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Los Angeles confronts climate change on the streets

The city has launched the first of 10 projects that aim to lower neighbourhood temperatures and advance the goals of the LA mayor’s Green New Deal.

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The goal is to deliver shade more equitably around Los Angeles
The goal is to deliver shade more equitably around Los Angeles

Los Angeles mayor, Eric Garcetti, has launched an initiative designed to mitigate the effects of climate change at local level and bring down the temperature in neighbourhoods.

 

Cool Streets LA will pilot six ‘cool’ neighbourhood projects in vulnerable communities by 2021 and a further four by 2025.

 

Green New Deal


The projects advance the mayor’s Green New Deal and will help achieve further key goals within this policy: the planting of 90,000 trees by 2021 and increasing tree canopy in areas of greatest need by at least 50 per cent by 2028.

 

“Rising temperatures put our local communities on the front lines of the climate crisis,” said Garcetti. “Cool Streets LA is about taking action in ways that will make a real and direct impact on people’s daily lives.”

The first of these pilots includes the planting of 14 new street trees in a single two-block stretch, the deployment of 35,000 square feet of cool pavement, and the installation of four bus benches with shade canopies.

 

In addition to this unveiling, Garcetti announced a design workshop led by the City’s Bureau of Street Services, StreetsLA, and the chief design officer, Christopher Hawthorne, to develop options for shade structures that can be added to bus benches and easily scaled-up for production.

“In an era of climate change, shade has become an equity issue and can even be thought of as a kind of infrastructure”

StreetsLA has combined several cooling strategies to help lower temperatures and add shade in LA’s hottest and most vulnerable neighbourhoods. Through the programme, Angelenos can expect the city to plant new street trees, install cool pavement, build bus benches with shade structures, expand cool roofs, provide hydration stations and empower local businesses with energy efficiency rebate services offered through the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power.

 

“StreetsLA is committed to enhancing the quality of life for all,” said director of the Bureau of Street Services, Adel Hagekhalil. “By implementing holistic, innovative and coordinated solutions such as applying cool pavement, planting trees, installing transit shelters and adding hydration stations, we are cooling our communities and making our streets safe, mobile and resilient.

 

Transit corridors

 

Cool Streets LA includes a renewed focus on transit corridors citywide in neighbourhoods where residents are more dependent on public transportation. By December 2020, StreetsLA will install 750 new bus benches with access to shade through canopies, buildings or new and existing trees.


“In an era of climate change, shade has become an equity issue and can even be thought of as a kind of infrastructure,” said Hawthorne. “We’ve always had beautifully shaded streets and sidewalks in parts of Los Angeles. Our goal is to deliver shade more equitably around the city, to make the experience of walking or waiting for the bus or train more comfortable.

 

“In the coming weeks, the mayor’s office will be supporting this effort by organising a design workshop to find solutions to provide shade that are both attractive and cost-effective.”

“Cool Streets LA is about taking action in ways that will make a real and direct impact on people’s daily lives”

The cooling impacts in Cool Streets LA will enable the City to meet a number of additional goals set out in Garcetti’s Green New Deal such as reducing the urban/rural temperature differential by at least 1.7 degrees by 2025 and 3 degrees by 2035, ensuring every high-volume transit stop has access to cooling features by 2021, and installing cool pavement material on 250 lane miles of the City’s streets.

 

Garcetti was recently announced as the chair-elect of C40 Cities at the C40 World Mayors Summit in Copenhagen, where he backed a Global Green New Deal with mayors from around the world which aims to “drive an urgent, fundamental and irreversible transfer of global resources away from fossil fuels and into action that averts the climate emergency.”

 

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