Linda Stewart, Anna Eskamani seek to restore local control over trees
Photo by Marc Averette via Creative Commons.

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State law approved in 2019 blocks local governments from regulating tree removal.

Democrats led by Sen. Linda Stewart and Rep. Anna V. Eskamani of Orlando are seeking to roll back another state preemption of local ordinances, this time over tree preservation.

The pair filed bills intending to restore the rights of local governments to have say over pruning, trimming, or removal of a tree on residential property.

Stewart’s Senate Bill 596 and Eskamani’s House Bill 6023 would repeal a section of Florida law that preempts such ordinances from local control to state control only.

The statute, approved through House Bill 1159 in 2019, was pushed as a way to protect property owners’ rights.

Some of the support for HB 1159 and its predecessors in 2018 arose after local controversies in places such as Seminole County where local authorities had sought to stop clear-cutting trees for development. The local control was supported as a way for local communities to create green buffers around development.

Eskamani contends that many local communities such as Audubon Park in Orlando and parts of Winter Park use green buffers and tree preservation to define the communities’ character and standard of life, so local governments should be able to protect how they are maintained. Audubon Park and most of Winter Park are in both Stewart’s Senate District 13 and Eskamani’s House District 47.

“It’s a big deal for them,” Eskamani said.

In a news release announcing the bill, Eskamani’s office argued “Floridians overwhelmingly agree that local elected officials should have the freedom to enact local measures that pertain to a community’s public safety, economy, and environment. Unfortunately the legislature continues to strip away local voices instead, pushing a big-government agenda while siding with profit-driven corporations over our constituents.

“Local governments are better connected to their respective communities and, as such, should be allowed to pass policies that reflect their community’s needs and values,” Eskamani stated in the release. “Let’s stand for home rule and let cities decide — quite literally — their own local landscape.”

Scott Powers

Scott Powers is an Orlando-based political journalist with 30+ years’ experience, mostly at newspapers such as the Orlando Sentinel and the Columbus Dispatch. He covers local, state and federal politics and space news across much of Central Florida. His career earned numerous journalism awards for stories ranging from the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster to presidential elections to misplaced nuclear waste. He and his wife Connie have three grown children. Besides them, he’s into mystery and suspense books and movies, rock, blues, basketball, baseball, writing unpublished novels, and being amused. Email him at [email protected]


2 comments

  • Ron Ogden

    January 19, 2021 at 11:01 am

    Utterly, utterly disingenuous, both this story and the basic bill.

    Here is a summary of the current law. These two leftists don’t want it:

    “Prohibits local governments from requiring notices, applications, approvals, permits, fees, or mitigation for pruning, trimming, or removal of trees on residential property if property owner obtains specified documentation; prohibits local governments from requiring property owners to replant such trees; provides exception for mangrove protection actions; deletes provision that authorizes electric utilities to perform certain right-of-way tree maintenance only if property owner has received local government approval; creates Property Owner Bill of Rights”

    It is plain: these two Democrats want to yank back the right of individual homeowners to do with their trees what they wish: the Property Owners Bill of Rights. They want to take away landowners rights in favor of the local tree police.

  • Ron Ogden

    January 19, 2021 at 11:04 am

    Eskamani is perhaps the biggest leftwing cashew in Tallahassee. Here is her quote:

    “Let’s stand for home rule and let cities decide — quite literally — their own local landscape.”

    No, we should let HOMEOWNERS decide their own local landscape. Local government can do what it wants on land it owns–parks for example–but not on land that is someone’s private property.

Comments are closed.


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