Fellow Story

Pizarro appeals neighborhood “tree massacre” on environmental justice grounds

Bruni and Daniel Pizarro have filed an appeal in Connecticut state court seeking to stop the state from removing trees lining Dayton Street in New Haven, CT, citing environmental justice and neighborhood safety concerns. 

According to the New Haven Independent, the city reluctantly decided to remove all “five trees that buffer the western side of the narrow two-lane two-way two-block one-tenth-mile continually car-congested street. … The city usually tries to save trees when it puts in sidewalks. The four maples remain in good condition, according to an assessment by city Tree Warden Anastasia Shutts Mixsell. The roots of at least two of them would survive construction work. But the state owns Dayton (part of Route 122). The state Department of Transportation (DOT) has refused to sign off on a permit for the sidewalk reconstruction without the trees’ removal, arguing that the work would ​“pose a safety concern” by further damaging ​“an already compromised root system.” The city has worked in recent years on finding ways to preserve trees when rebuilding or fixing sidewalks on property it controls.” 

“Making sure we have a right to trees, quality and clean air, and green spaces — this is a big part of the impetus for us.”

Bruni Pizarro, New Haven Independent

“The residents of Dayton Street are primarily Black and Latinx working class families and the constant idling of cars and continuous passage of emergency vehicles and minimal treescapes exacerbate environmental justice concerns,” The Pizzaros wrote in the appeal. “This is an issue of public safety. [T]rees slow down traffic, provide shade and cooling opportunities, and reduce energy burdens for those that are energy insecure. Given the inevitable trajectory of cities growing hotter, we implore City and State legislators to act now to mitigate worsened health and quality of life outcomes for the most vulnerable.”

Two stories in the New Haven Independent detail the issue: