30 Oct 2009

Poor people need trees too!

This [unedited] guest post is by a student in my EEP100 class (background post).
Please praise/critique/comment on its economic quality and importance to you.

AL says:

In the average Californian urban landscape, most of the street trees are located in relatively affluent areas as opposed to low-income housing areas. Street trees are trees that are grown along the sidewalk to increase community aesthetics, air quality, and other benefits. Why aren’t there more trees in communities with lower income?

There are several possible reasons for the disparity between trees in high-income neighborhoods and low-income neighborhoods. The street planners for the low-income housing areas may not have included trees as part of the plan because they were trying to maximize space for housing infrastructures. They did not leave space for trees to grow because the people living in those communities need the land for living. On the other hand, a wealthy community that already has comfortable living space can afford to spend some of their sidewalk for growing trees.

Another theory lies in the fact that people who have their own property may be more likely to water their trees. California weather patterns usually have less natural rainfall and thus trees need irrigation or watering to survive. In areas like projects or apartments, few would want to take responsibility to water the tree on public property because they do not feel a connection to the tree. The lack of trees in lower-income areas may be due to the fact that city-planners have realized this and see dead trees as failed investments and have stopped growing them there.

Bottom line: The lack of street trees in low-income areas does not signify that the neighborhood collectively dislikes trees and city planners should reconsider street trees as a priority in planning.

1 comment:

  1. As someone who lives in a forest surrounded by trees, I know their value goes far beyond economics.

    I know also that whenever I visit a city (Chicago) recently, it is the trees that I notice and always with relief if they are flourishing.

    Trees are indicators.

    Perhaps since you are talking of economics here, we could say they are economic indicators. Dead trees show where we have failed to share.


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