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BCN Resolution:

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Section 158-101(e)(4): Postings

We don’t know about planned tree removals because there is no direct way to see the tree removal sign postings online.

Section 158-101(e)(4) ensures that notice of preliminary approvals for tree cutting be posted in 1) the office of the city arborist that issued the approval (Office of Planning or Office of Parks), 2) the City of Atlanta website (, and 3) on the property affected so that it may be seen and read by passers-by. Presently, for trees on private property, there is no posting in either the Office of Planning or on the city website. The only way to know if there are plans to remove a tree on private property is to drive by the yellow sign posted on the property.

Sec. 158-101(e)(4) The notice of preliminary approval for both public and private property trees, shall be posted in the office of the city arborist that is ruling on the removal permit (either the office of planning or the office of parks), on the City of Atlanta website (, and in a prominent manner upon the property affected so that it may be seen and read by passers-by. The notice of preliminary approval shall inform any reader that an appeal may be filed with the clerk of the tree conservation commission, and shall indicate the deadline by which the appeal must be filed. The notice shall further indicate that the failure to appeal within the designated time period will result in the issuance of the removal permit without further right of appeal. If the notice of preliminary approval is not [posted as required by this section, no permit shall be issued. The commission may provide further additional rules regarding the manner and method of posting to the extent that such rule is consistent with the requirements of this section.

Sign Postings Status Update:

February 2, 2018: The Reporter Newspapers stated that Elizabeth Johnson, Project Manager with the Department of Planning, "did not fully respond to the [sign postings] complaint, instead saying that tree-cutting approvals can be found in the online Accela permit database."

November 8, 2018:  David Zaparanick, Arboricultural Manager, wrote an email to Kathy Evans, Senior Administrative Analyst for the Atlanta Tree Conservation Commission, which said that "Sign postings are available for public viewing on Accela Citizen, an official website of the City of Atlanta as required by the Tree Ordinance. We are happy to assist in accessing records in Accela as needed. I will request review of our posting method from the TCC."

Our Response:

Sec. 158-101(e)(4) of the tree ordinance specifically states that sign postings for preliminary approval to destroy trees must be done on the City of Atlanta website. Sec. 158-101(e)(4) even spells out the URL of the website in case there is any doubt as to which website is being referenced in the ordinance.

  • Accela is NOT part of the website, but is part of a third party website located at
  • Accela is NOT a government (.gov) website but a private commercial (.com) website that sells software services.

Accela, a third party online database that most citizens don't even know exists, is not a satisfactory substitue for the yellow sign postings that one used to be able to easily access on the Arborist Division website. Not only does Accela require a 13 page user-guide to understand how to navigate the non-user friendly database, there is no place to see yellow sign postings by neighborhood (NPU) or zip code in Accela.  To find a yellow sign posting, one has to look up an individual street address one already suspects may have a yellow posting and drill down into a specific arborist record to see if there is a yellow sign associated with that record.  Many properties have multiple arborist records.

The Office of Parks publishes yellow sign postings for public trees prominently on their site to be in compliance with the tree ordinance, so there is no reason the Arborist Division cannot do the same for trees on private property. While Accela was not the chosen software when the tree ordinance was written and amended, it should not be used to thwart the intentions of the law which was to make yellow postings available to the average citizen. The Arborist Division field arborists know exactly where they are placing the yellow signs into the ground, so these same field arborists should be able to enter the placement of these yellow signs into an online spreadsheet on the city government website, sortable by NPU and zip code.

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