The city of Tampa recently issued a fine to a local, family-owned tree-cutting business, after they were found to be responsible for clear-cutting more than two dozen trees at a trailer park. The company (which will not be named in this post) is planning to appeal this case in court and get the decision reversed. The appeal is based on an interpretation of a 2019 state law prohibiting local governments from regulating tree removal on private, residential property.
The defendant allegedly illegally removed twenty-eight trees from a dilapidated trailer park in August of 2019. An $840,000 fine was levied, then subsequently appealed to a city code enforcement judge. In October the judge ruled in favor of the city and issued a reduced fine of $234,427.
The tree ordinance issue in Tampa has been a simmering debate for years. Initially, tree advocates and developers battled over proposed alterations to the original 1972 ordinance. This ordinance is considered to be the number one reason why Tampa’s tree canopy has garnered international notoriety and fame. In early 2019 the tenuous compromise between the advocates and developers was almost rendered null and void due to state law.