angelenos to have a safe and accessible city. However, I also want our communities to have a healthy urban forest to protect us all from extreme heat, purify the air we breathe, clean and add stormwater to our local water supply, and much more.
In a future with persistent drought and climate change, the well-being of too many Angelenos is at stake to risk losing the vital benefits our city trees give us– LA cannot put its residents, especially those most vulnerable to extreme heat and poor air quality, at risk by unnecessarily removing protective tree canopy.
I am concerned to learn that the LA City Council’s Public Works and Gang Reduction and Budget and Finance Committees recently voted to eliminate a proposed commitment for the City to help fund trees being replaced in a draft Incentive Rebate Program that would provide a rebate for homeowners and business who decide to proactively fix their sidewalks. At the very minimum, when a tree must be removed it should be replaced by at least two trees. Many of the offending trees will be removed because they are too big for their planting location, the new trees will be smaller species that will never provide the same benefits. Our street trees already struggle from challenges such as pests, extreme heat, and drought. The City needs to commit to a plan that funds the establishment and care of these replacement trees to ensure Angelenos don’t see our street tree population decimated and lose the many critical protections they give us.
As the full City Council works to finalize the Incentive Rebate Program, I urge you to stand up for the well-being of our communities and make sure that the City re-commits to funding the planting and care of a second tree whenever trees must be removed. Without a secure funding source and planting timeline, we leave too much up to chance and miss an important opportunity to create a more healthy and liveable city for all Angelenos.
[Insert Name Here]
[Insert Address Here]