The Century Villages at Cabrillo (CVC) have not only long helped the homeless—our veterans, our natives, our marginalized—but often do what we are too afraid to: actually do something about homelessness—and that means providing them what they need a most, that is, a roof.
But clean air is something people often don’t think about—and it’s precisely why CVC wants to build a 91-tree “urban forest” to provide not just roofs, but better air for not just its residents, but the nearby school children at Hudson Elementary and visitors to Hudson Park, one of the few green spaces along the West Side.
Though the 26-acre space provides some 330,000 sq. ft. of housing to those who need it most, it sadly sits along one of the most polluted corridors in Long Beach, right along the east edge of the Terminal Island Freeway (103). Not only does a freight rail run parallel to the 103, CVC is less than a mile from the major operations of both the Port of Long Beach and the Port of Los Angeles. For obvious reasons, the site is in an at-risk environment, where some 16,600 cars pass by daily, with about 58% of them being freight trucks that give off an enormous amounts of ultra fine particulate matter (the things you don’t want going into your lungs).
This isn’t the first attempt by the CVC to help cleanse the air.
In 2011, the CVC was given a mitigation grant from the Port of Long Beach to build a campus landscape barrier. The design (prepared by Bixby Park re-designers and MyFigueroa folks Meléndrez) was a 9-foot planting area that acts a biofilter and, given the land is owned by the City, was pushed up to the freeway’s edge. The 191-tree barrier sits along the east side of the freeway, parallel to the drainage swell on the west side of CVC, and consists of a variety of trees including PM-removing powerhouses Deodar Cedar and avocado and loquat trees. It was completed in 2012.
The effects and benefits of the barrier are clear: if one is to step away from the barrier, P-TRAKs—the devices that measure particulate matter—see peaks of up to 40,000 particles per square centimeter. Step near an avocado tree? Drops to about 12,400.
However, this isn’t anywhere near the 3,000 particles per centimeter needed in order to prevent respiratory problems in a community—hence the urban forest.
Thanks to the graciousness of Wells Fargo, who will be handing CVC a $75K check, as well as the Port of Long Beach, contributing $170K through its Greenhouse Gas Reduction plan, the urban forest will move forward to completion in June.
91 additional trees—spanning a proposed crop of 60% Incense Cedar and Deodar Cedar and 40% Toyon and Catalina Ironwood—will now sit between the aforementioned barrier and an area of fruit trees planted by CVC in an area that is now just home to perennial grass (hardly an efficient carbon sequester).
In addition to the project itself, CVC has partnered with Long Beach State’s Center for Community Engagement to find professor and group of students to study the outcomes, benefits, and effectiveness of the project itself.