Tree Canopy is vital to keep City cool: Residents encouraged to take 3-minute survey

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Nothing like this extreme heatwave to prove how vital our tree canopy is to our city.  

For those of you who contacted the BAA with questions on this important tree survey, here is a  re-post of Preserve LA “Take LA’s Tree Survey and Save our Crucial Urban Tree Canopy.”  Please feel free to use it as a guide to fill out this very important survey. 

Take L.A.’s Tree Survey and Save our Crucial Urban Tree Canopy

We urge you to answer the below very rare City of Los Angeles urban tree canopy survey –– just 3 minutes of your time, very little to ask to help save our dying urban trees, which are crucial to L.A.’s survival as a sustainable city.

Coalition to Preserve LA calls on the L.A. City Council and Mayor Eric Garcetti to rebuild our dying urban tree canopy. As they know, L.A. is creating a “heat island” by concentrating buildings and paving land — while wiping out the urban tree canopy. Trees are the leading technology to fight climate change, carbon emissions, and skyrocketing overuse of AC.

Los Angeles has fallen a full decade behind 20 sustainable cities who are regrowing their urban tree canopies. Yet with very modest new budget funding, about $40 million in a massive $9.9 billion L.A. city budget, we can bring back the canopy, shade would return, LA would be cooled. Please DO weigh in today:

Survey:   tinyurl.com/UFMPsurvey

Our Coalition to Preserve LA answers to the city’s urban tree survey are published in bold below. 

Q:  Trees are considered green infrastructure. How important do you think trees are compared to the City’s other infrastructure (along with streets, sidewalks, sewer, lighting, etc.)?  

Our answer: Trees are equally as important as other infrastructure.

Q: How important is it to protect, sustain, and/or replace trees prior, during, and post development and/or construction? 

Our answer: Very Important

Q: Are you aware the City manages its trees? Yes

Q: Are you aware that the City has urban forest policies/ordinances? Yes

Q: Did you know that there are City staff and contractors dedicated to maintaining trees on City-owned properties, such as parks, parkways and medians? Yes

Q: How well do you think the City’s trees are currently being managed? 

Our answer: Very Poorly – Trees are not being maintained well enough.

Q: In your view, what are the five most important benefits of trees?

Our ranked answers:

  1. Climate change (carbon storage)
  2. Energy conservation (shade, lower energy bills)
  3. Climate change benefits/greenhouse gas reductions
  4. Human Health
  5. Shade for recreational activities

Q: Of the five benefits you chose above, please rank them, with 1 being most important and 5 being least. Use this format: Type the Rank, then a Dash, then the Item Number (If item 6 is most important, type 1-6; if item 4 is second most, type 2-4, etc.)

Our ranked Answers: 1-3, 2-5, 3-4, 4-6, 5-9

 Q: In your view, what are the five most significant threats facing trees?

Our ranked answers:

  1. Lack of planting (aging forest)
  2. Development/land use change (e.g., injury or removal during development)
  3. Lack of care/investment
  4. Conflicts with other infrastructure
  5. Disease

Q: Of the five threats you selected above, please rank them, with 1 being the most significant and 5 being the least. Use this format: Type the Rank, then a Dash, then the Item Number (If item 6 is most important, type 1-6; if item 4 is second most, type 2-4, etc.)

Our ranked answers:

1-8, 2-2, 3-7, 4-1, 5-3

Q; In your view, what are the five most troublesome problems trees present?

Our answer: Other 1-13 . Trees themselves are an asset, not a problem. The problem presenting trees as a problem instead of promoting enlightened and correct thinking about the crucial role our trees play in society’s survival.

Q: In your view, what are the five most important urban forestry-related issues/priorities to be address in the Los Angeles Urban Forestry Management Plan?

Our ranked answers:

  1. Low urban forest canopy cover
  2. Lack of funding
  3. No strategic planning
  4. Weak governance
  5. Lack of personnel

Q: Of the five issues you selected above, rank them, with 1 being most important and 5 being least. Use this format: Type the Rank, then a Dash, then the Item Number (If item 6 is most important, type 1-6; if item 4 is second most, type 2-4, etc.)

Our ranked answers:

1-5, 2-3, 3-6, 4-10, 5-3 

Q: What is your opinion regarding the number of trees along streets in your neighborhood? 

Our answer: There are not enough trees.

Q: What is your opinion regarding the number of trees in City parks in your neighborhood?

Our answer: There are not enough trees.

Q: In your neighborhood, where do you think more trees should be planted (if anywhere)?

Our answer: Heavy shade tree-planting near every multi-unit apartment building, cooling each of these buildings off and reducing their AC and the heat island/heat wave health impacts on residents, as well as major shade trees in every hot parking lot. No decorative trees, costly and giving little shade. We require shade trees, both native and non-native. 

Q:  What do you think is the most urgent tree-related activity in your neighborhood? 

Our answer: Tree planting

Q: Would you be willing and able to engage in initiatives to improve the urban forest on City-owned lands? Yes

— Would you be willing and able to engage in activities to improve the urban forest on your own or other private property? Yes

— What are you willing to support to ensure the City’s trees are maintained and protected for future generations? Yes

Q:  If you selected “Other”, specify what else you would be willing to support to ensure the City’s trees are maintained and protected for future generations

Our answer: Los Angeles needs a substantially reformed and rebuilt Urban Forestry department run by a PhD arborist, not run by city employees who came up through the tree trimming world. We have no expertise employed within the Urban Forestry division. Spend some money, get real experts, fix this mess. We taxpayers will back this up. Austin is a good model, so is Portland. San Diego is just now struggling to catch up. We aren’t even in the league of San Diego yet — we must step up and get rid of the current urban forestry division.

Q:  For publicly owned tree protection, planting, and maintenance programs, which of the following best reflects your view? 

Our answer: The City spends too few resources on tree maintenance.

Q: Which public outreach or communications methods do you prefer to stay informed about urban forestry issues in the City? Citizens will have an opportunity to provide contact information during the next phase of this study. Email

Q: Do you have any other comments, questions or concerns regarding the City’s tree program?

Our answer:

The city faces major political hurdles and media disinterest in the heat island effect we are creating by pouring 4 million people and their buildings and paving into an area without growing a major tree canopy to counteract that. 4 million people requires a huge, thick urban tree canopy. Somebody in City Hall with gravitas, preferably a respected City Council member, needs to take this on and sell it to the public and the media, which has very little understanding about the loss of the canopy, and no grasp of the fact that 1,500 people will die by 2050 from the heat waves we are creating (See the studies by JPL, Case Western Reserve University, University of Miami.) 

Watch: stunning drone video of Boyle Heights and Brentwood shows vast inequities in LA’s tree canopy.

You will never ignore the trees on your street again, after seeing this shattering, fascinating, silent drone video.

For more information, here is the link to the BAA post “LA’s Tree Canopy is disappearing:  New Developers rules might make it worse”  Sadly, since this post in June 2018, The City has passed Ordinance 185573 that allows developers to remove trees to build projects and agree to replace them by purchasing new ones for the City to plant elsewhere.