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The Loyola Marymount University Center for Urban Resilience, TreePeople, and the Gateway Cities Council of Governments partnered to conduct tree canopy prioritization in the City of Montebello. This process utilized high resolution, high accuracy tree canopy data as a foundation to engage the public in identifying their priorities for tree planting in the city. Analysis of tree canopy data showed that the City of Montebello has 13% existing tree canopy cover, which the lowest tree canopy cover in all of Los Angeles County. The analyses also found that Montebello has great opportunity to increase its tree canopy, with 48% of the land area of the city shown to be Possible Tree Canopy.

The project partners held a series of planning meetings with the City of Montebello and conducted outreach to engage City staff, residents, and other stakeholders of Montebello. One event was a “Montebello community roundtable,” which took place on June 16, 2022 a via Zoom. Participants were presented with the numerous ways that their city could benefit from increased tree canopy, engaged in a discussion and interactive activities about their personal experiences and values around trees, and were invited to take a survey to choose their top ten priorities for tree planting.

There were 36 respondents to the Montebello Tree Canopy Survey, with 83% of respondents indicating that they were residents of the City of Montebello, and 50% indicating that they work in the City. Respondents had the opportunity to vote to prioritize 20 specific tree benefits across seven categories. Participants identified Beautify Neighborhoods and Promote Outdoor Activities (34%) and Improve Air Quality and Reduce Noise (30%), and Increase Equity for Residents (16%) as their top priority categories for tree planting. Among the specific benefits, the highest priorities were Air Quality, Low Tree Canopy, Park Improvement, Reduced Heat, and Access to Green Space. Each of the benefits voted on by participants was associated with a spatial variable (e.g., “Heat” was associated with high-resolution surface temperature data available through NASA).

Using the results from the survey, priority weightings were calculated for each spatial variable at the parcel level. These rankings were mapped to provide a visual of where participants’ combined priorities are located. The results revealed that the highest tree planting priority areas for Montebello were in the the central parts of the city. The lowest priority areas were mostly located in the northeastern part of the city. In addition to the maps, tables were produced to provide rankings for each individual parcel in the Possible Tree Canopy boundaries. This dataset includes a comprehensive listing of over 13,000 parcels in the City of Montebello, along with their priority score and percent of existing tree canopy.

The survey also asked participants about their perceptions of tree planting and care in Montebello. There were 94% who agreed that planting more trees is a priority, though 61% believed there are barriers to planting and 64% recognized that there are barriers to taking care of the trees in Montebello; in particular, barriers related to City Policies & Responsibilities, Community Knowledge & Responsibility, and Infrastructure/Physical Environment.

This project can help guide the City of Montebello in future urban forestry strategies. The City may look to focus their tree planting efforts in high priority locations that are on public lands, especially in conjunction with the Montebello Parks Master Plan. The City may also consider educational campaigns and incentives to reach out to specific landowners to increase tree canopy on private lands. Finally, the City may wish to develop new urban forestry policies and could consider pursuing funding programs to support a Montebello Urban Forest Management Plan.

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Environmental Sciences

City of Montebello Tree Canopy Prioritization