The sun not only beats down from overhead, but bounces and reflects off concrete sidewalks, making a typical shopping errand miserable. But things are about to get better – on one street in San Pedro, anyway. Next month, a group of local residents who have teamed up with the Tree People nonprofit organization will plant as many as 100 trees along 27 blocks of Pacific Avenue in San Pedro. Not only will the shade trees make it more comfortable for pedestrians, but studies show the trees can actually boost business, a Tree People spokeswoman said. “Several studies prove that business districts that have tree-lined streets make more money,” said Lisa Cahill, Tree People’s Citizen Forestry manager. “People are a little happier, they stay a little longer, and they spend a little more money.” By Donna Littlejohn STAFF WRITER Hot enough for you? Southern California’s end-of-summer heat waves are especially brutal on city streets. Using grant money from the Air Quality Management District and funds provided for neighborhood councils, the $80,000 project is being led by the Central San Pedro Neighborhood Council with participation from the coastal council as well. Sue Castillo of the Central Neighborhood Council has joined with other volunteers going door-to-door to get approvals for the trees. The trees are planted at no cost to merchants. “Nothing improves a neighborhood like trees, and I think they’ll make a big difference on Pacific Avenue,” Los Angeles City Councilwoman Janice Hahn said. “Neighborhood councils are given $50,000 a year to improve their neighborhoods and this is a good use of some of those funds.” The planting day – Oct. 27 – will rely on drawing about 300 to 400 volunteers wanting to donate their time and energy to plant the trees that come in 15-gallon containers. Approvals need to be received from property owners who must agree to maintain the trees. So far, about 50 percent of the property owners along Pacific from Oliver to Hamilton streets have signed up, Cahill said. But those who turn down the offer initially, she said, often decide to jump on board later once they see how the trees look. “I know that personally when I’m walking down a street, if I have an option I’ll choose the shady side,” Cahill said. Altogether, the project could provide up to 170 new trees along the commercial street, provided approvals are received from everyone. Among merchant concerns are maintenance and cleanup responsibilities. Others, such as stores that rely on delivery trucks as part of their business, have other worries. “It’s just going to be messy and in the way,” said Steve Siegel, owner of American Furniture Guild at 1141 S. Pacific Ave. “We have trucks coming up here all the time. “If they have money to spend, they should put a couple trash receptacles on the corners.” Among the businesses that have signed up for trees are Rex’s Cafe at 2136 S. Pacific Ave. and Auto Zone at 535 S. Pacific Ave. “I think it’s a good idea,” Auto Zone Manager Ramon Zamudio said. “It’s going to enhance the avenue. Trees are always nice and they actually change the view of a street.” Cahill said her group works with merchants to make sure trees don’t obscure signage – eventually, they grow above the signs, she said, providing a shaded canopy. Trees that will be planted include Brisbane box trees, evergreens that already exist in some places along Pacific. Drought-tolerant once established, they will be about 7 or 8 feet tall when planted, but could grow as tall as 30 feet, she said. All of the trees planted are species that will not crack sidewalks and are fairly low maintenance. Initially, trees may need 15 to 20 gallons of water every other week, but that decreases over time, she said. “By two or three years, most have tapped into the groundwater,” Cahill said. “We train our citizen foresters to put in the right tree in the right space, using city guidelines. The trees have non-invasive root systems and are suitable for the site.” The Harbor Area is below the national average for tree canopy cover, she said, so several projects are being planned as part of Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa’s Million Tree project. “The canopy cover (in the Harbor Area) is very low,” Cahill said. “I’ve heard figures from about 5 percent to 6 percent up to 12 percent. But the city of Los Angeles (as a whole) is around 20percent and the nation is at about 20 percent to 28 percent.” And it’s not all about the trees. Relying on local volunteers to do the planting, Cahill said, builds community spirit. And that, in turn, makes the trees more successful. “When trees are put in for people, we lose about 40 percent to 60 percent of them,” Cahill said. “When they’re planted in conjunction with the community, (people) take care of all those little things while they’re walking their dogs or parking their cars. They’ll take three seconds to adjust a stake or a tie, all those little things you can do with just your hands. “We only lose 10 percent or less of those trees.” [email protected] 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!