“Trees should be viewed as public health infrastructure,” Stacey Champion told ABC15.
Champion was among a group on Wednesday petitioning Phoenix City Council to establish a volunteer citizen committee to help Phoenix reach its goal of providing shade with trees to 25% of the city by 2030.
“It becomes a necessity when you live in a city that reaches 120-degrees,” she said.
According to the most recent city data, around 12% of Phoenix is currently shaded by trees. The plan was adopted in 2010 to aid pedestrians, cut down pollution, improve property values and mitigate the “urban heat island effect.”
Champion said the citizen committee would also establish ordinances to increase the number of trees near schools, transit stops, grocery stores and in heavily walked areas. She’s also calling on the city to enact ordinances that would fine property owners who don’t maintain their plants or remove them without a permit. Species will be drought resistant and water sensitive.
According to a study conducted, in part, by Arizona State University — trees can reduce the temperature by nearly 10-degrees in a given area. The study also found they can raise property values by as much as 10-percent.
Phoenix was recently selected as one of 35 cities receiving a Bloomberg $5-million grant to create a new “Heat Ready” program.
Mayor Greg Stanton said last month officials are working with Harvard and ASU researchers to come up with a program to improve living conditions with scientifically proven solutions. Options range from changing building codes, to adding trees and shade structures.
Phoenix City Council has 15 days to respond to the petition.