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Section 158-103(f): Quarterly Reports

Until October 2019, trees removed on private property were not being counted because there were no quarterly reports being produced by the Arborist Division.  Trees removed on public property still are not being counted.

Section 158-103(f) requires a quarterly report showing the total number and DBH of trees removed by various categories, including DDH (dead, dying, or hazardous) trees. The City Arborist Division used to produce these quarterly reports for trees on private property, but had not produced any reports since the introduction of the Accela reporting system.  Accela did not compile the tree data required by Sec. 158-103(f) of the Tree Protection Ordinance, and the City claimed that due to staffing issues they did not have the resources to create this report themselves.

Sec. 158-103(f) The city arborist* shall prepare a quarterly report to be presented to the tree conservation commission. The report shall include the total number and DBH of trees removed and/or the total number and DBH of trees replanted during the preceding quarter in each of the following categories: maximum recompense per acre, dead/dying/diseased/hazardous removal, landscaping permit, silvicultural removal, buildable area removal, parking lots, illegal removal, off-site planting, or any other permit or penalty category not listed. The report shall also include acreage, total number of trees and total DBH for any newly created conservation easements or newly created parklands.

*According to Sec. 158-26 (Definitions) of the Atlanta Tree Protection Ordinance, the term "city arborist" applies to both the Department of Planning and the Office of Parks: "City arborist shall mean an agent of the department of planning and community development responsible for administering this article regarding private property, or an agent of the department of parks, recreation and cultural affairs responsible for administering this article regarding public property."

Quarterly Reports Status Update

October 10, 2019:  The City Arborist Department finally releases a quarterly report showing the number of trees that were removed on private property in the third quarter of 2019*. This is the first time we have had a quarterly report on private property trees in over a decade. (We still have no data on public property trees, which are managed in the Parks Deparment.)

From 2009 to 2019, the City Arborist Department was collecting this data, but not reporting on it, which means that until October 2019 we had no way to quantitatively understand how our the 90% of our tree canopy that resides on private property was being impacted by development, aging, disease, and other environmental factors.

As we have watched City Planning progress further into the tree ordinance rewrite over these past few months, it has alarmed us that all the rewrite team's new proposals have not been based on data, but public perception and developer opinion.  Now that the City can tabulate the records in Accela for a quarterly report, we hope they will use this data to determine the appropriate solutions to mitigate tree loss in the rewrite of the new tree ordinance. Furthermore, this data can be used to help create a master plan which is also required by the tree ordinance but has never been written. For more information on the 3rd quarter report, click here

February 2, 2019:  According to the Reporter Newspapers, Elizabeth Johnson, Project Manager with the Department of Planning, said "the [quarterly] reports have not been produced due to the lack of a staff member who can code them into a newer city records software called Accela. An Accela administrator left in August and a replacement was scheduled to start in January. 'Reporting for the Office of Buildings, including the Arborist, is a main priority for this individual,' she said."

Our Response:

The departure of an Accela administrator in August 2018 does not explain why the Arborist Division had not produced a quarterly report since 2008.  

*The 3rd quarter report released October 2019 is for trees on private property only; therefore, we do not have this information for trees on public property, which falls under the purview of the Office of Parks.

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