Local Tree Ordinances May Be Cut Down In Austin

A battle is brewing in Austin over whether cities should be able to regulate trees that are on private property.

Backed by Gov. Greg Abbott, a bill before the special session of the state legislature would prevent cities from setting requirements regarding tree damage or removal by property owners.

In an editorial printed this week in the Austin American-Statesman, the governor wrote "tree ordinances are an uncompensated taking of private property by local governments in violation of the Texas constitution."

Southlake, one of more than 80 cities and towns in Texas with ordinances protecting trees, is now coming out swinging against the effort in Austin to restrict the local laws.

In a letter sent to the chairman of the state Senate Committee on Business and Commerce, Southlake Mayor Laura Hill writes, "The Southlake City Council is opposed to this bill."

"Trees and vegetation are invaluable physical and aesthetic assets that increase the livability of a city," the mayor wrote. "Local elected officials are supremely capable of making these decisions for their jurisdiction."

Hill and others opposing the bill plan a trip to Austin to lobby against it.

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