Solving the Sustainability Puzzle: Designing Urban Greening Concepts That Meet the Needs of the City and Community
Improving air and water quality, calming traffic, and encouraging healthy, active lifestyles are just a few of the ways urban greening can positively impact the community it serves. Cities often utilize urban greening efforts as a means of Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4) Permit compliance and reap the added benefits that doing so provides. Urban greening tends to be a catchall for municipalities; however, utilization of this sustainable practice is not as cookie-cutter as it may seem. Urban greening is only effective when implemented properly. This means conducting thorough needs assessments prior to design. Site conditions, such as existing soils and slopes, will undoubtedly affect infiltration rates and in turn the effectiveness of any Best Management Practice (BMP). Elements affecting quality of life must be analyzed to ensure that improvements are in line with the community goals to experience the benefits of urban greening. These conditions and elements must be assembled like pieces to a puzzle, to create the ideal design for the urban greening.
The Wilmington Urban Greening Plan (WGP) was developed to guide the City of Los Angeles (City) in creating a more sustainable Wilmington and is a step forward in the Mayor’s initiative for making Los Angeles the greenest big city in the United States. The plan proposes solutions that will enhance the water quality of our rivers and ocean, increase groundwater recharge, and alleviate nuisance flooding with co-benefits of air quality, open space, greening, traffic, healthy communities, and other benefits for this 6 square mile study area. With urban greening at its core, the plan further aims to guide future retrofits in neighborhoods throughout the City.
The presentation will discuss the unique conditions present in the Wilmington neighborhood including air pollution attributed to the neighborhood’s proximity to the Port of Los Angeles, the severe lack of green space, and the need for safer, cleaner pedestrian facilities. The presentation will expand upon how the WGP addresses these issues and the methodology used to accurately assess the different needs of areas within Wilmington, and identify how green infrastructure was designed to meet those individual needs – a tool applicable to all greening projects. The presentation will also discuss measures used during plan development including extensive ArcGIS research and modeling, public outreach, and site visits. Finally, the presentation will delve into the challenges faced in trying to meld all of these pieces together.
The WGP is in draft phase and being reviewed by the City – set to be approved in July 2018. It includes 17 design concepts spread throughout the Wilmington neighborhood. Two concepts are identified as high priority which, if implemented, will provide bioretention facilities designed to meet the 85th percentile 24-hour storm event. The addition of tree canopies will improve local air quality while providing the community with more comfortable connections by reducing the urban heat island effect. Upon City approval, projects will be rolled out as funding allows.
The presentation will begin by describing a typical design scenario and posing a question to the audience. The question will steer the audience to reflect upon the needs involved in the scenario, conveniently leading into the topic of discussion during which further audience participation will be solicited.
The presentation will focus on demonstrating the importance of identifying and evaluating the community’s needs and tailoring urban greening solutions. Existing conditions, both tangible and abstract, must be pieced together to ensure that all goals are met. By connecting the community and City’s needs and goals, greening efforts can effectively reduce stormwater pollution, ensuring the drops that end up in our seas, are as clean as they were in the summit.