The Purpose Statement

The three divisions of the ordinance are balanced to help build a sustainable Dallas.

When it comes to the purpose of a landscape and urban forest ordinance, I believe it's about holding together the integrity of a community.  The considerations we must make as citizens in this community are what we hold important in the community.  As individuals, we define our homes differently, as self-interests or as a whole neighborhood.  We include only the people close to us, or people we don't even know, or perhaps we may even include the animals and the wild things living and growing around us.  For me, the latter - the whole - is our community.  Our neighborhoods are small incremental forest areas which affect the lifestyles and health of our individual homes and shared homes.  For me, we must include our trees and properties in our concept of community.  A home is what we value.  We value our trees.  Our ordinance helps us remember that.

When people come into our homes, or our neighborhoods, it is dependent on each person to make choices about how that property will conform to or change the world around us. Your decisions involve everyone, and sometimes in ways you may not comprehend.  For many, it may not matter.  Investors in property, or builders, developers, or families seeking a new place to call home, must decide how they will live with the trees on their property - or not.  Unfortunately, we often neglect to consider how our decisions will impact the welfare of our neighbors.  Sometimes, it's just time to make changes and develop our dreams in a special place.  Our values define our neighborhoods.  We are either living in mere investments, or we are living in a home.

The amended Article X ordinance is about you and how you value your community.  It's your urban forest. It's your ordinance.  The ordinance is one of decision-making.  It encourages integrity in thinking and design and discourages waste.  It is a template for sustainable growth and provides tools which would allow the city to help property owners build for ethical growth above all else.  The ordinance is filled with incentives to do the best for the community while also helping manage the pocketbook of the individual.  

An ordinance cannot do it all, nor should we think it could or should.  We have to be vigilant and dedicated to integrity and growth which benefits us all.  A lot of people have to live in this large city for a long, long time with new families to come.  The future homes and health of these children and grandchildren will be determined by the decisions we make today.  

The purpose statement of Article X was changed just slightly from its original construct.  As simple and short as it is (relatively), it speaks much in a few words.  But we directed the language to what we can realistically and dutifully hold ourselves to complete:  conservation.  We can preserve what we can, but this is within the broader scope of conserving our lands for the long duration, to be replenished and developed logically and sustainably. Urban growth makes great demands on all of us.

Please read each word carefully.  This is a very important part of the ordinance.  After all, it is its heart.

SEC. 51A-10.102.                  PURPOSE.
 The process of urban growth and development with its alteration of the natural topography, vegetation, and creation of impervious cover can have a negative effect on the ecological balance of an area by causing increases in air temperatures and accelerating the processes of runoff, erosion, and sedimentation. The economic base of the city can and should be protected through the conservation and enhancement of the unique natural beauty, environment, and vegetative space in this area.  Recognizing that the general objectives of this article are to promote and protect the health, safety, and welfare of the public, the city council further declares that this article is adopted for the following specific purposes: 

(1)        To aid in stabilizing the environment's ecological balance by contributing to the processes of air purification, oxygen regeneration, ground-water recharge, and storm water runoff retardation and filtration, while at the same time aiding in noise, glare, wind, and heat abatement.

 (2)       To provide visual buffering between land uses of differing character to alleviate the harshness of urban life.

 (3)        To enhance the beautification of the city.

(4)   To safeguard and enhance property values and to protect public and private investment.

 (5)        To conserve energy.

 (6)        To provide habitat for wildlife.

 (7)        To encourage the preservation of large trees which, once removed, can be replaced only after generations.

We added the following very important specific purposes of this ordinance: 

 (8)        To conserve water.

 (9)        To recognize and conserve the urban forest as part of the city's green infrastructure.

Green Infrastructure means "the ecological framework of trees and vegetation used in conjunction with engineered systems for the effective and resilient processes of stormwater management, climate adaptation, urban heat abatement, biodiversity, improved air quality, clean water, and healthy soils, for sustainable social, health, and economic benefits of the urban community."

Constantly working beside, and essentially despite, the people who thrive within the community, the green infrastructure is the life support which binds the community.  It is the health of our community.  

Trees are the answer.