Tampa Tree Ordinance Talk with Bob McDonaugh #MNU9

Tampa Tree Ordinance Talk with Bob McDonaugh, Administrator for Economic Opportunity with the City of Tampa

After four long years, the Tampa City Council appears poised to pass some very important changes to the Tampa Tree Ordinance.

This could have a dramatic effect on property values of older smaller homes on larger lots in South Tampa where over the years families may have planted trees on the site.

Check out our Tampa Tree Ordinance Talk with Bob McDonaugh, Administrator for Economic Opportunity with the City of Tampa, as he discusses how changes to the Tampa Tree Ordinance will help homeowners hoping to sell to a builder… while protecting Tampa’s tree canopy.

This video was shot during a break at Mayor’s Neighborhood University after a presentation on Economic Development on 3/13/2018. #MNU9

Changes to the City of Tampa Tree Ordinance

Exciting news today at City Hall regarding the Tampa Tree Ordinance

The Tampa Bay Builders Association presented an ordinance to amend the City of Tampa Tree Ordinance the code concerning tree removal and replacement.

This amendment, shared here, will eliminate protections for trees that prohibit building on smaller residential lots in the City of Tampa.

Proposed Amendment – City of Tampa Tree Removal and Replacement

Today Tampa City Council passed an amendment with some changes, that will now be reviewed by the City Planning Commission who will make amendments and recommendations.

This is the first step in a process that will probably go another 60-90 days… and hopefully, result in a reform of the ordinance in such a way that will benefit families hoping to sell to a builder in South Tampa and across our city. The Tampa Bay Times and other news outlets are covering the story.

This issue is so important to families that I have worked with in the past. When longtime owners sell a property to a builder it can be a huge benefit. I’ve worked with sellers who have used their proceeds to move across the country and reunite a family… and others who have used funds to pay for medical bills relating to cancer treatments.

Unfortunately, I have also been involved with at least 3 property owners who have been adversely affected by the tree ordinance. I would also argue that our city has also needlessly lost tax revenue at a time where I know there has been a great deal of hard work to balance our budget.

I want to share the stories of these families, affected by City of Tampa code concerning tree removal and replacement

First… in December of 2014. A family hoping to build a new home purchased a double lot North of Kennedy. He was not represented by an agent at the time and was not aware that he would not be allowed to build on the property due to a large tree on the site.  After two years, and tens of thousands of dollars spent in a legal fight with the city has was able to get approval to remove the tree and with my help sell to a builder at a profit. Good for him… not so good for the city of Tampa… I’ll estimate the city’s lost tax revenue from this site over the two year period to be in excess of $7,000, all for a tree that was eventually removed.

Example Two… A couple owned a double lot in the Bel Mar Area with a tree on site that a builder client of mine had under contract for $514,000. City staff would not support the removal of the tree and the contract fell apart… the owners later sold for substantially less money. The new buyers went through the variance process… a year delay and eventually got approval to remove the tree. The seller’s lost at least $14,000 depending on the costs they assumed from the sale… and the city lost approximately $3,000 during the one year delay needed for tree removal. This was a scenario that clearly hurt the owners and the city… again for a tree that was eventually removed after a costly and time-intensive legal process.

Finally… the worst story…the seller inherited a property that was in her family prior to 1962. In March 2017, a buyer of mine had a contract on the parcel the vacant lot that never even had an address since her family made the purchase. The parcel is 100×91… the contract was for $170,000 despite the fact that the neighboring lot sized 150×91 had sold for $435,000. Two contributing factors… a pending tax deed sale due to unpaid property taxes and the need to work around or remove the tree. Once it was determined the tree could not be removed, and there was no workaround… that sale fell apart.

A new buyer stepped in to close at $110,000. A similar lot across the street, one block west, is now pending for $349,000. Keep in mind that the family involved had owned this piece of property since for over 50 years. A tree planted, possibly without their knowledge or consent, cost them between $60,000 and $240,000. The city lost property tax revenue of approximately $5,000 per year… and that is crumbs compared to what the family lost due to a tree that was simply allowed to grow over the decades.

For many of the families that I work with… the property that is a good candidate for sale to a developer is their nest egg… it is their retirement… it’s the money to pay for medical bills… it’s how they are going to live when they move across the country to be closer to their kids… or it’s the inheritance they plan to leave to their children.

Tampa Tree Ordinance

The current Tampa Tree Ordinance hurts these families.

The current ordinance favors those willing and able to fight it out in court… or buy at a discount to go through the variance process… it hurts families that need the money the most and don’t have the time and the resources to fight city hall.  The current tree ordinance that prohibits any development on many lots hurts families… and it also hurts our city… because in many cases the trees are still removed… after our community incurs the loss of thousands of dollars to our city in terms of lost property taxes.

My name is Robert Wilson, I am a resident of the City of Tampa and I urge the council to pass the proposed changes to the City of Tampa code concerning tree removal and replacement, this action will both increase city revenues and protect the families that own the properties affected by the current rules.

Robert Wilson
Director of Dirt
EXIT Bayshore Realty

A proud member of the South Tampa Chamber of Commerce



Three Quick Questions about City of Tampa Code Enforcement #MNU9


As part of our adventure with Mayor’s Neighborhood University, we’re meeting some key people in departments where we are talking with many of the same people in the community.

Code Enforcement action is often a sign that a property could be in major disrepair and might be a good candidate for one of our builder partners to purchase.

What should neighbors know about this process? Are fines negotiable in exchange for compliance? Is there any help from the City of Tampa for families who are dealing with tough circumstances associated with a distressed property?

Find out during this quick interview with Jake Slater, Administrator for City of Tampa Neighborhood Enhancement… he knows everyone still calls it Code Enforcement.

If you missed his number at the end of the video it’s (813) 274-5545.

City of Tampa Social Media Greatest Hits – Mayor’s Neighborhood University – #MNU9

City of Tampa Social Media Greatest Hits- Mayor’s Neighborhood University – #MNU9

Session 3 of Mayor’s Neighborhood University took us through key City Departments and how they use social media to share stories and provide customer service to citizens of Tampa via Social Media.

City staff, led by Ashley Bauman, Marketing and Communication Director for the City of Tampa, shared a number of success stories via platforms like facebook and youtube among others. We’re going to take this blog post to highlight some of the City’s most creative and popular posts.

In an effort to be part of ongoing conversations online… the City will often jump into memes and other fun stuff hitting the internet like the #MannequinChallenge

The #selfiekid moment during SuperBowl LII also gave Tampa the opportunity to troll Minnesota ever so gently by pointing out that, no one should do anything, anywhere, but Florida in January.

The Tampa Police Department has also been very effective with messaging on youtube. Generating over 40,000 views of this video highlighting officer use of body cams.

TPD also used YouTube to share this video of the Seminole Heights Serial Killer which was viewed over 750,000 times.

On the lighter side of things, new Tampa Police Chief Eric Ward even did his best Macaulay Culkin to promote Tampa’s Vacation Watch Program.

Tampa Parks and Recreation drives a lot of engagement and signups for events using facebook to promote everything from kids’ camps to senior events.

Building these platforms year round creates a great opportunity for the City to have direct access to viewers during natural disasters. During Hurrican Irma, social and traditional earned media informed the public of evacuations and city staff also used the internet to share information on recovery efforts.

At the end of the day, one of the best vehicles for getting answers to problems and issues that you might be having with the City of Tampa is direct messaging via social media.

WWE wrestler & actor Dave Bautista even discovered that after posting a complaint regarding getting a permit for a new gate for his Tampa home.

After a little investigation and discussion offline… it turns out he contractor was responsible for the delay… but he got his answer.

Check out the City of Tampa online at:

Facebook: @tampagov
Instagram: @tampagov
Twitter: @cityoftampa
Snapchat: @cityoftampa
YouTube: @cityoftampa

Hearing from the Mayor Buckhorn and Meeting City Staff – Mayor’s Neighborhood University – Session 2 – #MNU9

After getting a tour of Tampa’s neighborhoods during session 1 of Mayor’s Neighborhood University… the next step was getting introduced to the Mayor and city staff who will be leading our sessions throughout the next 6 months.

In his talk… Bob Buckhorn discusses the importance of relationships, our form of government, and the City of Tampa.

One of the relationships that we will be looking to grow over the next few weeks is with Jake Slater, Administrator of Neighborhood Empowerment, who oversees the code enforcement process in Tampa.

We will be hoping to learn more about Neighborhood Empowerment helps communities clean up abandoned properties… and how families who are challenged with code enforcement liens can often negotiate fines down to something manageable when selling a property.

You’ll hear more from Mr. Slater in an upcoming blog post.

Mayor’s Neighborhood University Session 1 #MNU9 – Learning About Tampa Series

Mayor’s Neighborhood University – Session 1

Mayor's Neighborhood University - Inside City Hall

The last time I was at Tampa City Hall it was as a college intern with Councilman Scott Paine, during the Mayor Sandy Freeman Administration.

I had one great accomplishment… discovering that a $30,000 budget line item for barricade rental, being promoted as an increase to $50,000, was actually going to be a $70,000 expenditure as the change was to be retroactive to the prior year’s budget.

Mayor's Neighborhood University - Inside City Hall 2

My question, along with some of my colleagues and enough of the council, was ‘How much can buying these things cost?” That is why… you don’t see many Bob’s Barricades out in Tampa anymore, and instead Tampa Public Works owns most of the orange, white, and amber lighted folding barriers used to mark closed roads around town.

Anyway… it was a good enough contribution to the City of Tampa’s history to get accepted into Mayor’s Neighborhood University. A 13-session course all about the City of Tampa, our neighborhoods, and our government.

During session 1… we took a bus tour all over Tampa… and saw some hidden gems like Picnic Island Park in the Port Tampa Area. I also got a chance to get an overview of what to expect from City of Tampa Neighborhood Liaison Carla Lewis.

I’ll be hoping to learn as much as I can about issues that affect property owners that might be thinking about selling their property to a builder such as zoning, code enforcement, land development, stormwater, and other things that have an impact on property values and expense of building new construction. These issues all have an effect on the final sale prices of lots & teardowns to builders.

Mayor's Neighborhood University - City Hall

Having a better understanding of these issues will help me get the best quality offers to property owners because I’ll be able to quickly complete due diligence and know about issues that will cost builders thousands of dollars in development costs. If these issues are known in advance, everyone can understand the situation and work together to put a fair agreement in place… when issues that cost $10,000 or more come to light just days before closing often that results in deals falling apart and stress we want to help our sellers avoid.

Mayor's Neighborhood University - Picnic Island Park

Another exciting part of the Mayor’s Neighborhood University Process will be meeting our neighbors throughout South Tampa and the rest of the city. Bill Diaz lives in Virginia Park and I got a quick minute with him to talk about some of what we saw during our tour of Tampa.

I’ll be updating the blog throughout the next few months with information and video from each session. I’m hoping by learning more about Tampa, I’ll be able to help more family’s looking to sell… and continue to improve our neighborhoods.

Mayor's Neighborhood University - Picnic Island Park 2