Tree Loss in Atlanta

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Sticky Notes

Click below for transcripts of public feedback to Draft Ordinance Outline:

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About Our Name

We call ourselves “The Tree Next Door” because we have found that people are most concerned about the tree next door to them that is marked to be cut down, not a tree on the other side of town which they never see. Because community concern tends to be strongest at the neighborhood level, it's important to have advocates all over the city who speak up for the trees where they live.

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latest news flash

 

New Schedule Released, No More Public Meetings

A new timeline for the Tree Protection Ordinance rewrite has been released by City Planning, showing that we won't have a new ordinance until next fall at the earliest, which means the tree ordinance rewrite is now well over a year past its original deadline of the summer of 2019.

(Click on the picture below for an expanded view.)

january 2020 released schedule

 

Additionally, this new timeline indicates time frames for drafts to be posted for public review, but -- as Urban Ecology Framework Manager Andrew Walter stated at the January 15 Tree Commission Business Meeting  -- there will be no more public meetings about the tree ordinance rewrite. It appears that City Planning is unwilling to hold further community feedback forums given the intense negative feedback they received at their November 6, 2019 Tree Ordinance Community Meeting, causing the City to cancel a second meeting they had planned the next day.

At that time, City Planning stated on their Urban Ecology Framework website that, "We discovered that the presentation and meeting format were not conducive to receiving feedback on the key concepts that were presented. We therefore chose to cancel the remaining meeting to respect everyone's time. We will be reevaluating the schedule and our approach to future engagement."

The City's approach to future engagement appears now to be to one of limiting people from hearing for themselves what everyone else has to say.  Instead, all feedback will be directly between individual community members and the City. But being aware of others' feedback is critical, since we can't trust the City to accurately reflect the view of the larger community that wants to save Atlanta's trees.

Last August, City Planning presented a summary of the community meeting concept board feedback which was very different from what the community had written in their actual comments on the concept boards. Not surprisingly, the City's own summary of public reaction to the proposed developer-friendly concepts was far more favorable than the community actually was. And, although we've heard the City say at two different community meetings (April 23 and November 6, 2019) that the individual comments behind their summary of community input would be posted online, along with the more than 150 emails and 250 letters they say they have received, City Planning hasn't posted anything. Conversely, we have posted online all comments that we have summarized so that you can see what the people actually wrote verbatim.

While we do think it's a good idea for the City to start posting actual drafts of the ordinance online so that the more technical members of the community can go line-by-line through the drafts and provide their feedback (an hours-long process that we agree isn't best accomplished in large group community meetings), there should be at least one public "check-in" community meeting after each draft rewrite to make sure that the City is capturing the pulse of what the community thinks overall. Closing off this feedback loop makes the rewrite appear less transparent, and increases distrust that certain stakeholder groups may have the ear of the City more than others.

   

City Council Takes On Tree Ordinance Rewrite

City Councilmembers J.P. Matzigkeit, who represents Buckhead's District 8, and Matt Westmoreland, Post 2 At-Large member, are now saying that they plan to take matters in their own hands since the City Planning Department hasn't delivered on a promised rewrite of the Atlanta Tree Protection Ordinance.

"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 said they plan to "reintroduce a 2014 draft rewrite as a starting point". Westmoreland hopes to have a first draft of the new tree ordinance by end of first quarter 2020.

Westmoreland will also be chairing the Community Development and Human Services (CDHS) Committee starting in January 2020.  Westmoreland wrote in a recent email that "the tree ordinance rewrite is one of my top priorities".

   

See a tree coming down? Click here for what to do!

And click here to contact your City Council representatives and the UEF Project Team about the Tree Ordinance Rewrite.

Need to Look Up a Permit?

Click here for instructions on how to look up a tree cuting permit in Accela, the City of Atlanta's online permitting database.  If you already know how to use Accela, click here to go straight to the database.

How Can You Help?

Join us in advocating for the trees in your neighborhood!
Please check out what volunteer needs we have and email us at info@treenextdoor.org for more information on how to get involved.

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