4 Sacramento Bills Bad for Trees and Open Space

Trees and open space are great at mitigating the negative effects of urbanization.  The City of Los, as you probably already know, is subject to the Urban Heat Island Effect. The increased heat of the city is due to all that concrete and other reflective surfaces that magnify heat.  In the summer our big trees bring the ambient temperature of concrete on a hot day down as much as 30 degrees over a very large area.  Trees, especially the big ones, also make our city cleaner, and healthier – – We’d need trees if they were ugly and smelled bad.

Unfortunately, our big trees are the first to go and they are rarely replanted when development happens unless they are one of only 4 species of native trees that the City requires be replaced.  But in the rush to accommodate McMansions and density, it’s questionable whether there will be enough space to plant replacement trees in sizes and numbers high enough to do the environmental work we so desperately need.

Open space determines the total number of trees and leafy canopy that can exist in a city.  That’s because land preservation equals tree preservation and open space equals planting space. For instance, a large tree requires 1600 square feet to live.  It is this space (both private and public space) for trees that is in jeopardy if the following bills from Sacramento, as explained by our friends at Studio City Residents Association, are enacted:

Senate Bill 1120. Multiple homes where one home now sits, many without parking. This bill overrides all single family zoning. Speculation would thrive as homeowner areas become unaffordable rentals.

Senate Bill 902. Cities can overturn voter-approved citizen initiatives that protect open space, shorelines, and other sensitive lands, to allow 10-unit luxury apartments pretty much everywhere, including on single-family streets.

Senate Bill 1085. The state’s failing “density bonus” program falls far short in creating low-income housing. This bill rewards developers who erect luxury buildings with fewer affordable units than before.

Assembly Bill 725. By failing to meet the state’s impossible targets for approving low-income housing, cities could be forced to rezone single-family homes to erect dense apartment buildings. At a cost to the local community.

The Senate Bills have been sent to the Senate Appropriations Committee as the first step in the legislative process. Studio City Residents Association (SCRA) has joined with Livable California and Sherman Oaks Homeowners Association, in opposing these bills.  SCRA has written to Senator Hertzberg.  You can read a copy of their letter here: