Environmental Quality / 2013

Greening 7th St. in Skid Row/DTLA

Idea submitted in the My LA2050 Maker Challenge by Industrial District Green

My idea is to plant 30 mature shade trees along 7th St. in the industrial district/Skid Row section of downtown. These trees would be protected by colorful and decorative metal tree guards. This neighborhood shelters the largest stable homeless population in America, so in an effort to put people to work, we would hire people from Chrysalis Enterprises, a local company that specializes in placing people transitioning out of homelessness to water and care for the trees. This portion of 7th St. is set to receive a bike lane within the next couple of years, so the addition of trees would further multiply the overall quality of life along and near 7th St., which for decades has been a crime-ridden and blighted stretch.


What are some of your organization’s most important achievements to date?

Well before founding Industrial District Green, Katherine McNenny had begun laying the groundwork for future non-profit greening activities. In December of 2011 after 12 months of preparation, she conducted her first planting of 7 trees along San Pedro St. in Skid Row between 4th and 5th Streets with the support of the Central City East Association (CCEA) and it’s Executive Director, Estela Lopez. This successful first effort involved lobbying and coordinating with all relevant property owners, Jan Perry’s office, the Bureau of Street Services, and TreePeople, who managed the plantings.

She is currently overseeing another tree planting also in Skid Row, with the LA Conservation Corps along Boyd & Omar Streets between 3rd and 4th. She has been working with property owners and sponsors on this project for several months now. The planting date will be March 23rd, 2013. Volunteers from Union Church (in Little Tokyo) and several local residents from the neighborhood will help plant the trees.

Please identify any partners or collaborators who will work with you on this project.

We intend to collaborate with the LA Conservation Corps (LACC) for their assistance in procuring the trees we plant & the concrete we cut. We intend to partner with TreePeople to train the workers we intend to hire to care for the trees.

We intend to partner with Chrysalis Enterprises to hire workers who are transitioning out of homelessness to water and maintain the trees bi-monthly.

We intend to partner with Patrick Joyce of Canterbury International for fashioning the metal tree guards we feel are necessary to protect the trees (pictured in “Preview” document under “Website” heading).

We intend to partner with the Downtown LA Neighborhood Council and Union Church (in Little Tokyo) when we need volunteers to help plant the trees.

Please explain how you will evaluate your project. How will you measure success?

Simply stated, our success will be measured by how many trees we can plant and maintain along 7th St. between Main and Alameda Streets in the industrial district/Skid Row neighborhood of downtown. We will also measure our success by what sorts of sparks of economic revitalization happen along this boulevard after the trees have been planted. We will measure our success by our ability to engage the local community in this beautification process which will by demonstrated by our ability to attract volunteers for tree planting events, and finally our success will be measured by how many people are seen using 7th St. to walk, bike, socialize and rest under a shade tree in.

How will your project benefit Los Angeles?

As the re-purposing of downtown Los Angeles continues apace, an eclectic mix of urban functions is taking root including commercial, residential, recreational, and social. The industrial district or Skid Row section of downtown currently hosts functions as diverse as wholesaling, retailing, warehousing, nightlife, housing as well as an array of social services. But in many of these areas there has been a lag in commensurate infrastructure development (which stands in stark contrast to other downtown districts which have experienced significant attention and investment in recent years). While this lag is evident on many levels, one in particular stands out: greening. As the industrial district/Skid Row area increasingly accommodates a diverse set of activities, in many cases it continues to exude a grim sun-bleached austerity more in keeping with it’s original single purpose function.

Our project of greening 7th St. in downtown’s under-served industrial area will not only improve community aesthetics but contribute to sustainability by addressing the urban heat island dynamic as well as improving the health and well being of it’s growing population of residents and employees.

What would success look like in the year 2050 regarding your indicator?

Success would be mature, grown shade trees flanking 7th St. through the industrial district/Skid Row, which would compliment the proposed bike lanes. Success would be a cleaner, safer, more aesthetically pleasing boulevard where whole families can ride bikes, rest and socialize on benches under majestic branches. Success would be full revitalization of a decades neglected stretch, economic vitality and a healthier population.