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English and Spanish Plant Guide for the Residents of

Seaside, California
Maria Cardenas, Andrea Vega, Jillian Robb, Abigail Melchor-Aguila, Tanya Amarro

Description and Background of the Problem

Maritime areas, like Seaside, California, are rich in plant species. The plants that thrive
there can be vulnerable because areas like these are sought after for residential
development and recreational use due to its proximity to the ocean (McGraw, Nelson,
Shen, & Villegas, 2017; Figure 1). The urbanization and the biodiversity of an area can
interact in complex ways. Over 80% of urban areas are covered by pavement and buildings
and less than 20% is covered by vegetation. However, the vegetative area can often be low
in plant diversity. Some causes for this are land erosion, trampling of plants, pollutions, and
the introduction of nonnative, invasive species (Mckinley, 2002). While urban areas can be
rich in species diversity, it can often cause the native species biodiversity to decrease
because non native plant are being grown instead of native (Elmqvist, Zipperer,& Guneralp,
2016; Mckinney 2002).The introduction of invasive non-natives species can threaten the
biodiversity in Seaside. Invasive species are a threat to biodiversity and to the stability of
ecosystems. They are often held responsible for the decline of native species abundance
and local extinctions species (Gaertner, Breeyen, Hui & Richardson, 2009). Nationally,
invasive species have contributed to the decline of 42% of threatened and endangered
species (USDA, n.d.). Of the plants threatened and endangered species, 18% are
categorized as such due to invasive species. In a study done by Dr. Mirijam Gaertner and
his team, they concluded that invasive plant species invasions had caused a decline in
native plant species richness. This study was done in mediterranean-type ecosystems,
ecosystems that are similar to Seaside. As humans traveled in the world, they have
intentionally and unintentionally introduced non-native species into new environments.
They can compete with the native plants and can often push out native plants from their
habitat. One of the most common invasive plants, ice plant (Carpobrotus edulis), was
intentionally introduced to stabilize sand dunes and other unstable soils (McGraw, Nelson,
Shen, & Villegas, 2017). As people have inhabited more land, they have also introduced
non-native plants to make their
properties aesthetically pleasing;
oftentimes, these plants are not
compatible with the other organisms or
conditions in that environment.
According to the California Native
Plant Society planting California
natives can help save water, reduce
maintenance and pesticide use, and
invite beneficial pollinators. Native
plants can also restore a sense of
place, provide important habitat for our
wildlife, and help us preserve our
special ecosystem. Native plant
species are important because they
support native animal species. Michael
L. McKinney, a director of Environmental Studies Program at the Department of Geological
Sciences at the University of Tennessee, stated that much of the reduction in animal
species, such as birds, insects, amphibians, and reptiles, is due to the loss of vegetation
(2002). The planting of native plants is important because they are beneficial for the
environment they are originally from. According to the USDA Forest Service, native plants
have many advantages. They are unlikely to compete with other native plants and they are
unlikely to become invasive in their environment. Native plants can also provide food
sources for the native wildlife. Since both the plants and the wildlife have evolved to live in
that environment, they depend on each other to survive. The plants can provide nectar and
pollen to bees, butterflies, and other insects; seeds and fruit to the birds and small
mammals. Most importantly, native plants can help protect biodiversity in the area. If other
organisms are depending on the plant, they are helping support it. If the native plant
abundance decreases, there won't be as much support to the other organisms.
Seaside, California is a ocean side city overlooking the Monterey Bay. The climate in
this city is Mediterranean, which means that during the summer, it is warm and dry, and
during the winter, it is cool and wet. According to the 2010 Census, its population is 33,025.
According to the same census, that racial makeup is 48.4% white, 8.4% African American,
1.1% Native American, 9.7% Asian, 1.6% Pacific Islander, and 43.4% Hispanic/Latino.

The current state of the issue is that in Monterey County and in many places around
the world, there are some invasive species that take over the habitat of the native species
that were already present and with urbanization increasing, it leaves room for invasive
species to grow and decrease the biodiversity of that area. With 50% of the population
living in the suburbs and 30% living in cities, the growth of urban land is growing at a faster
rate than the land being preserved for national parks, preservation and conservation efforts
(Mckinney, 2002). Not only does urbanization affect native species but it decreases
biodiversity and can cause local extinctions by the removing of most vegetation and topsoil.
In addition to a decrease of biodiversity, studies show that there is an increase in nonnative
species because it allows the nonnative species to utilize new resources (Mckinney, 2002).
For this reason it is important to inform the community to be educated on these issues and
to also teach them to be able to garden and plant to help out and increase habitat space
and biodiversity. One of the ways to educate the community is through the students and
their parents, through intergenerational transfer. A study in Costa Rica showed that
students were taught conservation principles in a school environment to teach their
parents. The students were taught about given a one month course about Macaw
conservation and natural history. Students, parents, and an adult control were given a
pretest and posttest to show the improvement; The students showed improvement by 67%,
the parents 52% and the adult group 29% which showed that the parents retained
information from the students (Vaughn, Gack, Solorazano and Ray, 2003). This can be an
alternative to educating the community, in addition to providing a plant guide for the
community. It is important to educate the community as a whole to allow every generation
to get educated for a better future. For this reason, the plant guide should be implemented
in all levels of school to continue the education through generations to come.
For stakeholder such as city officials and people holding a place in government, it is a
problem having to do with high costs. It is estimated that 137 million dollars are lost in
damages and losses worldwide dealing with nonnative species making it a big issue with
the government, and the people. Locally in Monterey County, Arundo, a plant that looks like
a forest of bamboo is taking over the Salinas rivers riverbank and moving inland. The plant
was originally planted in the 40s to protect the riverbank and stabilize the levies and started
to spread quickly (Mcintyre 2018). Now to completely remove it, it has to go over four to five
treatments that costs millions of dollars for the Resource Conservation District of Monterey.
It seems that the introduction of this species would not have happened if it wasn't for
people being educated about native species or species that are invasive to a certain area.

Current direction for improvement

The city of Seaside has different groups that touch on educating and informing
residents of plants and taking action to get the community involved in restoration and
planting of native plants. Return of the Natives also known as RON a community and
school environmental education program works throughout Monterey County in native
habitat restoration. RON works with students ranging from kindergarten to college students
(Return of the Natives, n.d.). The California Native Plant Society (CNPS), Monterey
Chapter is a statewide non profit organization that was founded in 1965. Their goal is to
increase appreciation, enjoyment, understanding and preservation of native California
plants by education, conservation, scientific activities, and stewardship within Monterey Bay
(California Native Plant Society, n.d.). MEarth, an environmental sustainability education
program works with students and adults on their ten acre Hilton Bialek Habitat in Carmel
Valley. They hope to educate and inspire the community to become better stewards of
themselves/community and the environment (MEarth, 2018). CNPS teams up MEarth to
host an annual native plant sale for the public.
The Monterey county has a focus on nature and its services it brings to the community.
Millions of visitors come into the Monterey Peninsula every year to see the natural
biodiversity of plants and animals. It is fiscally imperative to place importance on the nature
that makes up our unique home. Placing this importance on our natural capital means
stimulation to the local economy, which means more local jobs and more money for our
community to thrive. Seaside is very lucky to have these strong influences of the native
flora and fauna. Our project of creating a guide for the community of Seaside is one more
way of spreading the knowledge of our native plant species. With an easy to use guide we
hope to reach as many residents of the city of Seaside from young children, to individuals
who have little to no experience in the garden, or to individuals whose native language is
Spanish or 32% of the City’s population. Having a compiled list of native species of the
area accessible is one helping step to encourage planting of greenery in the city as the city
and surrounding area grow and develop through the years.
Development is a huge threat to native species in Seaside and in other cities across the
nation. To protect and bring back the native plant species many cities are implementing
projects and campaigns. The Washington, D.C. Department of Energy and Environment
handed out 8,000 packets of native seeds to raise public awareness of the importance of
pollinators and meadow habitats but most importantly to provide an opportunity for
residents to engage with their natural surroundings. Advantages to providing seeds or
plants to residents allows the process of planting to be less effort and more accessible.
Myla Aronson from Rutgers University and 23 colleagues compiled bird lists for 54 cities
and urban floras for 110 cities across the world. They studied correlations of bird and plant
densities between urban growth. They found 20% of globally known bird species, and more
than 14,000 plant species occur in cities, thats 5% of the earth’s flora and 2/3 of all plant
families. They also found with efforts towards conservation and restoration of native
species of plants among urban areas it could support greater concentrations of both bird
and plant species. This study provides evidence that cities can support both biodiversity
and people. But with this focus on both urban sprawl and native flora and fauna requires
urban planning, conservation and education.

Context in which groups work fits into overall picture

With studies done that shows that urbanization can lead to a decrease in plant species’
biodiversity, we believed that it would be important and a good idea to create a plant guide
for the residents.
Although different organizations are working to increase not only the public's
knowledge of native plants and having planting events we saw how important a guide could
increase residents knowledge and motivation to plant natives. We also saw the need to
have a spanish counterpart because of the lack of information available in Spanish for the
cities Hispanic/Latinx community. The city addressed their lack of proper communication at
a council meeting where they announced their new digital public access where translation
of city council meetings would be offered in over 100 languages.
In order to get an idea of whether residents would find a guide useful and to get a sense of
residents current plant knowledge we created a survey. We surveyed using convenience
sampling, which is a type of non-probability sampling from data collected from readily
available respondents (Non-Probability Sampling, n.d.). Because of the demographics of
Seaside being 43% Hispanic, we decided to have our surveys available in Spanish to be
able to hear what almost half of the population has to say about our guide.

The survey consisted of a total of 11 questions, where the last five were demographic
questions consisting of age, ethnicity, income, gender, and current housing situation. The
survey questions are as follows:

1.Is your zip code 93955?

2. Do you have plants or trees in the landscaping around your place of residence?
If yes, what kinds of plants are they?
If yes, did you plant them yourself or did someone else (a landlord, a previous owner) plant them?

3. If the City of Seaside were to provide a visual plant guide, would you utilize it for your
landscaping/gardening needs? 1 being you definitely wouldn’t use it and 5 being you would love to have such
a guide.

Definitely Not 1 2 3 4 5 Would love it!

4. How familiar are you with the native plants and trees that grow in Seaside?

Not at all familiar 1 2 3 4 5 I’m an expert

5. Do you know about the two plant palettes for the city of Seaside? Check all that apply
___ Yes, Drought Tolerant Plant Palette found in the Single- Family Residential Design Guidelines
___Yes, Recommended Plant Palette found in the Adopted West Broadway Urban Village Plan
___No, I have not heard of either
If yes, would you be interesting in using the plant palettes to guide your landscaping?
6. Do you have the ability to change the landscaping around your home? (i.e., can you plant what you like,
even if you don’t own the home?)
Results and Discussion:
Of the 26 completed surveys only 23 were deemed useful because three of the surveys
were completed by non Seaside residents. When asked if they can change the landscape
of their home, 78.26% of the respondents said they could while 21.74% said they could not
(Table 1). Participants were also asked to rate on a scale of 1 to 5 how likely they were to
use a plant guide if the city were to provide one, with one being they wouldn’t use it and five
meaning they would love to use it. The average response was 4.09 with a standard
deviation of 1.16 (Table 2). We also asked participants how familiar they are with the native
flora. Table 3 shows that the average score was 2, meaning that they were not too
knowledgeable of the native plants in Seaside. The majority (86.96%) of the respondents
did not know of either plant palettes (Table 4). Over 78% of the participants said that they
have plants or trees in their homes while less than 22% said that they did not. For question
3, the average score for homeowners was 3.75. Apartment renters had an average score of
3.63 and the average score for apartment renters was 4.57. Those who live with family for
friends had an average score of 4.33 (Table 6). According to Table 7, when asked how
likely they were to use a plant guide if the city provided one, those who took the survey in
Spanish had a higher average (4.56) than those who took it in English (3.79). Those who
took the survey in English didn’t know much of the native plants in Seaside. Spanish
speakers had a low average as well (Table 8). Table 9 shows that those who cannot
landscape are willing to use a plant guide, with an average answer being 4.29. the average
score for those who can landscape’s was 3.78.
The results for question 5 validated our belief that the plant palettes were hard for the
public to find. If the city wanted the residents to use the palettes to guide their landscaping,
they were going to have to make them accessible and easy to use. The results showed that
residents would use a plant guide if the city were to provide one. When we analyzed who
indicated they would use the guide, we found some interesting results. Those who rented
their house and lived with family for friends were the groups more willing to use the guide
compared to the other housing groups. This was surprising because they don’t own the
land they are living on and it can be hard for them to plant or landscape around their home.
It was expected that apartment renters had the lowest average answer to the question,
although it was still on the positive side of the scale. It would be hard for them to use the
guide to plant greenery when they living in an apartment and don’t own it. The result that
surprised us the most was Table 9. Those who are not able to landscape responded that
they would utilize a plant guide that the city provides. Their average score (4.29) was
higher than their counterparts (3.78). These results made us aware that the plant guide can
be utilized by numerous individuals that would have difficulty changing their landscape. Due
to this, we believed it was important to indicate within the guide if each plant can be left in a
pot or not. Those who took the survey also had a higher average to question 3 compared to
those who took the survey in English. This result indicated to us that having a Spanish
guide would be utilized by the public, especially since a large portion of the population
identifies as Hispanic/Latinx.

In total the guide included a
total of 76 native plants,
categorized into perennials,
grasses, shrubs, ground
covers, and trees. We
started off with 263 plants
in the palettes, but since
we were only focusing on
native plants, the list was
drastically reduced. For the
guide, we decided on a two column layout (Figure 3 & 4) where the left side included the
common name, scientific name, water requirement, wildlife, and sun requirement. The right
side has a description, flower color, season, whether it can be potted, and if there is a fun
fact attributed to it.
We kept it simple and included important information so anyone from a young child to an
adult can follow. We made sure that we added whether the plant was drought tolerant or
not because we understand that water is limited and to drought conditions. We also made
sure to indicate if the plant could be potted or not because we did not want to exclude those
who do not have the privilege to change the landscape of their surrounding home or for
those who are limited to mobility and can only care for potted plants. Once the English
guide was created, our team translated the guide to Spanish (Figure 4). By having the
guide in two languages, we are able to include the majority of Seasides population. This
guide is accessible, easy to follow, and helpful to almost all the residents.

Figure 3. Sample layout of English guide.

Figure 4. Spanish translation.

Future Directions
Our team’s goal is that the plant guide will continue to be developed in the future. While we
worked on the plant guides for a full semester, there are areas of opportunity for the guides
to be expanded on a larger scale. Some ideas for future additions include: adding non-
native and drought tolerant species that would do well in Seaside’s Mediterranean climate,
referencing species that are poisonous, harmful and/or not recommended to plant,
improving digital accessibility of the guides to Seaside residents (in particular to the
Spanish speaking residents), and lastly to contribute and share our guides with the
nationwide community.
While our guides focused primarily on native species, there are hundreds of non-native
species that are drought tolerant and would prosper in the many microclimates within
Seaside. When planted with the local flora, it would promote increased biodiversity within
the area, attracting an array of wildlife. It would also be greatly beneficial to residents if
there was a section of the guides that included “at a glance” information on species that are
poisonous to touch or consume, as well as species that are harmful and/or not
recommended for the local ecosystem. While creating the guides, we realized that there is
currently zero accessibility of city wide plant lists for the Seaside community. For the
average person, unless you know exactly where to look, the information is nearly
impossible to find. For this reason, we want to improve and simplify how residents find this
information on a digital platform. Further broadening this idea would include a nationwide
community which would collectively promote the “greening” of cities all across the country.
Tree City USA is a national movement in partnership with the United States Forest Service
and National Association of State Foresters sponsored by the Arbor Day Foundation that
has been encouraging green cities across the country since it was founded in 1976. To
date, over 3,400 cities within the United States has taken part in Tree City USA. It is a
program that focuses on expanding and managing cities public trees in four fundamental
ways: A tree board department involves business owners and residents to encourage
awareness in the benefits that trees and plants provide to the community. Secondly, a tree
care ordinance that promotes the beautification, property value enhancement, noise
abatement and other positive attributes of all trees within each city. Thirdly, a forestry
community that is community based, which promotes inclusiveness and connectivity (Tree
City USA, 2018). By including said suggestions, we feel that the guides we have created
have the potential to be further developed and enriched to provide easily accessible and
useful information to promote a greener Seaside for many years to come.
Appendix A:
Due to both guides being over 40 pages, it was impossible to include the pages onto the
appendix. However, the English and Spanish plant guides can be found on the following

English Plant Guide: https://drive.google.com/open?


Spanish Plant Guide: https://drive.google.com/open?


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