Spare That Tree

Vice Mayor Vince Lago Wants to Save Every Tree… If Possible

February 2020

The City of Coral Gables prides itself on its canopy of trees, even maintaining a database on more than 38,000 public trees on swales and in parks. Private trees, as well, are protected and cannot be cut down unless there is a compelling safety issue – and a replacement lined up. It was therefore something of a shock when a sick tree was taken down in the neighborhood where Vice Mayor Vince Lago lives without notice to the immediate neighbors – including Lago. Many of the neighbors felt the tree, a huge black olive, had a fighting chance and opposed removal.

“The city staff had not properly notified the residents in the neighborhood as to what was forthcoming, which was to cut down a magnificent tree that was in poor health,” says Lago. “When a resident wants to take down a tree there is a process – replacement and the manner of the approval – and if that permit is approved for the tree removal, there are standards [we follow] that set us apart from other communities.”

Lago says that about 100 trees are removed each year in the Gables, “but only after careful consideration.” Lago brought the issue to the attention of the City Commission last month, so that in the future there will be better notifications to neighbors. “The issue is a simple one. Let’s be as transparent as possible, so that residents affected can voice their opinion – especially with a mature tree, which people have grown attached to over the years.”