A great many streets in Florida’s residential communities are lined with oak trees. While they can look so appealing as a canopy, many of these trees can raise sidewalks and driveways. Their massive roots can grow into plumbing lines, cause various trip hazards and kill the grass, too.
Until recently, it was very problematic to remove these trees for a variety reasons. Moreover, it was also expensive to deal with all of the governmental red tape caused, in many instances, by over zealous city officials, such as the city forester, who requires strict compliance with the community’s original landscaping plans, etc. Well, the Florida legislature listened to stories of local government unreasonableness and did something about it to the great satisfaction of association members everywhere.
But, there is still a problem because many local governments refuse to accept that House Bill 1159 was passed into law in 2019. This new law prohibits a local government from requiring a notice, application, approval, permit, fee or mitigation for the pruning, trimming, or removal of a tree on residential property when an arborist or landscape architect documents that the tree presents a danger to persons or property. As an important FYI, mangroves are exempt and all existing requirements for mangrove trimming, etc., remain steadfastly in place.
Apparently, the problem of local government personnel ignoring this new law is so pervasive that on January 7, 2020, the Speaker of the Florida House of Representatives, Jose Oliva, sent a memo to all Local Government Officials alerting them that they need to follow this new law and that the House of Representatives will be “diligent in executing its oversight responsibilities in order to protect the rights of property owners and to prevent illegal governmental actions that interfere with these rights. WOW!!!
If your community has a problem with tree removal caused by local government officials perhaps showing them a copy of the memo might help. Also, be sure to alert your association’s attorney to the problem so that they can intercede on the association’s behalf.
This new law is codified in s. 163.045, Florida Statutes and provides as follows:
s. 163.045 Tree pruning, trimming, or removal on residential property.—
(1) A local government may not require a notice, application, approval, permit, fee, or mitigation for the pruning, trimming, or removal of a tree on residential property if the property owner obtains documentation from an arborist certified by the International Society of Arboriculture or a Florida licensed landscape architect that the tree presents a danger to persons or property.
(2) A local government may not require a property owner to replant a tree that was pruned, trimmed, or removed in accordance with this section.