The Greenlining Institute recently released a report, “California’s Climate Investments,” in which KYCC’s “Green Streets through Community Engagement” project was one of 10 case studies evaluated for its success in benefiting a disadvantaged area through the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund.

Under AB 32, the Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006, California created a program charging major polluters for their greenhouse gas emissions, generating nearly $3 billion for the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund (GGRF). A second law, SB 535, allocates at least 25% of GGRF allocations to projects in disadvantaged areas.

KYCC’s Environmental Services received funding from the GGRF through a CalFire grant for our “Green Streets” project. This multi-year project builds engagement with residents in the Pico-Union and South Los Angeles neighborhoods to increase the tree canopy cover in these communities.

KYCC and our community partners will plant 1,120 trees and reduce greenhouse gases by an estimated 1,986 tons to improve air and quality of life in these neighborhoods. Pico-Union and South L.A. are disproportionately impacted by pollution, as well as poverty and unemployment.

In addition to the trees to be planted, KYCC’s work will increase soil permeability and water capture; remove turf on medians and in yards; and reduce particulate matter in residential neighborhoods.

“A dense tree canopy cover will also reduce the ‘heat island effect’ by absorbing the radiant heat from the sun and the shade will help to conserve electricity from air conditioning costs,” explains Ryan Allen, KYCC Environmental Services Manager.

Allen says that building relationships with residents is another prime goal of this project. KYCC has been planting trees in South L.A. for decades, but with this CalFire grant, we hope to build “street strategies” to outreach and educate community residents who wish to participate in the beautification of their community.

“Even though we can show that the cost to water a tree is pennies a month, if residents do not know us or trust us, getting their permission to plant a tree that they will be responsible for will continue to be a significant challenge,” Allen states. “We want to really listen to their concerns.”

Since 2007, KYCC has planted over 10,000 free trees in Los Angeles. The “Green Streets” project will be completed by 2019.