San José Mayor, State Leaders, Volunteers Plant City’s First “Pocket Forest” in Celebration of Earth Day Councilmember Cohen (D4) announces goal to plant 1,000 trees in North San José district,

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SAN JOSÉ, CA – On Earth Day, Mayor Sam Liccardo, California Chief Service Officer Josh Fryday, Assemblymember Alex Lee, Councilmember David Cohen, and fifty volunteers planted thirty native trees at Baypointe Park, currently a vacant lot, along Baypointe Parkway in North San José in what will become the city’s first “pocket forest”.

Councilmember David Cohen also announced his goal to plant 1,000 trees in District 4, which hosts most of North San José, and has the lowest tree canopy in the City.

“The consequences of our changing climate hurt us all, but disproportionately impact many of our most vulnerable residents,” said San José Mayor Sam Liccardo.

“Growing our urban forest will continue to cut down on urban heating, helping to save lives and our planet in the process. Through our collective efforts we can create a healthier, more resilient city.”

In February, 2022, San José City Council unanimously adopted the Community Forest Management Plan, which emphasized the urgency for an immediate increase in the city’s tree canopy and established the need for innovative solutions to accomplish this goal as the city works to address other needs during its recovery from the pandemic.

The trees for the City’s first pocket forest were donated by Bloom Energy, and serve as a unique example of a private-public partnership between a company and a Council District with a direct allocation of money, time and resources to expand and actively maintain the city’s tree canopy.

“We know that an important tool to address climate change and improve quality of life is planting more trees.

Unfortunately, over the past decade, the tree canopy in San José’s District 4 has dropped significantly and become lowest in the city,” said Councilmember David Cohen,

District 4. “To address this, we are going to build a unique public-private partnership to enlist volunteers and raise money in order to add trees to our parks and build pocket forests throughout the district.

I’m thankful to our neighborhood associations and North San José business community for joining us in this effort.”

This Earth Day event aims to inspire similar native plantings and greenery expansion across neighborhoods that have low levels of open space and trees in the city, especially those with the lowest levels of tree cover in the city.

The risk to these neighborhoods, in addition to the lack of developed recreational open space, includes less protection from the warming climate offered by trees, which also help to sequester carbon in the atmosphere and contribute to lower street temperatures.

For example, there is a 5.2 degree difference in the average temperature between the Rose Garden neighborhood, which has 3.5 times more tree coverings and 27% less pavement than East San José along Alum Rock.

According to the study, The Effects of Heat Exposure on Human Mortality Throughout the United States, this phenomenon, known as urban heat island effect, has killed as many as 12,000 people per year in the United States, more people than any other weather-related hazard.

It is projected that there will be 100,000 deaths/year in America by the end of the century.

“This new Pocket Forest campaign in San José is an example of how the city and our state continues to provide opportunities for every Californian to take climate action,” said California Chief Service Officer Josh Fryday.

“It’s crucial for California to continue to be a climate-resilient state by offering programs such as the California Climate Action Corps to help reach our sustainability goals, whether it’s through volunteering to plant a tree or educating your community. Let’s continue to set a national example and lead the way forward.”

Bloom Energy contributed $7,500 – the equivalent of 50 trees – to the pocket forest. The company’s Green Team helped plant today’s trees and will continue to care for their maintenance.

The trees will fill what is currently a barren lot surrounded by North San José office and residential developments in Council District 4.

“Bloom Energy is committed to creating real-world positive impacts on the environment and creating clean air,” said Carl Guardino, executive vice president, Bloom Energy.

“Planting trees contributes to this mission by absorbing carbon dioxide, filtering out air pollutants, and preventing flooding and erosion.

As a San José-based organization, we are proud to be able to support our community with this outstanding effort in celebration of Earth Day.”

Volunteers and staff from Assemblymember Alex Lee’s and Councilmember David Cohen’s office, San José Resilience Corps, and California Climate Action Corps members contributed time and effort to this planting,

“Urban trees and forests play a critical role in climate change mitigation and adaptation,” said Assemblymember Alex Lee. “They help filter air and water, control stormwater, conserve energy, and provide animals shelter and shade.”

“Investing in urban forestry is a critical action needed for the health of our communities and planet and to address the impacts of climate change, including urban heat island effect,” says Andrea Mackenzie, General Manager of the Santa Clara Valley Open Space Authority.  “Not only do we need to increase the pace of new tree planting, we must prevent the loss of existing mature tree canopy.  Coordinating these nature-based efforts at the local, County and regional scale is an essential action to counter the effects of climate change, especially in vulnerable communities.”

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