April 5, 2021 /

Casey Trees Testifies on DC Agency Performance

We may only be three months into the year, but the advocacy team has been busy! For the past five weeks, Casey Trees staff has been testifying on District agencies’ performance over the past year.

Just like with any other job, agencies are subject to an annual performance review, where residents from around the District can come and talk to the DC Council about how they think an agency did over the past year and whether or not they met the goals they had set for themselves.

This year, Casey Trees commented on the performance of 12(!) different agencies, from the Office of the Chief Technology Officer and the Department of Energy and Environment to the Office of the State Superintendent for Education and the Department of Transportation.

We advocated for numerous things, but all of our asks fell into three main categories: making sure all trees have equal protection under the law, giving every student in the District access to environmental education, and preserving land in order to build a more resilient DC.

In addition to submitting 12 sets of comments, Casey Trees staff attended eight hearings. In February, staff attended the Performance Oversight hearings for the Department of Energy and Environment (DOEE), the Office of the Chief Technology Officer, the Department of Parks and Recreation and the Department of Transportation.

We advocated to Councilmember Mary Cheh and the Committee on Transportation and Environment for amending the Urban Forest Preservation Act to protect all trees with a circumference of 44 inches or larger and give the Urban Forestry Division (UFD) the ability to stop construction if a tree is being harmed. We also advocated to Councilmember Robert White at the Committee on Government Operations and Facilities’ Performance Oversight Hearing for zoning application information to be easier to access and easier to understand. Because of these testimonies, we are now working with the DC Council to write an amendment giving UFD stop-work order authority, the Office of the Chief Technology Officer to update the zoning website, and DOEE to update the Green Area Ratio, which requires developments to have a certain amount of permeable land.

In March, we testified in front of Councilmembers Robert White and Chairman Phil Mendelson about the performance of the Department of General Services, the Office of Planning, the Office of Zoning, and the Office of the State Superintendent for Education. At these hearings, we asked for the Zoning Code to be updated to create a “forever green” zoning area, for better coordination between the government and contractors on capital projects, and for students across the District to have access to outdoor education.

All in all, it was an eventful and successful advocacy effort by the Casey Trees staff and Certified Tree Advocates and we are excited to do it all over again with the Budget Oversight hearings starting at the end of April.

If you would like to learn more about what was presented, you can check out all the Performance Oversight comments submitted. You too could advocate for District trees in front of the Council (or others) when you become an advocate with Casey Trees!