2019 Tree Ordinance Rewrite

Public Feedback - Tree Ordinance Draft Outline

northside meeting -- trinity churchThe City of Atlanta Planning Department unveiled its vision for a new Tree Protection Ordinance (TPO) at public meetings which were held in each quadrant of the city on four consecutive evenings, June 3 - 6, 2019. This vision was presented as a "draft outline" on which the pubic was invited to comment during a Q & A session. Attendees were also invited to write their comments on a feedback worksheet as well as post sticky notes to a series of eight different presentation boards in the hall adjacent to the meeting room.

The City Planning representatives at both the June meetings and the tree ordinance rewrite launch held in April said that the feedback worksheet comments would be made available online for public review. To date, no public feedback has been posted by the City, but we did capture the feedback from the boards at the June 6 meeting. Although the boards were available at all four meetings, we only have photographs of the boards from the June 6 North Atlanta meeting. However, attendees who attended other meetings that same week say that the sticky note comments from previous evenings were similar to the ones at the North Atlanta meeting. development standards - sticky note board

The sticky notes on the June 6 boards were transcribed and coded into common themes for a qualitative analysis of people's primary concerns. In many respects, what people are saying they want does not look like what the City is proposing. We encourage the City to step back and reconsider such things as allowing "one free tree removal a year" when this one feature received the most negative comments.

 

 

Next Tree Ordinance Work Session - August 22, 2019

Last Updated on Tuesday, 16 July 2019 10:52

From the City of Atlanta website: The Tree Protection Ordinance Rewrite Session has been rescheduled for August 22, 2019. Also, City Council has voted for the Arborist Review to start occurring in the beginning of the permitting process, effective immediately.


June 18, 2019 

Tree Protection Ordinance Rewrite Work Session Rescheduled; Council Approves Change to Permit Review Process

ATLANTA — The Atlanta City Council Community Development and Human Services Committee’s work session on revisions to the City’s Tree Protection Ordinance scheduled for June 19 has been rescheduled to Thursday, August 22 at 10 a.m. The work session will be held in Committee Room No. 1 at Atlanta City Hall, 55 Trinity Ave SW.

Additionally, on Monday, the Council approved legislation directing the Department of City Planning to establish a pre-submittal team to conduct and coordinate consultations at the beginning of the permit review process in order to protect and preserve trees in Atlanta.

District 5 Council member Natalyn Archibong, chair of the Community Development and Human Services Committee, described the legislation as an important step forward.

“The revision of our current Tree Protection Ordinance is an important next step in protecting our tree canopy. The resolution passed Monday allows for the tree review process to occur at the beginning of the land disturbance or building permit process. Currently, the tree review process occurs near the end of the review process. We are pleased that City Planning has agreed to immediately initiate this process change and look forward to receiving the proposed tree ordinance revision and hosting a work session in August,” Archibong said.

 

THE TREE PROTECTION ORDINANCE WORK SESSION FOR WEDNESDAY, JUNE 19, HAS BEEN CANCELLED. 

6-19-19 flyer

The Committee on Community Development and Human Services (CD/HS) previously scheduled work session has now been rescheduled to August 22 at 10AM.

This will not be a full Council meeting but a meeting of the City Council committee that oversees the City's tree canopy in addition to other land use, housing, and development issues. We encourage everyone who has a concern about the direction this tree ordinance rewrite is taking to please attend the August work session to voice your concerns. 

The presentation of the draft outline of the new tree ordinance unveiled at the City Planning meetings the week of June 3 shows a new ordinance quickly taking form which drastically differs from the current ordinance. The outline reveals that the City wants a more "streamlined review process" which moves the planning process for trees to the beginning of the permitting process, but balances tree preservation with the City's needs for "affordability, mobility, and growth." (The City did not elaborate on what issue would take priority when there is a conflict between trees and affordability, mobility, and growth.)

Most alarming was the revelation that City Planning was planning to do away with the orange/yellow sign postings and all appeal options of proposed tree removals. (The right to appeal a denied tree cutting permit would remain; only tree removal permits would not be appealable.) Elizabeth Johnson, the Urban Ecology Framework Project Manager (city-employee), said that eliminating preliminary permits and appeal options was how the City could "reward" developers who were "doing everything right". However, an appeal is never filed against a developer for not doing everything right, but a city arborist who issues a preliminary permit that does not comply with the tree ordinance.  Eliminating both the posting and the appeals process brings the entire permitting process behind closed doors in which the first time the public is made aware that a tree cutting permit has been issued is AFTER the trees are down. No wonder Everett Catts of Northside Neighbors titled his review of the draft outline: Residents: Atlanta tree ordinance’s planned changes favor developers.

Also, there is no apparent protection of trees offered for Atlanta's residential neighborhoods unless the property is in a stream buffer or contains "high value trees", a presently undefined term that may not even be legally enforceable. But trees on single family residential lots need protection given that's where 77% of Atlanta's tree canopy resides. And the trees that are not high value today are the trees that will grow into the high value trees of tomorrow -- we cannot let the City use a high value tree model that is so short-sighted as to wipe out Atlanta's next generation of trees. The City claims it can achieve 50% canopy by protecting just the stream buffers and a handful of "intact forests", as well as planting 3,600 acres in a "young forest initiative", but they have not provided any data to demonstrate how these measures enable the City to achieve its 50% canopy goal.

Furthermore, the City will allow a "free and easy" permit to remove one "non-high value tree" a year. Again, how does this proposal to remove one tree a year help preserve, much less grow, tree canopy?

It appears that most of the recommendations in the draft outline are politically-driven to keep certain constituents happy versus data- driven to save Atlanta's tree canopy.  Please come to Tree Protection Ordinance Work Session on August 22 to let the City know what you think. Atlanta's tree canopy is at stake, and if the rewrite of the ordinance is allowed to continue the direction it is heading, there won't be any substantive tree canopy left to protect by the time the tree ordinance is updated again.

 

2011 Tree Ordinance Documents

In 2010, the Philadelphia-based landscape architecture firm, Wallace, Roberts, and Todd (WRT), interviewed a number of tree ordinance stakeholders, (i.e., city departments, tree advocates, builders and developers) to gather input into what changes needed to be made to the tree ordinance. In 2011, WRT worked closely with The Tree Next Door to rewrite the ordinance so that it would be simpler and better organized, address inconsistencies and improve efficacy, and incorporate current arboricultural science. What resulted was a draft that was eventually shelved. 

Below are the documents saved from that rewrite attempt.

   

2014 Tree Ordinance Documents

  • Tree Ordinance proposal that was submitted to the Community Development/Human Resources Committee in 2014.  Like the 2011 Tree Ordinance rewrite, this version of the ordinance never made it into law.
  • Table of recommended updates used in the 2014 rewrite.
 

2019 Tree Ordinance Documents

Last Updated on Tuesday, 20 August 2019 17:10

 

   

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