Category Archives: Environment

Five GMO Labelling Opponents Dump in Over $11 Million Against I-522

Opponents to Initiative 522 – No on 522 -to require GMO labeling on foods have dumped in over $11 million so far against the measure. Here is the complete list  of the  five total contributors to date:

Monsanto, St Louis, MO  $4,592,255

Dupont Pioneer,  Johnston, IA   $3,420,159

Grocery Manufactor’s Assoc, Washington, DC  $2,322,500

Bayer Cropscience, Research Triangle PK, NC  $591,664

Dow Agrosciences,  Indianapolis, IN  $29,531

The No on 522 campaign launched their TV campaign  on Sept 17, 2013   press release

 

Proponents of I-532, the Yes on 522 committee , has raised some $3,609.933  from some 3160 contributors.  The largest contributors to date for $25,000 or more are:

Dr Bonner’s Magic Soaps, Escondidia, CA   $950,000

Organic Consumer Fund, Seattle  $480,000

Mercola.com Health Resources LLC, Hoffman Estates, IL  $200,000

Presence Marketing Inc, Barrington, IL $200,000

Nature Path Foods USA, Inc, Blaine WA $150,000

Center for Food Safety Action Fund, Washington, DC $100,000

PCC Natural Foods, Seattle, WA $100,000

Annies, Inc, Berkeley, CA $50,000

Food Democracy Now, Clear Lake, IA  $50,000

Mark D Squire, Fairfax, CA  $50,000

GFA Brands, Inc, Paramus, NJ  $50,000

William T Weiland, Schaumburg, IL  $50,000

The yes on 522 ads began on September 16, 2013 – press release

Yes on 522 ad – Right

Yes on 522 ad – Washingtonians

 

Data for No and yes campaigns from reports to www.pdc.wa.gov

 

King County Parks Levy on August 6, 2013 Ballot

King County Councilmember Larry Phillips recently sent out the following e-mail:

King County Parks Levy on August Ballot

I am pleased to announce that today the Metropolitan King County Council approved sending to the voters—on the August 2013 ballot—a six-year property tax levy lid lift proposal to raise revenue for the maintenance and operations of the County’s regional park system, as well as funding for local city parks and the Woodland Park Zoo.  If approved by voters, the proposed levy would replace two voter approved measures set to expire at the end of 2013.

The King County Parks system has evolved from 150 acres in 1938 to more than 26,000 acres today, including regional county parks and trails such as Marymoor Park, Cougar Mountain Regional Wildland Park, the Weyerhaeuser King County Aquatic Center and the Sammamish River Trail.

The adopted legislation sends to voters a six-year property tax levy lid lift of 18.77 cents per $1,000 of assessed value – an estimated $56 per year for the owner of a home valued at $300,000.  If approved by voters, the proceeds from the levy would go toward funding the maintenance and operation of King County’s 200 parks, 175 miles of regional trails, and 26,000 acres of open space.  Levy funds would also be used to expand the regional trails system – including developing the Lake to Sound Trail – and to expand the Community Partnership and Grant program, as well as to support local city parks and the Woodland Park Zoo.

The levy proposal is consistent with King County’s practice to end the use of county General Fund monies on regional parks, trails and open spaces, and on local facilities in the rural unincorporated areas, so the primary source of funding for the parks system is the voter-approved levy.  King County also continues its regional business plan for parks with support from non-profit, corporate and community partners.

The beauty of King County and our great natural resources are only surpassed by the energy and creativity of the people who live here, and the community support for our parks system is the perfect example of this fact.  Voters will decide in August whether to continue supporting a parks levy that provides funding to operate and maintain parks like Marymoor and Cougar Mountain, and to expand the regional trail system.

Thank you for the opportunity to share this important news with you.

Sincerely,

Larry Phillips, Councilmember

Metropolitan King County Council, District Four

King County Courthouse

516 Third Avenue, Room 1200

Seattle, WA 98104-3272

206.296.1004

larry.phillips@kingcounty.gov

Seattle City Council Unamiously Passes Updated Street Tree Ordinance

Seattle City Council

 

The Seattle City Council has unanimously passed it’s updated Street Tree Ordinance. There were no amendments – if changes are desired in legislation it’s necessary to get them done in Committee before they come to the full Council for a vote. Thank you to everyone who took time to write or contact the Seattle City Council on this issue.

You can view the adopted Ordinance # 117745  by clicking on this link.

The gist of the bill is that permits will be required to remove or do major trimming to street trees and  tree replacement is required for trees removed “if site conditions permit”.
Applying for a permit to remove a street tree does not mean it will be removed.
A tree can only be removed if it is a hazardous tree, poses a public safety hazard, is in a condition of poor health or poor vigor or cannot be successfully retained due to public or private construction or development conflicts.
Notice of an application to remove a tree must be publicly posted at the site for 14 days and public comment will be accepted before the Director makes a decision.
Any person violating the act shall be subject to a fine of up to $500 per day.
In addition any person who destroys, injures  or mutilates a street tree may be subject to a fine equal to the appraised value of the tree and if the violation is willful or malicious, the penalty may be trebled.
All tree service providers engaged in pruning, removing or otherwise treating street trees shall register annually with the Department of Transportation.
Any major pruning, removal or treatment of street trees by a Tree Service provider shall be certified by an ISA certified arborist or ISA certified worker.

You can read the full ordinance to get more details. If you have concerns about specific language or its interpretation you should let Nolan Rundquist at the SDOT know as they will be preparing CAMS or Client Assistance Memos to explain details to the public to clarify issues which may be confusing.

Nolan Rundquist, the City Arborist at SDOT has been working many years to get this ordinance drafted and passed and should be thanked for sticking with it. Also the Seattle Urban Forest Commission helped in reviewing the proposal as well as members of the public. And Seattle City Councilmember Richard Conlin deserves special recognition for leading the Council effort to enact this update.

Next up in the next few months will be the 5 year update of the Urban Forest Management Plan which is being renamed  the Urban Forest Stewardship Plan.

The third component of the urban forest updates is the private property tree ordinance proposal.  DPD  (Seattle Department of Planning and Development) has said they will release a new draft sometime in June and we can expect the issue will be before the Seattle City Council for a vote early next year.

So far this has been the hardest component of the urban forest updates to reach agreement on because of DPD’s bias toward development as its mission rather than the protection of trees. This is why efforts need to be continued to move oversight of trees to the Office of Sustainability and Environment (OSE).  DPD’s prime mission is to help developers build projects, not protect trees. To get maximum protection, tree oversight needs to be in a department where they have an advocate to speak for them and OSE’s mission is most consistent with that.

Keep updated on Seattle tree and urban forestry issues by following  Friends of Seattle’s Urban Forest   

Let the Seattle City Council know you support the Updated Street Tree Ordinance!

Dear Friends of Trees,

The Seattle City Council is going to vote on a new Street Tree Ordinance on Monday April 29, 2013. The last time they updated the ordinance was 1961 – over 50 years ago. The new ordinance is much improved. It has been floating around for about 10 years in various drafts. The current draft that is being voted on is Council Bill 117745. We need people to let the Seattle City Council that it’s time to pass this legislation.

Council Bill 117745 would continue the requirement that people get permits to remove street trees and for major pruning. It would require 2 week posting of permits. Tree service providers must register with the City. Penalties are accessed for illegally removing a tree based on its assessed value and treble damages if it is a willful or malicious act. There is no charge for a permit and trees must be replaced “if site conditions permits”. This is one weakness in the bill because it could require that the tree be planted elsewhere if site conditions do not permit. Tree replacement is necessary if we are to have no net loss of canopy as a result of tree removal. Also there is no requirement that the replacement tree be comparable in canopy coverage even if the site allows for that.

You can help in two ways.

Send an e-mail to the Seattle City Council members and urge them to pass the Updated street Tree Ordinance – Council Bill 117745 to help protect Seattle’s trees and urban forest!  Tell them why this is important to you. Here are their e-mails:

sally.clark@seattle.gov,

sally.bagshaw@seattle.gov,

tim.burgess@seattle.gov

richard.conlin@seattle.gov

jean.godden@seattle.gov

bruce.harrell@seattle.gov

nick.licata@seattle.gov

mike.obrien@seattle.gov

tom.rasmussen@seattle.gov

Attend the City Council meeting – There will be 15 minutes at the beginning of the Council meeting for public testimony, a maximum of 2 minutes per person. It would really help to show support for the ordinance by having people testify for it or just being present in the audience showing support and maybe giving a cheer after they vote. You can also sign in support of the bill and not testify.

Seattle City Council meeting, Monday, April 29, 2013, 2 PM

600 4th Ave, Council Chamber, Seattle City Hall, Floor 2

Thanks everyone for helping get this legislation passed.

Steve Zemke

Chair – Save the Trees-Seattle

PS –  Check out our facebook page at Friends of Seattle’s Urban Forest   We try to keep folks updated on what’s happening with trees and our urban forest on this page.

Comments Needed on DPD’s Proposed Tree Ordinance for Seattle

Save the Trees- Seattle

Action Alert

Support a Stronger Tree Protection Ordinance for Seattle

 The Seattle Department of Planning and Development (DPD) has released a draft tree ordinance that they want the Seattle City Council to pass.  While it has some good points, it unfortunately weakens our current protection of trees and tree groves in Seattle and will result in further decreasing our urban forestry infrastructure that benefits all citizens by reducing storm water runoff, cleaning our air of pollutants, sequestering carbon, providing habitat for wildlife and many other benefits.

DPD’s draft proposal can be seen here:

www.seattle.gov/dpd/planning/trees

The following is a brief evaluation by Save the Trees-Seattle of the pluses and minuses of the DPD proposal. Most of the proposal deals with trees during the development process and needs to be expanded to better protect trees outside development. We need to do better to save our trees.

Some good things in the draft:

1. Adding single family homes and institutions undergoing development to the list of zones that must add street trees.

2. Requiring an online permit to remove trees larger than 24″ diameter breast height (dbh).

3. Implementing a tree removal application fee for exceptional trees to help cover cost and evaluation

4. Removing single family home lots smaller than 5000 sf from not being covered by the current ordinance.

5. Higher credit is given for evergreens saved or planted during development

What is missing from this draft:

1. Protection of tree groves

2. Protection of trees smaller than 24″ dbh, including many trees previously classified as exceptional

3. A permit system for trees smaller than 24″ dbh. Portland Oregon will cover all trees 10”dbh and larger.

4. Extending the permit system for exceptional trees to include public trees

5. Consolidating oversight, regulation and enforcement in a Department without a conflict of interest like DPD has. Trees need an advocate for their protection and Seattle Public Utilities or the Office of Sustainability and the Environment make more sense for overseeing protecting trees in the city

6. Licensing and training for arborists and tree removal companies

7. Posting completed tree removal applications on line and posting of property

8. Requiring disclosure of exceptional trees on property by real estate agents when property is sold

9. Incentives to save trees like utility rebates

10. Replacement of trees removed so there is no net loss of canopy over time, except some during development for not meeting credits

11 Requirements to id all trees on property in development plans.

12. More emphasis on native trees and habitat values in tree plantings and preservation

You can see more extensive detail on these concerns in comments delivered to the Seattle Urban Forestry Commission and posted here:

http://www.majorityrules.org/2012/07/seattle-dpds-latest-draft-tree-ordinance-needs-strengthening-part-1.html

http://www.majorityrules.org/2012/07/seattle-dpds-latest-draft-tree-ordinance-needs-strengthening-part-2.html

Trees in Seattle need your help and support to survive.  Only about 14% of the trees in Seattle are larger than 24” dbh. This proposal would allow all trees less than 24” dbh to be cut down in Seattle!

Please send in comments in your own words expressing your concerns. Your voice needs to be heard to help protect Seattle’s trees for future generations.

Comments will be received through Oct 1, 2012. To have maximum effect, besides sending comments to DPD at

Brennon.Staley@Seattle.gov

you should also forward them to the Urban Forestry Commission at

Sandra.Pinto_de_Bader@seattle.gov

and to the Seattle City Council members at

bruce.harrell@seattle.gov

jean.godden@seattle.gov

mike.obrien@seattle.gov

nick.licata@seattle.gov

richard.conlin@seattle.gov

sally.bagshaw@seattle.gov

sally.clark@seattle.gov

tim.burgess@seattle.gov

tom.rasmussen@seattle.gov

and to the Mayor at

mike.mcginn@seattle.gov

Please bcc  stevezemke@msn.com so we can track public comments being sent in.

Join us on facebook by liking our page – “Friends of Seattle’s Urban Forest”.

Financial contributions to support our campaign for a stronger tree ordinance are needed.

Make checks out to Save the Trees-Seattle and send them to:

Save the Trees-Seattle, c/o Steve Zemke, 2131 N 132nd St, Seattle, WA 98133

e-mail us at stevezemke@msn.com

Seattle DPD’s latest Draft Tree Ordinance Needs Strengthening – Part 2

Additional Comments to Urban Forestry Commission – regarding Seattle DPD’s latest draft tree ordinance updates

July 18, 2012

Steve Zemke Chair-Save the Trees- Seattle

 

Are DPD’s proposed revisions to our tree code the best we can do? It is important to compare them with what others are doing and one example is the new ordinance passed by Portland, Oregon last year.  Portland’s adopted code is much stronger than that proposed by DPD for Seattle.

On April 13, 2011 Portland, Oregon adopted much stronger tree protection regulations to protect their urban forest. The ordinance became effective May 13, 2011 and the actual regulations go into effect on Feb 1, 2011.  You can see the ordinance here:

http://www.portlandoregon.gov/bps/index.cfm?&a=3457132 page summary
https://www.portlandoregon.gov/bps/article/350786?&login=1Title 11 Trees Portland, Oregon

Portland currently has about a 26% canopy cover and has a goal of reaching 33%.

Their new ordinance consolidates tree rules under one title.

It addresses both public and private trees, both during development and outside development.

A City Forester is responsible for trees outside the development process and acts as a consultant during the development process with their development agency and also with a “responsible Engineer” overseeing utility, street trees and other public trees.

A two tier permit system to remove trees is established, applications being in writing or online.

Prior exemption for single family lots removed because of confusion.

It applies to street and city trees 3” or larger in diameter and private trees 12” or larger in diameter

private trees in some special zones 6” or larger also covered

Tree for tree replacement required for most permits, with inch for inch replacement or mitigation on 20 “‘ or larger trees.

A fee is assessed to process applications.

Tree permits must be posted on site.

Applicants can appeal city decisions on tree permits.  Public can appeal decisions on trees 20” or greater or more than 4 trees per year 12” or larger.

Development process focuses on saving large healthy trees, native trees and groves.

Building permits require 1/3 of trees on site 12” or larger to be retained or mitigated.

Building permits require meeting tree density standards and achieving baseline canopy goals.

These are a few of the provisions in Portland’s tree ordinance. It is important to note that this ordinance was developed in a much more open and public process than DPD’ has used. We ask again that DPD post all meetings open to the public on their website so that citizens in Seattle can find opportunities to listen to the discussion and give feedback to the City.  We also ask that DPD publicly post all comments submitted on their website, like Shoreline recently did, and like what is happening currently on comments on the Urban Forest Management Plan Update.

for ezrlier comments see:

http://www.majorityrules.org/2012/07/seattle-dpds-latest-draft-tree-ordinance-needs-strengthening-part-1.html

Seattle DPD’s latest Draft Tree Ordinance Needs Strengthening – Part 1

The following comments were submitted by Save the Trees – Seattle to the Seattle Urban Forestry Commission regarding the Seattle Department of Planning and Development’s latest draft Tree Ordinace. You can see the draft proposal here: www.seattle.gov/dpd/Planning/trees

Preliminary Comments to the Seattle Urban Forestry Commission –

regarding latest DPD draft of tree ordinance

July 18, 2012

Save the Trees-Seattle

Our initial observations: This draft is a disappointment but not unexpected considering DPD’s previous proposal. DPD spends the bulk of the 56 page draft ordinance on specific provisions regarding sites where they are issuing building permits and very little on protecting trees outside the development process.

While there are some good additions, like requiring all projects to add street trees, this provision already exists in most zones. They are adding it for Single Family Residential and Institutions. And while it appears they are now requiring permits to remove exceptional trees which they define as over 24″ in diameter, at the same time they remove any limitations on removing any trees smaller than this and also remove protections for tree groves. Brennan Staley made the comment at the UFC that one analysis showed that only 14% of the trees in the city were over 24″ dbh, meaning that 86% of the trees could be removed outside the development process with no limitations.

Their old definition for removing trees was that they would be saved unless they limit the development potential of a lot. They are now saying an exceptional tree will be saved “unless the location of proposed principle (sic) structure would not allow an adequate tree protection area…” It’s just a different way of saying the sane thing.

By simplifying their definition of an exceptional tree to one 24″ in diameter they are removing protections for many trees that the Director’s Rule 16-2008 on Designation of Exceptional Trees classified as exceptional with a much smaller dbh depending on the tree species. Madrona trees for example were classified as exceptional at 6″ dbh and Quacking aspen at 12″ and Pacific dogwood at 6″. They would no longer be exceptional under DPD’s new proposal.

Currently people are able to remove 3 trees a year from their property. This is way too many but DPD removes all protections for trees less than 24″ in diameter . The current system is not acceptable because the number needs to be less and because we need a permit system to track loss and hopefully slow loss by educating people on the value of our trees. Vancouver, BC, eg, limits removal to 1 per year. Shoreline’s recently passed ordinance varies the number based on lot size.

DPD does nothing to mitigate loss of non-exceptional trees. The problem remains that tree protection should not be under DPD. It should be administered by a department that has a vested interest in saving trees and can be an advocate for doing that, not a Department whose main mission is to help people develop their property and find ways to make it easier for them to remove trees. Possible Departments with more of a mission to save trees include Seattle Public Utilities, Office of Sustainability and Environment and the Parks Department. DPD could still oversee the process of tree protection during development but not over private trees outside development.

Some good things in the draft:

1. Adding single family homes and institutions undergoing development to list of zones that must add street trees.

2. Requiring an online permit to remove trees larger than 24″ dbh.

3. Implementing tree removal application fee for exceptional trees to help cover cost and evaluation

4. Removing single family home lots smaller than 5000 sf from not being covered by new ordinance.

5. Higher credit given for evergreens saved or planted during development

What is missing from this draft:

1. Protection of tree groves

2. Protection of trees smaller than 24″ dbh, including trees previously classified as exceptional

3. A permit system for trees smaller than 24″dbh

4. Extending the permit system for exceptional trees to include public trees

5. Consolidating oversight, regulation and enforcement in a Department without a conflict of interest like DPD has.

6. licensing and training for arborists and tree removal companies

7. posting completed tree removal applications on line and posting of property

8. requiring disclosure of exceptional trees on property by real estate agents when property is sold

9. incentives to save trees like utility rebates

10. replacement of trees removed so there is no net loss of canopy over time, except some during development for not meeting credits

11 requirement to id all trees on property in development plans.

12. more emphasis on native trees and habitat values in tree plantings and preservation

It is important to note that Portland has approved a much more far reaching ordinance last year to protect their trees citywide that goes into effect in 2013.

At the last Urban Forestry Commission meeting Brennon Staley, the DPD lead for the new draft tree ordinance, asserted that if his version is enacted we would have the strongest tree ordinance of any large NW city. I do not agree.

I forwarded this post last September to the UFC noting that Portland has made significant moves in their urban forestry protection efforts, including protections for private trees on single family lots.

http://www.majorityrules.org/2011/09/portland-oregon-leads-the-way-in-protecting-its-trees-seattle-needs-to-follow.html

Here are the two pertinent links in that post, You’ll have to log in to the city website to access them. Because the bulk of the new tree ordinance does not go into effect until next year (2013) it appears the new ordinance does not come up easily in a Google search of Portland’s tree policies. This may be the result of an effort by Portland to not confuse the public as to what they are currently required to do.

http://www.portlandoregon.gov/bps/index.cfm?&a=345713 2 page summary

https://www.portlandoregon.gov/bps/article/350786?&login=1 Title 11 Trees Portland, Oregon

I will be providing more detail on Portland’s law in my public comments later but wanted to give UFC members a chance to check out the links before today’s meeting. We can do a lot more to protect private trees than DPD’s current draft proposes.

Steve Zemke
Chair – Save the Trees -Seattle
stevezemke@msn.com

Comments Delivered to Shoreline City Council Prior to their Approving Amendments to Their Tree Ordinance

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”

Letter Sent to Shoreline City Council on Proposed Amendments to Tree Ordinance

June 11, 2012

To the Shoreline City Council

Regarding your proposed Tree Code Amendments, I wish to express my concern that they appear to do little to add tree protection to Shoreline.  My wife and I have owned a rental house in Shoreline for about 15 years.  My observation has been that trees continue to come down and replacement trees are not planted. One neighbor next door removed an evergreen tree taller than their house and a mature Mountain ash.  No replacement trees were planted. Several older Douglas firs have also been cut on other properties in the neighborhood and these are only ones I saw cut down and had firsthand knowledge of.

These first hand observations lend concern to your Urban Tree Canopy Assessment of March 2011. While the accuracy of evaluating canopy area has significantly improved by the 2009 study, I find it difficult to accept any statement that canopy cover is about the same as in 1992 and 2001.  As the study acknowledges the earlier studies are “rough estimates of canopy and impervious land cover based on coarse 30 meter resolution land use data “.  30 meters is over 90 feet or about a third of the length of a football field. Later it says that the 30% values for canopy “are approximates” and “This data is generalized and therefore not to be compared to the more detailed CITYgreen data.”

What this says to me is that you have a much more detailed and more accurate analysis based on the 2009 data that indicates a present value of about 30.6% canopy. This is below your stated goal of 35%. What you do not have are reliable comparison points because of the lack of resolution of the previous studies. You also state a goal of not losing more canopy.

Besides reducing the number of trees that can be removed over a three year period based on lot size you are really not increasing tree protection in my view.  This is particularly true when one considers that removing the prohibition on removing trees from undeveloped lots will increase the probability of more trees being removed. This is a step backwards and increases the probability of trees in remaining groves being reduced.

You put in place no mechanism for tracking trees being removed which is what a permit system does.  Requiring permits for trees over 30 inches to be removed only deals with one segment of the trees in the city. A 30 inch Douglas fir is going to be about 75 years old and 100 feet tall.  One problem here is that by only giving some protection to the oldest trees you allow younger replacement trees to be cut.  What happens when the old trees die if you do not have replacement trees to take their place. A healthy urban forest needs a range of tree ages and sizes for both replacement as old trees die and also for varied habitat for birds and insects. Bird species typically stratify in trees such that older Douglas firs for example actually have 3 different vertical layers of bird habitat.

I believe a permit system is the best way to track tree loss and also understand the health of your urban forest. It also functions to educate people about the value of trees. Such a system is important in maintaining a diverse habitat for wildlife and replacement. Such a permit system does not have to be cost prohibitive but can be set up as an online system with approval given online. Google street maps for example have street views which can be used to visually see things from a street level as well as Google maps viewing from space.

It also seems imperative if you don’t want to lose canopy and trees that you must require replacement of equivalent trees either on site or off site. While canopy may increase due to existing tree growth, without replacement you are decreasing the absolute number of trees as well as the potential diversity of trees.  From a stormwater runoff sense coniferous trees provide value year round.  Deciduous trees lose their leaves in the fall.  They provide little help in the winter. This is another reason to track tree loss, to see which species and what size trees are being cut down.

Another issue that needs to be considered is the use of native trees for replacement trees.  Native trees are supportive of native insect and bird species as well as adapted to climate and rain conditions in the NW.

Tree canopy as defined in your 2009 study is also only two dimensional whereas the value and worth of canopy to the urban forest is also based on canopy volume.  Cutting tall old conifer trees and replacing them with small trees like street trees are not an equivalence in value to the city in terms of the benefits different size and species of trees provide to the city and its residents.

Something Shoreline should look into is setting up a tree wiki like San Francisco and Philadelphia have.  It is an excellent tracking tool for change and a great educational tool for citizens, students, community groups and others.  You can check these out at these two links:

http://urbanforestmap.org/  and http://phillytreemap.org/

Seattle Audubon currently has a grant to start up a tree map wiki in Seattle. Joining this effort by adding Shoreline would be a great asset for both cites in trying to evaluate and protect the urban forest resources both have. I urge you look into this.

Steve Zemke

Chair – Save the Trees – Seattle

Note added for update:

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”

Corporate Oil and Beer Profits Fuel Eyman’s I-1185 Signature Drive

It’s a strange combination but corporate oil and beer profits fuel the signature drive  for Eyman’s current initiative. Oil and water may not mix but it looks like oil and beer profits do. Latest reports from the Washington State Public Disclosure Commission show corporate interests dumping in most of the $964,713 reported for Eyman’s I-1185 campaign to re-enact a 2/3 voting requirement by the legislature to raise revenue.

This latest million dollar corporate campaign to restrict the Washington State Legislature’s ability to raise funds is happening despite the recent King County Superior Court decision declaring that the 2/3 vote restriction in Initiative 1053 is unconstitutional. The decision by Superior Court Judge Bruce F Heller was issued on May 31, 2012. While this decision  will likely be reviewed by the Washington State Supreme Court.  Judge Heller’s Memorandum Opinion is pretty clear and simple.

Heller decleared  that The majority provision of Art. II, Section 22 is a clear restriction on the legislature’s power to require more than a majority vote for passage of tax measures. This restriction applies to statures  initiated by the legislature and to statues passed pursuant to voter initiatives,  While initiative measures reflect the reserved power of the people to legislate, the people in their legislative capacity remain subject to mandates of the Constitution,  Gerberding, 134 Wn.2d at 196.  RCW 43.135.024(1) is therefore unconstitutional.”

Despite this clear decision corporate interests persist in trying to prevent the Legislature from voting to directly raise revenue to fund basic state needs or to recoup revenue lost to non performing or under performing tax exemptions that are not benefiting  Washington state or its citizens.

On May 16, the Beer Institute  out of Washington DC dropped in $400,000 dollars to help pay Citizen Solutions, Eyman’s signature gathering firm.  BP Oil out of Chicago, Il added $100,000 as did Conoco Phillips Company out of Washington DC. The Washington Restaurant Association added $25,000.

Meanwhile the Association of Washington Business  acting to shield the true source of their money, paid $185,000 directly to Citizen Solutions. It was reported as an In Kind donation by Eyman. Where did the Association of Washington Business get the money from? Their public disclosure report shows that they received $100,000 from the  American Beverage Association in Washington, DC and another $100,000 from Tesoro Companies in San Antonio, Texas. In addition they got $50,000 from Equilion Enterprises in Houston Texas, and $50,000 from Shell Oil Company in Sacramento, California.

In a press report where Jay Inslee, the Democratic candidate for Governor of Washington accused the Assocation of Washington Business of collecting money from Tesoro to support Inslee’s Republican opponent Rob McKenna, the AWB  denied the accusation and said the money was passed on to Citizen Solutions to pay for collecting signatures on I-1185.

Big corporate interests are again looking out for their bottom line. Oil companies love it that Eyman is using his anti tax mantra to promote a measure that helps protect their profits.  Eyman is selling his snake oil potion to the citizen taxpayers of Washington State as something that benefits them. Unfortunately what it does is lock in a regressive tax system that soaks low income taxpayers and lets corporate profiteers off the hook for new taxes and prevents the legislature from repealing special interest tax breaks oil companies and others  enjoy.

Oil companies are opposing a State Legislative proposed  increase in the toxic substances tax that would have been used to clean up stormwater runoff contaminated by oil byproducts.  Here in Washington state oil companies are soaking up profits like mad as our gasoline prices are the highest in the nation.  We pay higher gas prices so they can pay Eyman to put in place a measure that would stop the legislature from charging them to help clean up an environmental problem caused by toxic oil in stormwater runoff entering our strearms, rivers and Puget Sound. Gas prices right now are the highest in the lower 48 states.

Three of the companies contributing to Eyman’s campaign are Shell oil companies.  Besides Shell itself, Tesoro Industries and Equilon Enterprises are affiliated with Shell. Equilion is doing business in Washington State as Shell Oil Products and has a crude oil refinery in Anacortes, Washington. Tesoro Industries also has a refinery in Anacortes and markets under the Shell name among others. In 2010 there was an explosion at the Tesoro Refinery at Anacortes, Washington that killed 5 workers.

Can Shell afford to help Tim Eyman? I suppose their  $8.7 billion dollar profit in the first quarter of 2012 left them with some spare change. BP Oil reported a profit of $5.9 billion and Conoco Phillips a profit of $2.9 billion.  To them a few hundred million to prevent the Washington State Legislature from having them help pay for cleaning up oil contaminated stormwater runoff is just another small investment in protecting their profits.

The taxpayers of Washington State, who are paying the highest gas prices in the United States, are the suckers unfortunately who suffer from both oil contaminated water and a regressive tax system that doesn’t tax the wealthy the same as lower income brackets. This is because Eyman’s 2/3 vote requirement for raising revenue or repealing corporate tax exemptions forces the legislature to cut public services like education and health care for seniors and children rather than do tax reform and make the system fairer and more equitable.

 Washington voters and taxpayers  need to wake up to the reality that letting a minority of 1/3 of the Legislators in one House dictate tax policy benefits the wealthy and Big Corporations a lot more than moderate and low income working families. Why else are the Oil and Beverage Companies funding I-1185?  It’s their corporate profits that’s driving their actions, not their civic altruism.

Don’t sign I-1185 or vote for it if it makes the ballot. 

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