City of Lakewood, Protect Our Oaks!

City of Lakewood

The city of Lakewood is losing its iconic and regionally scarce Garry oak trees at an alarming rate. The current regulations do virtually nothing to prevent their destruction, which are protected only in "critical areas", and will not stem the current onslaught.

Over the past few years we have seen:

- significant, large, and mature oak trees cut down, many of which are hundreds of years old

- stands of oak trees destroyed indiscriminately in the name of development

- oaks under threat in predominantly lower income communities of color, which suffer from around 50% less tree canopy cover than higher income, predominantly white neighborhoods

- oaks “pruned” so improperly so as to kill the entire tree

- landowners destroying trees illegally, but also very often legally, without even the need for a permit, or with permits that are given as a matter of course, without even so much as a fee

- oaks removed without including any oaks in future landscaping, with landowners instead opting for less resilient, water intensive, nonnative, ornamental trees. We need to leave oaks standing and prioritize them over nonnative species.

We seek stronger protections to end these highly destructive practices, and to create an equitable, more resilient, and sustainable Lakewood for all. The city is currently forming an ad hoc committee to address these concerns, but many developers have come out to oppose even basic protections and to enforce the status quo of ecological destruction. Will you join us in calling upon the city of Lakewood to enact these demands?

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To: City of Lakewood
From: [Your Name]

We demand:

A majority of seats for oak advocates, environmental specialists and regular citizens on the ad hoc committee, not developers, representatives of the construction and real estate industries, and tree cutters.

A moratorium on the felling and fatal pruning of Garry oaks until strong interim regulations can be enacted.

Strong interim regulations until the tree preservation code can be updated to reflect the need to protect our rare native Garry oak trees.

Updates to the tree preservation code should include, for example, protections for significant oaks, an end to fatal pruning, stringent fines, protections for significant stands of oaks in all neighborhoods, and requirements for developers to use native landscaping and Garry oaks in areas that were traditionally home to oak habitats.