Funding for Urban and Community Forestry Program and Urban Greening Program for FY 2019-20 – Governor Zeroed Out the Programs

Urban forestry, urban greening, and other natural resources investments gained ground yesterday in the ongoing discussion of project priorities within the next Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund (GGRF) Expenditure Plan.

In the Assembly Budget Subcommittee for Resources, multiple members pushed back against the Administration’s assertions that urban greening investments would be covered under the Transformative Climate Communities Program (TCC). Subcommittee Chair Richard Bloom (D-Santa Monica) quickly observed that urban greening and TCC are very different programs, while simultaneously clarifying that urban forestry and wetlands were left out of the Governor’s Budget.

California ReLeaf representative Alfredo Arredondo offered further distinctions between TCC and urban forestry, saying “the $200 million issued to date through TCC…will plant about 10,000 trees.” By way of comparison, Arredondo noted “[with] the $17 million that went out last week through CAL FIRE’s Urban and Community Forestry Program… 21,000 trees will be planted.” When asked by the Chair why urban greening, urban forestry, and wetlands were not funding in the Administration’s budget plan, the Governor’s Office of Planning and Research Director, Kate Gordon, replied, “that is a good question.” The Assembly is expected to release their proposed GGRF Expenditure Plan next week.

In the Senate Budget Subcommittee on Resources, Chair Bob Wieckowski (D-Fremont) unveiled the Senate’s GGRF spending plan that restored over $250 million to natural and working lands programs previously funded from cap-and-trade auction revenues, including $50 million for urban forestry and urban greening (see page 31 for the Senate GGRF Plan). California ReLeaf’s Education and Communications Manager, Mariela Ruacho, was there to support these funding levels, noting “these investments in urban forestry and urban greening are priorities… and will go towards critical green infrastructure projects to help meet our 2030 GHG reduction and carbon neutrality goals.” The Senate Budget Subcommittee approved the revised plan.

What others said yesterday at the Budget Subcommittee meetings about needed investments in Urban Forestry & Urban Greening

  • Assembly Member Luz Rivas (D-Arleta), in response to the Governor’s May Revise: “I was disappointed to not see funding for green spaces… our low-income communities need more parks and trees, and urban forestry.”
  • Rico Mastrodonato, Senior Government Relations Manager, Trust for Public Land[Urban greening and urban forestry] “projects are probably our best investment in intervention to prepare our most vulnerable communities for heat and flooding. We need as many of these communities as possible prepared for what we know is coming. In my opinion, it’s a life or death situation.”
  • Linda Khamoushian, Senior Policy Advocate, California Bicycle Coalition:“We appreciate the [Senate Budget] subcommittee’s appropriation for critical investments in urban forestry and urban greening.”

TAKE ACTION: What can you do?

Contact your Assembly Member or Senator and ask them to support funding for the Urban and Community Program from CAL FIRE and the Urban Greening Program from the California Natural Resources Agency.

You can see this Letter of Support from various stakeholders asking for funding from GGRF for Natural and Working Lands, included you will find delineated asks per program.