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City invites public feedback on tree codes (updated)

By Kristen Hackbarth

City of Reno officials have scheduled eight upcoming opportunities for the community to provide feedback on updated tree protection standards for the city. Sessions are scheduled starting Jan. 11 at neighborhood advisory board meetings and in online public workshops.

City Council members in July 2021 voted to update the city codes related to the tree canopy. The city had begun the code amendments in 2019 but paused the process in early 2020 as the pandemic limited opportunities for community input. The city’s urban forestry and tree canopy preservation efforts started in 2015.

Council member Naomi Duerr at the July meeting said she was grateful for the work city staff and community partners have put into tree canopy efforts. Duerr initiated ReLeaf Reno, a city-sponsored effort to preserve and expand the tree canopy.

“Over the last five or six years we’ve actually lost trees, not gained trees,” Duerr said. She said some trees had been lost to drought or other circumstances, which she didn’t highlight.

A nearly century-old tree was felled on Washington Street to make way for Urban Lion's new development before community members and city officials stepped in on Feb. 25, 2021.
A nearly century-old tree was felled on Washington Street to make way for Urban Lion’s new development before community members and city officials stepped in on Feb. 25, 2021. Image: Jeri Chadwell / This Is Reno

In February 2021 developer Urban Lion removed a handful of century-old trees from a site at Riverside Drive and Washington Street where it plans to build a 34-unit housing complex. The removal sparked outrage on social media and Duerr at the time said she’d be doing all she could to save the remaining trees at the site.

Proposed updates to the city’s tree protection ordinance set new criteria for developers and residential developments related to tree preservation and replacement and require a tree protection plan to be submitted with development plans.

City staff, in their July 2021 presentation, said tree-topping and lack of installation or care for trees continue to be problems. The city also has limited staff to oversee urban forestry activities, staff said.

Workshops and open houses are scheduled for the following dates and times:

Code revisions can be reviewed online here, and details on the process and virtual open houses will be posted here.

Updated: This story has been updated based on the rescheduling of the Ward 1 NAB meeting to Jan. 31.

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