Harnessing the Power of Nature

Urban Greening

Urban greening—which means the incorporation of vegetation and natural elements within the built environment—is an effective multi-benefit strategy for adapting to climate change and enhancing quality of life. Importantly, it is a strategy that cities can implement immediately.

Areas lacking greenery and vegetation are more often concentrated in communities of color and low-income neighborhoods due to decades of underinvestment and discriminatory land-use practices. In addition to helping cities adapt to climate change, urban greening enhances the quality of life by improving areas for pedestrians and bicyclists—often improving safety as well.

Image provided by Save The Bay.

As climate change progresses and periods of extreme heat and erratic weather become more frequent, cities need tools that can address multiple challenges. Urban greening serves as an important strategy for climate adaptation because it allows cities to better manage stormwater, reduce urban heat, improve air and water quality, and lower vehicle miles traveled by encouraging mode shift toward walking, biking, and transit use.

An interesting example: San Mateo County’s recently completed Sustainable Streets Master Plan identified the potential for a network of green streets that would be able to completely absorb the projected increase in stormwater runoff from a 2-year storm, and 65% of the projected increase in runoff from a 5-year storm. The Bay Area’s average temperatures are projected to increase between 4.2 ℉ and 7.2 ℉ by the end of the century (Ackerly et al., 2019). As noted by the US Environmental Protection Agency, streets designed to include significant tree coverage and other vegetation can experience cooler air temperatures of up to 10℉.

Extreme Heat:

The Leading Cause of Death and Illness Amongst All Natural Disasters

California and the Western United States have experienced more days of extreme heat as a result of climate change. Extreme heat is not defined by any one absolute temperature, but instead, by a relative change in temperature based on past local conditions (Center for Climate Change and Health, 2016). In the June 2021 heatwave that affected the Pacific Northwest, hundreds died and many more were hospitalized as a result of heat-related illness, one billion sea creatures died due to the coastal heat, and the abnormally warm waters of the Sacramento River resulted in a near-complete loss of the Chinook salmon population (Smith, 2021).

Extreme heat takes more lives than any other type of natural disaster (Center for Climate Change and Health, 2016). Extreme heat deaths and illnesses disproportionately affect low-income populations who are a) more likely to experience chronic health conditions that may be exacerbated by extreme heat, b) work in industries like farm work that are exposed to heat conditions, and c) lack the resources or housing conditions (air conditioning in particular) to safely withstand extreme heat days.

Cities are warming at twice the rate of non-urban areas, due to an abundance of surfaces that absorb and retain heat (like pavement) along with a lack of green spaces (Climate Resolve). Urban greening, home weatherization, and resilience hubs (or cooling centers) are proven methods for reducing the risks associated with extreme heat conditions in low-income communities and vulnerable populations.

Cutting-edge research by the Los Angeles Urban Cooling Collaborative (LAUCC) found that 1 in 4 lives lost during a heatwave could have been saved with green cover and the use of reflective surfaces (Climate Resolve). The City of Los Angeles has emerged as a leader in addressing extreme heat. In 2014, the City passed a Cool Roof Ordinance that requires all new and replacement roofs to meet solar reflectance and thermal emittance requirements. Additionally, the City’s 2019 Sustainability Plan included the goal of planting 90,000 new trees by 2021 as a way to address urban heat and inequity in tree canopy. To facilitate this goal, the City’s Public Works Department provides free trees to customers through City Plants, a collaboration between the City and seven non-profit organizations, and has partnered with experts to develop detailed plans to achieve tree planting goals in low-income communities.

Climate risks within cities are not equitably distributed. American Forests has recently developed a Tree Equity Score as a measure to assess the tree canopy needs of cities throughout the country. It incorporates a variety of factors including population density, neighborhood income, racial demographics, surface temperatures, and other health statistics. Its findings show that there are disparities in tree coverage along the lines of race and socioeconomic class. This discrepancy stems from the years of underinvestment contributing significantly to increased risk, creating an obligation for cities to protect vulnerable communities.

Urban greening and public access to green spaces also have a positive psychological and physical impact on public health and quality of life. According to the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, urban nature provides opportunities for essential physical activity. People who live near natural spaces are far more likely to exercise alongside and use streets that have been converted to pedestrian-friendly spaces. The study finds that urban nature also contributes to improved public health with better air and water quality, reduced urban heat, and flood control.

Cities recognize these benefits but often lack the funding, interest, and political will to expand urban greening. In many cases, transportation grants tailor a project’s impact solely to transportation efficiency and disregard the potential for climate or community enhancements that greening elements may add. Similarly, stormwater funding is limited, and many cities lack dedicated financing tools like stormwater fees. Cities need to explore new revenue opportunities and advocate for state funding to support these efforts. 

What’s at Risk

What’s at Risk

Vulnerable Communities: Communities at higher risk of flooding or lacking a tree canopy are susceptible to periodic flooding and extreme heat events. Cities should identify disadvantaged communities and other vulnerable populations and assess the climate and environmental risks posed to those areas. An integrated urban greening strategy provides a multi-benefit solution to protect those vulnerable communities.

Water Quality: Urban runoff is the largest source of pollution in the San Francisco Bay. Urban greening provides natural absorption and filtration of runoff from flooding by using rain gardens, bioswales, and street trees. As sea levels and groundwater tables rise and storms drop more rain over a short period of time, the frequency of flooding and runoff will continue to increase, necessitating the use of nature-based solutions.

Air Quality: Vulnerable and disadvantaged communities near freeways and other sources of air pollution are disproportionately impacted by toxins, particulates, and other air pollutants. To address these unequal environmental concerns, cities should employ urban greening methods, such as planting urban tree canopy to serve as a buffer to air pollution.

Environment: Terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems face disruption from urban runoff and climate risks, which will only increase over the next decades. Urban greening along rivers, shorelines, and marshes will avoid erosion, benefit local species, and maintain the balance of Bay ecosystems.

Urban Greening and Equity Considerations

Years of research and community experience have shown that urban greening strategies that are not community-based can lead to gentrification and displacement of economically disadvantaged communities. It is imperative that any urban greening strategies that Bay Area governments introduce are done strategically. LA THRIVES and the Los Angeles Regional Open Space and Affordable Housing (LA ROSAH) collaborative produced a 2019 report that offers planning strategies to introduce urban green space in Los Angeles for the benefit of nearby communities. Using a combination or all of these strategies can help limit the adverse impacts of developing green space for urban and suburban residents.

These strategies offer integrated housing and open space scenarios, which include efforts to 1.) proactively integrate prospective green space with the identification of affordable housing and 2.) create policies for future affordable housing development that necessitates urban green space.

Joshua Quigley/Save the Bay
Case Study

Lakeside Green Streets Project, Oakland CA

By Save the Bay

Joshua Quigley/Save the Bay

Oakland has many examples of urban greening, most notably the Lakeside Green Streets Project. This project, completed in 2019, is a 14-acre “complete street” and park expansion project around Lake Merritt, bordered by Harrison St. and Lakeside Dr. The project sought to improve water quality, provide expanded public access to parks, and support active transportation in areas that are less pedestrian and bicycle-friendly.

This is a strong example of a multi-benefit approach to greening urban spaces. To improve water quality and alleviate urban heat, the City installed rain gardens and planted trees throughout the designated areas. These features were combined with increased park spaces, curb extensions, and pedestrian and bike pathways to provide green benefits for the added recreational spaces. These additions calmed traffic in the Downtown and Uptown areas by improving intersection safety and expanding bike and pedestrian mobility. As a further incentive for public interaction, the project provided aesthetic value in every development with greenery, art installations, and modern infrastructure.

The City funded the project through multiple avenues: ballot measures, agency funding, and grants. The project received the majority of funding and design process through Measure DD, the Oakland Trust for Clean Water and Safe Parks. It was also funded by Measure BB and Measure F. The Department of Transportation Federal Highway Administration provided federal funding and the Metropolitan Transportation Commission provided a grant.

Critical Actions to Take Now

  • Integrate urban greening into planned and future projects, including road improvements, parks, and private development. Cities should include policies in General Plans, Local Hazard Mitigation Plans, and Climate Action Plans to ensure urban greening occurs during all stages of development. Community members should be included in the planning process to reflect their needs.
  • Prioritize urban greening projects in areas lacking tree canopy and other urban greenery to provide health and safety benefits to residents, with a focus on vulnerable communities. Areas that lack adequate tree canopy and greenery are disproportionately low-income communities of color. Cities should map communities vulnerable to urban heat and flooding events to ensure equitable dispersal of greening strategies.
  • Ensure prioritization of urban greening projects by aligning with other transportation and infrastructure plans. A crucial way cities can achieve alignment with other plans is by integrating urban greening policies into the Transportation and Land Use Elements of the General Plan. There is also an opportunity to include it in city initiatives that already plan development.
  • Establish requirements for major development and redevelopment projects to construct and maintain urban greening projects in the adjacent public right of way. This is important to ensure the inclusion of the development community and provide multi-benefit strategies in needed areas. This can be achieved through city ordinances.
  • Pursue new funding mechanisms to support urban greening projects at the local and regional levels. Cities can secure funding streams through a combination of local, regional, and state measures. Infrastructure and development funding can be directed through local policy as well as directly from the State. Lobbying efforts can help this, as well as closely working with agencies such as the EPA and CAL FIRE.

Carbon Sequestration

Carbon sequestration is the process of capturing and storing carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere and keeping it in long-term storage, which can include soils, plants, oceans, geological formations, and man-made structures. This process helps reduce the amount of greenhouse gasses that contribute to climate change.

There are several different methods of carbon sequestration, including natural sequestration, afforestation and reforestation, soil carbon sequestration, and carbon capture and storage (CCS) (International Panel on Climate Change, 2021).

  • Natural sequestration: This refers to the natural process by which carbon is removed from the atmosphere and stored in the soil, plants, and oceans.
  • Afforestation and reforestation: Planting new trees (afforestation) or restoring forests (reforestation) can help sequester carbon from the atmosphere.
  • Soil carbon sequestration: This involves managing land and agricultural practices to store carbon in soils, such as reducing tillage, using cover crops, and planting diverse crop rotations.
  • Carbon capture and storage (CCS): This technology captures CO2 emissions from industrial processes or power plants and stores it underground in geological formations.

The benefits of carbon sequestration include:

  • Mitigating climate change: Carbon sequestration can help reduce the amount of greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere, which can help mitigate the impacts of climate change.
  • Improving air and water quality: Planting trees and other vegetation can help improve air and water quality, as they absorb pollutants and provide habitats for wildlife.
  • Enhancing soil health: Soil carbon sequestration can help improve soil health, fertility, and water retention, which can increase crop yields and reduce erosion.
  • Creating economic opportunities: Carbon sequestration projects can create jobs and economic opportunities in areas such as forestry, agriculture, and carbon capture and storage technologies.

Natural carbon sequestration differs from the geologic type called “carbon capture” which refers to an engineered solution wherein atmospheric carbon is injected into rock formations (USGS). This technology has not reached the point at which it can be globally scaled, although it may eventually become an important carbon reduction strategy. This section will only address natural carbon sequestration because of the co-benefits it can provide to environmental systems and communities’ social well-being.

Aside from reducing the amount of carbon dioxide in the air, has multiple co-benefits. Land management practices that enhance carbon sequestration can also improve soil health, increase soil fertility and phosphorus and nitrogen cycling, decrease erosion, improve water retention and filtration in soil, and generally enhance surrounding biodiversity (Reicosky, D. C., 2008). Improving the quality of land can also improve its ability to adapt to volatile weather events, thus making it more resilient to the long-term effects of climate change (Sierra Club, 2020). Thus carbon sequestration can be thought of as both a mitigation and adaptation strategy.

Nitrogen-fixing roots at TomKat Ranch, in Pescadero. Karl Nielsen/Greenbelt Alliance

Given the co-benefits, carbon sequestration fits within the broader context of California’s conservation goals. In 2020, Governor Gavin Newsom passed Executive Order N-82-20, referred to as the 30×30 goal, which pledges to conserve 30% of California’s land and coastal waters by 2030. As a part of this pledge, State agencies and authorities will implement land-use practices to “accelerate the natural removal of carbon and build climate resilience in [California’s] forests, wetlands, urban green spaces, agricultural soils, and land conservation activities” (Executive Order N-82-20, p.4).

Bay Area governments and their partnering organizations must intervene where possible to encourage conservation and other types of sustainable land-use practices on agricultural land, urban and suburban areas, protected natural areas, and coastal ecosystems to prevent further loss of land that can sequester carbon and offer additional social and environmental benefits.

TomKat Ranch. Karl Nielsen/Greenbelt Alliance
Highlighting a Natural Carbon Sequestration Solution:

Regenerative Land Management for Working Lands

The agricultural sector has often been called out as a major emitter of harmful GHGs and a source of resource depletion and destruction. Regenerative agriculture and carbon farming practices offer a promising alternative rooted in centuries-old knowledge. Regenerative Agriculture typically describes farming and grazing practices that rebuild soil organic matter and restore soil biodiversity to achieve greater carbon sequestration and water-cycle benefits (World Resources Institute, 2020) while promoting vital co-benefits for communities, ecosystems, and climate mitigation. The San Mateo Resource Conservation District (RCD) has emerged as a leader in facilitating the adoption of regenerative farming practices through regulatory reform, funding, and education. Greenbelt Alliance honored Adria Arko, San Mateo RCD’s Climate and Agriculture Senior Program Manager, as a 2020 Hidden Hero of the Greenbelt. Watch her story here. RCDs and Regional agencies have a vital role to play in building nature-based climate resilience, below are best practices for implementing regenerative practices into agricultural and land management operations:

  • Offer grant funding to farmers who adopt climate-smart agricultural practices such as compost application and minimum tillage agriculture.
  • Encourage farmers to participate in USDA’s Conservation Reserve Program (CRP), which provides payments to farmers who set aside land for conservation purposes (Environmental Working Group).
  • Create climate-smart agriculture education programs by convening farmers, Resource Conservation Districts staff, and Bay Area organizations that have expertise in carbon farming and regenerative agriculture.
  • Facilitate increased connectivity between urban compost collection and rural compost application.

Within each strategy, it is important that local governments understand the equity implications of conservation. In urban areas, for example, efforts to introduce green spaces might increase property values and lead to the displacement of economically disadvantaged communities. Policies must be planned in a way that they serve communities that need them the most.

What’s at Risk

What’s at Risk

To remove more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere than it is emitting by 2030, California will need to reduce its emissions by 80% below 1990 levels (Cohen et al., 2021). Bay Area governments will need to use carbon sequestration to offset hard-to-reduce carbon emissions (Field, 2021). Implementing these strategies now can lead to more sustainable land-use practices for future generations.

Agriculture: Conventional agriculture refers to practices that involve using fossil fuel-intensive machinery, tilling soil–which releases carbon dioxide into the atmosphere—overgrazing of rangelands, and using fossil fuel-based fertilizers, pesticides, and herbicides (Carbon Cycle Institute, 2021). Such practices not only degrade farmland quality but also limit the ability of soil to retain water, thus leading to inefficient water consumption. Per 2015 data, agriculture contributes 8%, or 38 million metric tons, of CO2 and CO2 equivalents to California’s total man-made greenhouse gas emissions (American Farmland Trust, 2015). Of these emissions, 63% are generated from livestock operations, 27% come from crop production, and 10% come from fossil fuels used to run equipment (ibid). Recent research suggests that simple interventions can have meaningful impacts. For example, treating 41% of the state’s rangelands with compost alone might render California’s agricultural sector carbon neutral (Velasquez-Manoff, 2018). Employing climate-smart agricultural practices, such as regenerative agriculture or carbon farming, can improve the quality of soil health, and through it, enhance rural soil’s sequestration potential.

Natural and working lands: Suburban sprawl and uncoordinated development can lead to the conversion of agricultural land and open spaces into “hardscaped” land or land covered by man-made surfaces such as roads and buildings that cannot absorb carbon dioxide. In turn, the conversion of open spaces—and the pressure this can put on nearby protected areas— reduce the region’s existing natural carbon sequestration potential by limiting these habitats’ ability to provide ecosystem services. Between 1954-2007, over a million acres of farmland were converted to urban uses. The Plan Bay Area 2040 report suggests that future regulated land-use conversion might lead to the transformation of 0.3% of agricultural land in the Bay Area and 0.5% of of all open spaces in the Bay Area for land use and transportation purposes, and 0.1% of total forest area or timberland to urbanized uses. While the region must strive to meet its housing goals, it is crucial that it prioritizes development that does not convert natural or working lands. Maintaining the status of areas that are protected by national or state governments or local communities due to their ecological values, as well as open spaces, can preserve forests and other vital carbon absorbing habitats.

Coastal ecosystem degradation: Losing tidal marshes, seagrass, and kelp growths can severely limit the overall sequestration potential of the Bay Area. According to the Blue Carbon Initiative, a global program aimed at conserving oceanic ecosystems that capture carbon, 83% of the global carbon cycle is circulated through the ocean, with coastal habitats accounting for 50% of the total carbon sequestered in ocean sediments. 90% of the Bay Area’s wetlands are now lost to human activity. Restoring and conserving degraded coastal ecosystems can enhance the ability of habitats such as tidal marshes to sequester carbon and prevent methane emissions—a process referred to as “blue carbon sequestration.” Bay Area governments must scale their blue carbon sequestration initiatives by investing in restoration and conservation programs in these areas (Runwal, 2019).

Case Study

Salt Marshes Are Carbon Storage Hotspots Eden Landing Ecological Reserve

The Eden Landing Ecological Reserve, located south of Hayward, is part of the South Bay Salt Restoration Project. While its restoration activities are geared towards reviving biodiversity, improving recreational opportunities, and adapting the area to sea level rise and flooding effects, the Reserve also offers carbon sequestration benefits. The potential of coastal sites such as the Eden Landing Ecological Reserve illustrates that existing conservation activity can be a part of natural climate solutions strategies for the Bay Area.

The South Bay Salt Restoration Project, which started in 2003, aims to restore 40,000 acres of lost tidal wetland in the South San Francisco Bay. To do so, Federal and State resource agencies purchased 15,100 acres of land from Cargill to maximize their restoration opportunities (South Bay Salt Pond Restoration Project). The salt ponds in question were originally coastal marshes that were wiped out by the 1930s to make way for commercial salt production. Eden Landing was one of the first sites to be converted and represents 6,400 acres of the Project’s Tidal Wetland Area.

Since 2008, restoration activities have breached levees between Eden Landing and the Bay, which have allowed for the regrowth of tidal marshes. As these marshes continue to form, they trap tidal sediment, create natural seawalls, and recreate habitats for flora and fauna that were originally native to them (Runwal, 2019).

In recent years, a growing amount of literature has suggested that salt marshes can be carbon storage hotspots. Sites like Eden Landing offer two types of carbon sequestration ecosystem services: 1.) they can bury carbon dioxide in the soil, and 2.) the saltiness of their soil can prevent methane, another harmful GHG, from releasing into the atmosphere. Preliminary results from the restoration activities in Eden Landing suggest that the marshlands remove 1.5 metric tons of CO2 per year, which is the equivalent of pulling 8,000 cars from the road.

Critical Actions to Take Now

  • Take an integrated approach to carbon sequestration through land use. Elevate planning, funding, and governance to support the role of natural and working lands in providing nature-based climate resilience to people and ecosystems while contributing to public health and safety, providing critical habitat and connectivity, offering park and recreation opportunities, and yielding carbon sequestration benefits.
  • Integrate urban greening into planned and future city infrastructure projects, including road improvements, parks, and private development. Utilize overlay zones, ordinances, or resolutions to create new urban greening zoning requirements in areas regarding flooding, habitat, or other priorities.
  • Prioritize natural and working land climate strategies that provide multiple benefits, especially to frontline communities. Take concrete steps to include engaging the communities most impacted by the loss of access to nature as early as possible. Demystify the data and terminology used around nature-based solutions to make it possible for anyone to engage in the long-term open space protection strategies. Give communities plenty of time and advance notice to provide input.
  • Consult with Tribal Governments in identifying and stewarding natural lands in ways that are at the direction, discretion, and prioritization of said governments. Work with Indigenous communities to elevate their Traditional Ecological Knowledge to the forefront of land-use policy considerations.

Policy Matrix

Advance jurisdiction-wide collaboration to continually refine nature-based climate solutions that sequester carbon, restore ecosystems, mitigate flooding, and conserve biodiversity.
Strategy Actions Source
Develop policies and procedures to assess carbon sequestration opportunities, prioritize biodiversity and green infrastructure, and maximize local native plants. By X year, City departments should develop their own policies and procedures for capital projects to assess carbon sequestration opportunities, prioritize biodiversity and green infrastructure, and maximize local native plants. San Francisco Climate Action Plan
By X year, develop best practices guidelines for improving or maintaining carbon sequestration and retention, while preserving biodiversity and ecosystem services, in the soil, plants, and natural habitats. San Francisco Climate Action Plan
By X year, complete a watershed carbon case study and quantify the value of carbon storage provided by protecting this natural area. San Francisco Climate Action Plan
Proactively pursue nature-based and science-based planning, implementation, adaptation, and mitigation strategies for sea level rise and land subsidence. Require and incentivize green infrastructure in future developments and when possible, use green infrastructure as a preferred alternative. Sausalito General Plan
Wetlands Reversion - Consider developing an inventory of the city’s drainage system and assess for potential wetlands reversion to adapt to sea level rise. Sausalito General Plan
Under appropriate shoreline conditions, require or encourage development to use “soft” or “natural” solutions or “living shorelines” as an alternative to the placement of hard shoreline protection in order to protect development or other resources and to enhance natural resource areas. Examples of soft solutions include vegetative planting, dune restoration, and sand nourishment. California Coastal Commission: Sea Level Rise Adaptation Policy Guidance
Develop a program to work with public and private landowners to decrease the risk of flooding by advancing watershed management projects that reduce and/or store runoff during rainfall events, including the installation of green infrastructure and Low Impact Development (LID) practices, and improve the condition in the floodplain, for example through floodplain restoration or improvement. ABAG/BCDC: Stronger Housing Safer Communities Strategies
Restore and enhance parks, natural lands and large open spaces. By X year, explore expansion of the City’s natural areas preservation system through land transfers and acquisitions of undeveloped/unprotected private and public lands. San Francisco Climate Action Plan
Coordinate cross-departmental collaboration on project design and implementation. Adopt a comprehensive and multi-departmental strategy to integrate greening into new city project planning and development. San Jose Urban Greening Roadmap
Maintain the carbon that is currently held in soil and plants. Support the implementation of forest management practices that protect existing carbon stocks by reducing the risk of catastrophic wildfire. At the same time, grow large, mature trees and move surplus biomass to the soil carbon pool via mulching in place, prescribed fire, conservation burns, and off site uses, including compost and mulch production.
Work with Open Space Districts on strategic land protection and stewardship actions that increase carbon sequestration and minimize conversion to land uses that have a lower capacity to sequester carbon.
Limit the conversion of open space and protected areas to developed land through enforcing and maintaining urban growth boundaries Plan Bay Area 2050
Implement regenerative land management practices at the city scale. Practice drawdown, reduce emissions, and improve watershed and human health.
Strategy Actions Source
Capture more carbon in soils and plants Support local agricultural producers to plan, implement, and scale carbon sequestration. Marin County Climate Action Plan
Increase our urban forest cover starting with communities impacted by recent fires and disadvantaged communities. Marin County Climate Action Plan
Conduct Carbon Sequestration farming pilot projects and research Pilot appropriate carbon sequestration techniques as part of ongoing ecological restoration of degraded habitats. Marin County Climate Action Plan
Ensure that agricultural easements have standards for Best Management Practices and prioritize conservation of agricultural properties that use or agree to implement regenerative agriculture practices. Greenbelt Alliance The Critical Role of Greenbelts in Wildfire Resilience
Improve the composting ordinance to advance compost infrastructure and support soil carbon sequestration activities. Marin County Climate Action Plan
By X year, pilot appropriate carbon sequestration techniques as part of ongoing ecological restoration of degraded habitats.
By X year, ensure highest and best use of compost made from organics collected from residents and businesses. Marin County Climate Action Plan
Integrate urban greening into planned and future city infrastructure projects, including road improvements, parks, and private development.
Strategy Actions Source
Utilize overlay zones, ordinances, or resolutions to create new urban greening zoning requirements in areas regarding flooding, habitat, or other priorities. Design roadway projects to be attractive and, where possible, to include trees, landscape buffer areas, public art, public space, and other visual enhancements. Emphasize tree planting and landscaping along all streets. San Rafael General Plan
Adopt EPA’s Storm Smart Cities guidance on how to include urban greening in LHMPs. EPA Storm Smart Cities
Incorporate urban greening in the CAP by establishing programs, timelines, and collaborations with agencies. Oakland CAP (CR-2 - CR-4)
Require sustainable landscaping practices and a rating system (such as the Bay-Friendly Rated Landscape Program from ReScape California) for new landscapes built within the jurisdiction. ReScape California
Maximize tree canopy coverage and other urban greening practices throughout the public realm. Maximize, where woody vegetation is appropriate, planting coast live oak and other native trees and shrubs throughout the public realm. San Francisco Climate Action Plan
Plant X number of street trees (~25% increase) in the sidewalk tree wells to complete the street tree network by 2040. San Francisco Climate Action Plan
Develop guidelines on specific tree species and management procedures that integrate carbon sequestration, ecosystems services, and biodiversity. San Francisco Climate Action Plan
Establish requirements for major development and redevelopment projects to construct and maintain urban greening projects in the adjacent public right of way. Redwood City LID ordinance
By X year, create policy for land under the jurisdiction of the Department of Public Works to require preservation of mature trees during infrastructure modifications using solutions to retain them such as bulb-outs, basin expansion, and sidewalk re-routing. San Francisco Climate Action Plan
Focus urban greening projects in areas lacking tree canopy and other urban greenery to provide health and safety benefits to residents, with a focus on vulnerable communities.
Strategy Actions Source
Ensure urban forestry plans focus resources on vulnerable communities. Map tree canopy gaps in cities and prioritize urban canopy expansion in communities vulnerable to urban heat effects, utilizing tools such as the Tree Equity Score. American Forests Tree Equity Score
Require greening in all new development and redevelopment that supports other community benefits, such as shade for walking and biking routes. Include greening elements as a primary project scoring criteria for bike improvements. San Jose Better Bike 2025
Focus green stormwater improvements for areas at risk of flooding with an emphasis on vulnerable communities. Map areas at risk of flooding, including those along creeks, low-lying, and coastal. Prioritize urban greening expansion in these spaces. FEMA Flood Maps , FEMA Risk MAPs
Pursue new funding mechanisms to support urban greening projects at the local and regional level.
Strategy Actions Source
Create new local financing mechanisms both for public and private development. Pursue stormwater infrastructure funding and financing options for multibenefit urban greening, including stormwater fees, developer impact fees, fees for offsite green stormwater infrastructure instead of onsite stormwater treatment, and Enhanced Infrastructure Financing Districts. Oakland Measure Q
Modify regional and state funding requirements to incentivize greening elements within transportation projects. Lobby state government and agencies for funding flexibility in state and regional transportation grant programs. San Francisco State Policy Priorities , San Jose Annual Legislative Priorities Item 6
Support state and regional funding strategies. Advocate for regional funding sources to support greening projects. LA Regional Measure W
Advocate for state grant programs to support local planning and project implementation. CA Urban Greening Program , Urban Flood Protection Grant Program , Strategic Growth Council's Portfolio Programs , CA Coastal Conservancy
Advocate for greening funding in any potential state climate resilience bonds.
Create permanent funding sources and mechanisms for nature-based solutions. "Establish alternative fee mechanisms, similar to the SF Carbon Fund, to fund nature-based solutions. By 2023, create permanent code and financial incentives for homeowners and other private landowners to preserve existing mature trees and shrubs and to plant local native species. " San Francisco Climate Action Plan