To Shoreline City Council

June 18, 2012

Regarding Amendments to Code regarding Trees

Dear City Council and Mayor:

I want to urge your support for Ordinance No 640 as in Attachment A-1 as recommended by the Planning Commission.

While I do not believe the amendments go very far in terms of protecting trees in the future, they are a step in the right direction.  The proposals from staff labeled as Attachment A-2 in the May 21st Council memo for Agenda item 8(a) at your June 18, 2012 meeting  do not take into account future development or the lack of precision in your canopy calculations in your March 2011 Canopy Assessment. That study noted that it has a 2 foot resolution and the earlier study had a 90 foot resolution.  The earlier data are called approximations – I could not find what the range of accuracy was. The study does note that a “1% increase would take approximately 6000 trees with a mature crown diameter of 30 feet”.  Thus if the earlier value was 32% or 33% canopy cover you’re talking about 6000 to 12,000 trees being removed.

If you do not require some type of tracking of trees being removed you have no good way of tracking your success and how many trees you need to replace just to keep at the same level of canopy.  This is why a tree removal permit would help.  And a requirement that trees being removed be replaced either on or off site would help you to maintain canopy.  But saying you can remove 6 trees in 3 years and not be required to replace them says you are going to lose canopy over time.

I find the most recent comments by the Innis Arden Club as not credible.  They are arguing for being able to remove trees with no regard for the impact on storm water runoff, habitat value, noise screening, air pollution reduction as biased by their position that “ view” trumps all other considerations.  Innis Arden is only one area of Shoreline and they need to join the rest of the Community of Shoreline in working to protect the common urban forest and the values it provides to urban living.

One example of their lack of scientific credibility is their statement that there is no justification for protecting 30”DBH trees.  Tree Services magazine for example notes that:

One hot issue in cities now is managing storm water. Only the big trees have the capacity to intercept about 80 percent of a 1-inch rainfall, compared to small trees, which intercept only 16 percent. “To a storm water engineer, a large tree is the perfect management system,” said Kirwan.

Large trees in urban areas, however, are on the decline—about 25 percent of city tree canopy has disappeared in the past 30 years according to a satellite image analysis conducted by American Forests (www.americanforests.org), a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit group. The organization estimates that 634,407,719 trees are currently missing from metropolitan areas across the United States as a result of urban (and suburban) development.

In terms of pollution, big trees are sorely being missed in cities. They remove 60 to 70 percent more pollution than small trees, and they can also absorb more than 1,500 gallons of water a year. They also keep temperatures down. In Atlanta, Ga., for example, where 380,000 acres of trees have been cut down in the city and surrounding areas in the past 30 years, the average temperature is 5 to 8 degrees higher than surrounding woodlands. “http://www.treeservicesmagazine.com/article-1300.aspx

This is just one example of why big trees need to be protected and why you need to put in place measures to maintain or increase canopy and trees in Shoreline.

So I urge you to consider these issues carefully and realize that pressures to remove the urban forest trees will only increase.  Now is the time to act to put in place to protect trees, not keep the status quo or weaken  protections that will cause more problems and costs for future citizens living in Shoreline .

 

Steve Zemke

Chair – Save the Trees – Seattle

Note added:

On June 18, 2012 the Shoreline City Council by a vote of 4 to 3 did approve most of the recommendations of their Planning Commission, including reducing the numbers of trees that could be removed in a 3 year period from 6 on all lots to a variable 3-6 depending on lot size.  They also required a permit to remove trees over 30 inches in diameter at breast height.

for more information see – Of Paramount Importance – “Shoreline’s Trees: A triumph of Hope Over Fear”

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