Tree Advocacy: Why SJ Trees Need Our Help
Alarming Trends Diminish Forest
Have you noticed an increase of street trees being butchered or removed? Despite the fact that City permits are required to remove or prune a street tree, many forge ahead without them. There are three very good reasons why. First, there’s a good chance they will get away with it because enforcement is difficult. Second, if they do get caught, the maximum fine for their action is a mere $500 in San Jose, CA (This was recently increased by city council due to public demand. Click here for current fines). Many are willing to take the chance, especially repeat offenders such as builders working on remodels who can recoup the cost. Third, many don’t even know it’s illegal.
Why are permits required?
To share a favorite quote from Sarah Engelrod, “Most trees have done more for the public good that any human I’ve ever known.” The urban shade canopy is probably our most valuable natural urban resource.
Trees clean our air, reduceflooding, provide shade, increase property values, filter dust and noise and on and on. We all benefit. When this resource is threatened or diminished, we all lose.
San José residents have responded loudly to the growing incidences of illegal topping and tree removals, prompting council members, in 2006, to approve stiffer penalties.
Even with these recent increases, there new fines are just a step in the right direction. Enforcement of the laws simply has to become a greater priority – including during evenings and weekends. How does this happen? By making Joe Citizen – YOU – the code enforcer!