Social Perceptions of Government Regulated Ecological Managment in Sarasota County

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Title: Social Perceptions of Government Regulated Ecological Managment in Sarasota County Past, Present, and Potential Future of Tree Ordinances
Physical Description: Book
Language: English
Creator: Lazarus, Dayna
Publisher: New College of Florida
Place of Publication: Sarasota, Fla.
Creation Date: 2011
Publication Date: 2011


Subjects / Keywords: Tree Ordinances
Sarasota County
Social Perceptions
Genre: bibliography   ( marcgt )
theses   ( marcgt )
government publication (state, provincial, terriorial, dependent)   ( marcgt )
born-digital   ( sobekcm )
Electronic Thesis or Dissertation


Abstract: Rules that require us to consider the health of the environment have been increasingly finding their way into American politics. However, rigid regulations are sometimes more of a monkey wrench in the gears of sustainability than a catalyst for achieving a community�s sustainability goals, especially when regulations require expert knowledge and careful consideration of local conditions. An overall negative social perception of a regulation is one indication that the monkey-wrench phenomenon may be in play. Negative social perception, and any other indication that a regulation is either not working or causing more harm than good, calls for a code review. This thesis explores the social perception of Sarasota County�s tree ordinances to the end of performing a code review that explores the current benefits achieved by these ordinances and how the maximum amount of benefits can be attained in the future.
Statement of Responsibility: by Dayna Lazarus
Thesis: Thesis (B.A.) -- New College of Florida, 2011
Bibliography: Includes bibliographical references.
Source of Description: This bibliographic record is available under the Creative Commons CC0 public domain dedication. The New College of Florida, as creator of this bibliographic record, has waived all rights to it worldwide under copyright law, including all related and neighboring rights, to the extent allowed by law.
Local: Faculty Sponsor: Brian, David

Record Information

Source Institution: New College of Florida
Holding Location: New College of Florida
Rights Management: Applicable rights reserved.
Classification: local - S.T. 2011 L43
System ID: NCFE004390:00001

Permanent Link:

Material Information

Title: Social Perceptions of Government Regulated Ecological Managment in Sarasota County Past, Present, and Potential Future of Tree Ordinances
Physical Description: Book
Language: English
Creator: Lazarus, Dayna
Publisher: New College of Florida
Place of Publication: Sarasota, Fla.
Creation Date: 2011
Publication Date: 2011


Subjects / Keywords: Tree Ordinances
Sarasota County
Social Perceptions
Genre: bibliography   ( marcgt )
theses   ( marcgt )
government publication (state, provincial, terriorial, dependent)   ( marcgt )
born-digital   ( sobekcm )
Electronic Thesis or Dissertation


Abstract: Rules that require us to consider the health of the environment have been increasingly finding their way into American politics. However, rigid regulations are sometimes more of a monkey wrench in the gears of sustainability than a catalyst for achieving a community�s sustainability goals, especially when regulations require expert knowledge and careful consideration of local conditions. An overall negative social perception of a regulation is one indication that the monkey-wrench phenomenon may be in play. Negative social perception, and any other indication that a regulation is either not working or causing more harm than good, calls for a code review. This thesis explores the social perception of Sarasota County�s tree ordinances to the end of performing a code review that explores the current benefits achieved by these ordinances and how the maximum amount of benefits can be attained in the future.
Statement of Responsibility: by Dayna Lazarus
Thesis: Thesis (B.A.) -- New College of Florida, 2011
Bibliography: Includes bibliographical references.
Source of Description: This bibliographic record is available under the Creative Commons CC0 public domain dedication. The New College of Florida, as creator of this bibliographic record, has waived all rights to it worldwide under copyright law, including all related and neighboring rights, to the extent allowed by law.
Local: Faculty Sponsor: Brian, David

Record Information

Source Institution: New College of Florida
Holding Location: New College of Florida
Rights Management: Applicable rights reserved.
Classification: local - S.T. 2011 L43
System ID: NCFE004390:00001

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SOCIAL PERCEPTIONS OF GOVERNMENT REGULATED ECOLOGICAL MANAGEMENT IN SARASOTA COUNTY: THE PAST, PRESENT, AND POTENTIAL FUTURE OF TREE ORDINANCES BY DAYNA LAZARUS A Thesis Submitted to the Division of Environmental Studies New College of Florida In partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree Bachelor of Arts Under the Sponsorship of Professor David Brain Sarasota, Florida March, 2011


iiACKNOWLEDGEMENTS I first need to thank Dr. David Brain, Dr. Keith Fitzgerald, and Dr. Frank Alcock for taking me on at such late notice. I w ould also like to thank Matt Lewis and Lisa Nisenson for all of your help and support. Thank you for helping me come up with an interesting topic, for helping me find people to interview, and for letting me interview you as well. I would like to thank Matt Oste rhoudt for being so pa tient and providing me with at least three one to two-hour long interview sessions. Thank you also to Jono Miller for the interview and for all of your guidan ce and assistance throughout my four years at New College. Finally I need to thank Rex Jensen for allowing me to interview you so late in the day and for going out of your way to provide me with those e-mails. Of course I also need to thank my mo ther, Carol Lazarus, and my father, Robert Lazarus, for their ongoing love support.




iv C. ARTICLE IV. CANOPY ROADS …………………………………………...47 (i) GOALS AND VALUES ……………………………………………..48 (ii) GOVERNMENT V. PUBLIC VALUE PREVALENCE …………...49 D. ARTICLE XIX. EX OTIC INVASIVES ……………………………………..50 E. SYNTHESIZING ANALYSES: INFERENCES AND QUESTIONS RAISED ….…………..............................................................................……….51 F. THE NEW CONSOLIDA TED ORDINANCE: “TREES” ………………….53 V. DIFFERING PERSPECTIVES: CAN SARASOTA IMPROVE ITS TREE ORDINANCE REGULATIONS? …………………………………………………………………………………...…........57 CASE STUDY: “BABY GRAND TREE ORDINANCE” ……………………..61 VI. CONCLUSION: SUGGESTED IMPROVEMENTS FOR TREE ORDINANCES AND ECOLOGICAL M ANAGEMENT REGULATIONS IN SARASOTA COUNTY ……………….…………….....................................................67 References ……………………………….........................................................................77


v SOCIAL PERCEPTIONS OF GOVERNMENT REGULATED ECOLOGICAL MANAGEMENT IN SARASOTA COUNTY: THE PAST, PRESENT, AND POTENTIAL FUTURE OF TREE ORDINANCES Dayna Lazarus New College of Florida 2011 ABSTRACT Rules that require us to consider th e health of the environment have been increasingly finding their way into American politics. However, rigid regulations are sometimes more of a monkey wrench in the ge ars of sustainability than a catalyst for achieving a community's sustainability goals, es pecially when regulations require expert knowledge and careful consider ation of local conditions. An overall negative social perception of a regulation is one indica tion that the monkey wrench phenomenonon may be in play. Negative social perception, and a ny other inidcation that a regulation is ither not working, calls for a coade review. This thesis explores the social perception of Sarasota County's tree ordinances to the end of performing a code review that explores the current benefits achieved by these or dinances and how the maximum amount of benefits can be attained in the future. For this thesis I put together an overview of the planning and development process in Sarasota County to identify where tree ordinances come into play and who in the county is involved. I then e xplore the history and current role of tree ordinances, and how these factors relate to the benefits and values of trees we as pire for today, paying particular attention to the di fferences in values of diffe rent stakeholders. Finally, I


viexplore the overall social perc eption of the effectiveness of tree ordinances in Sarasota County by performing interviews with county ci tizens from the stakeholder groups that I generalize to be most relevant in matters concerning tree ordinances: a government worker, a developer, and an environmen talist. In conclusion, I suggest how tree ordinances in Sarasota County can be improved and what benefits can be attained. I also propose research that should be performed to increase tree ordinances' social acceptance and sustainability benefits based on resear ch and suggestions offered by interviewees. David Brain Environmental Studies


1I. INTRODUCTION: ENVIRONMENTA L REGULATIONS ON THE RISE: KNEE-JERK OR NEED-BASED? “I just don’t know if tree or dinances are an emotive knee-jer k reaction, or if there is an actual need.” -Rex Jensen, President of Shroeder -Manatee Ranch, Parent Corporation of Lakewood Ranch Rules that require us to consider th e health of the environment have been increasingly finding their way into American politics, beginning in the late 1800s as repercussions from the Industrial Revolution be gin to set in, and sharply increasing after the environmental movement was sparked in the 1960s-70s. People are thinking more about ecology (the study of the relation of living organisms with each other and their surroundings) as scientific stud ies increasingly shed light on the fact that environmental health and human health are inex tricably linked. It is only na tural and logical for “we, the people,” to ask our lawmakers to do something to ensure that our liv es as we know them are sustainable. All levels of government have jumped on the environmentalism bandwagon: local, state, federal, and even in international agreements like the Kyoto Protocol. But are these st rict regulations helping or hurting the objective of sustainability? Are they doi ng anything at all besides an swering the public’s calls? Although in many cases the citizens call for environmental regulations in the first place, many people perceive different kinds of problems with laws that protect the environment. An overall negative social percep tion of a regulation is an indication that the regulation is not achieving what it coul d and should be achieving. More relevantly to this thesis, individual stake holders’ perceptions of a regul ation can reveal ways to improve the regulation so they become more popular and successful in the long run. This


4community’s livability (or “quality of life” fo r citizens) and thus, its sustainability. “In recent decades the scientific understanding of how trees, parks and open space benefit people in cities has expanded substantially to include social, environmental, and economic domains” (Wolf 2004:1). Trees pr ovide shade from the hot Florida sun, allowing people to walk around outside and co me in contact with one another; they provide diversity of color a nd shape which adds to aesthetic value, increasing land and home selling prices; and they clean and cycle water, absorbing storm water runoff to decrease flooding and drinking water cont amination… to name only a few benefits. Are these benefits being realized in Sarasota County, and if so, are increased regulations for ecological management the reason? Ecological management requires specific local knowledge and expe rtise in order to achieve th e goal of keep ing a healthy ecosystem as well as other important pub lic values. In wri ting and enforcing environmental regulations, two of the most important contribu tors are biologists with a scientific knowledge of local ecology, and local citizens w ith a personal connection with local ecology. Without the two, rigid envir onmental regulations sometimes end up acting as a monkey wrench in the gears of sustainabil ity rather than as a ca talyst of sustainable development. For example, a group of gove rnment agency employees writing a tree ordinance may value old grow th, but may not have suffici ent training to know the significance of differentiating be tween native and exotic species As a result, they write the ordinance with the purpose of protecti ng all trees older than ten years, without consideration of species. This results in the protection of exotic invasive species, which invade and choke out native vegetation, act ually decreasing the health of the local ecosystem. The problem could have been a voided by consulting biologists, or local


2thesis will explore regulations for ecol ogical management in the planning and development process in Sarasota County, and wi ll seek to uncover soci al perceptions of a specific type environmental re gulationtree ordinanceswith the ultimate goal of determining the effectiveness of tree ordinances laws in this county specifically. Possible solutions and alternative ways to go about tree management will be discussed, and the benefits of trees, social, economic and biological, will be identified. PLANNING AND DEVELOPM ENT: SHIFTING FOCUS Development is synonymous the world over with progress. Just as past civilizations have struggled to acquire land, gold, and subjects, t oday’s land owners and politicians work to continue making thei r territories bigger and better. Growth, particularly capital growth for individuals a nd the community as a w hole, is one of the main purposes of land development. Individuals and governments need money to function in complex societies. As developer Rex Jensen says, “as long as the government requires property taxes, I’ve got to earn money to keep my property” (Personal Interview 2011). We are coming to realize, however, that ecological sustainability is necessary for economic sustainability, not to mention surviv al. As the concept of sustainability has evolved from conversations st rictly about economic sustai nability to more broadly recognize the importance of ecological and social sustainability, societal growth strategies have shifted from catalyzing development to ensuring careful planning. On the planning side of the development process it has become almost standard nowadays to enforce regulations that perform careful eco logical management. In other words, in


3discovering more benefits of ecological sustainability, developers and government agencies that deal with growth such as Sarasota County’s Planning and Development Department are more often required by law to approach development with careful consideration of the la nd’s natural ecology. The transition is rational; ecological management is practically synonymous with land development. When a piece of land is deve loped, the natural ecology of the land is being managed whether it is done so carefu lly and purposefully or not. “By the early 1970s, ecology had become the th eoretical cornerstone of th e new and rapidly diffusing concern with the environment,” (Ha nnigan 2006). With the increase of environmentalism, specific rules and regulations to protect features of the environment have grown in number and intensity to ensure that ecological health is maintained or enhanced rather than destroyed in the name of development. These rules have created a new, purposeful kind of development that ac knowledges that ecological management is taking place. The main purpose of careful ecological management is ultimately to achieve sustainability. The World Commission on Environment and Development defines sustainability as meeting “the needs of the present without compromising th e ability of future generations to meet their own needs” (2004). Achieving sustainability has focused on creating “livable communities” and a high “qua lity of life.” Levels of one’s quality of life that contribute to sustaina bility include financial secur ity, health, the aesthetics of one’s surroundings, and strong communal ties. Studies find that trees specificall y, whose mere existence contributes to ecological sustainability, provi de social and economic benefits as well that increase a


5citizens who know which plants are native. To get a better grasp on how much and how well Sarasota County’s lawmakers consider local biology and local social concerns, I interview three of the most relevant categories of stakeholders in the developm ent process concerning the environment: one large-scale developer (with knowledge of smalland medium-scale developer perspectives), two Sarasota County employ ees, one from the planning and development division and one from the natural re source management division, and one environmentalist citizen who is also a home owner and has lived in Sarasota for 42 years. “To many advocates of sustainable co mmunities, making cities livable requires changing the fabric of civil society… without changing the ways people related to each other, and the values that underlie these interactions, pursuing sustainability would simply not be possible,” (Portney 2003:126) When citizens do not have a holistic understanding of the purpose of ecological management laws their values may suffer from a lack of information, resulting in dissa tisfaction with the exis tence and operation of such laws; when lawmakers do not have a hol istic perspective of why they are writing and enforcing these laws, they may not write th em with all of the necessary facts to make them successful. Thus I focus on two characteri stics of Sarasota County’s tree ordinances to determine their quality: the amount and qua lity of public involvement and the amount and quality of lawmakers’ cons ideration of local conditions (both social and biological). By the end of this paper, we shall be ab le to better understand the purpose of tree ordinances including the holistic purpose and small-scale benefits, how they function in Sarasota County specifically, a nd if/how they can be improve d to actualize benefits for the most relevant stakeholders.


6WHAT ARE THE ISSUES? When I first sat down to interview Matt Osterhoudt, Director of Natural Resource Management for Sarasota County, and explai ned that part of my thesis requires determining the shortcomings of tree ordi nances, he said “what shortcomings? Tree ordinances are the most non-contentious la w in the county!” (Per sonal Interview 2010). As the government employee in charge of wr iting and carrying out th ese regulations, it is completely logical that his reaction would be that there are no shortcomings. On the other hand, other stakeholders often have an entirely different first reacti on. Stakeholders such as environmentalists and deve lopers brought to the table que stions such as, do we need government micromanagement of trees? Are tree ordinances actually doing anything besides making it difficult for property owners to shape their land the way they want? Are tree ordinances justifiably encroaching on people’s rights to their own property? I suggest that to ease the public ’s minds and to attain a bett er understanding of the true function of these ordinances, a code-review and benefits assessment is in order. One problem with government regulations that manage a community’s ecology is a lack of conviction by the public at large and by the most rele vant stakeholders that these rules are necessary or beneficial at all, perhaps because of a lack of a holistic understanding of their function or purpose, or perhaps because people perceive a better way to tackle environmental health issues than rigid regulations. These days, everyone from the most conservative Tea Party member s to the most radical anarchists to the average American citizen f eels a bit unnerved by the sh eer amount of government regulation dictating how we live our lives. Regulations that affect our basic freedoms are


7formed behind closed doors with a minimal pape r trail as they have always been. It seems like the government is becoming more autonom ous while at the same time expanding to regulate more aspects of our lives, even th e most mundane and seemingly unquestionable freedoms. Even the existence and persiste nce of a single tree on private and public property is now government-regulated. Thes e tree regulations are known as “tree ordinances” and are the exemplary topic of this study. Encouraged by current political discourses, I have determined that the ex istence and quality of such a specific and seemingly trivial government regulation demands examination and justification. Why do tree ordinances exist? What are the goals creati ng the driving force behind tree-management legislation? To unders tand why tree ordinances exist, we must understand what trees can do for us. Why would people want to protect trees? Unfortunately the answer is never simple; diffe rent people values tree s in different ways. The justification of a tree ordinance’s purpose is first and foremost incredibly complicated by the fact that every stakeholde r has a different set of values and goals orienting their valuati on of a tree. To an environmental monk in Thailand, trees are valued as the source of all life and must be protected even at high co sts such as death and humiliation, while for individuals who simply en joy being in nature, a tree is a valuable tool for acquiring peace of mind (Darlington 2007). Counties and municipalities, on the other hand, represent entire communities of peopl e and interests. Thus, the value of trees to a county at large cannot be easily simplif ied to, say, environmental sustainability. Instead, a wide range of values related to trees fall into respective categories based on the economic, social, biological, a nd political benefits desired (“biological” benefits hereon refer to ecosystem health benefits).


8 Rising concern about resource depleti on, environmental crises, and climate change have inspired many studies that expl ore the merit of vari ous values of trees. Sustainability is a value that is gainin g increasing support by all types of community stakeholders such as developers, environmen talists, politicians, and the average citizen. Sustainability, or “the power to endure,” is necessary for the conti nuation of life on this planet, and environmental management is nece ssary for sustainability. Trees themselves are extremely beneficial to sustainability in the aspects of healthy ecosystem functioning and progressive human development. De velopers make money off of trees, environmentalists gain solace with the existe nce of trees, biologists recognize how trees contribute to the health of the entire ecosystem, children prefer to play under the shade of trees, etcetera. Although sustainability is one of the pr imary reasons for ecological management, many people do not understand the importa nce of ecological management to sustainability. Despite missing this keystone piece of understanding, many people have still developed an interest in all things “green.” Due to the aforementioned lack of holistic understanding, being “green” unfortunately does not necessitate achieving sustainability. Peoples’ interest in being “gr een” has very little biological understanding behind it, and does not require that any benefits are achieve d other than the image of “being green” or other surface social or economic value such as aesthetic beauty. “The trees and parks of urban nature, while appreciated for amenity va lues, have been historically overlooked as sources of environmental and human health services” (Wolf 2004: 92). Sustainability, on the other hand, requires intensiv e research into the way complex ecological and social systems function. When we green-wash our ci ties, we manage the environment without


9technical knowledge of environmental system s, creating the image of sustainability without actually assuring that a range of issues are bei ng addressed. In the end, quite often, sustainability is not actually being achieved. Are tree ordinances a successful mechan ism achieving ecological sustainability in addition to the surface social and economic va lues that are communicated to the public? One way to determine if tree ordinances ar e efficient is by performing a code review. Lisa Nisenson and Clark Anders on point out that “Ordinance and code reviews are an increasingly popular tool to identify and address the im pact of land development standards” and the impact of regulations such as tree ordinances. “Communities are reviewing codes for barriers to low-impact development or overarching sustainability goals” (Nisenson and Anderson 2009). Af ter doing research, I’ve found that code reviews of environmental regulations are us ually performed by the Natural Resources department, and that currently as a result of code reviews the team is working to consolidate Sarasota’s three main tree ordina nces. I believe that in addition to these continual reviews, studies shoul d be performed to determine whether or not benefits are being attained as a result of tree protec tion. In doing so, we can determine if tree ordinances are necessary, to what degree th ey are helping attain social, economic, and biologically benefits, and if nothing else they can ease the public’s minds that the government is double-checking itself.


10II. THE LAND DEVELOPMENT PROCE SS IN SARASOTA COUNTY: HOW MUCH IS ECOLOGY CONSIDERED IN PLANNING AND DEVELOPMENT? HOW MUCH IS THE PUBLIC INVOLVED? Perhaps more sky-high condominiums w ould be best for Sarasota County, but whose definition of what kind of devel opment is “best” do Sarasota County’s development policies support? In a democratic society, the government is supposed to act on behalf of the people’s inte rests; but today we are aware that they also have a responsibility to do what’s best for the environment to ensure the sustainability of the community as well. In other words, they ar e charged with the complex task of providing the greatest amount of good to the greatest number of people, both current and future citizens. Unfortunately, it is customary for government leaders to act on behalf of their loudest constituents rather than ensuring that all voices and facts are heard (for example, the advantage of lobbying (Grossman a nd Helpman 1992)) (Hannigan 2006:55). This results in important facts a nd stakeholders being unrepre sented. After analyzing and philosophizing over this issue, I have come to the conclusion that government leaders should take steps to ensure that they hear fr om a group of constituents that is as diverse possible, gather as many hard facts as possibl e, and paying more attention to what they learn from the most relevant stakeholders and most knowledgeable experts, they should make a decision that everyone at least unders tands, even if they are not happy. This solution adds to the benefits of increasing pol icies that deliver edu cation to the public on the benefits, particularly the holis tic value, of government decisions.


11ECOLOGICAL MANAGEMENT THRO UGHOUT THE PLANNING AND DEVELOPMENT PROCESS IN SARASOTA COUNTY Planning for land development is an extr emely complicated processes; intuitively so, considering the multitude of regulations and the number and diversity of stakeholders involved. Development is extremely expensive, it can change the economy of developed and surrounding areas, it alters the land entirely upon which it is performed, and once land is developed it is difficult to re-develop and nearly impossible to restore to what it was prior to development. In addition, w ith increased scientific understanding of


12ecological processes, we now know that development has exponential environmental impacts, such as climate feedback and nut rient depletion. Stake holders thus include everybody and everything on ear th, including the federal, state, and municipality governments, land owners and citizens, and water, trees, and wildlife. Federal and State environmental regula tions related to development are not extensive, and focus on water and endangere d species issues, while local governments enact additional place-specific environmental laws that are either deemed necessary by local leaders or demanded by th e public. It follows logically that the more local the stakeholder is to an issue, the higher their stakes. The fe deral government’s stake in the development of a single street in a single c ounty may be minuscule while a tree on that street has its very survival at stake. Interestingly, thos e street trees may have zero representation in developm ent decision-making while the federal government could theoretically command that all st reet trees in the country mu st be removed for whatever reason. As it stands, land use decisions are en tirely local, but envi ronmental regulations such as endangered species and waterway considerations are federally mandated. Although the federal government has very lit tle influence in development decisions, it still follows that the highest authority in Sarasota County, the Board of County Commissioners (hereafter referred to as the BCC, the Board, or the Commissioners), have the final say in every policy decision; they do have the power to make arbitrary decisions. This is why there should be some so rt of insurance that different stakes are represented. The final decision to allow development is made by the BCC as well. This is a highly technical ecological management de cision. Only since the environmental


13movement, however, has the environmental impact of such decisions been institutionally recognized at all, so the amount of consider ation necessary is not always present. In addition, as previously stat ed, land development is synonymous the world over with progress, both social and economic; these so cial and economic values are often most important to people and will often win out over ecological values. So how do we know that our leaders are making the best most informed decision possible? Sarasota County has been acknowledged throughout the nation as a leader in sustainable development. For example th e Arbor Day Foundation has named Sarasota County a “Tree City USA” for 19 years (Arbor Day Foundation 2010). Sustainable development is the motivation behind the re gional code of land development called the Comprehensive (aka Comp) Plan. Before a developer’s development plan is approved, the county’s Planning and Development departme nt makes sure that the plan will meet Comprehensive Plan policies and requirements. The State adopted the Local Govern ment Comprehensive Planning and Land Development Regulation Act in 1985, requi ring all of Florida’s 67 counties and 410 municipalities to adopt a Comprehensive Pl an (Florida Department of Community Affairs 2010). A Comprehensive Plan makes e xplicit a county or a municipality’s goals for land development and draws out a map for future land-use, in other words analyzing the present state of the land while considering future use. A “sustainable community” is defined explicitly in Sarasota’s Comp plan as a community that is “designed efficiently and equitably to meet the present and fu ture needs for humans and other species” (2006:107). This specific defini tion demonstrates the logic fo r social participation in development policy and in the development process overallhow can human needs be


14considered if policy makers are not info rmed as to what those needs are? Sarasota County has vowed in its Comprehensive Plan to promote citizen participation, and has acknowledged this goal in many other legal documents and resolutions. Also on page 107 of the Sarasota Comprehensive Plan, this goal is explicit: “The County is committed to leading by example, promoting public participation, and working in community partnerships to improve our quality of life and protecting natural systems that support life” (Sarasota C ounty Comprehensive Plan 2006). Public participation is itself a m echanism of sustainability beca use increase public involvement decreases the likelihood that a pr oblem will be had later on in the processes th at will take lots of time and money to repair. Thus, according to Sarasota County’s highest form of land development policy, actors in land development must by law attempt to make the development as sustainable as possible and must integrate public participation as much as possible. Comprehensive Plans are not required by all state governments. In addition, some environmental management regulations ar e required by the national government and some state governments, such as water rete ntion requirements and endangered species protection, but a local government is only required to follow this bare minimum of environmental management (Personal Inte rview with Osterhoudt 2010). Most other environmental considerations in the devel opment process are usually only implemented when the public demands them because they ra ise costs and add time to an already time consuming and convoluted proce ss. Sarasota County is the 46th wealthiest county in the nation in 2009; one can specula te that many Sarasotans are keen to what is trendy and able and willing to petition the government to cater to thei r ideals (Watson 2009).


15Perhaps this is why the county has many envi ronmental considerations written into law and an entire chapter (Chapter 2) in its Comprehensive Plan devoted to environmental management. Once the county’s Planning and Developm ent department (PDD) communicates to the Board that an idea for a development is in line with the Comprehensive Plan (at this stage the idea is very vague and concep tual), and the Board gives the go-ahead, the PDD focus on the regional impact of the propos ed development. With future land use and regional impact in mind, the PDD determin es if a DRI (Development of Regional Impact,), a CAP (a Community Action Plan ), and/or a Neighbor hood Plan is needed. These plans are required if there is an area of critical concern such as a wildlife preserve on the property, and are also required to iden tify elements that will affect concurrency such as population and traffic thresholds (Personal Interview with Osterhoudt 2010). At the same time these concerns are being addressed, sometimes a little bit after, the developer and PDD must make sure that the proposed development will follow zoning restrictions. Zoning ordi nances are part of the Unified Land Development Code (ULDC) that implement Comprehensive Plan requirements. Land zoning is a method of development planning that dictates where certai n types of developments are allowed to be within the county. The purpose is to regulat e land use, prevent land use conflicts, and allow growth to occur in a rational manner. If a developer’s proposed development is not in line with the zoning code, a developer ma y request an audience before the BCC for rezoning. This occurs in a public hearing form at because it requires changes to the Comprehensive Plan’s future land use map (Personal Interview w ith Osterhoudt 2010). All changes to Comp Plans must be subject to public hearings and approved by the BCC.


16 Up until this point in the planning process, the developer’s plan is merely a concept. Once the above requirements are me t, a developer must sit down create a concept plan. This step asks for several maps to be drawn that identify trees protected by law, wildlife protected by law, and other si gnificant individual features of the land. The plan may be either binding, meaning th at no changes can be made after the BCC approves it, or non-binding, m eaning there can be some wiggle room in the design up until the moment of actual construction. The plan usually has to be binding when there is an area of contention in the plan Pe rsonal Interview with Osterhoudt 2010). The final stage in the planning process is permitting. It is at this point, after your preliminary site plan has been approved, th at you move into actua l design. This stage requires the final maps to be drawn of bot h horizontal placement (aka “plats“) and vertical architecture, and re quires the developer to obtain permits for construction. For example, permits of environmental management include tree removal permits, building permits, and fencing permits (Personal In terviews with Lewis 2011 and Osterhoudt 2010). At every stage of land development and development planning, environmental management considerations are made. In th e big picture stages, developers and county departments are looking at the larger areas that will be affected. By the time the developer reaches the construc tion stage, many environmental features have been dealt with. The construction or engineering st age, which can also be called the Land Development Regulation stage, identifies more particular features of the environment to be managed. The county issues permits and works with the architects, engineers, and designers to regulate this management (Personal Interview with Osterhoudt 2010).


17PUBLIC INVOLVEMENT We have recently seen an increase in the number of studies analyzing the multitude of public values derived from features of the environment with the rise of the modern environmental movement. Green space s have been shown to have psychological benefits, to increase pedestrian traffic whic h may increase small business profits, and to increase public health by enc ouraging exercise, to name only a few of the benefits (Wolf 2003, Wolf 2004, Nowak, Crane, and Dwyer 2002). In other words, the average citizen has a huge stake in environmental considerations in development. “One of the features that helps distinguish cities sustai nability efforts enters on the extent to which such efforts actually s eek to promote citizen participation and involvement, interpersonal in teractions directed at improving the operations of government, and community-based problem solving” (Portney 2003:127). Sarasota County has made an effort to create many opportunities for public participation in environmental decisions throughout the land development processe s. At the highest level, if the government or a developer wants to make a change to the Comprehensive Plan, this kicks in a public process that includes public outreach and a public hearing before the Board of County Commissioners (aka BCC, ak a the commissioners, aka the Board). The commissioners make the final decision, but their jobs depend on public support. The Board’s decisions are heavily based on what they hear in public hearings and other public contact. (Personal Interv iew with Osterhoudt 2010). Public hearings on Comprehensive Plan changes before the BCC are the best opportunities for the public to have influen ce on land development policies. This is


18because the Comprehensive Plan dictates the policies that following actions and trickledown regulations must follow. Anytime a change is made to any step of the development process, it must be in agreement with the Comprehensive Plan (Personal Interview with Osterhoudt 2010). The people who do end up going to these meetings are those who are most deeply involved in the particular issu e at hand (Personal Interview with Miller 2010). When there is a lack of attendance, it might not be due to a lack of advertisement for the meeting. All departments are required to thoroughly advertise meetings that are open to the public on the count y website, in the newspape r, on public bulletins on and publicly displayed signs the date and conten t of meetings. In addition, many people will contend that it is common knowledge that ci tizens are allowed to sit in on city hall meetings and offer their comments (Persona l Interviews with Lewis 2011 and Osterhoudt 2010). Some reasons people do not attend these meetings include: One, meetings are perceived as boring and people often have th ings they would rather be doing. Two, many people don’t believe that their voices are trul y considered even if they do go to these meetings and offer their perspective. In truth, members of the BCC thoroughly consider the desires of their constituents, because th ey are indeed elected officials who rely on their voters to stay in office. If the pu blic could somehow be educated about the development process in a way that piqued their interest and spelled out how their interest are at stake, and if they coul d be educated on the true impact of their input in the outcome of development decisions, perhaps more pe ople would go to public hearings regarding Comprehensive Plan changes. In addition to public hearings, there are several other ways that the public can be


19involved in environmental management pol icies and decisions in the development process in Sarasota County. As mentioned before, the county mu st advertise public hearings on the county website, which is Many county affairs are advertised on the county website, incl uding opening positions on Advisory Boards, updates on development projects, and upcoming events and programs. Although only people with computers and internet access can obtain these part icular updates (and it must be noted that almost everyone has acce ss now that libraries have public computer stations), the internet is growing in po pularity as a communication medium. Students such as myself may be online for upwards of 6 hours each day. The county is currently working to utilize this popular medium to an even greater extent for public outreach and educati on. Several departments are currently workshopping two ideas that will help the public understand the complex development process which they hope to have up and running by early 2011. The first idea is a “Development Wiki.” The Development Wiki will have al l of the county’s ordinances, permits, and other documents and steps in the proce ss clearly defined. The public could submit recommendations for changes in these ordinanc es in the same way that changes can be submitted on However, instead of immediately being published, these comments will be brought before the BCC for cons ideration before being translated into code and then published (Per sonal Interview w ith Osterhoudt 2010). In this way, the codes are constantly under publ ic review without the hassle and expensive of meetings. The second idea is a “Natural Resources Decision Tree.” This interactive tree will show people exactly what they need to know in order to develop land. For example, currently there is no place where regulations for a particular type of development are


20consolidated. The tree will show that “if you ’re in Zone A, and you want to accomplish X type of development, these are the codes you must follow.” This would reduce the jumps and twirls developers and even county worker s currently have to perform in order to understand the requirements for land developm ent (Personal Interviews with Lewis 2011 and Osterhoudt 2010). In addition to utilizing the internet fo r educational resources, people can also email county commissioners and other county workers directly with questions and concerns. Other direct forms of contact in clude snail mail, or even telephone. Some people will drop into their offi ces at work, or even go right up to the commissioners in public or to their homes. County commissioners will read and listen to as many of these contacts as possible, but this form of public involvement is often inefficient due to their informal nature. The commissioners choose at w ill whether or not to listen to or even to read these comments, and there is no way to know what people ar e saying unless their comments are posted on a blog of some sort, or unless the commissioner answers back at which point the exchange becomes a public document that is required by the Sunshine Laws to be accessible to the public (Per sonal Interview with Osterhoudt 2010). The Florida Sunshine Laws are an impor tant public involvement tool. These laws were put into effect in 1967 and require a ll government documents to be available for public access. These laws apply to all government documents, including documents created in public forums and public hearings (Office of the Attorney General of Florida 2009). Actually attending public forums, heari ngs, and workshops, however, is a much more efficient and direct way for citizens to communicate different values and to learn


21about the development process. Throughout the conceptual stages of development, from Comp Plan considerations to the creation of a concept plan, county departments are required to hold these meetings. At each st age the county requires public engagement, a public workshop, and a public hearing in front of the Board. The public forum at the Concept Plan stage is a special, more ope n type of workshop called a “charrette.” When writing or altering ordinances, in the same way public workshops and hearings are held for Comp Plan amendments the public is consistently addressed for comments. The Natural Resources Department, for example, is consolidating three tree ordinances into one this year in part as a result of public comments from past workshops saying that three tree ordinances is excessive wh en they all say very similar things. In this process, the heads of the department sat dow n and wrote up a draft for the new ordinance, and they are now going into the public works hop stage. They have written up an easy-tofollow draft with comments in the margins, and at the meeting they will introduce the new bill, go through and explain it, and take as many public comments as there are. After the meeting, the public’s comments will be incor porated into the draft, with notes in the margins to show the BCC where changes ar e public-induced (Personal Interview with Osterhoudt 2010). Because of these ordinance-alteration processes, once the developer has reached the Land Development Regulations stage, th e stage in which permits are issued and construction begins, there is very little public involvement. This is because theoretically, if a development follows the requirements of the Comp Plan, zoning ordinances and other ordinances, they are already achieving the outcome desired by the community. The public has every opportunity to have a say in devel opment policies and the de sign of a particular


22development in these early st ages, and by the time a develo per is ready to build, all possible contentions should have been alrea dy addressed (Personal In terviews with Lewis 2011 and Osterhoudt 2010). The last primary way that the public can be involved in environmental considerations in the development proce ss in Sarasota County is through Advisory Boards. Citizens can find out about open slot s either on the county website or in the newspaper, and they must then fill out an a pplication. The applicati on asks the citizen to indicate his or her pl ace of employment, as well as ot her personal information, in order for the Board to determine that person’s stak es and values. On Advi sory Councils dealing with environmental issues, the Board will re quire equal representation of the stakes it determines are most important, usually thr ee environmentalists, three developers, three small business owners, and three at large, and vote on which app licants to include (Personal Interviews with Osterhoudt 2010 and Miller 2010, and 2011). Advisory Boards are made up of 7-15 pub lic citizens. Meetings are organized by staff of a relevant government department assigned by the BCC. The staff serves as experts in their field and an swers questions members have, aiding in moving the meeting along and keeping members focused on the issues at hand. In Sarasota, Advisory Boards are of ten utilized to discuss environmental management policy. This may be because the county recognizes the insight that local citizens can provide on the impact, value, and status of environmental features. Current Advisory Boards include the Environmental Policy Task Fo rce, the Land Acquisition Advisory Council, and the Sarasota Tree A dvisory Council (Personal Interviews with Osterhoudt 2010 and Miller 2010).


23 Sarasota’s Advisory Boards meet severa l standards of a successful advisory board as outlined by Heather E. Douglas in the book Science, Policy, and the Value-Free Ideal Councils are a manageable size, never exceedi ng 15 members. In this way, the discussion will not be muddled by too many voices. Als o, the BCC asks for an equal representation of important stakes. They identify these st akeholders by looking at the stakes that emerged in past issues of the kind that th e new board will deal with. Unfortunately, because the public has to apply for board positio ns rather than being elected or requested, sometimes the BCC cannot find enough people to sit on the board and stakes will be represented unequally. The third standard these boards meet is the commitment of the policy makers to listen to the board members and take their recommendations into serious consideration. Considering that the Advisory Board must be called for in a resolution that must be passed and is often written by the BCC, the me re existence of the board shows that the BCC will consider it. Also, advisory boa rds are required to create an annual recommendation and status report to the BCC. This report cu ts out the middle man of the overseeing department who in public forums must collect and interpret the public comments to the BCC (Personal Interview with Osterhoudt 2010 and Douglas 2009). Finally, Douglas posits that “proper manage ment” of these boards is necessary for an effective outcome. The BCC, or policy ma kers, dictate the goals for the Advisory Board. Then, the overseeing department employs expert staff to mediate the meetings and to answer all of the members’ questions. Mediation includes crea ting and introducing the meeting’s agenda, often in concert with th e committee chair who is a member of the board who is elected by the other members, and moving the meeting along in a focused


24manner. According to Jono Miller who has sat on over ten different advisory committees, often as the committee chair, discussion poi nts must reach a consensus before the meeting moves on (Douglas 2009 and Personal Interviews with Osterhoudt 2010 and Miller 2010). In environmental management, public part icipation “increase[s] the responsibility and accountability expected of the resource mana ger, it also increa ses the legitimacy of requests for adequate sta ff and fiscal resources” (Wolf 2004:2). Environmental management most often comes into play in the development process, in which the public has ample opportunity to participate. In end, the amount and aggressiveness of public involvement is up to the public its elf. It is in the county’s best interest to give the public every possible opportunity to have a say in wh at and how policies play out because they will end up paying more in damage control afte r the fact when problems that could have been averted eventually come to light. A ccording to Matt Osterhoudt, the Director of Sarasota County’s Natural Res ources Division, the county actua lly desires an increase in public participation (2010). Mo re public participation in the development and policyformation processes would make the count y’s job easier because it would confront possible problems before they occur, sa ving time and money on additional public hearings and damage control. To incr ease the diversity and amount of public involvement, the county should do more to educate the public about sustainable development and about their involvement opportunities (Osterhoudt 2010 and Miller 2010).


25III. NARROWING FOCUS TO A SPECIFIC ENVIRONMENTAL REGULATION, TREE ORDINANCES: HISTORY AND PURPOSE WHAT ARE TREE ORDINANCES? Tree ordinances are laws that are part of a municipality’s code of ordinances that dictate the conditions of a tree ’s existence and maintenance anywhere within a county or municipality. They usually pert ain to trees on public land that is owned or sanctioned by the local government, but their influence is increasingly expanding to affect trees on private property as well. In addition to the distinc tion between trees on private a nd public properties, trees that are under the jurisdicti on of tree ordinances can be grouped into two alternate categoriesforest and forest land, and trees outside forests (Konijned ikjk and Gauthier). Forests and other large woody areas may be owned or co-owned by government municipalities, public or private agencies, or private property owners. These parcels are often not managed at all, but when they are, maintenance is provided in manners such as stewardship contracts, cost sharing, forest ry agencies, or environmental programs. “Trees outside the forest” are trees in urban settings. Such trees exist on city streets, in parking lots, a nd in residential neighborhoods. These trees, often standing alone or in small clusters, are maintained either by private property owners, by environmental groups or community progr ams, and increasingly, by government agencies. Trees in Sarasota County are distin guished most often by the stage of development of the land upon which they exis t, second only to the distinction between


26private and public property. For instance, tr ees that exist on land that is undergoing development are subject to more tree ordinance rules in their lifetime than trees that exist on established properties. THE HISTORY OF TREE ORDINANCES “Urban Forestry” has become a popular government agency in the past decade. This is a result of social pressure on local governments to maintain a healthy quality of life for its citizens, and to be “green” and “sustainable.” Tree ordinances are a main component of urban forestry. They functi on to integrate trees into urban planning schemes and to manage the health of trees in urban areas that otherwise would be degreened by human activity. The main goal of ecosystem management is to maintain a healthy ecosystem, whether that ecosystem is a national forest or in a busy metropolitan center. According to common dictionary definitions, forestry is the utilization of a scientif ic understanding of how to best plant and manage tree populations paying close attenti on to local needs and conditions. The first School of Forestry was founded in 1898, the Biltmore Forest School in Pisgah National Park in North Carolin a. Two main objectives brought about this schoolthe idea that the supply of trees is not inexhaustible, and thus that forest managers should be able to “examine local conditi ons and respond to them” (Lewis 1999:151). The first objective characterizes the value of trees to environmenta l interest groups, while the second emphasizes the importance of cons idering the needs of local ecosystems, including human inhabitants.


27 The number of local governments with urban forestry agencies and tree ordinances has been growing exponentially si nce the modern environmental movement of the 1960s. In a 2006 article in the APA magazine Zoning Practice Chris Duerksen, Molly Mowery, and Michele McGlyn accurately articulated the stat e of tree ordinance regulations in American municipalities: Tree protection legislation has burgeone d at the local level, with hundreds of communities adopting tree conserva tion ordinances over the last decade… Increasingly rare is the modern development code in a progressive community–urban, suburban and rural alike–that does not have some form of tree or veg etation conserva tion regulation. What we see today as the modern gove rnment-mandated “tree ordinances” are a result of an evolution of tree maintenance gui delines that date back at least to the 18th Century. Around the year 1700, William Penn set standards for tree planting in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, a sserting that the focus of tr ee planting should be on fruit trees, particularly peach and apple trees. Th e purpose of these standards was to provide colonial communities with food to survive and grow (Bailey 1915, p. 1505; Zhang et. Al; Zube 1971). In the 18th century, American city planners be gan to consider the aesthetic value of trees. They were inspired by European residential and urban neighborhoods which were themselves inspired by European gardens such as those of the 17th Century French Baroque era. In Washington D.C. in 1791, Ma jor Pierre-Charles L’Enfant planned out tree-lined radials for the purpos e of allowing “the circulati on of air and light but also troops,” (Plotnik, 7). In 1807, the Territory of Michigan mandated double lines of trees or


28elliptical groves on major ave nues in Detroit city squares to emulate European designs. Thomas Jefferson himself suggested a checker board pattern of trees in city design at around the same time (Plotnik and Arboretum, 2000, pg 6-7). Aesthetic beauty was indeed the primar y value driving tree management laws in early America. In the late 1800s, New Engla nd passed “Nail” laws to distinguish which shade trees were public, first in Massachus etts in 1890, then in Connecticut in 1893, Rhode Island and New Hampshire in 1901, Vermont in 1904, and Maine in 1919 (Richard 2005). In 1892, Washington D.C. passed laws to prevent “girdling, bricking, wounding, destroying, or harming trees in any manner on public or private pr operty” (Zhang et al 166). The Supreme Court in Main e ruled in 1907 that trees as “private property” are still subject to “reasonable regulatory lim itations” (Durkesen and Richman 1993). This was a huge development for urban tree management, and a big step for the power of American government regulation which is ge nerally not supposed to encroach upon its citizen’s private property. The biggest development for urban tr ee management by government regulation was a steep rise of environmentalism in th e 1960s and 1970s. The movement occurred as environmental issues were brought to the fore front of social and po litical conversation, spurred by environmental disasters such as the Three Mile Island nuclear power plant leak, scientific studies on the declining h ealth of the accident of 1979, and books such as Silent Spring by Rachel Carson and The Dream of the Earth by Thomas Berry. In the following decades, sustainability, define d by The World Commission on Environment


29and Development as meeting “the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs” (2004), has become a burning topic the world over, refocusing the purpose of tree ma nagement back to the underlying goal of survival rather th an beautification. As a result, tree ordinances are on th e rise. In 1976, the National Arbor Day Foundation created the Tree City USA program to recognize cities taking steps towards sustainability. The existence and quality of a mu nicipality’s tree ordinances is one of the four requirements to be considered a Tree City USA. In 1984, only 100 communities nationwide had tree protection laws that a pplied to private land. As of 2006, 3,213 Tree City USAs were identified. TYPES AND FUNCTIONS OF TREE ORDINANCES Three categories of tree ordinances ha ve been identified by the International Association of Arboriculture (I SA): street tree ordinances, tree protection ordinances, and view ordinances. Street tree ordinances include provis ions on the planting, maintenance, and removal of trees in public right-of-ways. Right-of-ways include traffic medians, sidewalks, parking lots, parks, and other public or municipality-owned property. These ordinances usually only affect public land, and are designed to cat er to social and biological values, such as comfort, safety, c onservation of “green” sp ace, and aesthetics. They often protect or lay out conditions on the planting and maintenance of a group of trees rather than trees on an individual scale.


30 Tree protection ordinances, on the other hand, dictate provisions on the protection of trees of cultural, historic, and environmen tal significance, most often on a tree-by-tree basis. They often have the authority to ma nage trees on both public and private properties and are not constrained by locat ion, instead dictating manage rial requirements based on aspects of the tree’s character. Usually, tree protection ordinances require permits to be obtained. Permits may be require d to protect individual tree s on private property, and are often required to remove, encroach upon, and in some cases even prune individual trees that are already protected by a permit. This ty pe of ordinance can re quire the protection of native trees, “grand” trees, old trees, sh ady trees, and/or indi vidual trees that are especially beneficial to an ecosystem or community. Finally, view ordinances tend to focus on the location of trees. According to the ISA, this type of ordinance is “designed to help resolve conf licts between property owners that result when trees block vi ews or sunlight” (ISA 2010). Thus, view ordinances can dictate both where trees can be planted spatially, in addition to the height and shape of a tree or group of trees. I think this category should be expanded to include ordinances that are designed to protec t or maintain trees that act as sight or sound buffers between properties and loud or unsightly development, and renamed “sight and sound ordinances.” An additional category of tree ordinances has been emerging recently as studies provide an increasing body of data on the char acter and ecological function of different species of trees. These tree ordinances ar e dictating tree banning rather than tree protection. Law-makers have been pressured by ecologists to ban th e planting of certain trees that are especially detrimental to native human and ecological communities.


31Prohibited trees include non-na tive trees, invasive trees, noxious trees, and rapidly propagating trees. The primary function or these ordinances is to c ontrol the biodiversity of an ecosystem in order to promote ecosystem health and sustainability. G.O.P.S: GOALS, OBJECTIVES, AND POLICIES Trees provide a multitude of benefits to a region, and these benefits have been well documented by social and biological st udies. Tree ordinances thus function to provide these tree benefits to the people. Being a “tree-hugger” became fashionable after the rise of the environmental movement, and since then, aided by the rising concern about climate change, it has been politically practical to satisfy concerned citi zens’ desire to live in a “green” community. In addition to political goals such as consti tuent appeasement, it is now firmly believed that protecting trees is a bi ological necessity, especially since the consensus has been purported in 2007 by expert scie ntists from over 700 countries in the IPCC report that climate change is indeed o ccurring and is indeed being helped along by human activity (Inhofe 2008). These massive plants act as carbon sinks, they filter pollution, they provide biological diversity and habitat, they provide shade to lessen heat island effects, they sequester and cycle storm water, and much more. These factors stimulated concern over a community’s sustainability and became integrated into the goals of urban planners around the time of the environmental movement. The sustainability approach to urban planning expanded into the Smart Growth movement, embraced by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in


322009. The ten Principles of Smart Growth adopted by the EPA include several justifications for the management of tree populations in urban settings, for example principle number four, “create walkable neighborhoods,” and principle number seven, “Preserve open space, farmland, natural beau ty, and critical envi ronment areas” (EPA 2010). In the publication “Getting to Smart Growth” prepared by the Smart Growth Network, one hundred policy ideas are offered to municipalities interested in joining the movement. Policy number 3 under the princi ple “Foster distinctive, attractive communities with a strong sense of place,” suggests the implementation of tree ordinances for both social and biological reasons, with an emphasis on economic benefits. Thus, the goals of tree ordinance impl ementation can be divided into two main categories: social and biological. Social goals include interests such as “quality of life” and mental well-being. Biological goals incl ude interests such as climate change mitigation, climate change adaptation, and ensuring a healthy ecosystem. Social goals tend to be emphasized over biological goals by stakeholders. Environmental supporters trying to create tree ordinances emphasize the economic benefits of trees to city o fficials, and city officials em phasizes economic benefits to developers and the public in order to ga in support for implementing the ordinances. Economic benefits are not the main motivati on to create tree ordinances as can be determined by the tree ordinance boom follo wing the environmental movement of the past forty years, but they just so happen to be a result of sustaina ble development, which can certainly help the movement gain popular ity and justification. Economic benefits of trees include a rise in proper ty values as a result of th e aesthetics provided by trees, a


33lower cost for climate control as trees act to insulate buildings, and as a commercial activity-booster as people prefer to patronize green space. Other social goals of tree management include catering to public environmental interest, preserving historic landscapes, pres erving habitat and w ildlife for economic and recreational purposes, screening sights and sounds between properties, managing safety hazards caused by large dead or dying trees, cr eating an aesthetically pleasing place that gives a memorable first impression, creates a sense of place, and gives people psychological comfort, and encouraging a he althy lifestyle of exercise and social interaction by creating walkable and bike-able spaces. Government management of tree planti ng, removal, and placement on public and private lands is a biologically sensitive matte r, and trees overall affect the ecological makeup of a community more than they affect the social makeup. One of the biggest biological goals of tree management in recent decades has been climate change mitigation (prevention), and climate change ad aptation (dealing with the effects as they come). Climate change is a phenomenon that has been shown “beyond reasonable doubt” to be related to human pollution and wast e; but beyond climate change, which is a controversial issue, environmen tal degradation directly affect s the space we have to put our waste, the quality of our water, air, a nd other necessities, and the amount and types of resources we have to sustain and improve peopl es’ quality of life. In relation to climate change, benefits of trees in clude the sequestration of CO2 (Winjum, Dixon and Schroeder 1992), the increase of permeable surfaces, th e absorption of pollution (Nowak, Crane, and Stevens 2006), the increase of shade which reduces the heat island effect and reduces human exposure to UV light, the creation of walkable/bike-able neighborhoods which


34reduces CO2 from traffic, the prevention of eros ion, the support of biodiversity, and the sustainability of ecosystem services such as water cycling and reten tion. For an extensive list of tree benefits, see Chapter 4 of Benefits and Uses of Urban Forests and Trees (2005), “Benefits and Uses of Urban Forests and Trees” by L. Tyrvainen, S. Pauleit, K. Seeland, and S. de Vries. Another biological goal of tree manageme nt is the preservation of native plants. Native trees tend be less of a nuisance because they have evolved and adapted to be suitable to the biological condi tions of a location. To some degree, the preservation of native plants is a socially defined goal, becau se valuation in general is always socially determined. For example, how long must a speci es have existed here to be considered “native?” According to biologists at the University of Florida, trees are considered native if they were here before the arrival of Columbus (Ramey 2005). Out of about 4,000 different species of plants in Florida, roughly 1,000 of these are non-native, and about 130 + species are proving to be a “nuisance” to native wildlife and ecosystem functioning, i.e. invasive (Ram ey 2005). Some of these tr ees, such as the Brazilian Pepper from Brazil for example, have dest royed healthy ecosystems, spreading like wildfire to devour all the available res ources and wipe-out biological diversity. Thus, instating government regulations ensures that the social and ecological health of a community can be better contro lled. Regulations can dict ate what species and types of trees are planted, where they are plan ted, and how they are cared for in order to maximize the benefits trees can provide. STAKEHOLDERS


35 Society is made up of groups of different types of people rather than a mass of equal individuals. These groups often overla p, expand and contract, split, evolve, and change entirely. Often, groups are separate d by a common interests their members hold, or the values their members represent. Thes e interests or values are known as “stakes,” and the groups divided by interests are know n as “stakeholders.” Trees cause issues between stakeholders because they can be used and valued in many different ways. Whole governments, representing a large commun ity of people and interests, value trees for the substantial economic, social, and political benefits they provide or stimulate for its citizens. For the purpose of this thesis, stakehol ders in the management of trees can be regarded as falling into four groups of affected parties: 1) Developers, 2) Government Workers, and 3) Environmentalists, and 4) Everybody Else. Developers and government workers are th e two stakeholders who deal with tree ordinances directly. Devel opers are people and companies who want to build on or develop on a property. Government workers have an interest in following the orders of whoever is superior to them di rectly, in satisfying the peopl e, and in satisfying their own interests (such as, keeping their jobs). E nvironmentalists by my definition include any person or group who is concerned with the mana gement of a tree or trees in general for altruistic reasons rather than for political or capital gain. Ma ny of the citizens concerned with tree management who are not gove rnment workers or developers are environmentalists, and can be classified as either individual concerned citizens or organizations that represent groups of these citizens such as the non-profits the Sierra


36Club and the TREE Foundation. Fina lly, “Everybody Else” refers to the public at large. In the words of Matt Osterhoudt, “The public is always a stakeholder.” To begin the research to find out how the most relevant stakeholders and the public at large perceive tree ordinances, I inte rview a representative from the first three categories. Although the percep tion of tree ordinances by “Everybody Else” is one of the most important perspectives to consider in a code review, determining this perception is not within my scope of time and resources.


37IV. WHAT ARE THE GOALS, OBJECT IVES, AND POLICIES OF TREE ORDINANCES IN SARASOTA COUNTY? Sarasota County, not to be confused with the City of Sarasota, a municipality within Sarasota County that follows a diffe rent set of ordinances to satisfy the Comprehensive Plan’s objectives, has at this moment in time four primary tree ordinances. All four are modi fied, consolidated, and expanded from ordinances from as far back as 1983. They include 1. ARTI CLE XVIII. TREE PROTECTION, 2. ARTICLE IV. CANOPY ROADS, 3. ARTICLE III. STREET TREES, and 4. ARTICLE XIX. EXOTIC PLANTS. “We are always working on an ordinance or amendment,” says Matt Osterhoudt. It’s hard to pin down the exact date an ordi nance was started and the date that it was passed because amendments are being adopted frequently; at least every three years according to Osterhoudt. For example, the Tree Protection ordinance was apparently adopted December 18, 2007, but amended the pr evious art. XVIII which “was comprised of… Ord. No. 83-044, adopted Aug. 2, 1983; Ord. No. 95-002, adopted Feb. 21, 1995; Ord. No. 98-029, adopted June 2, 1998; Or d. No. 2002-002, adopted May 22, 2002; Ord. No. 2002-31, adopted Oct. 9, 2002; Ord. No. 2003-027, adopted Nov. 12, 2003; Ord. No. 2004-039, adopted April 14, 2004; and Ord. No. 2005-061, adopted Nov. 15, 2005” ( 2010). Indeed, adding to existing ordinances, or consolidating ordinances, saves a lot of time and effort th at would go into scrappi ng old ordinances and writing an entirely new one. It adds efficiency to the code of regulations by placing random clauses into a common-theme code, a nd is supposed to make it easier for the lawmakers, citizens, and others who must deal with these rules.


38 As mentioned before, Sarasota County strives to be sustai nable, integrating sustainability language into many regulations, and being recognized for its efforts as a Sustainable City USA for nearly 20 consecutive years. The very firs t “Finding of fact” on the street tree ordinance does not sugar coat Sarasota County’s view of itself: “Sarasota County is perceived by residents and visitors alike as a place of exceptional beauty and this perception is an important reason people enjoy living and working here” ( 2010:Article III. Sec. 98-71 (1)). Sarasota is, indeed, home to many retirees and affluent folk, a nd due to its extensive beautiful free beaches, it is also a popular tourist destina tion. On, Sara sota comes up in the top ten destinations in the state of Florida. has an extensive Environmental Services site, and clearly states its mission on each page: “to protect, conserve and enhance our natural resources by blending the needs of today with a vision for tomorrow.” On the home page, government regulations to meet these ends are justified by pointing out th at yes, the government has the power and responsibility to address and pr otect the environment, but it should not be an escape from each citizen’s personal responsibility: “Government has regulatory responsibility for many of thes e functions, but you can help, too” ( All three interviewed stakeholders, th e developer, government work ers, and environmentalist, made it clear that this was their notion as well; that the government has the power, but should not be an easy way out from personal responsibility. We must keep in mind that when the government is used as an escape rout e for responsibility, it can then easily be a scapegoat when things go wrong. On the website, as well as in the “findings of fact and purpose of article” of each


39tree ordinance, Sarasota County justifies the existence of its many environmental programs and regulations. On, over twenty bene fits of trees are id entified to justify Sarasota County’s tree ordinances. They fo cus on economic benefits, highlighting about seven economic benefits ranging from heighten ed property values to attracting tourists, and in general focus on social benefits ove r biological benefits Biological benefits, however, are identified, including carbon seque stration, wildlife hab itat, water cycling and retention increase, and pollution absorp tion. Interestingly, even the biological benefits equate to social be nefits and economic gains. On the website itself, many valu es, or the more popular term “benefits,” of trees are identified. These benefits focus on the personal gains th e citizens acquire, and permeate the discussion with the term “quality of life” quite often. Over 30 individual benefits are identified on the first page al one, ranging from “the county can save over $2 billion annually in energy cost savings” as a result of tree shade, all the way to “surrounded by greens capes, psychiatric patien ts exhibit heightened socialization and reduced negative behavior.” It is apparent by looking at the language, “quality of life,” to the individual points made, that the social value of trees is the value the county appears to care most about. This makes sense, consideri ng the social body, or “the public,” is the stakeholder that demands environmental regul ations, and who the regulations are written to protect. As determined from the density of the ordinance, the number of rules laid out by the ordinance, and from talking to go vernment employees, the following is an explanation of each ordinance. They’ve been se parated into analyses of the clarity of the


40goals set by each ordinance, the values id entified by each ordinance, and the relative amount that each ordinance protects the values of the government (e.g., ease of enforcing the ordinance) or the values of the ci tizens (e.g., ease of following the ordinance): A. ARTICLE XVIII. TREE PROTECTION ORDINANCE This ordinance is the county’s main tree protection ordina nce, as the name suggests, and was initiated in 1983. The main regulations of this ordinance include the requirement of permits concerning any ac tivity involving trees in Sarasota County, particularly during large-lot developmen t, the infamous “Grand Tree Protection” regulations in Sec. 54-588 (b), mitigation requirements for trees removed during the development process, and the requirement of 1:2,000 ratio of tr ees on any lot being developed, meaning one tree for ev ery 2,000 square feet of property. (i) GOALS AND VALUES The most recent version of the tree protection ordinance was adopted in 2007, expanded to 17 pages 12 pt. font single-spac ed from the 2005 version’s 15 pages. The newer version is more specific about its goal s and definitions, and adds a clause about omitting the protection of invasive species in opening section, “Findings of fact.” The “Findings of fact” section incl udes all of the benefits and va lues that the ordinance aims to protect. Also in “Findings of fact,” the pur pose of the ordinance is clearly stated at the end whereas in the old, this statement of purpose was not clearly laid out: “ It is the objective of this article to safeguard the publ ic health, safety, and welfare through Tree


41Protection to promote the findings of this article by following the guidelines herein .” The next section is a vital tool for cl arity, the “Definitions” section. One of the most important definitions to note defines “p ermits.” Permits are a confusing concept in terms of tree protection. Does one need a pe rmit to keep any tree? Does one need a permit to take one down? The answer to both questions is yes: “Tree Permit. The legal authorization of Tree Rem oval, Tree Relocation, and/or the requirement for Tree Protection and/or Tree planti ngs on a Lot, pursuant to the provisions of this article” ( 2010:Article XVIII. Tree Prot ection. Sec. 54-582). As Matt Osterhoudt says, “A Permit means, if you meet these requirements, you can do this.” The Tree Protection ordinance lays out what you n eed a permit for: a. Tree Removal, b. Tree Relocation, and c. Initiating developmen t when there are trees on a property. (ii) GOVERNMENT VERSUS PUBLIC VALUE PREVALANCE Right up at the front of the ordinance is the “Administration” section, Sec. 54583, which lays out the provisions of the ordi nance, and acts as an interpretation guide. Several things are of note in this section. First, that “Fees charged will substantially financed the expenditures of Tree protection re lated activities.” In other words, the tree protections ordinances somewh at pay for themselves; not as many tax dollars are going into the maintenance and ope ration of tree protection as we may think. Second, this section specifies that the provisions in this ordinance are “minimum requirements,” for the purpose of “effectuat[ing] the purpose of this article.” This leaves room for staff discretion in their d ecision-making, but also makes it clea r that, as Matt Osterhoudt says, “It’s not important whether you issue a permit or not; it’s, wh at’s the outcome of that


42permit being issued” (Personal In terview with Matt Osterhoudt) He says that he and the rest of the staff work under the philosophy “o f trying to make things use-friendly. It’s about outcomes. It’s about getting rid of the bureaucracy. It’s about efficiency, and actually achieving what everyone wants it to ach ieve.” That outcome or objective is, as stated before, achieving the benefits outlined in the “Findings of fact” section of the ordinance. Finally, in this section, it is mandate d that “where this artic le conflicts with or overlaps another ordinance or st atute, whichever imposes the more stringent restrictions for the protection of Trees shall prevail.” This lends itself to our notion that the government usually opts to give itself more power rather than less, and to be more strict rather than flexible. It is unknown, however, if the public requested th is line in an open workshop. Regardless, the line is consistent w ith the county’s goals of protecting trees as much as possible. The next important section is Sec. 54 -585. Exemptions. Exemptions are extremely important because they allow staff to be flex ible, allowing the ordinance to be litigated on a case-by-case basis rather than a rigid catch-a ll for every tree in the county. For instance, the first exemption is for exotic invasive sp ecies. This exemptions takes care of the disastrous pitfall illustrated in the introduction of this paper. Exotic species are extremely harmful to local environments. It also hi ghlights safety, saying that in emergency situations, for example if a dead tree is about to fall on home, a permit is not necessary to remove that tree. Finally, lots 5 acres or smaller on which the owner resides, is not required to meet the tree ration requirements. Section 54-586 outlines permitting criteria and procedures. One important thing to note from this section is the exemption of trees that “unreasonably prevent the


43Development of Lot” ( 2010, Article XVIII. Tree Pr otection. Sec. 54-586 (3)). This is an important clause that w ill be discussed more thoroughly in the next chapter. This exemption lends itself to severa l interesting points: it allows the people who have the final say to make value choices a bout what is “reasonable” or “unreasonable;” the point that despite the importance of trees the protection of i ndividual trees doesn’t necessarily ensure ecosystem health; and the point that the protection of capital will typically win out over th e protection of trees. Later in the ordinance we finally h ear about the county’s education goals regarding tree protection. Sec. 54-587. Public education is a single paragraph, 6 lines long. It basically says that Administrati on shall develop an education program. Other important sections of this ordi nance include Sec. 54-588, Tree protection during the development of land, which speaks to Best Management Practices, Grand Tree Protection criteria, and tree planting a nd replacement requirements; Sec. 54.590. Responsible Parties, which outlines exactly who the ordinance applies to and who is responsible when the ordinance is no t followed; Sec. 54-591. Compliance and enforcement, which outlines enforcement procedures and penalty procedures, and allocates the responsibility of fund disburseme nt to the General Manager of the Natural Resources Department for only specific project s; and finally, the very last section, Sec. 54-593 which states that “If any provision of this article is for any reason finally held invalid or unconstitutional by any court of competent jurisd iction, such provision shall be deemed a separate, distinct, and independent provision and such holding shall not affect the validity of the remaining provision,” wh ich again lends to a flexibility in the applicability of this ordina nce which may or may not be favorable to the ordinance’s


44goals. B. ARTICLE III. STREET TREES This ordinance, initiated as far back as 1988 and amended as recently as 2001 (possibly 2005), with the bulk coming from around 1997/98, dictates the rules for any activity affecting trees in public rights-of wa y, requires permits for any activity a member of the public would like to engage in regard ing trees in public rights-of-way, allows for the designation of “Specimen or Historic Tr ees on public property,” and creates the Sarasota Tree Advisory Council. (i) GOALS AND VALUES The first thing one will notice in reading the “Findings of fact” section of this ordinance is that all of the points made are largely assu mptions about Sarasota’s natural beauty and the perceptions of its citizens. Surely these assumptions are based on valid materials and observations, but these materials are not cite d nor referenced in any way. Regardless, they define the county’s c onception of the stat e and purpose of its community, both socially and ecologically. The “Statement of Purpose,” Sec. 98-72, has its own separate section, unlike the tree protection ordinance which onl y mentions it in a clause. Th is section clearly lays out the objectives of the ordinance. It recognizes that “native species are preferred but are not required as long as the non-nati ve species is proven benign to the natural ecosystem of the County,” and that “plants with similar cultural needs shall be grouped;” these are


45biologically sustainable regulat ions. It also proposes that “canopy Trees shall be planted wherever space permits” which supports social sustainability. It goes on to recognize that the role of trees and other pl ants is to produce oxygen and wa ter vapor, to cleanse water, stabilize soil, provide habitat, reduce noise and glare, and supply shade and cooling. The final purpose in this section is to “Promote the interests of peopl e of Sarasota County through enhancing the beauty of the County and strengthen ing its ecological health.” Thus, right in the statement of purpose, we find biological and social considerations through a) special considerations for the street trees’ biological characteristics, b) tree benefits, and c) the connection of the ordinance to the public’s desires. Several regulations are laid out by this ordinance that gi ve us a better idea of how the County values trees. Guidelines for permissive removal of trees include the sightliness of the tree, the potential for harm the tree may possess, and if the tree “unreasonably prevents devel opment of a lot…” (Municode.c om 2010, Article III. Street Trees. Sec. 98-77 (b)(1-8)). The guidelines also mention biological justification, such as criteria (5) which allows the removal if the tr ee “Is determined to be a pest or invasive species.” (ii) GOVERNMENT VERSUS PUBLIC VALUE PREVALENCE This ordinance is a way for the govern ment to regulate itself, and its own activities involving trees. The first provision of this ordinance is for “the planting, maintenance, and perseveration of Trees and other plantings in Stre et Rights-of-Way and other public open spaces [to]… conform to… guidelines for landscape design” ( 2010, Article III. Street Trees. Sec. 98-72. (1)). In other words, this


46ordinance specifies the guidel ines that the county itself must follow when planting, removing, or affecting trees in any way on public property, and for authorizing this activity. Second, this ordinance requires permits to be issued for anyone to alter any tree on any parcel of public property, also known as “public rights-of-way.” Part of the regulation, Sec. 98-78 (a), refers the reader to Ordinance 81-12 for criteria to receive a Right-of-Way Use Permit. Whether or not this makes it easier for the person attempting to comply with the ordinance or not is up to speculation. Referencing another code keeps the size of the ordinance at hand down, but it seems that switching from ordinance to ordinance to figure out what to do if I want to landscape in a public right-of-way is a bit of a strain. Another point to note is that in the de signation of Historic or Specimen Trees, Sec. 98-83 leaves the designation to the di scretion of the BCC ba sed on vague criteria such as “age, size or type, or quality of uni queness.” This makes it more difficult to know when exactly a tree qualifies as a specimen or historic tree, and allows the BCC to name any tree or reject any tree as a specimen or historic tree at whim. No evidence or justification seems to be need ed for trees to be named historic or specimen. This may be for the benefit of protecting mo re trees with less hassle. Finally, this ordinance abolishes the ol d Street Tree Advisory Council and creates from it a more influential advisory board called the Tree Advisory Council ( 2010, Article III. Street Trees. Sec. 98-74). With the same members of the old council, the new council is responsib le for making recommendations to the Board of County Commissioners (BCC) regarding revi sions to all tree ordi nances, rather than


47solely the Street Tree Ordinance. Also, the council is responsible for “the dissemination of public information” while at the same ti me must “carry out other such duties as the Board of County Commissioners may require.” In other words, the council is a vital link between the BCC and public, but at the same time is under strict c ontrol of the BCC and could be asked to do anything regarding trees that the BCC sees fit. Although the council adds an element of public influence to the activities of the BCC, this clause ( 2010, Article III. Street Trees. Sec.98-74 (2) Duties of the Council ) also dictates that the BCC has total control over the council’s capabilitie s and can change the direction of the council at will. C. ARTICLE IV. CANOPY ROADS A canopy road refers to a road that is shaded by a “canopy” of tree foliage; the canopy refers to high-up branches that interlock or extend from one side of the road to the other, creating a relatively so lid archway of trees. This or dinance allows the government to protect certain trees locat ed on public right-of-ways that create canopies over the road next to which they stand. The ordinance protects trees located on a Canopy Road Zone, which is “A designated section of County Right -of-Way and the adjacent private property extending 15’ from edge of Right-of-Way onto adjacent Private Property” ( 2010, Article IV. Canopy Roads. Sec. 98-92). Mandated by this ordinance, no one is allowed to alter a tree on a designated Canopy Road without authorization from the BCC. In order to become a Canopy Road protected by this ordinance, the BCC must pass a resolution deemi ng it as such.


48 (i) GOALS AND VALUES The “Findings of fact” are separated in to three sections. Section (1) punches the economic value of trees: “ …native oaks and other trees … give the County a unique visual character and enhance property values.” Section (2) emphasizes the social value of trees: “preservation… of healthy oaks… will ma intain their historic, aesthetic, cultural, and environmental value.” Section (3) then goe s into the biological values of trees, but stays focused on the social and economic be nefits: economic“a. to increase economic value…” biological“c. To aid in the reduc tion of air pollution…” and social“g. To conserve… the aesthetic and scenic beauty of the County.” (omitted bullet points are redundant). Like the Street Trees ordinance, the “S tatement of Purpose” has its own section, Sec. 98-93. The statement is pointed and speci fic to protecting canopy trees in Sarasota County rather than all trees, and doesn’t mention a greater objective such as promoting sustainability. It seems that all of these tree ordinan ces so far make exemptions for invasive exotic species. This indicates a careful biol ogical consideration fo r the health of the ecosystem behind these regulations rather th an a knee-jerk “save the trees” attitude (Article IV. Canopy Roads. Sec. 98-96. Exempti ons. (7)). In order to be considered an official Canopy Road, the trees must “consis t of a minimum of 75 percent native and naturalized species” ( 2010, Article IV. Canopy Roads. Sec. 98-97. Canopy Road Designation. (b)(3)).


49(ii) GOVERNMENT VERSUS PUBLIC VALUE PREVALENCE One question I had at the beginning of this study was whether or not the government must go through a process, whether it be an application process to another division or an electing process or the like, when it wants to affect a tree protected by its own ordinances. The answer, I have found, is clearly indicated in Article IV. Canopy Roads. Sec. 98-96. Exemptions. Clause (3) i ndicates that “Tree Removal necessary for the construction of public roads, utilities, landfills, stormwater facilities, or other government uses only where no reasonable altern ative exists to preserve the Protected Tree” is allowed, and “no reasonable alternativ e” is up to the BCC to decide. Once again, a lot of power placed in the hands of a few, who do not necessarily have to justify their actions to anyone except ultimately their consti tuents if they wish to be elected for another term. In passing a resolution to ma ke a road an official “canopy road,” “standards shall be set by Resolution after an a dvertised public meeting” (Article IV. Canopy Roads. Sec. 98-97. Canopy Road designation. (a)). In addi tion, “requests for Canopy Roads can be made by residents, County Staff, and the St reet Tree Advisory Council [which should be changed to Tree Advisory Council]” (Muni 2010, Article IV. Canopy Roads. Sec. 98-97. Canopy Road Designation. a.). If anyone wants to disturb a tree protect ed by virtue of being with the CRZ on a Canopy Road, the process is quite long and involved. E-mails must be sent, permits must be applied for, assessments and/or surveys by certified arborists must be made, guidelines for preserving the “drip line” as well as many other criteria must be followed, signs must be posted, construction and othe r types of equipment but stay a certain distance from the


50trees, and a final inspection af ter the project must be made, to name the bulk of the requirements. But does the government have to go through a similar process if it wants to disturb a canopy tree, or can BCC members wave their hands and disturb the tree if they see fit? The answer is, interestingl y but not surprisingly enough, the latter ( 2010, Article IV. Canopy Tr ees, Sec. 98-98 through Sec. 98-99). With this ordinance, as with all the ordi nances discussed thus far, one is permitted to make an appeal to the BCC if they are ag grieved by any provisions of the ordinance. For Article III. Street Trees and Article IV. Canopy Roads, fees cannot exceed $500.00, where as violation of the Grand Tree clause in Article XVIII. Tr ee Protection can incur $500.00 per diameter inch (“the diameter of the trunk measured at brea st height, which is 54 inches above the ground” ( 2010, Article XVIII. Tree Protection. Sec. 54-582. Definitions)) ( 2010, Artic le XVIII. Tree Protection Sec. 54-591. Compliance and enforcement. (b) Enforcement and Penalties. (3)b.) D. ARTICLE XIX. EXOTIC PLANTS This ordinance officially bans “The Importation, Transportation, Sale, propagation, or Planting of the following plant species is prohibited in Sarasota County: (1) Melaleuca (Melaleuca quinque nervia). (2) Australian Pi ne (Casuarina spp.). (3) Brazilian Pepper (Schinus terebinthifolius) (4) Carrotwood (Cupaniops is anacardioides). (5) Chinese Tallow (Sapium sebiferum). (6) Beach Naupaka (Scaevola taccada or Scaevola sericea Vahl.).” ( 2010, Ar ticle XIX. Exotic Plants. Sec. 54-624. Prohibitions.). There is no allowance in this ordinance for appeal. In fact, “the Board may


51enforce this article by any other means provi ded by law, and may further enforce this article by actions at law and in equity, including actions for injunctive relief, and, if the County prevails in any such action, the C ounty shall be entitled to its costs and reasonable attorneys' fees incurred in su ch action” ( 2010, Article XIX. Exotic Plants. Sec. 54-626. Enforcement and Penalties.). These species in particular are on Flor ida’s Exotic Pest Plant Council “Category 1” list, meaning they threaten “to displace native species and alter ecological processes,” and have been “deemed” by the BCC as the plants that Sarasota County must be most mindful of (SCG Forestry, 2007). There is litt le justification with in the ordinance or elsewhere as to why these species specifically are to be banned rather than all exotic invasives within the state of Florida. It is probably based on a valu e judgment rather than a scientific finding. It must be noted that in any case wher e a species is banned, a value decision is being made. It is true that exotic spec ies may alter the species composition of an ecosystem, but it is also true that plant and animal species in a location change naturally all the time. Ultimately, we must answer th e question of why we value native species over exotic species. One answer is that e xotics tend to out-compete and overgrow all native species, creating a monoculture, which is not healthy for the food chain, resource use, aesthetics, or truly anything. E. SYNTHESIZING ANALYSES: INFE RENCES AND QUESTIONS RAISED From the “Findings of fact” of these four tree ordinances, it can be inferred that


52Sarasota values its trees primarily for their soci al benefits; particularly, for their ability to attract visitors and residents, and keep vis itors coming back and re sidents from leaving. This specific social benefit lends itself to economic value. Keeping residents and attracting visitors not only keeps money fl owing in the county, but also boosts the county’s reputation as a desirabl e place to be, increasing the chances for a continual flow of capital. The fact that social and economic be nefits outshine the ecological benefits supports Rex Jensen’s theory that the tr ee ordinance laws are “emotive knee-jerk reactions” to environmental sentiments borne by the environmental movement. If social values are the prevailing values indicated throughout the ordinances rather than all values that make sustainability possibl e (i.e., ecological values), it’s logical to believe that they are the sole values that spurred the creation of the County’s tree laws. However, it could be that the ordinances reflect mostly social values rather than all-around sustainability benefits because the ordinances are in large part written by the people themselves (through in tensive public workshops). The people or lawmakers may actually understand that there is a holistic reasons for them although the majority of the public may know little about the biological necessity and benefits of ecosystem management, but the social benefits allo w the biological benefits to be achieved surreptitiously. As for the strength of the government’s control over activitie s involving trees in Sarasota County, it must be recognized th at the BCC is the county’s ultimate policymaking body, and as such has complete author ity over all actions in the county within reason. That’s what they are there for, and that is why we elected ea ch individual to serve


53on the Board as a democratic nation that voluntar ily elects to give a lo t of power to a few. What these sections of this paper allow us to do is speculate over what “within reason” truly means, in regards to the amount of ecological management responsibilities we allocate to our local government and whethe r or not our governing bodies should have to undergo the same processes to disturb trees as its citizens. Should every decision be up for public discussion so that technical and local experts may be involved, or should the BCC be allowed to do as it sees fit? If ev ery decision were up for public discussion, would it not slow down development to a near stand-still? Is there a way to compromise so that the BCC can be informed by local and technical experts without involving every member of the public in every single decision? Because these ordinances are all written at different times, sometimes with a different set of stakeholders, and sometimes w ith different scopes, we find a distinct lack of uniformity in the ordinances. Should they all extend the same goal of respecting an equal amount of social, biological, and econom ic values? Should they not all mention somewhere in the “Findings of fact” that Sa rasota County is strivi ng for sustainability, and preserving the county’s trees, particular ly the native species, is a positive step towards this goal? Finally, should ordinances cite information to justify specific data such as units of measurement and species to be protected in its provisions guidelines for credibility purposes? F. THE NEW CONSOLIDATED ORDINANCE: “TREES”


54 As Matt Osterhoudt said, there is always an ordinance or ordinance amendment in the works at any given time. Currently, Os terhoudt and his team are working to consolidate three of the aforementioned tree ordinances, Tree Pr otection, Street Trees, and Canopy Trees, into one ordinance entitled “Trees” under the di rection of the BCC. This project will take less work than a bl ank-page ordinance or amendment, or an ordinance or amendment written from scratc h, but may have greater implications than your run-of-the-mill ordinance. One reason the ordinance “Exotic Plants” may not be going into this new ordinance is because exot ics are already addressed in all three tree ordinances to exclude their protection. Also, banning the plan ting and trading of exotic pest plants is a completely di fferent breed of ordinance than the other three; the former is designed to ban all trees of specific species, th e latter three are designed to protect trees in certain locations and circumstances. In a ddition the former includes all “plants” while the latter is specific to trees. The idea to consolidate the three ordinan ces was generated about a year ago after the staff of Natural Resources was given an assignment to brainstorm ways to enhance the total tree canopy in Sarasota. (Local governments sometimes like to think of ecological management in terms of trees al one, particularly “tree cover” which easily translates to “canopy cover,” which can be de termined by satellite image overlays that take a lot of time and effort to collect). “We talked about everything from tree tr imming to planting more trees, to how can we design all of our projects to respect trees,” to put into a report for the BCC, per BCC request. From that analysis, the work ing staff thought “wow, we have three ordinances to protect trees, do we need all th ree?” According to Osterhoudt, “It’s all just


55TREES” (Personal Intervie w with Osterhoudt 2010). When the BCC gave the Natural Res ources staff direc tion to explore consolidating the codes, they di dn’t tell them to make the code more or less stringent, and they did not tell them to change anything that any of the codes say; no changes in G.O.P.s. The process for consolidating these co des is pretty straight forward and simple compared to typical ordinances and amendm ents they are assigned to work on. Although there is a lack of uniformity in content regarding the values addressed, all three ordinances contain pretty much the same categories of sections. The staff has already turned out a compre hensive first draft for the new ordinance. It is basically Article XVIII. Tree Protection, with clauses, definitions, and bullet points from the other two injected where the sta ff found fitting. In the “F indings of fact” the more poignant values have been added, such as the purpose stated in Canopy Roads, “.. to maintain [trees’] historic, aesthetic, cultu ral, and environmental value;” and to protect “the health, safety, welfar e, and economic well-being of the residents and property owners of Sarasota County” (Personal Interview with Osterhoudt 2010, Ordinance Amendment for Chapter 54 Article XVIII, “Trees” Sec. 54-581 (1n) and (1p)). Adding to the justification of this co nsolidated ordinance over three separate ordinances, the goal of creating this new ordina nce is clear within the “Findings of fact” section: “To provide for great er efficacy in the protecti on and regulation of trees,” (Personal Interview with Osterhoudt 2010, Ordinance Am endment for Chapter 54 Article XVIII, “Trees” Sec. 54-581 (1g)). It is natural for the government to want to consolidate. Consolidating is supposed to save effort and money. Often, however, it can do the opposite. Simply taking the time


56to consolidate is using up effort and m oney when the ordinances were acceptably functional as they were. Also, it may end up creating a jumbled Frankenstein ordinance when it would have been easier for the citizens interested in the regulations for a specific activity to find the information they are looking for in three specific, segregated ordinances. On the other hand, despite a tree’ s species, location, or function, a “tree” is a “tree,” and anyone looking for information on a law affecting a tree will know to look in this one ordinance to eventually find what they are looking for, rather than looking through all three. Overall, because the three ordinances being combined have similar objectives (protecting trees in general, and first and foremost protecting the social and economic benefits of trees specifically), consolidati ng the ordinances is by no means a harmful or ludicrous exercise for the Natural Resources department to be undertaking. If in the end the outcomes are more beneficial than they were prior, then the BCC will likely pass the amendment.


57V. DIFFERING PERSPECTIVES: CAN SARASOTA IMPROVE ITS TREE ORDINANCE REGULATIONS? Any government policy will always have a group or groups of people behind it and another group or groups of people agains t it, and a whole mess of other groups in between. The groups with the extreme opini ons are usually stakeholders; people who have a stake in the outcome of the policy. Pe ople reflexively choose sides based on their values, and their values are usually what comprise their stakes. The stakeholders that deal with tree ordi nances can be separa ted into four major groups: Developers, the Government, Envir onmentalists, and as Matt Osterhoudt indicated, “the public is al ways a stakeholder” (Personal Interview 2010). These categories can be further separated into mo re specific types of each stakeholderfor instance, large-lot developers and small-lot developers but due to time and resource constraints, I have chosen the most re levant stakeholders from each category. To represent Developers in Saraso ta County, I interviewed Rex Jensen, the president and chief executive officer of th e parent corporation (Schroeder Manatee Ranch) that owns a huge, thriving secti on of Sarasota County known as Lakewood Ranch. This company owns about 50 square m iles of property in Sarasota and Manatee Counties, so not only does Jensen represent a “large” developer (a developer who develops regions of a county ra ther than individual lots at a time), but he has a unique perspective of dealing with bureaucracy in both Manatee and Sarasota Counties. His stakes include the success of his company, his reputation with the residents of his developments, the ease and length of time it takes to develop, and the success of his development (both for finance and future development next door; more than half the land


58his company owns has not yet been developed) He also provided me with some insight into the stakes of small a nd medium-sized developers. “Government Workers,” even when s caled down to only pertain to local government, Sarasota County, is a huge nebul ous stakeholder. I chose to narrow the category to the division that deals with tree or dinances most directly and most often, the Natural Resources department. Then I chos e the most relevant member of this department. This person is Matt Osterhoudt, the Manager of Natura l Resource Protection for Sarasota County’s Environmental Services His job is to write and amend all of Sarasota County’s tree ordinances, and ma nage all of the ecological-management activities of the Natural Resources divi sion. Osterhoudt’s stakes may include the prolongation of his career, the intensity of his job duties, credentials he can earn from doing a good job and the possibi lity of rising within the government, and his personal valuation of trees. Not withsta nding his stakes, Osterhoudt offe rs that his division plays a strictly mediating, neutral ro le in tree protection: “ We want to make sure we are the fa cilitators of information. We have a lot of experts, but we don’t know w hat the stakeholders are thinking, and we don’t know market trends, so we have to be very careful not be the owners of these ordinances. We take an honest look at what’s going on with these options. It’s kind of autom atic and it’s not said too much but it’s really important. If you do the op posite you’re obviously from day one steering the conversation. We can’t do that. We have to be able to pass the straight-faced test. The BCC has to trus t that what we say to them is what the community told us. We are th ere for them to understand the public ”


59(Personal Interview 2010). Finally, I chose to interview an environm entalist because out of all the citizens in the general public, the environm entalists are the people who car e most about the state of the county’s trees. Jono Miller has lived in Sarasota County since 1970. At age 12 he had his own greenhouse, his first j ob was in a greenhouse, he gr aduated from New College of Florida with a BA in environmental studies and later he formed an environmental consulting company. He has sat on over ten environmental advi sory councils for Sarasota County, and currently is the chair of the Environmental Policy Task Force. He knows several developers personally through different social networks such as his environmental consulting firm, and he interacts frequen tly with Osterhoudt and other government officials regularly as well. Although his life has been dedica ted to the environment, for example, he lead the local Sierra Club chap ter for 25 years, his political views regarding ecological management are unique. “ I represent myself, I don’t repres ent any particular organization. I have always been a plant person. I’ve done research to try to understand local trees. I’m very emotionally attached to trees, when I see a tree I’ve cared about get cut down I get sad and angry. My political views are sort of libertarian; I support prot ecting trees but there’s a certain property rights aspect to my thinking ” (Personal Interview with Miller 2010). Jono’s stakes include his personal spiritual connection with nature in general and trees in particular, the benef its he personally receives from trees such as shade for his home and habitat for the wildlife he enj oys observing, and his ability to live and landscape comfortably in his Sarasota home.


60 These men share a stake/value that affects their perspective on tree ordinances: all three depend heavily upon both the sustai nability of the environment and on the sustainability of their financial income. To tell the truth, the same can be said for all Americans, but these three men face challenges regarding ecological sustainability almost constantly in their careers. Both Miller ’s and Osterhoudt’s careers depend on the environment directly, but at the same time both of them need to make money to live. On the flip side, Jensen’s career depends upon development and income, but in order to develop he must work closely with the e nvironment. From Jensen’s interview: “ I consider myself first and foremo st a businessman who believes the environment can make a huge amount of business sense. These issues are interrelated…. Water shortages, tr affic problems, power outages… they cause me to lose shareholders. The mo re efficient a home is built the lower the electric bills… the more affordable the community is to live in, the more attractive my community is. I wasn’t hit on the head by captain planet when I was a kid but I be lieve there is no wall between good business and environmental consciousness. I believe you can take each one too far. It’s about balance ” (Personal In terview 2011). Osterhoudt received his college degree in Biology while Miller’s degree is in Environmental Studies, so it can be assumed th at from early on they both valued nature as something more than commodity. Jensen on the other hand received his degrees in economics, political science, and law, and ha s indicated that he pe rceives trees almost exclusively as a business tool. Protecting nature, to Jensen, “Is just good business” (Personal Interview 2011). Surpri singly, however, Miller and Jensen have more similar


61views on Sarasota County’s tree ordinances than Miller and Osterhoudt, although all three recognize trees as extremely important to sustainability and quality of life. During their interviews, all three indicated that the most contentious moment in the history of Sarasota’s tr ee ordinances was in the development of an ordinance amendment that would protect grand tree seedlings entitled the “Baby Grand Tree Ordinance.” A number of e-ma ils were circulated between big-name (though compared to Jensen, medium-sized) developers and county commissioners, and between environmentalists around Sarasota County. Mi ller and Jensen forwarded me some of these e-mails, and from them we can analy ze the perspectives of several groups of stakeholders in Sarasota County. CASE STUDY: “BABY GRAND TREE ORDINANCE” Osterhoudt and his team work-shopped this contentious ordinance through 2009 and a couple developers finally got wind of its existence in October. By November, the bill was dead. As developer Bob Waechter says in his e-mail, the ordinance “ got within two weeks of coming before the BCC totally under the radar screen ” (E-mail Correspondence with Miller and Jensen 2010). If Waechter had been paying attention to the county website and other places where ope n meetings are advertised, perhaps he would have attended some of them to discu ss the ordinance; and pe rhaps he is unaware that ordinances and ordinance amendments go before the BCC for direction several times before they are finally passe d at a public hearing. The point being, the county probably did not purposely hide the development of su ch an ordinance from any group of citizens


62such as developers. Nevertheless, Waechter and a developer by the name of Henry Rodriguez, both representing companies that do not develop qui te as much land in Sarasota County as Rex Jensen, were not too happy about the ordina nce being proposed. Part of this may have been because Rodriquez thought it was already passed: “ I can’t believe what I just heard. Is it true that the county has passed a ‘Baby Grand Tree Ordinance’?” This indicates just how closely these developers pay attention to ordinance-developing activities of the county’s administration. Regardless, the mere idea was enough to start a war. Waechter and Rodriguez sent scathing le tters directly to members of the BCC and started using insults to illustrate their displeasure: “ How about: increase our ta x base, stimulate local economic development in some way othe r than going to fuzzy feel good self congratulatory luncheons… as the kids today are prone to say. WTF?” Waechter accused them (E-mail Correspondence with Miller and Jensen 2010). An environmentalist by the name of Bill Zoller of the Board of Directors for Citizens for Sensible Growth 2008, sent a coun ter e-mail to the commissioners to plead for the bill’s passage. He argued that a) th e Tree Advisory Committee, a team of tree experts, proposed the bill, b) that 2-1 majority Sarasota voters asked for increased levels of protection for natural resources by passing the Sensible Growth Charter and Environmentally Sensitive Lands initiative, a nd c) that if they choose to listen to Rodriguez and Waecther over himself and other environmentalists, it would appear that the BCC is listening more to special interests th an the desires of the “people” in order to gain funds for re-election. Although his argum ents have merit, point number 2 doesn’t necessarily indicate that a so lid 70% of Sarasotans would want the baby grand tree


63ordinance passed. Developer Henry Rodriguez on the other hand said of course most Sarasotans want it passed, just look at th e name! It has the word “baby” in it! He insisted that the emotive reaction elicited from anything “g reen” will receive full support with little investigation or research. “ If it comes out of Natural Resources, somehow it is politically incorrect to vote against things they produce or no one wants to say no. People are creatures too. The mere fact that it is called ‘the Baby Grand Tree Ordinance’ was a masterful name and who on earth would vote against something with that title? ” (E-mail Correspondence with Miller and Jensen 2010). His point backs up a topic that came up in my interview with Jensen. Yes, trees may have been here long before us and have intrinsic value in addition to the value they hold in human survival and quality of life, but “a tree doesn’t pay pr operty taxes.” I think the point these men are getting at is that pe ople are a part of natu re, and the line between nature and people is theoretically fuzzy. If the line is so fuzzy, then perhaps we need to conceptualize a new kind of human environmen t that incorporates trees more, and a new kind of forest that incorporates human beings more. Meanwhile, Jono Miller was e-mailing the commissioners about his unique stance as a homeowner, environmentalist, arborist, a nd libertarian. He pointed out several issues with the proposed ordinance. First, he point s to the biological issu es with protecting baby grand trees: 1) At what point is a seedling a baby tree? Should we protect grand tree seeds as well? 2) There is not enough eviden ce that the American Elm and Bald Cypress,


64two grand trees protected by Sarasota County la w, are native to Sarasota County, 3) The Cabbage Palm, one of Sarasota’s “ most important shade trees ” is not on the list of protected species because it does not have grow th rings and cannot be proven to grow a certain age, although Miller believes they can grow “ up to two centuries .” Later, during our interview, he would indicate that pine species such as the long-leafed pine should also be on the list but are omitted because thei r trunks do not grow wide in diameter with age. Miller then went on to point out severa l socio-political issu es of the proposed ordinance, and it is here that he shar es his perspective with developers. “ I'm not convinced regulation OF PROPERTY OWNERS is the path to better tree protection… I'm not c onvinced a regulatory, police power approach to saving trees is the most appropriate way to go .” (Personal Interview with Jono Miller 2010). In the e-mails he points out that 1) “A s the ordinance approaches adoption we can expect a flurry of regrettable tree removal as people hasten to remove trees” that they will not be allowed to in the future; 2) “ the guidelines seem to prohibit tree upgrading ,” in other words, the ordinance would keep people from planting a tree that they prefer to have on their property if there is a baby gra nd growing there; 3) the ordinance will apply only to healthy trees; Miller (2010) predicts that “ one unintended consequence of such an ordinance will be the creation of a black-market or D.I.Y. industry dedicated to creating unhealthy trees .” Go to Google and type in “how to kill a tree” and you will get countless results; one of the top searches is “how to kill a tree secretly.” Speaking to this last point, Osterhoud t claimed during our interview that “If


65someone tries to kill a tree, we’ll know.” A pparently, the county will sometimes contract with “tree forensic scientists” to test grand tr ees that appear to be dieing mysteriously, if there is just cause for such an investiga tion. Osterhoudt had anothe r rebuttal of Miller’s (2010) last point: “We have a very active community. If a large tree comes down, somebody calls us. While there’s somebody who doesn’t care, there’s somebody who does care. All of our permits require that pe rmits be posted. So if you don’t see a big box, we get a call. Lot of times we get compla ints about trees comi ng down. We often get complaints about trees coming down and it turns out to be peppers. It’s good though because it shows we have a very active community.” Developers agree, and insist that because the community is so active, regulations are unnecessary. “If the community values trees so much let them plant them some place where they’re not going to inte rfere with someone’s use of their property. If they’re upset about ten trees coming down, why don’t they get together and plant 20 trees on public property for less time and money?” (Rex Je nsen 2011). In the pers pective of property owners for one reason or another, these regulations are simply a “ taking of private ownership rights by the count y for no apparent good reason ot her than to 1. derail future development and/or 2. another step to eventually take all trees in th e county under county jurisdiction ” (Bob Waechter in E-mail Corresponde nce with Miller and Jensen 2010). Overall, the push from environmentalists like Miller who believe that ecological management can be achieved more efficiently and with less turbulence than increase government regulation, in addition to (financi al) pressure from de velopers, caused the Board of County Commissioners to kill a bill that was, by the time the e-mails occurred, “in the rear window” (Jack Gurney in e-ma il Correspondence with Miller and Jensen


662010). Gurney is a long-time resident and former BCC member. He said of the bill, “ Before leaving on a three-week driving trip to experience autumn, I asked each commissioner if there was a probl em. All said it was a slam dunk. I got home the weekend before last Tuesday's hearing to discover there was fierce opposition to it, and several commissioners had declared it dead. This was a simple little amendment to the tree protection code that could have been tweaked. But I don't think this was about trees. It was about unhappy developers who are sick of c ounty regulations and decided to squawk. ” (E-mail Correspondance with Miller and Jensen 2010). As John Hannigan writes in his Environmental Sociology “everybody can participate in public discourse; just those in power have louder voi ces,” (2006:55). It is up to the county to ensure that all the different stakeholders are heard, and that they each feel like their point of view was sufficiently considered.


67VI. CONCLUSION: SUGGESTED IMPROVEMENTS FOR TREE ORDINANCES AND ECOLOGICAL M ANAGEMENT REGULATIONS IN SARASOTA COUNTY Through my analysis of tree ordinances in Sarasota County I conclude that a primary issue with government regulated ecological management is a lack of communication and education; the public does not communicate their local knowledge and expertise often enough to lawmakers, and the government does not communicate its holistic goals and expertise to the public. Th e public asks lawmakers for regulations, and the government enacts regulations to the best of its abilities, c onferring as much as possible with those members of the public who pay attention, which often does not include all stakeholders. Lawmakers, alt hough working entirely for the people, do not communicate all of their goals (as opposed to just referr ing to economic-based goals which are, admittedly, the most appealing justification for environmental protection) clearly enough, so different st akeholders think that the gov ernment is supporting values other than their own. The problem is that the government as the paradoxical task of protecting everything and everybody They must somehow create laws that are specific enough to achieve the main objective (which is, complicated enough, all three facets of sustainability: social, economic, and ecological ), while at the same time vague enough so as to not to appear to favor one value over all others. The key is in communicating to the public the rationale behind the ordinances’ G.O.P.s so that even though some people do not get their way, those people can at least understand of w hy policies turn out the way they do. Although the government and the public ho ld sustainability as a common value, the facets of sustainability that currently a ppear to drive them are mainly social and


68economic. Attention on biological su stainability benefits is la cking, despite the fact that the biological benefits are arguably the tr ue importance of ecological management. Different stakeholders have different economic and social interests, but everyone has a common interest in keeping the environment healthy. “There are relatively few well-doc umented examples of comprehensive approaches to urban forest planning and management… Although many cities participate in urban forestry, there are ve ry few well-articulated examples of the overall planning and management process for others to follow .” (McPherson and Johnson 1988). The fact of the matter is, ecological management via govern ment regulation is relatively new in the United States of America. In Europe, because they have such a small amount of land on which to develop, and because they have b een developing that same land for hundreds of years, sustainability is built into many of their development systems already; increased sustainability regulation has been a natural switch for most of those countries to make. In the United States, we still sport the “great fr ontier” attitude. Suburban sprawl has been a natural progression because we still have a relatively large amount of open space in the United States. Florida, however, is like Europe in seve ral important ways. Most of Florida has been developed, and the desirable places to live in Florida (near th e beach for instance) have arguably been over-developed. In Florida, it is imperative that we think seriously about sustainability. Many local governments who are taking su stainability seriously are “long on measures and short on rationales” (Portney 2003, p. 48). Tree ordinances in Sarasota County acknowledge the ecological sustainabi lity benefits of trees, but focus on the


69social benefits for justification and goals. Perhaps if more biologi cal functions and their benefits to the social sphere were focu sed upon, and perhaps if these ecological goals were cited in more places, there would be less contention. By “cited in more places,” I mean that in the ordinances themselves, and as much as possible in e-mail conversations, public workshops, the county website, etcetera, scientific studies showing tree benefits should be cited to demonstrate and justify re gulatory measures. One issues with social benefits such as “aesthetics” is that this benefit can be construed as opinion. At least two of the developers we ’ve heard from are self-proclaimed environmentalists. “I am an unashamed and tr ue environmentalist and have given more to environmental causes in this county and the Environmentally Sensitive Lands program than any given individual. But enough is enough guys,” says Henry Rodriguez. Meanwhile, Rex Jensen is President of “the largest green community in the state... We mandated that every home be built according to green standards.” When I pressed Jensen as to why he valued trees, however, he sa id “I want trees in my community! Why? Aesthetics. Shade. Just, creates a high quali ty of life… it makes incredibly good business sense.” Perhaps these developers are environmentalists, but they seem to value the surface benefits of trees to a much highe r degree than their ecological function. Jono Miller had some interesting sugg estions that would surely satisfy Rex Jensen’s interests. In terms of interests, Jensen represents small and medium-sized developers as well because although the ordi nances don’t affect him (his company has enough money to plant as many trees as they want and to follow all the regulations without making a dent in their pocket; in fact his development tends to EXCEDE the minimum tree requirements because they “with out a doubt raise our property values”) he


70relates to smaller developers on the need to maximize a lot’s income potential, and the desire to have total cont rol over his own property. Miller suggests that the government s hould focus on two alternative policies: 1) educating the public about the im portance of keeping their trees rather than forcing them to which, as Jensen said, “can cause a backlash ,” and 2) policing the tree-cutters instead. To the first point, Miller says that “I think that if people don’ t want a tree on their property, a, it’s their tree, and b, they’ll find a way to do it because the government can’t be watching all the time. The people are the everyday managers ” (Personal Interview 2010, italics added). Why not give each new hom eowner a pamphlet with their new home containing an extensive list of tree benefits and a list of resources of who they can consult with if they have a tree-related question? Why not hold more public workshops about the importance of tr ees? If the focus is put on educat ion, rather than forcing people to protect trees, it can actually create a pa radigm shift in the environmental movement, and can change how the average Americ an thinks about human-inhabited spaces. Regarding his second suggestion, Miller sa ys, “My notion is they should go after the tree cutters and make sure they’re doing th ings right… there’s a lot of people driving around offering to cut your tree down” (Per sonal Interview 2010). I’ve seen them too; tree-cutting is a huge business. In order to get a permit to remove a tree, a homeowner must hire an arborist to assess the state of the tree and then either the homeowner or the arborist must fill out a permit application. A lo t of times, “the arborist is the same person as the consultant AND the tree cutter. It ma kes it sounds like thes e people are highly trained but, I don’t think it’s that hard to get an arborist cert ification” (Personal Interview with Miller 2010). I Googled the informati on, and although you have to take a course,


71you do not need a degree to become an arboris t. As Miller postulate s, a lot of certified arborists have a vested interest in havi ng trees cut down. If the government was to regulate the arborists and tree-cutting companie s more closely, in other words, require the arborist to have more credentials, or require the tree-cutters to fill out their own permit application for each job, fewer tr ees would needlessly be cut down. Although Jensen has never had a problem w ith tree ordinances, he still believes that tree ordinances are unnecessary. “The government doesn’t need to protect trees because they don’t see people with chainsaw s” (Personal Interview 2011). He does not seem to realize the overall need for envir onmental protection by law because he does not see it as a necessity in general; I’m sure if I had asked he would have been completely disbelieving of climate change or at l east doubtful of climate change. He sees environmental concern as something only intere st groups care about. He believes that if a community cares enough, “With less money an d less time to write the ordinance, the community could have planted trees to repl ace the ones that their neighbor cut down! Fertilizer runoff going into the bay, bigger i ssue! Let’s work on that! Because I think people don’t want to kill them unless they have to!” (Persona l Interview 2011). His arguments have merit for the purpos e of improving a favorable perception of ecological management community-wide. It is argued that private property should be, as stated in the US Constitution, private property. This is why education seems to be one of the more viable options. In addition, it prob ably would cost less time and money for the community to get together to plant trees, rather than pi cking up the phone and casting off responsibility to lawmakers. Pe rhaps with increased educatio n and incentives, this option can become reality. Environmental assessm ents would still be necessary, however,


72because average citizens probably would not have the foresight or the knowledge to make sure they’re planting the best trees in th e most advantageous and natural location. In addition to considering these options, I encourage Sa rasota County to look into performing more studies on the benefits trees provide within the county. Some suggestions of biological bene fits to be studied in the county include: 1) calculating biodiversity of native plant and animal sp ecies in treed versus non-treed areas; 2) calculating rate of invasive sp ecies reduction in the county; 3) measuring pollutants in the air, ground, and water in treed areas versus non-treed; 4) calculati ng the carbon footprint of different areas in the count y with more trees versus less trees; 5) performing a study of the county using Dan Esty’s “Environmental Su stainability Index;” 6) measuring human health in treed versus non-treed areas, in cluding both psychologica l and physical health in relation to how much time the person spends outside; 7) calculating erosion rates on mangrove coastal hammocks versus on coastlin es without mangrove growth. Studies like this will not only provide ha rd evidence of the benefits of trees in Sarasota County specifically, thus providing justification for ecological management regulations such as tree ordinances; they will educate the public on ecological health and sustainability, which is arguably the most important and uni versal benefit of environmental protection. It would also be helpful to do surveys of public perceptions, as well as public comprehension, of the benefits of trees in general and tree ordinances specifically, considering this stakeholder’s point of view is not sufficiently explored in my study although it is arguably the most relevant. It is important to understand first, if the public at large cares about trees, second, why they care about trees or in other words to identify the different ways they value trees, and finally, what they do and do not know about tree


73benefits and the importance of sustainabil ity. These studies would be useful for the county to identify which values of trees to actually provide more of, to understand which values of trees to emphasize when justifyi ng tree laws, and finally to identify which benefits and points to stress when educati ng the public on the impor tance of trees in social, economic, and environmental sustainability. It would also be an improvement on my study to survey a stratification of different types of developers and homeowne rs on their knowledge of the purpose of tree ordinances would allow the county to know wh at the public cares about and what they still need to learn about tr ees and sustainability. Types of developers would include small-lot and large-lot developers, all the way through regional land developers, including urban, suburban, a nd rural commercial develope rs, and urban, suburban, and rural residential developers. Types of ho meowners would include urban, suburban, and rural apartment renters and ho me owners, and people who id entify as environmentalists as well as people who do not identify as e nvironmentalists through people who claim to disdain the environment. It w ould be interesting to include apartment renters to see if they choose their apartment based on the number and t ypes of trees around their apartment building. Studies of public percepti ons of tree ordinances coul d also include studies of specific public values such as the Kathleen Wolf study of 2003 th at explored “the role of trees in… public perceptions, patronage beha vior intentions, and product willingness to pay in relationship to varied presence of trees in retail streetscapes ” (p. 117). This study concluded that patrons were w illing to drive further and pa y more for products sold in stores with trees right outside. Economic ju stification for environmental regulations, once


74again, is extremely powerful because capital ga in is a universal value; it increases one’s quality of life. However, it seems under-rec ognized that the health of one’s ecological surroundings is also an important factor in measures of quality of life. The fact of the matter is, trees enhance peoples’ quality of lif e both directly in measurable ways and indirectly in difficult-to -measure ways. They are beneficial not just as a natural resource, but for numerous econom ic, social, and biologi cal sustainability. Through studies, more benefits are discovered all the time. Socially, they are aesthetically pleasing which has several positive repercussions: they increase the bikability and walkabil ity of a neighborhood through shade, cooling, and aesthetics, bringing people outside to exer cise and meet their neighbors; they help establish a strong sense of place for residents, which increases peoples’ desire to invest in their community; they act as natural visual and sound buffe rs between land uses, like between residential and commercial zones; th ey provide psychological benefits such as calming effects in drivers and hospital patients, and increasing perceptions of safety; they sometimes have historic significance; they expose people to habitat and wildlife which can be good for environmental sensitivity and comprehension of natu ral processes; and they provide variation in la ndscape which can contribute to artistic, spiritual, and intellectual contemplation (Ulrich 1984, Jepson and Canney 2001, Moudon and Lee 2002, Wolf 2004, and Gies 2009, Moll and Gangloff 1987, Kuo 2003, Letson 2001, Personal Interview with Miller 2010). Economically, they increase property values ; they shade sidewalks on city streets, increasing patronage; their shade reduces cooling bills and insulation reduces heating bills; their raw materials (w ood, sap, fruit) are natural re sources that are extremely


75economically useful; they increase residents’ desire to invest; they can increase tourism (such as palms attracting tour ists in Florida or the Redw oods attracting tourists in California); they reduce costs on the creation of air and water purification mechanisms and storm water drainage; and overall, trees are cheap to plant but can pull a lot of money into an area (Bishop 1993, Gies 2009, Personal In terviews with Miller 2010 and Jensen 2010, Kaplan 1993, Tyrvainen, Pauleit, Se eland, and de Vries 2005, Wolf 2004, Grossman and Helpman 1992). Finally, Biologically, trees perform car bon sequestration; they contribute to biodiversity; they increase permeable ground sp ace for water absorption; they decrease the heat island effect; they catalyze nutrient cycles such as carbon and nitrogen cycles, and the water cycle; they filter pollution; th ey provide an outlet for storm water runoff; they prevent erosion; they provide wildlife ha bitat; and they provide fruits and nuts that are integral to the food chain (Bisho p 1993, Heisler 1986, Nowak and McPherson 1993, Chenoweith and Gobster 1990, Sanders 1986, Johnson 1988, Oke 1989, Moll and Gangloff 1987, Ulrich 1984, Kuo 2003, Kaplan 1993, McPherson 1990, Gies 2009, Moudon and Lee 2002, Newell and Stavins 199 9, Winjum, Dixon, and Schroeder 1992, Tyrvainen et al. 2005). Further study and public education will be necessary for environmental regulations such as tree ordinances to su rvive and thrive. In addition, the public participation process and method can and should be improved. Visioning workshops in which all the stakeholders ar e brought into one room and presented with a problem so that they may work out possible solutions amongst themselves would be better than different stakeholders being presented with po ssible solutions that the county’s staff has


76come up at whatever meetings the stakeholde rs happen to attend. The idea is to engage rather than simply consult, be pro-active ra ther than reactive, a nd force people to deal with the NIMBY (not in my backyard) syndr ome face-to-face with other yards rather than through the govern ment as a mediator. Tree protection by law is only one me thod of ecological management. Other methods include community projects, establis hing permanent conservation areas, private management, and management by non-profit or grassroots efforts (Lubell, Feiock, and Ramirez 2003; McPherson and Johnson 1987; Ni chols 2007). The County might want to consider encouraging and increasing some of these other methods in addition to or in place of ordinances. If the County determines th at tree ordinances are the best route, the focus should be on environmental education, improving public relations, and strengthening its citizens’ se nse of community, in order fo r regulations such as tree ordinances to become more efficient and more socially acceptable. If the county can do such an excellent job with education a nd outreach that the pe ople take ecological management matters into their own hands, ri gid environmental regulations will become more supplementary to aforementioned other options and perhaps someday even become obsolete altogether.


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