San José's Community Forest
San José’s previous efforts to protect and grow its forest have been fruitful. Since its founding in 1994, Our City Forest has planted over 50,000 trees. The City’s tree policies have significantly reduced the number of healthy, large canopy trees that have been unnecessarily topped. Residents are generally more aware of their responsibilities regarding the care and maintenance of trees. Still, the City’s community forest is at risk.
Changing weather patterns, dwindling water supplies, poor pruning, inappropriate tree selections made years ago, and limited City funding to maintain the City’s trees all threaten the immediate and long-term health of San José’s community forest. Ironically, in part because of the changes our climate is undergoing, the need for valuing an investment in the City’s community forest is even more acute.
Protecting and nurturing the health and growth of San José’s trees, expanding their number, and extending their reach into all of the City’s neighborhoods will require a concerted effort by the City, its community forest partners and its residents. By expanding the urban forest, we will cool our streets and sidewalks, clean our air, improve water quality, and help convert carbon dioxide emissions to oxygen.
Smart, Zero Emission Streetlights
From traffic signals to streetlights, we can make San José streets smarter and environmentally friendly. We will adopt advanced technology such as light emitting diode (LED) lighting equipped with network control and monitoring systems that will allow the City to dim its lights in the late evening hours when there is minimal to no traffic. This will enable us to reduce our energy consumption, eliminate wasted light, and protect the night sky.
We will test new ways to pave streets, parking lots, sidewalks, and trails. New pervious surfaces, which allow water to penetrate the surface, offer great promise for being better for our environment. By expanding the urban forest, we will cool our streets and sidewalks, clean our air, improve water quality, and help convert carbon dioxide emissions to oxygen.
We must encourage more pedestrian and bicycle travel. One option is to install attractive, covered facilities along City sidewalks that will make it more convenient and comfortable for residents to walk and cycle. These cooling stations would serve as bike lockers or benches where people can rest or wait for a bus. At the same time, the stations would collect solar power to run adjacent streetlights.