Progress Report for Atlanta’s Tree Protection Ordinance Rewrite
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. (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