One member of the Arlington delegation to the General Assembly says environmental activists shouldn’t expect any major legislation on tree issues coming out of Richmond in 2023.
“We’ll have a difficult time,” said Del. Patrick Hope (D-Arlington), speaking at the Dec. 6 work session between legislators and the County Board.
He blamed “the dynamics in the House” – presumably meaning the Republican majority in the House of Delegates – for the hold-up.
“I’m not confident . . . that we’ll get anything through” on the issue, Hope said, replying to an inquiry from County Board member Takis Karantonis during the work session.
(Hope was at home battling the flu but participated remotely.)
For several years, tree activists have pressed County Board members to implement policies that would preserve more existing trees and require new development to include more. County Board members have said they are handcuffed by state law from moving forward, while activists push back that board members have more powers but are unwilling to use them.
(Invariably left out of the “blame-the-Republicans-in-the-legislature” game is that, for several years, Democrats controlled both houses of the General Assembly as well as the governorship, but enacted few major changes to existing laws involving tree protection and preservation.)
The Arlington County government’s move to implement a Missing Middle upzoning throughout the county’s single-family neighborhoods also has enraged some tree activists, who envision the increasing urbanization as negatively impacting tree canopy. Some other environment groups, however, have signed on to the Missing Middle concept.
The legislature convenes Jan. 11 for what is expected to be a 46-day session.