The Press

South Gate plans urban orchard

SOUTH GATE — A vacant seven-acre city-owned site at 9475 Frontage Road could become an urban orchard if city staff can find grants of several million dollars to fund the project.

The urban orchard project calls for planting clusters of fruit trees on a site, which could be used for water conservation, flood control and recreational facilities, Public Works Director Arturo Cervantes said in a written report to the City Council Sept. 8.

The council directed city staff to continue studying the project and seek available grants.

The site is bounded by the Hawkins Water Plant, Thunderbird Villas, the Los Angeles River and the Long Beach (710) Freeway. Water from the river could be used to irrigate the orchard, Cervantes said.

The value of the lot is estimated at  $654,462.

“With staff’s proposal to develop the vacant site, the city can address many issues such as storm water quality, water conservation and ground storage, open space for recreational and bike routes, drinking water reliability, traffic congestion relief through use of transportation programs and quality of life providing recreation opportunities for senior citizens,” Cervantes said.

“Preliminary research suggests there are numerous grant programs that could fund the project,” he added.

It would help water conservation by creating an open space for water storage, allowing storm water to trickle into the ground and to control storm water runoff into city drains or the river by digging swales to filter out debris.

It also could be a transportation center by creating bicycle trails.

Cervantes said storm water compliance could range from $32.8 million to $61 million, but added “the urban orchard is a cost-effective solution to help achieve compliance with some of the [state’s] anti-water pollution mandates.”