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Council Unanimously Passes Koo’s Bill Aimed at Protecting City Trees

Mayor Bill de Blasio surveys a tree that was toppled in a storm in Astoria in August (Ed Reed/Mayoral Photography Office)

Dec. 10, 2021 By Allie Griffin

The City Council passed a bill Thursday aimed at protecting city trees across the five boroughs.

The Council voted unanimously in favor of a bill sponsored by Flushing Council Member Peter Koo that requires the Parks Department to more regularly inspect trees and to publish its findings for the public to see.

The legislation requires the department to conduct health and safety inspections of nearly every street tree at least once between each tree’s pruning cycle.

The department, according to the bill, must also regularly maintain and update a map on its website that shows the trees that it has inspected, the results of the inspections as well as the actions taken by Parks staff in response to its findings.

Koo’s legislation also requires the department to submit an annual report on how many damaged or dead trees are reported to 311 each year, how many are actually inspected and the results of such inspections.

Koo said the city is often slow to address — if they take action at all — dead and rotting trees that are potentially dangerous. More frequent inspections will keep city trees healthy and prevent dead or damaged trees from falling and crushing people and property, he added.

“Too often our constituents reach out to 311 to report damaged, unhealthy and dangerous trees, only to watch them fall during the next severe storm due to the city’s inaction,” Koo said in a statement. “By requiring more regular risk and health assessments, we are ensuring that our urban canopy will last for generations to come.”

The bill was co-sponsored by several of Koo’s Queens colleagues. Queens Council Members James Gennaro, Robert Holden, Paul Vallone, Jimmy Van Bramer, Adrienne Adams, Selvena Brooks-Powers and Eric Ulrich co-sponsored the bill in addition to nine council members from other boroughs.

The legislation is set to take effect 90 days after it is signed into law.

“Ultimately, this bill increases governmental transparency, keeps our residents safer, and protects our urban canopy,” Koo said.

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