Tree Protection Ordinance

The City is rewriting the Atlanta Tree Ordinance, which will not be revised again for another decade.




Write them now! Already written? Write again.

The Planning Dept ignored all of our previous emails. Now we’re writing to City Council, who are our elected, not appointed officials. Tell them the Planning Department’s proposed new draft is unacceptable. It removes existing protections and will save fewer trees than our current ordinance. Request that they support the citizen’s alternative based on the 4-Step Plan.
Sample letter and email addresses below.

Dear Matt Westmoreland et al,

Add your personal note about the importance of protecting Atlanta’s existing trees.

The #1 priority for our new Tree Ordinance must be to protect existing trees!

For over two years tree supporters provided input and sound Tree Ordinance solutions that are supported as best practices by conscientious professionals including builders, developers, architects and arborists.

However the City’s Planning Dept has failed – after spending over $1.2 million on consultants – to incorporate any real ways to protect more existing trees, or our best trees. Instead they’ve pandered to the most regressive development interests who reap big profits while destroying valuable tree canopy in our neighborhoods, driving up housing costs, increasing the negative impacts of gentrification, and harming the health and well-being of our citizens – not to mention leaving City taxpayers burdened with extra costs of development, like increased costs for stormwater infrastructure.

It’s long overdue to change this outdated paradigm in Atlanta.

Concerned residents have played by the rules and jumped through the hoops for public input – only to have the City ignore the majority of comments received.  Now the Tree Ordinance draft offers even less protection for existing trees than we have in the current Tree Protection Ordinance today.

Examples of problems with the City’s proposed draft include:

  • Removes protections for trees in setbacks
  • No category of tree is fully protected; all trees can be cut for a price; new “financial hardship clause” created specifically for developers
  • Tree size requirements for “specimen trees” are so high that the majority of Atlanta’s high value overstory trees, and even many two hundred year old trees, would not qualify


The Planning Dept. uses “feel good” language and claims their proposed draft saves more trees, yet when we read the fine print, it does no such thing. The City’s draft defines “specimen” trees in such a way that almost no trees will ever qualify – a disingenuous pretense, not a solution. It’s insulting to so many who have taken time out of their busy lives to participate in the purported public process.

Protecting trees protects quality of life in our communities and leads to more affordable housing options where homes are designed for the lot – not the other way around. Clearcutting is needed to build houses with larger footprints, but this creates false density because the same number of residents – often fewer – live in larger, more expensive homes with more land disturbance which drives up housing costs for everyone and raises taxes for long-term residents who want to stay in their communities.

Please use the power of your office to reject the Planning Dept.’s proposed Tree Protection Ordinance draft which continues to allow cutting our highest value trees, allows any tree to be cut for a price, has no basis in ecology, increases inequity, is needlessly complicated yet filled with loopholes, and at the end of the day protects only those trees poorer people cannot afford to take down, while high dollar real estate projects clearcut even more.

We know you are well aware of excellent alternatives offered by City in the Forest and its partners:

  1. Plan for trees up front before builders invest in site plans
  2. Protect the best trees in size and species
  3. Reduce unsustainable levels of grading and impervious surface while building in protections for builders and developers
  4. Increase enforcement

Building professionals including developers, agree with many of our proposals. Why isn’t the Planning Dept. listening? We even have better homeowner exceptions than the Planning Dept.’s draft.

Our draft alternative softens and slows the effects of gentrification and protects the integrity of our neighborhoods.

It’s practical and it’s good policy, and a desperately needed balance for our City to grow in a healthy and sustainable way to benefit all our citizens.

Thank you for doing the right thing.

Your name
Your address and/or district


SEND TO: All Below Decision Makers,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

(Atlanta City Council Members and staff, and Mayor Lance Bottoms)

/ / /

For reference:
Council Members & District Map (below):
District 1: Carla Smith, 404-330-6039,
District 2: Amir R. Farokhi, 404-330-6038,
District 3: Antonio Brown, 404-330-6046,
District 4: Cleta Winslow, 404-330-6047,
District 5: Natalyn Mosby Archibong, 404-330-6048,
District 6: Jennifer N. Ide, 404-330-6049,
District 7: Howard Shook, 404-330-6050,
District 8: J.P. Matzigkeit, 404-330-6051,
District 9: Dustin Hillis, 404-330-6044,
District 10: Andrea L. Boone, 404-330-6055,
District 11: Marci Collier Overstreet, 404-330 6054,
District 12: Joyce Sheperd, 404-330-6053,
/ / /
Post 1 At Large: Michael Julian Bond,
Post 2 At Large: Matt Westmoreland,
Post 3 At Large: Andre Dickens,
/ / /
City Council President: Felicia Moore, 404-330-6052,
/ / /
Mailing address: Atlanta City Hall, 55 Trinity Ave., Atlanta, GA 30303

District City Map

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