Texas Panel Affirms Need to License Landscape Architects
The Texas Sunset Advisory Commission recently released the results of its review of the Texas Board of Architectural Examiners [http://www.sunset.state.tx.us/83rd/eng/eng_sr.pdf], which regulates landscape architects, architects, and registered interior designers. Texas law requires a review of all regulatory bodies every six years. In this review, the commission affirms, “The State has a continuing need in regulating the practice of architecture and landscape architecture.” Additional key findings include:
• While landscape architects do focus on the aesthetics of a space, which may indicate an element of consumer choice against regulation, they also design for safety and accessibility, which regulation ensures.
• The Texas Department of Transportation uses landscape architects to help design transportation systems that work with existing landscape while ensuring driver safety.
• While often associated with residential projects, landscape architects regularly design large commercial or public projects that have an impact on many people. Consequently, landscape architectural designs represent a large financial investment, often of public funds, which also elevates the need for regulation.
• Although state regulation should not exist solely to promote or maintain the economic viability of a profession, the state has an interest in assuring that individuals who design and seal plans meet minimum qualifications and that an enforcement process is in place to penalize those who violate law and rule.
Recent years have proven to be a dangerous time to support regulation. Several states have offered legislation to eliminate licensure for many professions, with some including landscape architecture in the mix. Thus far, ASLA has been successful in making the case for regulation, demonstrating that not only does the profession affect the public health, safety, and welfare, but licensure also makes the marketplace more competitive when landscape architects are able to vie for projects. As threats arise, the analysis performed by the Texas Sunset Advisory Commission will provide an important independent voice in support of regulation of landscape architecture.