Legislative threat to local tree protections moves forward

Texas House Bill 70, which would overturn local tree ordinances and void existing deed restrictions that protect trees, will be heard by the House Urban Affairs Committee tomorrow (Tuesday, July 25). Three Houston-area legislators serve on the committee.

Preservation Houston strongly encourages constituents of representatives Carol AlvaradoGary Elkins and Jarvis Johnson to contact their legislator immediately and tell them you oppose this measure. It would be best to telephone or e-mail these representatives, because bills are being acted on quickly in the special session. Click the names of the representatives above for contact information.

 Oaks in the North Boulevard esplanade, Broadacres Historic District /  photo by Jim Parsons

Oaks in the North Boulevard esplanade, Broadacres Historic District / photo by Jim Parsons

With trees, as with historic preservation, the most important protections are local protections. While mature trees are defining characteristics in almost all of Houston's residential historic districts, this measure would threaten tree protections in neighborhoods of all ages across the state.

The introduction of HB 70 is part of a continuing pattern in which the Legislature is attempting to usurp local authority. Please tell your state representatives that decisions about local measures must remain local.

Harris County Judge Ed Emmett expressed his opposition to the Legislature's actions on KUHF radio on July 11. Citing his own neighborhood, Judge Emmett said, "You know, West University Place has a pretty clear regulation of trees that need to be protected.

"The state somehow seems to think they should come in and make that decision for everybody in the state. I just don’t think that’s right, and I think it flies in the face of conservative principled government," he said.

Preservation Houston will continue to update its members on this issue.