Philadelphia City Council’s Committee on Rules voted on June 15 to advance Councilmember Katherine Gilmore Richardson’s bill to close some loopholes in Philadelphia’s tree regulations. As Grid has reported, highlights of the bill include a community notification process for tree clearing, expanding tree replacement rules to public land, and fees in lieu of replacing cut trees that could then be used to fund tree planting elsewhere.
The bill has been amended. New language entirely exempts Darrell Clarke’s 5th City Council district from the new regulations. Other provisions exempt affordable housing developments and land held by the Philadelphia Authority for Industrial Development from some of the new rules.
At the Committee on Rules meeting North Philly tree tender and advocate Gabriella Paez said the bill was a “good first step” in protecting trees as well as encouraging tree replanting, but she criticized the language in the amended bill that exempts affordable housing developments from the new rules. “Our low income communities deserve to have trees,” she said. Paez also underscored the need for sufficient staffing and funding to enforce the regulations and the importance of ensuring that any fees paid by developers go towards tree planting rather than getting diverted for other uses.