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Clean California Transforms Vacant Lot Into Education Center
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California Governor Gavin Newsom gathered recently with project partners at the Clean California Fifth Street Tree Nursery project ribbon-cutting. Photo Contributed

Governor Gavin Newsom joined state and local leaders recently to unveil a state-of-the-art tree nursery and education center at a previously vacant, blighted lot near a highly visible intersection in San Francisco.

This is one of 3,275 Clean California sites cleaned statewide under the Governor’s $1.2 billion, multiyear effort led by Caltrans to remove trash, create thousands of jobs and engage communities to revitalize public spaces.

The $3.5 million revitalization project was designed in partnership with Caltrans, the San Francisco Department of Public Works and the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CalFire).

At the ribbon-cutting ceremony, Governor Newsom announced a major milestone for Clean California: since its launch in July 2021, Caltrans has cleared more than two million cubic yards of litter from California roadways – enough litter to span the length of the Golden Gate Bridge 670 times – and the program has employed 8,700 people.

“Back when I was Mayor of San Francisco, this particular state-owned site was always a source of frustration – we could never seem to keep it clean and we couldn’t get the state to engage. That’s why we made it a priority for Clean California – and why I’m especially excited for today’s milestone. This once blighted area that serves as a vital gateway to San Francisco has been transformed into a landscape that all San Franciscans and Californians can be proud of,” Governor Newsom said.

Located at the intersection of Interstate 80 and Fifth Street in San Francisco, this active tree nursery will offer visitors unique opportunities to learn about the benefits of trees for people and the environment, including the chance to engage with arborists.

“The opening of our first City-run street tree nursery is important for so many reasons,” said San Francisco Mayor London N. Breed. “First, we’re nurturing home-grown trees instead of outsourcing them from so many miles away. This means we’re emitting less carbon in the process and stepping closer towards our climate goals. Second, we’re making sure we can better prioritize new trees in neighborhoods that have historically been left out from these investments so that all San Franciscans can have access to cleaner air, more green spaces, and a healthier environment. I’m grateful to Governor Newsom for committing funding to this project last year, and all of our State partners at Caltrans, CalFire, and the California Natural Resources Agency for making today a reality.”

Last week, Caltrans unveiled another Clean California project in San Francisco, along Fourth Street between Yerba Buena Gardens and the Moscone Transit Center. And last month, Governor Newsom announced the latest round of Clean California grants to cities, local governments and transit agencies throughout the state, which included $3.3 million to clean transit stations and bus stops throughout San Francisco.

Clean California has helped individuals overcome barriers to employment, including 357 people who had been experiencing homelessness, and has drawn more than 10,000 volunteers to events ranging from community cleanups to large debris collections for appliances, tires and mattresses. As this effort moves forward, Caltrans and local communities will continue to raise awareness of the negative impact litter has on natural resources, waterways, public safety and public health to help drive a cultural shift of shared responsibility for clean and vibrant public spaces.

Caltrans is also developing a program in which communities throughout the state can earn a special Clean California Community designation by meeting criteria centered around preventing and cleaning up litter, promoting recycling and greening or beautifying neighborhoods.

To find out how to volunteer with Clean California, visit