TreePeople & LA Take a Giant Step Toward Resilience

“Resilience is a value that guides everything we do in Los Angeles, because we know that the decisions we make today will shape the future our children and grandchildren will inherit. The Resilient Los Angeles plan will help us strengthen our infrastructure, protect our economy, make our institutions more inclusive, and create safer neighborhoods.”
– Mayor Eric Garcetti

Last month, the City of LA took a big step toward becoming more climate-ready when it published its first-ever Resilience Strategy. The strategy is part of the global 100 Resilient Cities effort pioneered by the Rockefeller Foundation.

The goal of the effort is to help cities around the world become more resilient to the physical, social and economic challenges that are a growing part of the 21st century. Along with the Strategy, Mayor Garcetti also signed an executive directive that directs City departments to appoint Chief Resilience Officers.

The Resilience Strategy presents 15 goals and 96 actions, covering topics from preparing for emergencies to modernizing infrastructure to reducing health and wellness inequities across neighborhoods. TreePeople was involved in the development of certain sections. In fact, we are pleased that our research partnership, the Los Angeles Urban Cooling Collaborative, is highlighted in one of the Resilience Strategy’s goals: Prepare and protect those most vulnerable to increasing extreme heat.

Under the goal, we will lead three specific actions in partnership with the City:

Map depicting LA County’s heat islands and tree canopy.

  • Plant trees in communities with low tree coverage to grow a protective and thriving tree canopy by 2028 (coinciding with LA hosting the summer Olympics).
  • Develop an urban heat vulnerability index and mitigation plan to prepare for higher temperatures and more extreme heat waves all while protecting at-risk Angelenos.
  • Develop and launch a neighborhood retrofit pilot program to test cooling strategies that prepare for higher temperatures.

Our Policy Department has worked closely with the City and its Chief Resilience Officer, Marissa Aho during this process, and we are committed to continuing that work together to realize the City’s progressive vision.

Workers applying cool pavement.

The path to a climate-ready city has already begun! Our staff is working with partner organization Climate Resolve, the Mayor’s Office, the office of City Councilmember Bob Blumenfield and the City’s Chief Legislative Analyst office to form a Committee on Cooling and Urban Heat Impacts. This group will have the task of developing actions that will reduce the effects of extreme heat and prevent heat-related illness and death – as dictated by a City Council motion in partnership with TreePeople.

Want to know how you can help create a Resilient LA? Sign up to volunteer at one of our many street tree planting or care events. More trees equal less heat! Also, make sure to support any cooling initiatives in upcoming elections.

Edith de Guzman, Director of Research, Natural Urban Systems Group, has been with TreePeople since 2003, where she manages research into best practices for the sustainable transformation of the Greater Los Angeles area. Exploring environmental, social and economic aspects of urban ecosystems, she works to collect and disseminate research that identifies the efficacy, benefits and applicability of various approaches to urban sustainability, with a special focus on watershed management. Edith received a master's in Urban Planning from UCLA and a bachelor's in History/Art History, also from UCLA.