Jerry Kopel

By Jerry Kopel   "All they need to know in laying down grass is which side goes up"  quipped then-Rep. Don Friedman (R) to the 1976 Colorado House on HB 1034. Friedman's sharp wit and debating skill often made the difference in how the House voted. This time it was 58 to 6 in favor of HB 1034.  

The bill repealed Article 45 of Title 12, the registration of landscape architects, to take effect July 1,1977. This gave supporters of Landscape Architects the ability to pass a new law in 1977. That did not happen.  

Friedman had confused landscape contractors (grass should face the sky)  with landscape architects, but it was clear to legislators there were too few landscape architects in Colorado to need state registration.

Today there may be 500 persons who would qualify for a regulated title.  

To become regulated, landscape architects now need to pass through the Sunrise law which requires the Dept. of Regulatory Agencies (DORA) to review the application and provide an up or down recommendation to the legislature. DORA stated "no" for the third time. Earlier Sunset reviews in 1995 and 2002 also provided a recommendation of "no".  

The scope of practice proposed, as summarized by DORA, "extends beyond mere vegetation selection and location. Rather, they are involved in very complex, detailed planning of the entire landscape, which includes structures, topography, grading and drainage, as well as plantings."  

Landscape architects want licensing, not registration, for persons with proper educational , or experience requirement. Only Colorado, New Hampshire and Vermont do not regulate landscape architects, but regulation in the 47 states varies from title protection to licensure.  

DORA continues: "The proposal would create an exemption for residential landscape work, meaning that anyone would be allowed to prepare landscape designs and specifications for landscape features in a residential setting.   "This would create an interesting situation in that regulation would be imposed, but the very classification of people -- consumers -- that the regulation is intended to protect, would not by covered by it. In other words, only commercial and public entities would be required to use licensed landscape architects. Individual consumers could choose to use a licensed landscape architect or an unlicensed landscape architect."  

DORA suggests that if the legislature decides (against their recommendation) to regulate landscape architects, it use title protection, and place those regulated in the architect licensing law. "Give the licensing board authority to issue cease and desist orders and collect monetary penalties." I believe the board should also have authority to remove or suspend the title designation for a violator.  

Professional engineers and architects will likely oppose the landscape architects bill. So it will (for the fourth time since 1976)  be a contest between lobbyists wooing legislators.   Landscape architects will have two shots for a bill, 2006 and 2007.  

 (Jerry Kopel served 22 years in the Colorado House).

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