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Phoenix leaders approve up to $14 million for trees and shade

The Phoenix City Council unanimously approved up to $14 million to add trees and shade over five years.

The bulk of money will come from the federal government in two ways: the American Rescue Plan Act and the Inflation Reduction Act. Both prioritize investments in public safety and neighborhood equity. 

Councilwoman Yassamin Ansari represents parts of south and west Phoenix, “There are very data focused tree equity scores out there that demonstrate that those particular areas of Phoenix are very much left behind when it comes to equitable access to trees and shade.”

Mayor Kate Gallego said, “We’ve seen research showing that in our corridors where we plant a lot of trees it can make as much as a ten degree difference in terms of summer heat temperatures.”

During Wednesday’s meeting, Councilman Jim Waring said it’s also about beautification.

“I can tell you having those trees out there definitely makes a difference in how the city presents itself," he said.

He stressed the need to plant in the right places and ensure they are maintained.

“Don't plant them too close to corners — we just moved one, I mean, because that drives me nuts. A resident complained and I’m sure he was probably right,” Waring said. “When the tree grew in, it was probably going to block views when you try to make left turns. “I see plenty of what I assume are city- planted plants that make it tougher for people to make a turn, so let’s try to avoid that.”

The city’s office of heat response and mitigation is accepting applications from neighborhood groups, schools and individuals

Phoenix selected three bidders: Canterbury Enterprises, Inc., dba Desert Tree Farm, Treeland Nurseries and Whitfill Nursery, Inc for a five-year contract worth $6 million. 

Two vendors were selected, Dusty Landscaping LLC and West Coast Arborists, Inc, for a five-year contract worth up to $8 million for planting and support.

As a senior field correspondent, Christina Estes focuses on stories that impact our economy, your wallet and public policy.