By Jan Bergemann

Published September 27, 2019


The fight over the actual meaning of the provisions of HB 1159 is on. And no matter what certain people are trying to tell you: Itís not about climate change and environment, itís just about MONEY.


Cities and counties hired arborists and extra inspectors to make big bucks in the tree-business. The costly and time-consuming permit process forced homeowners not only to pay outrageous amounts for the necessary permits to prune, trim or remove trees, homeowners were as well forced to replace such trees, initially planted by developers who were forced to plant these trees by cities and counties in order to get the building permits. Who in his right mind would plant an oak tree between two homes with more or less zero lot-lines? Just using common sense would tell you that itís just a matter of time before these oak trees become a serious hazard for homes and people. Roots will destroy foundations and drive-ways and falling trees are the biggest dangers during hurricanes, causing a lot more damage than the wind.


Before HB 1159 we had cases where cities and counties demanded homeowners to replace a tree that already had caused serious damage to property with three new trees, claiming they have to protect the canopy. As usual, our so-called ďelectedĒ officials used this scheme to get lots of extra money in their coffers, money they could then spend on their pet-projects.


HB 1159 was the answer of the Florida Legislature to stop the financial abuse by cities and counties that took place under the cover of protecting our environment.


It is really nice to see that the sponsors of HB 1159, State Representative Mike La Rosa (R-42 Osceola/Polk County) and Anthony Sabatini (R-32 Lake County), are willing to fight cities and counties, who are now trying everything to keep their fat cash-cow going.


The bill is very clear and states that the certification of a licensed arborist that a tree poses a danger to property and/or people is sufficient to prune, trim, or remove a tree on residential property without the local government being able to require a property owner to get a costly permit or to replant such tree.


We sure havenít heard the last of it, because certain cities and counties are already trying to circumvent the provisions of this very owner-friendly bill by creating ordinances that would continue to allow them to force owners to pay their outrageous permit-fees. Local 10 News (Tampa) showed an interesting report about cities and counties unwilling to follow the new law of Florida (effective July 1, 2019): ďDefine 'dangerous': Tampaís tree removal rules at odds with new state law?Ē

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Jan Bergemann Jan Bergemann is president of Cyber Citizens For Justice, Florida 's largest state-wide property owners' advocacy group. CCFJ works on legislation to help owners living in community  

associations. He moved to Florida in 1995 - hoping to retire. He moved into a HOA, where the developer cheated the homeowners and used the association dues for his own purposes. End of retirement!


CCFJ was born in the year 2000, when some owners met in Tallahassee - finding out that power is only in numbers. Bergemann was a member of Governor Jeb Bush's HOA Task force in 2003/2004.


The organization has two websites to inform interested Florida homeowners and condo owners:

News Website:

Educational Website:

We think that only owners can really represent owners, since all service providers surely have a different interest! We are trying to create owner-friendly laws, but the best laws are useless without enforcement. And enforcement is totally lacking in Florida !

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