The Galveston City Council is right to move slowly on an ordinance meant to preserve “significant” palm trees.

The ordinance isn’t necessarily a bad idea, but it raises some questions that need answers and merits some thought about what its broad and less obvious consequences might be.

Michael A. Smith: 409-683-5206; michael.smith@galvnews.com

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(3) comments

Robert Braeking

Palm trees are a non-native invasive species on Galveston Island. They deserve no protection. Next the council will move to protect Chinese Tallow trees.

Wayne D Holt

"Galveston is contemplating this ordinance at a time when the Texas Legislature is openly hostile to the whole concept of local governance. Every local ordinance intruding on private property rights adds a little weight among some, perhaps many, to the idea that municipalities are constantly overstepping and can’t be trusted to govern themselves."

It's not just local governments that have this propensity. There has been a significant shift in public policy over the past three decades that altered what once was a foundational notion of American life: your property was your responsibility. Now, private owners must obey laws regarding effects that occur only on their own property and business owners must serve social roles that they may or may not agree with.

People misunderstand, this is often not a criticism of the underlying goal, but government coercion to achieve it is another matter. Stop and think about it for a minute. Where did the authority arise to fine people for the disposition of flora on their own property? We know there are landscape ordinances for businesses but commerce is a privilege, or so we are told. But if your deed restriction or association declarations didn't mention things like this when you bought your property, how did the City come to the position of claiming it could regulate it?

I have been recycling since the late 1970s; I have owned three hybrid vehicles, supported many environmental causes and have been a vegetarian for more than 45 years. I think my Green bona fides are sufficient. But I would like to see more education and more collective inspiration to achieve worthwhile ends in our community and country and less heavy-handed government that collects a toll for what should be a personal choice.

Bill Cherry

Palm trees that are growing on easements like what many of us call the "neutral ground," that being, for an example, the ground between a street's curb and the sidewalk, are not within the ownership of the adjacent property owner, although he is responsible for its maintenance. Let the ordinance be subject to just the neutral grounds. For the adjacent property owner to have the right to remove or alter a palm tree growing there, he has to apply for permission; That granted, the city handles, at its cost, the removal or pruning, etc., of the tree. After all, it belongs to the city.

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