UPDATE: $1.2 Million to Retrofit Homes to Capture and Infiltrate Rain

Yesterday, the LA County Board of Supervisors awarded TreePeople $1.2 million to pilot an innovative approach to home rainwater capture projects in unincorporated areas of LA County, with a focus on underserved communities. The project will help protect vulnerable communities from flooding, contribute toward our region’s water supply, improve water quality and offer water storage for later use.

It is part of a larger $4 million settlement between LA County and the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and LA Waterkeeper. The settlement funds support home retrofits and green streets projects to capture rainfall, recharge groundwater and reduce polluted runoff from being purged into our rivers and ocean in neighborhoods with high climate-risk.

The project aims to directly impact dozens of households by removing turf and concrete to install landscapes that are designed to conserve drinking water and capture the rain. Participating homes will showcase the critical role community members have to build climate-readiness and serve as a model for those joining the movement.

Growing up in the Northeast San Fernando Valley, I felt the effects pollution and treeless streets have on under-resourced communities. It was hard growing up in a place where kids had to stay home from school because our streets were flooded with stagnant, toxic water. But it’s because of these very same experiences that I stand where I am today — stronger and devoted to see neighborhoods be transformed into thriving, safe and healthy spaces.

LA County resident proudly shows off her climate-ready garden.

This is a huge win as the State of California is experiencing severe flooding following years of a historic drought. 

Our streets are flooded and our systems are stressed. California reservoirs are overflowing with water and communities are threatened with flooding. This is why TreePeople is committed to work closely with LA County to pilot a new safe, secure and quickly deployable concept for our region’s immense challenges.

The remainder of the settlement supports a $2.8 million green street project complete with tree plantings, climate-smart landscaping, solar-powered trash cans, porous sidewalks and more to capture, clean and use the rain where it falls in the historic community of 103rd Street (“Charcoal Alley”) in Watts. The community can look forward to a beautiful, walkable outdoor space improving overall health — “Charcoal Alley” no more!

This is big news for our region. This is just the beginning, but we’re ready to roll up our sleeves and work with our partners to serve environmental justice to our people who need it most.

Get involved. Join us in the climate action movement!

By Cindy Montañez

As CEO of TreePeople, Cindy Montañez has rapidly expanded the Los Angeles-based organization’s impact across Southern California and turned it into the largest environmental movement and the fastest growing environmental nonprofit in the region.

At the age of 25, Cindy was elected as the youngest councilmember of her hometown of San Fernando. She became mayor at 27 and at 28 years old, was elected the youngest woman ever to the California State Legislature.

Upon leaving the legislature, Cindy was hired as Assistant General Manager at the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, where she was a core part of the team transitioning the nation’s largest publicly-owned utility to cleaner energy and a more sustainable local water supply.

Cindy has been a longtime champion for bringing people together around the environment, sustainable urban planning and social justice.

In addition to her role as CEO of TreePeople, Cindy was elected in November to the San Fernando City Council and is currently a Board Member for the UCLA Institute of the Environment and Sustainability.