José Oliva sends firm reminder to cities to back off tree ordinances
Photo by Marc Averette via Creative Commons.

State law preempts cities from regulating tree trimming on private property.

House Speaker José Oliva is sending a not-so-subtle message to local governments not to over-step their authority.

Oliva sent letters to 488 local governments within the states reminding them that they are no longer allowed to enforce local tree ordinances restricting property owners from trimming or removing trees on their property.

He sent the same letter to more than 72,000 tree businesses who work with local governments.

“People should be free to protect their families and homes from trees and landscaping that poses a risk to them,” Oliva said. “The House takes seriously its duty to protect the rights of Florida residents and property owners and prevent government interference with those rights.”

The Florida Legislature approved — and Gov. Ron DeSantis signed last year — legislation preempting regulations on tree trimming and removal on private property. The bill applied retroactively, rendering already existing ordinances invalid.

Oliva decided to send the letters after learning of a Miami resident who was threatened with a $24,000 fine for trimming a tree on his property. The family planted the tree years earlier, but it had become a nuisance on the property, lifting the family’s driveway from its foundation.

But the family didn’t obtain the required permits.

Nevertheless, Oliva says the 2019 law protects families like that.

“As you serve your clients, you may have encountered local government standing in your way or threatening sanctions or even levying fines for simply doing what you know, in your training and experience, to be the correct thing to do. Those days are over,” Oliva wrote in his letter to contractors.

Local governments took issue with the law as another in a stream of attacks on local governing authority.

But supporters contend the law is necessary to protect property rights and prevent government overreach.

Oliva is advising any residents experiencing issues with local governments ignoring the law to contact his office.

Janelle Irwin Taylor

Janelle Irwin Taylor has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in Tampa Bay since 2003. Most recently, Janelle reported for the Tampa Bay Business Journal. She formerly served as senior reporter for WMNF News. Janelle has a lust for politics and policy. When she’s not bringing you the day’s news, you might find Janelle enjoying nature with her husband, children and two dogs. You can reach Janelle at [email protected].


  • Hope

    January 18, 2020 at 7:27 pm

    We are appalled that House Speaker José Oliva, a Town of Miami Lakes resident would send a message to local governments to not over-step their authority.

    We, the people of Florida, own our trees as we have paid dearly throughout the years to plant, develop, nurture and protect the canopy.

    By sending a letter to 488 local governments within the states reminding them that they are no longer allowed to enforce local tree ordinances restricting property owners from trimming or removing trees on their property, Oliva has shown a complete disregard / understanding of the importance of trees, our oldest living guardians.

    Further, by sending the same letter to more than 72,000 tree businesses who work with local governments, he is encouraging the deforestation of South Florida, something that will have dire consequences to our future…

    It is unbelievable that we would have to provide a lesson to the Speaker of the House, Florida State…

    Why should we protect our trees?

    They are very important to our lives, to our health. Trees were planted to provide shade, keeping us cool through the hard summer days. It is the shield that prevents sun rays to harm our skin. Trees with mature trees save on electricity, as homes that are shaded reduce 58% of the electricity cost.

    Trees manage water, working hard for us without getting paid. Each full grown tree requires lots of water, keeping it inside without allowing it to evaporate, trees retain water when it rains, preventing water to go down drains or run off. Water drains better because of the root structure of trees, the intercept rain drops, preventing erosion, without trees cleaning water would be difficult.

    Trees protect the quality of our water, it cost to plant and maintain them but having them around produce money because it prevents the aging of pavement, not allowing it to dry, sometimes lasting more than 10 additional years.

    Cities that have trees are more attractive to prospective property owners / businesses / shoppers. Landscaped neighborhoods are gems on the Earth today!

    People travel longer distances to visit places that are tree covered. Realtors claim to sell homes faster in cities that have a good canopy. But the key to people is the oxygen provided by trees and the cleaning process of our air quality, eliminating pollution and making our lives better.

    While we agree that people should be free to make their own decisions and while we stand by the protection of our property rights, to remove trees and allow people to indiscriminately remove the canopy of where we live VIOLATES the property rights of each and every property owner who has purchased homes in tree lined communities in the hope of a canopy that shields harmful rays and oxygenates our air.

    We, therefore, are appalled to read this article and DEMAND that our Council stand firm in our self-rule, exercising our fundamental right to govern Miami Lakes according to the Master Plan which included, from the get go, a canopy…

    If we understand things correctly, Gov. Ron DeSantis signed last year — legislation preempting regulations on tree trimming and removal on private property because of impending hurricanes.

    But, if trees are trimmed on a regular basis, they should not present a clear and present danger to our safety.

    Trees properly maintained are never a nuisance!

  • Ben Martin

    January 19, 2020 at 9:26 am

    I wonder if city and local governments could enact regulations that prohibit Gunster / Wells Fargo lawyers from doing business in their districts. Better regulation of the Florida Bar and Wells Fargo would be popular with the voting public. And it would create more opportunity for those lawyers who are able to answer very simple questions with a “Yes” or “No” answer.

  • Ben Martin

    January 21, 2020 at 3:21 am

    Local Rule is a good thing. The Governor taking steps to protect property owners is a good thing. Two good things are opposing each other. Is it possible that the majority of voters who are electing local rulers are not themselves property owners? How did that happen? Could it have something to do with Federal Reserve Member Banks acquiring thousands upon thousands of American Homes and becoming some of the largest landlords in the nation? There are districts where some 70% of the people living there do not own the homes where they reside.

  • Ben Martin

    January 22, 2020 at 5:06 pm

    Sorry, the posting of the above video was a mistake, this is the one that was intended….

  • Ben Martin

    January 22, 2020 at 5:10 pm

    Let me try this again….. SORRY!

  • Ben Martin

    January 22, 2020 at 5:25 pm

    Did not mean to post those first 2 videos. But “The Planet is Fine” does have applicability. Please have the administrator delete them along with this comment. Thanks!

Comments are closed.


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