The State of Texas and the Right To Cut Down Trees Without Notice

THE STATE OF TEXAS AND THE RIGHT TO CUT DOWN TREES WITHOUT NOTICE “. . . a municipality, county, or other political subdivision may not enact or enforce any ordinance, rule, or other regulation that restricts the ability of a property owner to remove a tree or vegetation on the owner’s property, including a regulation that requires the owner to file an affidavit or notice before removing the tree or vegetation.” That wording — minus only a few dozen lines of accompanying legalese — forms the core of the new HB 70, a state bill introduced this month to enact the ban on local tree regulations Governor Abbott announced he wanted passed during the Texas legislature’s special session. Among the 50 or so Texas cities that would see their restrictions on the removal of trees from private property removed should the bill become law: West University Place. [Legiscan; Texas Tribune; previously on Swamplot] Photo: Swamplot inbox

20 Comment

  • What hateful, despicable, disgusting, bigoted jerks – our Lt gov and gov. If these laws pass, this state will be more of an abomination than it already is.

  • Makes about as much sense as Mojang removing gamemode 1 from Minecraft (or one complaining to them about doing that).
    Does HB70 in anyway apply to trees on the easement in the front of the property?
    In a sense I think I ought to be able to remove my trees if I want. I think TXGOV should allow me to do that, ultimately– but I don’t mind if my civic ass says no, etc. I’d like to see reform in that direction… my $0.00 c (gamemode c is also out).

  • Fiiiiiinally! These tree Nazis in the Woodlands can bite me, no more $2,000 fines for cutting down some funky tree.

  • @heightsite …”What hateful, despicable, disgusting, bigoted jerks” Jeez, anything else you want to call them for protecting property owners rights? Do you even know what those words mean anymore or is this so ingrained in the reactions of the perpetually offended you just let them fly without thinking?

  • @ Commonsense: Hey listen, if you bought a property in The Woodlands then you voluntarily and under no duress pledged allegiance to their covenants and restrictions and to their HOAs and other quasi-governmental entities the closing table. This state law isn’t going to undo that sort of thing. It won’t save you from yourself.

  • Heighsite represents how crazy the left has become. In their world giving a property owner the right to cut a tree down is “bigoted”.

  • AKA “Abbott’s Revenge”

  • What purpose (other than the governor’s personal fight with Austin about removing trees) does this serve?

    Why focus on trees? Why not allow me to do what I want to with my property? If I want to dig a 1,000 ft hole, or build a 1,000 ft tall building, that would definitely affect my neighbors, so goes the argument…but so does removing a tree. We cannot do “whatever we want” even if we own the property, so why single out trees? Trees hold water and hold soil to the ground. One thing Texas needs more of is erosion and flood control. Trees do that.

    How did our environment become politicized?! I don’t get it.

  • I agree with commonsense, so I must be wrong, give me time to reconsider the facts.

  • Hopefully it will encourage neighborhood policies instead of having COH deal with it, the less problems the city has to deal with, the better.

  • I think most people agree that in our climate more trees are better than less. And most of us would agree that the egregious cutting of trees in public right-of-ways that several businesses around Montrose have done is wrong. Those business owners were rightly fined for destroying public property. But I whole heartedly agree that people should be able to cut trees that are on their own property.

  • @Niche,

    Looks like the bill as drafted also applies to deed restrictions and HOA’s.

  • I believe in democracy and understood that makes me different from Abbot and his ilk on a lot of issues., but if a local community chooses to enact restrictions on trees and was voted in by a democratically elected board; then by god that makes perfect sense.
    However, saying some elected rep living 10hrs and 600 miles away should have some say over every one of my community’s guidelines strikes me as an obvious perversion of democracy and local governance. Might as well let Alabama & Ole Miss tell the houston city council what they can and can’t do as far as i’m concerned.
    There is and never has been a full right to do whatever you want to do with your property when choosing to live in a community or jurisdiction. Saying trees should be treated differently from the numerous other restrictions to property rights strikes me as quite a bit hypocritical.
    However, rationalization has never been Texas’ strong suit and we all chose to live here a long time ago. So I guess there’s that too.

  • Hard to decide who I hate more, the Gov and his Lut., or Pres 45. Grrrr

  • @ Angostura: According to SB 782, authored by Sen. Campbell this year, “government entity” is defined as only a municipality or a county. No provisions are given toward HOAs and deed restrictions. Also, government entities can still levy mitigation fees for tree cutting and there are several other exceptions given.
    It may be that it’s a different bill that would be considered in the special session, though. Do you have a link?

  • what seems weird to me is the idea that one govt body is passing a law that says that other government bodies are not allowed to pass laws that do certain specific things. maybe this is common and ive just never noticed it before, but it seems like a brazen attempt by one idealogical group to attempt to use their success getting elected into a majority in one jurisdiction to legislate (or block legislation) in another jurisdiction where they were not able to get elected into a majority.

  • @ GlenW:
    I see your low-energy Governor and raise you a pucker-faced junior US Senator from Texas (that no one likes).
    Staying on topic, it is just a waste of taxpayer dollars and time (roughly $18 million for this 30-day session) to talk about who can ixnay tree cutting on private property.

  • @joel
    but why? if a majority of people in my neighborhood wanted me to not cut down a tree in my backyard, should that matter? It’s my tree, I bought it either when I bought the house, or I bought it to plant.
    Maybe you want to buy the rights to the sunlight in my backyard?
    I cut down a huge 80 year old tree in my backyard for the specific reason of planting two smaller trees and to create sunlight for my garden. I shouldn’t need my neighbors approval to do that.
    If you want to put in a pool, you shouldn’t need approval to remove a tree for making room for that either.
    This will pave the way for this to be a reality.
    I do agree though that if you signed up to live somewhere knowing full well that this was a rule of the covenant you signed, well, that’s you dumb. But for a city to make that rule and then enforce it on people who lived there prior to the rule being enacted?

  • @Niche,

    The link is in the original post. See Section 4:
    “A property owners’ association may not include or enforce a provision in a dedicatory instrument that restricts the ability of a property owner to remove a tree or vegetation on the owner’s property, including a provision that requires the owner to file an affidavit or notice before removing the tree or vegetation.”

  • Texans act like they’re all living on their own thousand-acre ranch and that the guvmint should only consist of a county judge and a sheriff to prevent cattle rustling. The reality is, we Houstonians live in an urbanized society where one person’s actions affect others. We form societies and governments as a way to set boundaries and negotiate disagreements. If we as a city decide we value certain built and natural environments, it is our right to decide how we manage that. It shouldn’t be able to be nullified by a few cowboys in Austin.