Arizona Moves to Deregulate Landscape Architecture

February 17, 2016 – Phoenix, Arizona – The Arizona State Legislature has introduced House Bill 2613, which would remove the current licensure requirement for a number of professions, including landscape architects. In addition, the bill would move the state’s Board of Technical Registration into the Arizona Department of Administration. Despite the presence of more than 100 landscape architects who opposed the bill, it passed in the House Commerce Committee today and now moves on to the a vote of the full House.

Landscape architects are responsible for designing hundreds of millions of dollars of work in Arizona each year, including major infrastructure projects such as schools, campuses, parks, streets, playgrounds, public safety and flood control facilities, and other public and private developments. All 50 states currently require landscape architects to have a license because of the potential impact to the public’s health, safety, and welfare.

The link between landscape architecture design and safety
Although invisible to most daily users, competent landscape architects protect all Arizonans against physical injury from poorly designed public improvements. Landscape architects apply practices such as Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED) help deter criminal behavior in parks and other public places. Landscape architects also help prevent personal injury and property damage through competent design of storm drainage and erosion control projects—a particularly important consideration in a state that values its natural landscapes and regularly experiences severe storms.

The economic impact of landscape infrastructure

Wise investment of public funds. Licensing landscape architects helps ensure that investment of public and private funds results in safe, high-quality communities and projects that will last long into the future. Well-designed projects produced by competent Arizona landscape architects improve people’s quality of life, encourage healthy lifestyles, and significantly enhance property values.

Reduced competitiveness. Arizona landscape architects practice nationally. All other states require landscape architects be licensed. If licensing requirements are removed as HB 2613 proposes, Arizona-based landscape architects will find it more difficult to practice elsewhere in the US, where every other state recognizes professional competence based on reciprocity. The competitiveness of Arizona’s landscape architecture design students is also likely to decline if required internship experience is earned under unlicensed landscape architects. To increase their competitiveness, these students may have to relocate to other states to obtain internship experience.

Regulatory costs. There is currently no cost for regulating landscape architects in Arizona, since licensing fees more than cover the cost of running the regulatory authority. In fact, licensing fees actually contribute to the state’s general fund.

“This bill is looking for a solution where there isn’t a problem,” said Craig Coronato, PLA, ASLA, President-Elect of the Arizona Chapter of the ASLA. “It would be difficult to find anyone outside of state government who will be impacted by this bill, including the professionals, clients, and general public, who would be in favor of deregulation.”

About the American Society of Landscape Architects
Founded in 1899, ASLA is the professional association for landscape architects, representing more than 15,000 members nationwide. Landscape architecture is a comprehensive discipline of land analysis, planning, design, management, preservation, and rehabilitation that focuses on design of outdoor public and private improvements. ASLA is a voluntary membership organization that promotes the landscape architecture profession and advances its practice through education, communication, advocacy, and fellowship. The Arizona chapter was founded in 1972.

Additional information
Changes proposed by HB 2613
The bill changes the definition of “landscape architect” from “person who, by reason of professional education or practical experience, or both, is qualified to engage in the practice of landscape architecture as attested by registration as a landscape architect” to a person who either has a “valid certificate of qualification … that is issued by a national bureau of registration” or “a degree or certificate from an accredited educational institution in that person’s field.” There are no national bureaus of registration that certify landscape architects: licensing and registration is handled on a state-by-state basis only.

Sponsors
The bill is sponsored by Representatives Warren Peterson (R, District 12); John Allen (R, District 15); Jeff Wininger (R, District 17); and Senators Bob Worsley (R, District 25) and Kimberly Yee (R, District 20). Cosponsors include Representative Jay Lawrence (R, District 23), David Livingston (R, District 22); Jill Norgaard (R, District 18); Tony Rivero (R, District 21); and Thomas Shope (R, District 8) as well as Senators David Farnsworth (R, District 16) and Carlyle Begay (R, District 7).

Landscape architecture and safety
The American Society of Landscape Architects has published a report that provides evidence of harm caused by incompetent or negligent landscape architectural work. The report may be reviewed at https://www.asla.org/uploadedFiles/CMS/Government_Affairs/Member_Advocacy_Tools/PHSW-FINAL.pdf.