Oppose HB 521 and SB 574

A Statement to Florida Legislature

Dear Representatives,

I am writing to you on behalf of Springfield Preservation and Revitalization Council (SPAR), a neighborhood non-profit representing the Springfield historic district in Jacksonville, FL. Our organization opposes HB 521 and SB 574 as we believe it would have a detrimental effect on our local economy and the environmental resiliency of our community.

Our neighborhood has utilized funds collected from our local tree mitigation fund in order to enhance the appearance of our Main Street commercial corridor. Without such a local mitigation fund in place (over $20 million in current funds), we would not be able to afford to plant trees that contribute to the beauty of our neighborhood and economic vitality of our commercial districts.

Springfield also benefits from a beautiful historic canopy of old growth oak trees that, without any local legislation, could slowly disappear as property owners are allowed to remove them without restriction. We believe this would be detrimental to the historic character which makes our community so unique and special, and have a negative impact on property values.

Beyond just our neighborhood, we believe these bills would also have a devastating effect on the greater Jacksonville area and potentially increase our region’s urban heat island effect. 

We agree with our local Jax Digs Trees campaign that:

  • Florida House Bill 521 and Senate Bill 574 would devastate Florida’s communities.
  • HB 521 (Edwards) and SB 574 (Steube) would prevent local governments from protecting trees.
  • These bills are a direct assault on local democratic process and overrule established local laws. An overwhelming majority of communities across Florida have local tree protection laws passed with widespread bipartisan support.
  • Local tree mitigation laws reflect the distinctive needs and unique characteristics of our communities.
  • These bills would allow for the irreversible clear cutting of land, including old-growth forests.
  • Trees contribute substantial economic benefits, including increased property values, to the state of Florida. A recent USF study found Tampa’s trees save the city almost $35 million annually in reduced energy costs, storm water flooding, prevention of soil erosion, air quality, and other vital environmental services.

We also stand with the City of Jacksonville in support of the recent resolution 2017-0822 which strongly opposes these bills currently being considered in the Florida legislature. Please stand with Florida's communities and oppose HB521 and SB574!

Thank you,

Todd Hollinghead
SPAR Council
1321 North Main Street
Jacksonville, FL 32206