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Phoenix's shade plan calls for adding 25,000 trees, 500 shade structures over 5 years

View down rows of lemon trees at the Ft. McDowell Farm.
Heather van Blokland/KJZZ
View down rows of lemon trees at the Ft. McDowell Farm.

Phoenix’s Office of Heat Response and Mitigation has released the first draft of the city’s shade plan with a focus on certain communities.

Wealthier neighborhoods, especially in central and east Phoenix, have a higher percentage of tree canopy coverage compared to lower-income areas in south and west Phoenix.

“The highest census tracts are in excess of 25%, so it's more than a 10-fold difference between parts of the city that have the most and the least today,” said David Hondula, director of Heat Response and Mitigation. “Seventy-five percent of Phoenicians live in a census tract with less than 15% tree canopy.”

He recently told council members that 90% of the plan’s resources will focus on low-and moderate- to middle-income areas. It calls for $50 million in local, federal and grant funding to add 25,000 trees and 500 shade structures to city-owned, public and private properties over the next five years.

Hondula said more than 1,800 shade shelters have been added at bus stops since 2010.

“And we're now at 75% of city bus stops with a shade structure. Public transit will continue to install at least 80 structures per year. And they project that shade will be provided at every city bus stop where it's feasible within the next 10 years," Hondula said.

Over the summer, city staff will create performance indicators and timelines, develop site specific shade targets, review budget results, collect community feedback and return to council with a final plan in the fall.

EDITOR'S NOTE: This story has been updated to correct number of shade shelters that have been added at bus stops.

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