Introduced by Council Member Crescimbeni:

RESOLUTION 2017-822

A RESOLUTION STRONGLY OPPOSING THE PASSAGE OF SENATE BILL 574 AND HOUSE BILL 521 WHICH WOULD PREEMPT LOCAL TREE PROTECTION ORDINANCES SUCH AS THOSE CURRENTLY IN PLACE IN THE CITY OF JACKSONVILLE; DIRECTING LEGISLATIVE SERVICES TO CIRCULATE THE RESOLUTION TO THE FLORIDA LEGISLAITURE; PROVIDING AN EFFECTIVE DATE.

WHEREAS, through the combined efforts of the City and numerous environmental and interest groups, Jacksonville has been blessed with a plentiful number and variety of trees; and

WHEREAS, Jacksonville’s tree canopy has beautified our City and improved the lives of our citizens and visitors by bringing nature to our urban environments and preserving environmental sanctuaries for connection with the natural world; and

WHEREAS, trees improve water quality, reduce erosion, increase property values, provide shade, cleanse the air, create habitat for wildlife and add beauty to our City; and

WHEREAS, Article II, Section 7 of the Florida Constitution provides that it shall be the policy of the state to conserve and protect its natural resources and scenic beauty; and

WHEREAS, the City of Jacksonville has, for many years, had a strong and effective tree protection ordinance, which together with Article 25 of the City Charter, regulate the removal of protected trees from public and private property; and

WHEREAS, in November 2000, the citizens of Jacksonville showed their strong support for tree protection by the adoption by referendum of Article 25 of the City Charter, entitled “Minimum Standards for Tree Protection, Conservation and Mitigation During Development,” which passed overwhelmingly with 76 percent of the vote and with every single precinct in Duval County voting for approval; and

WHEREAS, more recently, through Ordinances 2017-396-E, 2017-397-E, as amended by 2017-635-E, and 2017-398-E, the City Council approved legislation to strengthen Jacksonville’s tree protection regulations, including creation of an advisory “Tree Commission”, and authorized additional City employee positions to enforce tree protection regulations and the planting of trees; and

WHEREAS, the City’s tree protection regulations provide reasonable and sensible exemptions, including those for agriculture and silvaculture, single family residences, nuisance and invasive species and dead or diseased trees, among others; and

WHEREAS, the City’s tree protection regulations, including the requirement for mitigation for removal of protected trees, have been found to be constitutional and lawful in both the Fourth Judicial Circuit and the Florida First District Court of Appeal; and

WHEREAS, tree protection has long been recognized as a legitimate exercise of local government home rule; and

WHEREAS, Senate Bill 574 and companion House Bill 521 have been filed in the Florida Legislature, both of which would preempt local governments from regulating the removal of trees from private property or from requiring mitigation for removal of such trees, and further provides that local governments may not prohibit the burial of trees and other vegetative debris; and

WHEREAS, Senate Bill 574 and House Bill 521 are harmful to the environment and contrary to the overwhelming wishes of Jacksonville citizens; and

WHEREAS, such bills are a direct assault of the home rule powers of Jacksonville and other cities, towns and counties in Florida and are contrary to the view often stated by members of the legislature that the government that is the closest to the people is the government that is best; now therefore

BE IT RESOLVED by the Council of the City of Jacksonville:

  1. 1. Council’s Strong Opposition for Senate Bill 574 and House Bill 521. The City Council strongly opposes and urges the Florida Legislature to defeat passage of Senate Bill 574 and its companion, House Bill 521, which would preempt all local governments from regulating the removal of trees from private property and prohibits local governments from requiring mitigation for trees which are removed.
  2. 2. Direction to Chief of Legislative Services Division. The Chief of Legislative Services for the City Council is hereby directed to provide a copy of this resolution to the Florida Legislature.
  3. 3. Effective Date. This Resolution shall become effective upon signature by the Mayor or upon becoming effective without the Mayor's signature.