COUNCILMEMBER GILMORE RICHARDSON INTRODUCES BILL TO IMPROVE THE CITY’S TREE CANOPY AND CREATE PHILLY TREE FUND

In Council News, Katherine Gilmore Richardson, News by PHL Council

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(PHILADELPHIA) Thursday, May 12, 2022 – Today, Councilmember Katherine Gilmore Richardson (At-Large) introduced a bill to address the declining tree canopy in the City of Philadelphia and to create a Philly Tree Fund. The legislation makes changes to the zoning code to improve plantings; expand and create new buffers between industrial spaces or major highways/railways and residential areas; update rules for parking lots; remove exemptions for tree replacement in parks/open spaces; and creates a new Philly Tree Fund, which will collect payments in lieu of any trees that are removed and cannot be replaced on site. The payment structure is designed to incentivize 30% canopy cover on site, which is the benchmark for our canopy growth goals.

“As Chair of City Council’s Committee on the Environment, I know trees and green spaces are not amenities, but necessities that improve the health and quality of life of our residents,” said Councilmember Gilmore Richardson.

Despite dedicated efforts over the last decade, the City of Philadelphia still lost 1,095 acres or six percent of tree canopy, according to a 2019 report. There are neighborhoods in Philadelphia that have less than seven percent tree canopy. These are the same neighborhoods that struggle immensely with urban heat, stormwater runoff, gun violence, and poor physical health. Tree canopy is another example of the systemic inequities facing Philadelphia’s communities.

“Philadelphians know and understand the benefits of trees, but they want the City to also take responsibility for them. This bill puts us on a path to increasing our tree canopy by closing loopholes in the zoning code and creating a dedicated source of funding for the City to implement its tree plan. We asked residents to provide their input, and now, it is on us to earn their trust by properly funding and implementing their recommendations. I’m grateful to the Department of Planning and Development and the Department of Parks and Recreation for their partnership, and I look forward to our continued work together to take this important step to address tree canopy in our City.”

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