Progress Report for Atlanta’s Tree Protection Ordinance Rewrite
Here are resources for you to keep updated on the Department of City Planning’s progress:
- Arborist Division webpage for the Tree Protection Ordinance (includes links to past presentations and documents)
- Community Development/Human Services (CDHS) – committee meeting schedule and agendas
- City of Atlanta Public Meeting Calendar – posted public meetings
The Community Development/Human Services (CDHS) work session included presentations from the Department of City Planning, a community “Citizens Group”, and a representative of Atlanta homebuilders association.
The meeting was recorded (a link is provided below). There was again tremendous community interest, and CDHS Chairman Matt Westmoreland indicated there were 4 hours and 45 minutes of community comments recorded that would be shared following the committee meeting.
In addition, Chairman Westmoreland gave out dates for the completion of the TPO rewrite:
- April 19 – Final Work Session in CDHS (unclear whether there will be interim work sessions before this final)
- April 27 – CDHS will make its recommendations
- May 3 – City Council votes for adoption
The slides from the meeting will be posted to the committee webpage, per regular protocol: Committee Presentations
The comments are still ongoing even now (2:20pm) and once complete, the recording of this morning’s presentations should be posted to the City’s YouTube page.
The City of Atlanta Department of City Planning has been engaged in a years-long initiative to rewrite the Tree Protection Ordinance (TPO). The latest draft of changes to the TPO was published in late January 2021. There is a scheduled City Council committee work session on February 17, and according to the City, it will come to vote by City Council in April 2021.
Here is our initial evaluation: Is the New Draft Tree Protection Ordinance Good?
From City of Atlanta City Council – Community Development/Human Services
THE COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT/HUMAN SERVICES
COMMITTEE WILL HOLD A REMOTE WORK SESSION ON
ORDINANCE 21-O-0063 (TREE PROTECTION ORDINANCE)
ON WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 17, 2021 AT 10:00 AM
THE PUBLIC MAY ACCESS THE WORK SESSION VIA CONFERENCE BRIDGE OR ONLINE: CONFERENCE BRIDGE: (877) 579-6743; Conference ID: 8315991256
ONLINE ACCESS: Channel 26, the Council’s homepage at citycouncil.atlantaga.gov, the Council’s YouTube channel, or the Council’s Facebook and Twitter pages via @atlcouncil
MEMBERS OF THE PUBLIC MAY LEAVE COMMENTS ASSOCIATED WITH THE WORK SESSION BY DIALING (404) 330-6042. MESSAGES ARE NOT TO EXCEED THREE (3) MINUTES AND WILL BE ACCEPTED BETWEEN THE HOURS OF 4:00 PM AND 7:00 PM ON THE DAY BEFORE THE WORK SESSION.
This just in from City of Atlanta, Department of City Planning. Note the next step is for a working session at the committee level. We encourage you to send comments and input directly to your District Councilmember (contact list) and particularly to the members of the CHDS committee (committee list).
“Yesterday, Atlanta City Council introduced legislation for a new Tree Protection Ordinance. It was referred to the Community Development and Human Services Committee for their next session on January 26, 2021. We have published the legislation, a summary of the revisions, and process diagrams on our Tree Protection Ordinance. In addition, there was accompanying legislation for a Zoning amendment which proposes setback variances for the purposes of tree preservation. We will also be sharing an interactive walk through of the ordinance and its components soon which we will send along when complete. Any feedback or questions you may have can be sent to the project team at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please visit bit.ly/atltreeprotection for more information.
At the most recent Atlanta City Council committee meeting for Community Development/Human Services (CDHS), Commissioner Tim Keane presented the Quarterly Update for the Department of City Planning.
Click the link below to view or download the presentation, including these topics:
- December Quarterly Update Presentation (12/1/20)
- Building (and tree) permit activities year-over-year
- Tree removal and replacement metrics (slides 9 & 10)
- Tree Protection Ordinance Update: Guide to Significant Changes (begins at slide 23)
Currently, the draft is still being worked on by the Department of City Planning staff.
The expected next steps for the Tree Protection Ordinance rewrite process is for the draft to be reviewed by the City of Atlanta Legal Team and then sent to the CDHS committee for a working session. According to Commissioner Keane, he anticipates it to be sent to the committee in early 2021. The city webpage also indicates: “Additional Public input and meetings will be held throughout the Council and NPU adoption process.”
Trees Atlanta encourage you to review the materials shared by the city, as well as continue to share your thoughts and feedback directly with the city.
- Submit Feedback. Comments and feedback on the draft Tree Protection Ordinance can be sent to the project team at email@example.com. (Please note that this is a new email for submitting TPO related feedback.)
The City of Atlanta recently completed an internal audit of the Tree Trust Fund, the balance of fees and fines related to the enforcement of the Tree Protection Ordinance.
The audit was triggered as a result of research and analysis conducted by an independent group of city residents under the umbrella of The Tree Next Door. Due to their large investment of time, as well as engaging professional forensic accountants, the group put in tremendous effort to obtain necessary financial records and pour through the data.
- This article from the Saporta Report provides a good summary: Atlanta overspent tree money on salaries instead of canopy, say auditors
- City of Atlanta Audit Report: click these links to download a full report and highlights are available
The Department of City Planning will be presenting further details of the City of Atlanta’s Tree Protection Ordinance rewrite. Your support is needed again to help us protect trees on public and private land. You are the best advocate for the trees in your community.
We strongly encourage you to wear a green shirt and attend one of the two upcoming public meetings (presentation will be repeated):
WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 6
6:30 – 8:00 PM
Atlanta Technical College
Dennard Conference Center
1560 Metropolitan Pkwy SW,
Atlanta, GA 30310
THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 7
6:30 – 8:00 PM
Trinity Presbyterian Church
3003 Howell Mill Rd NW,
Atlanta, GA 30327
On August 22, the Atlanta City Council conducted a committee “work session” to review the Tree Protection Ordinance draft update. (The Community Development/Human Services Committee’s 2019 Goals and Objectives includes: “3. Adopt tree ordinance rewrite.”) The rewrite project is managed by the Department of City Planning, including the Arborist Division of the Office of Buildings and external consultants.
The Councilmembers’ questions and comments to Commissioner Tim Keane reflected the concerns of their district, including the cost for large scale public projects and for low-income residents, as well as “trees coming down on Saturday” — referring to the practice of illegally removing trees without permits.
Councilmember Marci Overstreet asked, “Where’s the draft?” In response, Commissioner Keane provided an overview of the rewrite team’s progress and a new schedule of deadlines was set: the first draft will be delivered on November 1 with a final product estimated for February 2020.
Over 80 attendees filled the council chambers where dozens of statements were made by the public for the committee’s consideration. The majority who advocated for stronger tree protection cited the positive benefits of trees on people’s health and environmental benefits, including being an important factor to counter damage from stormwater runoff, heat island effect, and climate change. In particular, they cited the need for better enforcement and regular reporting on tree permit and removal data (as required by the current ordinance). A representation of builders also expressed their priorities, particularly for maintaining the ability to remove trees on the “buildable area.”
All of the publicly available presentations and fact sheets from the Department of Planning are available on the city’s website as part of their Urban Ecology Framework. A summary of public comments received by the city is also now available.
Trees Atlanta has responded to public information shared by the project team, including these recommendations that we sent along with over 250 letters from residents and tree advocates:
- Trees Atlanta Response to the Draft Outline (6/17/19)
- Concepts for Draft: Tree Protection Ordinance rewrite Recommendations (8/12/19)
We believe that a stronger tree ordinance means updated standards that do not lessen current protection: first, do no harm. Our call to action for the rewrite team and the City Council remains to create an ordinance that allows us to: save existing trees, plant more trees, and buy forested land. These standards will ensure that we can achieve the city’s goal of 50% canopy.
How we steward our environment, in particular our trees, depends on our engagement and an effective tree protection ordinance. We strongly encourage you to continue to call and write to your City Council, Commissioner Keane, and the ordinance rewrite team.
Source: City of Atlanta, Department of City Planning; Aaron Coury
Original post date: 8/20/19