OZ Budget Testimony of Spenser Balog – 2022
Chairman Phil Mendelson
Committee of the Whole
1350 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, D.C. 20004
March 29, 2022
Subject: Casey Trees Comments for the Budget Oversight of the DC Office of Zoning
Good afternoon, Councilmembers and staff.
My name is Spenser Balog, and I am the Conservation Planner at Casey Trees. Our mission at Casey Trees is to restore, enhance and protect the tree canopy of our nation’s capital. To accomplish this, we plant trees, advocate for stronger tree and green space protections, and educate the public on the benefits of trees. Thank you for the opportunity to submit comments on the proposed FY 2023 budget for the Office of Zoning.
Trees have a place in every new development. Having a healthy and expansive tree canopy benefits communities through beautification, ecosystem services such as stormwater management and heat island cooling, and climate resiliency. Recently, land use surveys have shown that the District’s tree canopy coverage decreased by 1% between 2015 and 2020, a loss of roughly 400 acres of trees. Land conservation is a large part of how we secure canopy coverage, largely through canopy enhancement in new development projects and conservation easements.
We rely on the Office of Zoning to ensure that development plans are accurate and serve to benefit communities across the District. Developments are an opportunity to enhance a site, and we believe that including natural resources to the greatest extent possible greatly improves the quality of life for residents and serves to make DC more sustainable and resilient.
We are glad to see that the FY2023 budget for the Office of Zoning has been increased. We hope that these increases will serve to improve your ability to facilitate re-development with focuses on community engagement and sustainability.
Thank you for the opportunity to testify today.