Santa Monica’s City Council created the Urban Forest Master Plan Task Force to help with the development of a long-range master plan to help insure the City’s urban forest is perpetuated.
The seven member Task Force met for the first time on October 28 and elected former Mayor Judy Abdo as its Chair and former City Manager Susan McCarthy as its Vice-Chair. The other Task Force members are Grace Phillips, Linda Piera-Avila, Peter Jensen, Doris Sosin and Tom Cleys.
Walt Warriner, the City’s Community Forest and Public Landscape Superintendent, explained there was a need for a new master plan because it has been 10 years since the City adopted its Community Forest Master Plan 2000. The new plan will be crafted by first updating the City’s tree inventory.
This inventory process has already begun and is being aided by the use of GPS technology so the City will know exactly where all the trees are located. The inventory will also include information on the trees’ remaining lifespan and their condition. The inventory data will then be analyzed to quantify the environmental benefits of the urban forest.
There will also be four public meetings and workshops. The City will be divided into four sections and one meeting will be scheduled for each City section. Suitable replacement tree species will also be decided upon to help diversify the forest so it will be less apt to be wiped out by a pathogen. Warriner emphasized that the goal is to “put the right tree in the right spot.”
Once a draft Long Range Master Plan has been developed, it will be presented to the community and the City’s Commissions and Boards for their review and comment. It will then be presented to the City Council for their adoption.
The Master Plan will consist of five components. The executive summary will discuss the plan’s major issues, goals, and strategies. It will also include a vision/mission statement and a detailed description of the urban forest. There will also be a strategic plan which will include goals and recommendations and lastly, an appendix will be included.
Santa Monica’s current tree population is 33,802 according to Warriner. Street trees make up 88 percent of the urban forest and 12 percent are park trees. In fiscal year 2008-2009 the City’s Community Forest Operations trimmed over 11,000 tress city wide, removed and replaced 273 trees, and planted 169 new trees. For this fiscal year the City’s Community Forest Operations plans on trimming approximately 8,000 trees city wide, removing and replacing an estimate of 300 trees, and planting an additional 50 new trees.
The next meeting of the Task Force will be on Monday, November 23 at 6:30 p.m. in the Multipurpose Room of the Santa Monica Main Library.