What Next?

After significant public protest over the materials that were presented at the November 6 Tree Ordinance Community Meeting, the meeting to be held on the following day was cancelled just a few hours before it began.  Shortly after the cancellation, City Planning posted this note to the Urban Ecology Framework: 

The Department of City Planning has cancelled the Tree Ordinance Rewrite Community Meeting for November 7, 2019. Through the Advisory Committees and first round of public meetings, 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. Details will be provided as they become available. Please stay tuned to our website and social media channels for further information.  We thank everyone for their engagement so far and apologize to anyone who may have been inconvenienced by tonight's cancellation.

We don't know what this means to the proposed timeline that City Planning still has on their website as of this writing.  Originally, City Planning was preparing to schedule a Work Session with City Council before producing the second round of documents for public review in mid-December. After the second round of public feedback, City Planning had planned to prepare a final draft to submit to City Council in January.

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

august schedule update

Towards the end of the November 6 meeting it became clear that this timeline was not obtainable given that City Planning doesn't even have a first draft ready yet to present to City Council.  One woman asked the meeting presenters "when would all this be over" -- when would we finally see a new tree ordinnace?  Kevin Nunnery, Senior Ecologist with Biohabitats, responded "by the end of March 2020." 

Do we believe City Planning will make the March 2020 deadline?  Not with the current leadership team in place.  City Planning is already seven months behind their initial milestone to have a first draft by the end of March 2019.  And as we saw the evening of November 6, they still did not have anything that looked anything remotely like a first draft of the ordinance, but instead, they presented a rough template that showed how the City would start charging different amounts to destroy various types of trees.  There was nothing in the presentation that showed how trees would be saved or how we would reach 50% canopy coverage, which is the goal of this new tree ordinance.

Councilmember Matt Westmoreland stood up at the end of the meeting last night and publicly apologized to the attendees for what City Planning had presented, said it was not acceptable, and promised that City Council would be following up.  So now we are in wait and see mode as to what the City's next steps will be.



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