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Newly appointed TreePeople CEO Cindy Montaez on
creating a climate-resilient Los Angeles

the world. There is no better place to


show how a city can adapt to climate,
address issues of the drought, deal
with increasing air and water temperatures, look at sea-level rise; I mean,
LA really is the perfect laboratory to
develop the science, to develop public
SROLF\ WR GHYHORS SURMHFWV DQG SURgrams that can be implemented to fundamentally transform and improve and
prepare communities to become more
climate resilient. When the opportunity
came up to work with TreePeople and
work with a legend
like [TreePeople
Founder]
Andy
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not have been more
perfect.

seeing how the implementation of their


mission and vision was transforming
communities. TreePeople continues to
be that. We have a mission and a vision
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especially [in] L.A., to become more
climate resilient by increasing the local
water supply and the tree canopy.

What are some of your responsibiliWLHVDV&(2"


My responsibility as CEO of
By Mina Riazi
TreePeople is going to be to make sure
that this great vision of making LA the
You served in the California State lic agencies like
most climate resilient city in the world
Assembly from 2002 to 2006. How the Los Angeles
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did that experience prepare you for Department
ue to encourage our team here to dream
Power,
L.A.
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about what it is that we can do to make
and
When I was a member of the state Sanitation
LA and the greater region the most
County
legislature, one of my biggest passions L.A.
climate resilient and sustainable city
was issues of the environment and Public Works. So
Tell us more that we can, and ultimately implement
natural resources, particularly environ- we brought everyabout TreePeople. that dream. I will do everything from
PHQWDO MXVWLFH 0\ SROLF\ ZRUN ZDV body together to
I came across getting my hands dirty and planting
very much about urban sustainability start coordinating
TreePeople when WUHHV WR PHHWLQJ ZLWK PDMRU LQYHVWRUV
DQG SURWHFWLQJ &DOLIRUQLDV EHDXWLIXO and start having
I was in my late donors and believers of TreePeople to
environment, as well as looking at the the discussion
V D PHPEHU RI bring us all together on a mission and
XUEDQHQYLURQPHQW+DYLQJWKHRSSRU- about how we
the legislature and a vision that most Californians share.
tunity to be CEO of TreePeople allows as a region can
working for very Two out of three Californians will say
me to connect big policy issues like start increasing
poor, underserved that climate change is a real issue that
climate change and how cities adapt our local water
c o m m u n i t i e s , needs to be addressed.
to becoming more climate resilient. supply by turnlike the northeast
[The position also allows me to] work ing to ancient,
part of the San TreePeople works with different levconcepts
with local neighborhoods all over the old
Fernando Valley. els of government to create poliGreater Los Angeles Area to actu- of storm-water
I came across cies that facilitate a greener L.A.
The
ally create models of sustainability capture.
this brilliant mind infrastructure. Tell us about some of
that, from my perspective, have to be r e l a t i o n s h i p s
and man named those policies.
available so that we can take what that I established
The overall Stormwater Capture
Andy Lipkis, who
ZHUHGRLQJLQQHLJKERUKRRGVWKURXJK- as an Assistant
was talking about Master Planthe first of its kind says
out Los Angeles and scale it county- G e n e r a l
storm-water cap- that we are going to move towards
of
wide, California-wide, country-wide Manager
ture and connect- JHWWLQJDWOHDVWSHUFHQWRIRXUZDWHU
are
and, even at some point, export these LADWP
ing the importance from local water supply. The numideas to developing countries all over r e l a t i o n s h i p s
of the work that ber one energy user in California is
and partnerships
the world.
TreePeople is doing all the energy that goes into bringing
that will allow
with my reality of water imported from the SacramentoMost recently, you were Assistant usalong with
being a state leg- 6DQ-RDTXLQ'HOWD%\LQFUHDVLQJORFDO
General Manager of the Department T r e e P e o p l e ,
islature for a very water supply, we save energy, we make
RI :DWHU DQG 3RZHU <RXUH QRZ LADWP, LA
poor, underserved it more sustainable, we create a greener
helming an environmental organiza- Sanitation and
HQYLURQPHQWDO MXV- environmentand all of that leads
County
tion that promotes sustainable local LA
tice community. WRZDUGV MRE FUHDWLRQ KHDOWKLHU FRPwater supplies. How are the two Department of
[Andy] spoke to munities and preparing us for climates.
Public Works
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the work that we ,WVDPLVVLRQDQGDYLVLRQWKDWEHQHILWV
When I was brought into the Los to make these
were doing and I everyone and anyone, regardless of
Angeles Department of Water and SURMHFWV ZLWK
saw the work that where you live and what your backPower, it was specifically to be part of s t o r m - w a t e r
was done. In one ground might be. TreePeople is about
the team that was looking at how the capture a realof the poorest parts investing in all of us.
largest municipal utility in the coun- ity in neighborin the entire city of
try, which is LADWP, could become hoods throughLos Angeles, they did a storm-water :KDWLV\RXUWRSSULRULW\"
cleaner in its energy and more sustain- RXW/$6RWKHUHFRXOGQWKDYHEHHQD FDSWXUH SURMHFW ZKHUH WKH\ WRUH XS D
My top priority is to be a chamable with its water supply and delivery. more perfect training.
concrete asphalt playground and put pion all over Los Angeles, the State of
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in a storm-water system that allowed California and the country in pushing
Capture Master Plan, groundwater con- Why were you drawn to this oppor- for water to be cleaned and recycled these ideas that are practical and can be
tamination cleanup in the San Fernando WXQLW\ZLWK7UHH3HRSOH"
back onto the property. Where there implemented that are coming out of this
I want to make a difference in issues ZDVRQFHDQDVSKDOWMXQJOHLWEHFDPHD beautiful village that is TreePeople. [I
Valley, increased recycling efforts and
conservation. Being at TreePeople, I of environmental sustainability and I beautiful running track with grass and want to] create those partnerships and
have the ability to work with one of our want to be a leader in the City of trees and a playground for kids to actu- find additional supporters to make Los
main partners in what we have called Los Angeles with TreePeople to make ally be able to play in. I saw the work Angeles the most climate resilient and
the Multi-Agency Collaborative, or L.A. a model for climate resiliencya that TreePeople was doingI saw a sustainable city in the country, and take
MAC. The Multi-Agency Collaborative model that can be scalable and taken visual, tangible transformation of com- WKDWPRGHODOORYHUWKHZRUOG0\MRELV
LVDXQLTXHRQHRIDNLQGFRQFHSWWKDW to communities throughout the region, munities. I believed in the mission and to be the champion and make sure that
has actually brought together pub- throughout the state and throughout the vision that they had because I was happens every day.

The number one


energy user in
California is all the
energy that goes
into bringing water
imported from the
Sacramento-San
Joaquin Delta. By
increasing local
water supply, we save
energy, we make it
more sustainable,
we create a greener
environmentand
all of that leads
towards job creation,
healthier communities
and preparing us for
FOLPDWHV

Page 10 Beverly Hills Weekly