Rewrite Update

City Planning released their latest draft of the Tree Protection ordinance on January 21, 2021. This is the draft that should have been presented last summer according to an updated schedule they released shortly after their first draft was released on March 12, 2020.  Public feedback to this latest draft was even more negative than the feedback they received to their March 2020 draft because, after two attempts, it appears that City Planning is either unable or unwilling to produce a draft that:

  • Saves the tree canopy overall, as opposed to just a handful of the best trees or a few urban forests.
  • Provides transparency in terms of timely information about when and where trees are coming down in our community.
  • Allows the right to appeal when there is evidence that a city arborist's decision misinterpreted or misapplied the Tree Protection Ordinance.
  • Is simple and easy to understand for the layperon.

The Tree Next Door provided a list of the Top 20 reasons why this latest draft is unacceptable and is even worse than our current ordinance.

Previously, The Tree Next Door had submitted their feedback on the March 12 first draft of the new Tree Protection Ordinance, which deviated considerably from the 2014 draft that Councilmember Matt Westmoreland had said the previous December that they would use.

Prior to the first draft in March, City Councilmembers J.P. Matzigkeit, District 8, and Matt Westmoreland, Post 2 At-Large, had said they planned to take matters in their own hands since, after a year of struggling to rewrite the Tree Protection Ordinance, the Department of City Planning hadn't delivered.

"They haven't provided details to me about that or what [the planning department] is planning to do," said Matzigkeit in a December 27, 2019 Reporter Newspapers article. "Our preference would be to work with the administration to get something in place, but we want to get something in place."

Westmoreland, chair of the Community Development and Human Services (CDHS) Committee which oversees the Arborist Division. said they plan to "reintroduce a 2014 draft rewrite as a starting point". Westmoreland hoped to have a first draft of the new tree ordinance by end of first quarter 2020.

Neither the March 2020 nor the January 2021 draft rewrites look anything like the 2014 draft Westmoreland had said would be their starting point. They may have started with that draft but immediately went off the road.

We hope that Councilmembers Matzigkeit and Westmoreland start taking matters in their own hands like they promised they would do back in December 2019, because City Planning is failing to deliver.

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