Albert Lopez
Planning Director

Cooling Our Communities:
Heat Preparedness & Tree Planting in the Unincorporated Eden Area

a bird's eye view of an Alameda County community


Program Overview

The Cooling Our Communities heat preparedness climate change adaptation program was initiated by the Alameda County Planning Department, Public Health Department, and General Services Agency Office of Sustainability. The program focused on the unincorporated Eden Area (the communities of Ashland, Cherryland, Hayward Acres, and San Lorenzo), running from Spring 2019 through to March 2022. The purposes of the program were to:

  • Educate Eden Area residents and support their ability to respond to health impacts associated with increased heat as a result of climate change;
  • Pilot a program to make free shade trees and free tree planting services available to increase shade, reduce energy bills and associated greenhouse gas emissions, and help alleviate urban heat impacts; and
  • Build community capacity to adapt and develop resilience in response to heat impacts associated with climate change.
people at outdoor market

The Community Development team from Resources for Community Development (RCD) was engaged to prepare and implement a Community Engagement Strategy for the program. RCD has deep ties within the Eden Area communities, and utilized existing programs and relationships to ensure that the program was tailored to the communities' needs and delivered co-benefits, including supporting RCD's broader efforts to develop resident led civic engagement to improve health, economic, educational, and other social indicators in the community.

Heat and Health

bird's eye view of houses

The average number of extreme heat days per year in Alameda County (hotter than 92.6℉) is expected to increase from 5 to as many as 15 by 2050. A 2017 study by the Public Health Department identified the Eden Area communities of Ashland, Cherryland, and Hayward Acres as areas with high vulnerability to the impact of increased heat.

The Cooling Our Communities Heat Preparedness Program built upon strong partnerships between the CDA Planning Department, GSA Sustainability Office, and the Public Health Department to assess vulnerability to extreme heat and connect Eden Area residents to cooling strategies and community capacity building efforts to help them stay cool as the climate warms.

Click here to view Heat and Health resources developed through this program, including:

  • Downloadable heat preparedness pocket guides in English, Spanish, Chinese, Vietnamese, Arabic, and Farsi
  • A list of cooling centers serving the urban unincorporated Eden Area

Shade Tree Planting

tree with pink blooms at the top

Tree planting is a nature-based intervention that can help decrease heat in urban environments by providing shade and cooling indoor and outdoor temperatures. Shade trees that are strategically planted around buildings can reduce summertime air temperatures by as much as 9℉, and shaded surfaces may be as much as 45℉ cooler than un-shaded surfaces.

The Cooling Our Communities pilot Shade Tree Planting program made free shade trees and tree planting service available in the Eden Area communities of Ashland, Cherryland, Hayward Acres, and San Lorenzo to help these communities stay cool in a warming climate.

Click here to view Shade Tree Planting resources developed through this program.


walkway lined with newly-planted trees

Cooling Our Communities resulted in the planting of 315 shade trees throughout the Eden Area communities of Ashland, Cherryland, Hayward Acres, and San Lorenzo, including at private homes and apartments, along streets, and at schools. Through community events, meetings, and door-to-door canvassing, over 1000 community members received educational materials related to heat and health and the benefits of shade tree planting.

Funding and Support

Cooling Our Communities was funded by the Coastal Conservancy Climate Ready Grant Program. This program supports natural resources and human communities along California's coast and the San Francisco Bay to adapt to the impacts of climate change, such as increases in extreme heat days in vulnerable populations and provides funding to assist disadvantaged communities in those efforts. Cooling Our Communities is part of California Climate Investments, a statewide program that puts billions of Cap-and-Trade dollars to work reducing greenhouse gas emissions, strengthening the economy, and improving public health and the environment particularly in disadvantaged communities.

Staff Contact

Alison Abbors
Alameda County Planning Department, Planner III
224 West Winton Avenue, Suite 111
Hayward, CA 94544
Phone: (510) 670-5400
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