As you can see from the photo, Lincoln City is a city full of trees. But recent incidents of developers taking out too many trees to make way for new residential or commercial buildings, has upset the city council. And for the past few months they’ve been trying to get a tree protection and replacement program adopted. The basic tenant of the new law is, developers should design new buildings with an eye to preserving as many trees as possible. And to pay into a tree planting or parks enhancement fund when a certain number of trees are taken out during construction.
The council two weeks ago appeared ready to pass a new urban tree protection law. But Monday night they stalled again. Seems as though there are current commercial development interests that may be affected by the ordinance. So before they pass the latest version of the tree protection and enhancement program, they told City Manager Dave Hawker to work with staff to come up with some “tweaking” of the proposed ordinance so not only developers are treated fairly but so are residents and tree lovers.
But Hawker also threw a minor monkey wrench into the discussions (for which he apologized) as he raised the issue of the advisability of creating what he called a “Tree Police Force.” He said he would rather rely on professional arborists and building inspectors to hold developers accountable to their building permits rather than having to pay extra for a “tree police.” He added that when developers have to cut trees beyond a certain percentage to make room for their buildings, he would like to see them pay into a city tree replacement fund. The new trees could be planted or placed in areas of open space, parks, trails, or other natural areas.
The council decided to let staff take another bite of the tree regulatory apple and report back in two weeks. They said they would like to have their long-awaited tree protection program ready for adoption at their next city council meeting. But even then, they said, the new program will need “periodic tweaking.”