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In 2019, the Loyola Marymount University Center for Urban Resilience (CURes) partnered with TreePeople to conduct a tree canopy prioritization in the City of Commerce. 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 the tree canopy data, acquired through a previous project between CURes and TreePeople, showed that the City of Commerce only has 5% tree canopy cover. This is in contrast to 25% cover in the City of Los Angeles, and 18% tree canopy cover found countywide. The analyses also found that Commerce has great opportunity to increase its tree canopy, with 51% of the land area of the city shown to be Possible Tree Canopy.

CURes and TreePeople held two planning meetings with the City of Commerce and conducted multiple forms of outreach to engage community participation in a “tree summit,” which took place in November, 2019. Participants were introduced to the numerous ways that their city could benefit from increased tree canopy, engaged in a discussion about their personal experiences and values around trees, and were invited to take a survey to choose their top ten priorities for tree planting.

Overall, 33 surveys were collected, with the large majority (88%) of respondents indicating that they were residents of Commerce and a smaller number (42%) indicating that they worked in Commerce. Respondents had the opportunity to vote to prioritize 17 specific tree benefits across seven categories. Participants identified “Improve Air Quality and Reduce Noise” and “Beautify Neighborhoods” as their top priority categories for tree planting. Among the specific benefits, the highest priorities were Access to Parks, Air Quality, Heat, Low Tree Canopy, and Schools.

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, and these priorities were mapped using the Possible Tree Canopy data as a guide. Thus, the resulting maps showed the priority locations for tree planting in the City of Commerce that were already identified by the tree canopy assessment as Possible Tree Canopy.

The prioritization map revealed that highest priority areas of Commerce are in the northern and central parts of the City. In addition to the maps, tables were produced to provide rankings for each individual parcel in the Possible Tree Canopy boundaries. These datasets include a comprehensive listing of 2,168 Residential Parcels, 909 Road Segments, and 4 Parks in the City of Commerce.

Together, the products of this tree canopy prioritization project can guide the City of Commerce in its urban forestry planning. In the near term, TreePeople will use these data to inform a planting of over 1,000 trees, most concentrated in parks, streets, and residential giveaways. In the longer term, the City can use these data to guide future tree planting strategies.

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City of Commerce Tree Canopy Prioritization