Urban Forestry

TreeGreen 1 transparent s are vital assets to a community. They improve the visual appeal of a neighborhood, increase property values, reduce home cooling costs, remove air pollutants, and provide wildlife habitat. Similarly, healthy and robust green infrastructure systems can mitigate the urban heat island effect, lower building energy use, provide natural stormwater management, and improve local air quality.  

Benefits of Trees

  • Cleaner Air: 100 trees remove 53 tons of carbon dioxide and 430 pounds of other air pollutants per year;
  • Combats Climate Change: By reducing energy demand and absorbing carbon dioxide, trees and vegetation decrease the production and negative effects of air pollution and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions;
  • Captures Rainwater: 100 mature trees can capture and store about 139,000 gallons of rainwater per year;
  • Cleaner Water: A medium-sized tree intercepts up to 2,300 gallons of stormwater runoff per year;
  • Improves Public Health: People are less likely to be hospitalized for asthma when they live in neighborhoods with many trees;
  • Improves Mental Health: People living in neighborhoods with less than 10% tree canopy are more likely to report symptoms of depression, stress, and anxiety;
  • Saves Energy: Strategically placed shade trees can help save up to 56% on annual air-conditioning costs for homes and businesses;
  • Reduces Urban Heat Island Effect: Shaded surfaces my be 20-45°F cooler than the peak temperatures of unshaded areas;
  • Increases Business: Shoppers will spend 9% to 12% more for goods and services with high quality tree canopy; and
  • Green Economy: Increases urban forestry jobs.

La Mesa Urban Forest Management Plan

In March 2018, City Council adopted the Climate Action Plan, which creates a roadmap to reduce community-wide GHG emissions in half by 2035 from the 2010 baseline year. The CAP also establishes a performance target to plant 500 new trees by 2020 and expand La Mesa’s urban tree canopy from 18% to 33% by 2035 in an effort to sequester carbon and reduce heat island impacts. 

In suUFMP Cover Page Photopport of this effort, the City was awarded a grant in 2019 from the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE) Urban and Community Forestry Grant Program. Under the grant award the City developed and adopted the City of La Mesa Urban Forest Management Plan.  The Urban Forest Management Plan (UFMP) provides a framework over a 50-year period to reach its vision, with guiding principles, goals, and strategies set at short-term (1–3 years), medium-term (5–10 years), and long-term (10+ years) completion benchmarks. The UFMP guiding principles and goals reflect the City’s priorities and the outcomes they plan to achieve.

The City maintains approximately ten thousand trees across the City! About 6,700 of those trees are “street trees,” or trees that occupy the right of way.  In 2019, representatives from West Coast Arborists logged information on height, health, location and other data points for each City tree to inform the Community Forestry Plan.

Tree City USA

For the past 43 years, the City of La Mesa has earned the designation of a Tree City USA. The Tree City USA program is sponsored by the Arbor Day Foundation in partnership with the U.S. Forest Service and the National Association of State Foresters. La Mesa achieves Tree City USA recognition by meeting the program’s four requirements: a tree board or department, a tree-care ordinance, an annual community forestry budget of at least $2 per capita and an Arbor Day observance and proclamation.

Grow the Urban Tree Canopy

The City has multiple programs to support the growth of our urban tree canopy in public spaces. Are you interested in ways you can support the growth of our urban forest at your home? Check out the resources below for more info.

  • In preparation for future tree plantings, if you are a La Mesa resident interested in a free tree along the public right-of-way whose property frontage meets certain requirements, please fill out the Tree Interest Form.  
  • Explore the best fruit trees for San Diego County.
  • Plant trees that will thrive in La Mesa’s beautiful climate. Talk with your local nursery and review a La Mesa-specific tree guide for more info.
  • Trees still need adequate water during droughts and our dry months.

La Mesa Community Forestry Project

Facilitating the development of the urban tree canopy and vibrant green spaces is an important goal for the City of La Mesa. Trees improve air quality, beautify communities, and offer protection during those hot summer days. The City recently received a grant from the Cal Fire to help expand La Mesa’s urban forest, and the City will undertake the following activities over the next few years as a result of this funding:

  • Develop an Urban Forest Management Plan (UFMP) to guide efforts over the next 50 years;  
  • Plant 350 trees in the right of way throughout the City;
  • Update the City tree inventory;
  • Assess the tree canopy;
  • Evaluate and update the City tree ordinance and other policies;
  • Educate and engage the community with community partners to inform the development of an Urban Forestry Management Plan; and  
  • Provide opportunities for the public to learn about how to plant and maintain healthy trees.

La Mesa Community Forestry project partners include:

Park and Rec logotree-sd-logoUC of SD county logo Green HIGH RES

WCA logoLa Mesa Beautiful Logo

City Programs

The City of La Mesa’s Give-A-Tree Program is a formal tree donation program to grow La Mesa’s tree canopy. Donors make a donation of $250 then details such as the type of tree, location, time and date of planting are established in partnership with the Parks Department. A plaque is engraved with the name of the person for whom the tree was planted and added to the Give-A-Tree Plaque which hangs at City Hall. Please call 619.667.1319 for more information.

City Documents and References