Save the Trees- Seattle Wins Injunction to Halt Tree Cutting

Threatened NW Tree Grove at Ingraham High School

Save the Trees – Seattle was granted an Injunction today to prevent the Seattle School District from cutting down the trees at Ingraham High School. The battle is not over, but Judge Erlick of the King County Superior went further than expected and granted an Injunction prohibiting the Seattle School District from cutting down the trees until after the Seattle MUP process is complete.

Judge Erlick ruled that the appellants met all the tests required for an Injunction and that the Seattle School District, by withdrawing their permits for construction, was putting the cart before the horse. He ruled that the School District first had to comply with the City of Seattle’s environmental review through the MUP process and that it was premature to rule on the issue until after that process was complete because there was no way of knowing what conditions the city might place on the project.

All in all Judge Erlick saw through the Seattle School District’s attempt to use a loophole to evade and avoid further environmental review and just cut the trees down. He also ruled against the Seattle School District’s attempt to claim Save the Trees legal appeal was adding to the cost of the project, noting it would only take 2 days to cut the trees down according to the School District. The School District was trying to require that Save the Trees post a $200,000 bond but the Judge said no. The $7500 bond is still in effect however.

The Seattle School District is planning to petition to throw the case out, claiming that Save the Trees filed their appeal in the wrong court. They are also going to raise a bizarre claim that Superintendent Goodloe-Johnson was not served notice of the lawsuit. A signed statement was submitted to the Court by Goodloe–Johnson. To answer this charge Keith Scully, the attorney for Save the Trees presented to the Court a signed document by the process server that Goodloe- Johnson refused to be served. Her representative, the legal department was served instead.

It seems the “new” Superintendent is just another one of the old boy’s network in the Seattle Public Schools, willing to join in their charade and mockery and disdain for the public process. What a mockery they are making of public involvement, openness and following the spirit of the law. She has joined with the Seattle School Board in trying to find loopholes in the law and avoid environmental review by the City and Courts of the Ingraham High School renovation project. Their hypocrisy knows no bounds.

To date the only environmental review done was done within the Seattle School District. And the Seattle School District has shown their true lack of respect for environmental and land use law through their recent actions and intent to just cut the trees down and end debate.

The Seattle School District is trying to make the issue one of trees versus education. This is not the case. The Seattle School District could easily move the project to the North side of Ingraham High School where an open lawn area now exists. No large trees would have to be cut down as a result. The school can have both trees and new classrooms.

A critical next step is to try to get passed a long overdue updated Seattle tree preservation ordinance to try to close the loopholes being used by the School Board and developers to get around protecting plant and animal habitat and trees and tree groves in Seattle.

Save the Trees has legal bills to pay along their success. Please show you support for their successful but continuing battle with the Seattle School District by contributing to help pay their legal bills. They owe about $4000 and unfortunately will owe more, as they have to go back to court to defend against the School District’s continuing attempts to throw out the case.

Make checks out to Save the Trees, c/o Steve Zemke, 2131 N 132nd St, Seattle, WA 98133

Thanks for your help.

And take a moment to celebrate the success of Save the Trees!

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