Tag Archives: Seattle School District

Ingraham HS Stages Pep Rally to Cut Down Trees

Threatened NW Tree Grove at Ingraham High School

On Tuesday night at Ingraham High School in North Seattle, the Seattle Department of Planning and Development (DPD) held a public meeting on the Ingraham construction project. As you know, Save the Trees – Seattle and others in the community are opposed to the Seattle School District cutting down 68 trees in a grove on the west side of the High School when other locations exist on the campus where the addition can be built without cutting down any large trees.
The trees to be cut are the 100 foot tall 75 year old Douglas fir, western red cedar and Pacific madrone trees in the distance in the picture. The grassy area in the foreground is one place Save the Trees – Seattle says the new addition could be built, saving any large trees from needing to be cut down. The Ingraham High School master plan actually says this open lawn area is where a future addition could be built an Ingraham. Why not now?

Many neighbors and others turned out to support saving the tree grove and to urge that the project be moved. There was also a very large contingent of vocal students and parents and teachers frustrated by their long standing grievance of classes being held in rundown mold infested portables for too many years.

The Principal at Ingraham stated that he made a concerted effort to turn out students and parents and teachers to support the project. With his encouragement the students basically staged a pep rally for the project. This was not unexpected considering what they have had to put up with in a substandard learning environment.

Those opposed to needlessly cutting down the trees on a campus, which at 28 acres is the largest in the Seattle School District, sympathized with the frustration of the students and parents and teachers who for too many years have been forced to take classes in substandard portables that are in terrible shape and have mold. Teachers and students complained of getting sick. Some of the portables house special needs students but do not have running water or bathrooms.

The Seattle School District has let the situation get out of control and is now trying to make the neighbors the villains for their negligence. The Seattle School District’s approach has been to deny they have any responsibility for delaying the project and blame neighbors who love trees more than students as what is preventing the project from going forward

But Save the Trees – Seattle and the neighbors support the long overdue upgrading of the classrooms. We are not, however, the villains just because we also don’t want to needlessly destroy a unique urban forest when viable alternatives exist on the campus for building elsewhere. One location we suggested was the North lawn area which Ingraham actually picked as the site if a future addition was to be built after the current project.

It is rather ironic that the Ingraham Master Plan produced as part of this project can propose building on this North lawn location in the future but it is somehow not possible to build there now and spare the grove of trees. They are serious enough about retaining the North lawn area for a future addition that in the current proposal it is the only area on campus where they do not propose planting trees.

Two wrongs do not make a right. Not upgrading or maintaining the school in a responsible way for students and teachers in the past and proposing to cut down 68 Douglas fir, Western red cedar and Pacific madrone trees to now do the upgrade is only compounding the past mistakes by avoiding responsible stewardship of both our schools and our natural urban habitat.

The Principal testified that he went around to different student groups to recruit them to come to the public meeting to support the project as is. It is very hard for any students to take on the Principal publicly and say they opposed cutting down the trees. I have spoken with both students and teachers who opposed cutting down the trees. At least one teacher was told to stop any efforts to get students to oppose cutting down the trees because that was political and not education. The teacher felt threatened and that her job was at stake.

The Principal is the authority figure at the school. Student recommendations for college frequently come from the Principal. Is it any wonder that teachers and students who oppose cutting down the trees might feel intimidated or threatened if they spoke out. I remember when I contacted Martin Floe about our arborist looking at the trees he personally told me to not talk to the students. I guess he was afraid of them hearing anything contrary to his position. So much for an open dialogue at Ingraham.

What Floe has forgotten is that he is acting in a capacity of public trustee for a public school funded by taxpayer dollars. He has tried to characterize the neighbors as NIMBY’s which means he doesn’t even understand the term. We are not opposed to renovating the school and in fact believe it is long overdue. I am aware of no one in our group or neighbors and other tree advocates that are opposed to the renovation. We voted for the BEX bond issue. Our tax dollars are paying for the project and we have the right to express our views as much as anyone else.

Unfortunately the process set up by Martin Floe excluded the community and neighbors from the initial selection of the site and design of the project. Meetings of the School Design Team were held in secret with a few parents and teachers personally selected by Martin Floe. The public’s only chance to comment on the proposed project was earlier this year after the building site had been chosen and the design done. And we were then told we could not comment on the site anymore since that decision was already made.

At last night’s meeting, as I publicly stated, I do not think anyone there opposed the decaying portables being torn down and replaced with modern classrooms. Unfortunately it was obvious that the only option given to students and others to get new classrooms was to build in the tree grove. And blame the neighbors, rather than the School District for its inadequate review and closed review process, for preventing them from getting new classrooms.

The issue at this point is a legal one, whether or not the project is in compliance with city and state SEPA laws. We are pursing the legal process afforded the public to review the project.

The meeting was part of the public process for approval of land use permits for building in the City of Seattle and is proceeding on the normal timetable, except for the delay caused by the School District withdrawing their permit application in August in an attempt to just cut the trees down. The King County Superior Court issued an injunction to stop the trees from being cut down without any review by the City of Seattle. The City of Seattle is expected to make a decision in the next few weeks. The City does have the authority under the city’s SEPA laws to further mitigate the project, including moving it to save the tree grove. We will let you know what happens.

Seattle School District Refiles Application to Build Ingraham High School Addition in Tree Grove

Threatened NW Tree Grove at Ingraham High School


Your comments now can help save the trees at Ingraham High School in North Seattle from the chainsaw!

If you have not yet heard, the Seattle School District has refilled their application to proceed ahead with their construction project at Ingraham High School. Here is the permit website: http://web1.seattle.gov/DPD/permitstatus/Project.aspx?id=3009549.

Comments need to be sent by Nov. 13, 2008!!! (note -deadline was extended)

The Seattle School District has filed to build the project in the same location as before – in the grove of 100 foot tall, 75 year old Douglas fir, Pacific madrone and western red cedar trees on the West side of the High School. This will result in the cutting down of 68 of the trees.

As you may remember, Save the Trees – Seattle was successful in temporarily stopping the Seattle School District from cutting down the trees in August after the District withdrew their permits. But the Injunction was only temporary and the school district has refiled with the Seattle Department of Planning and Development to go ahead with the Project.

The Judge at the time ruled that it was premature to file our appeal of the DNS (Determination of Non-Significance) on the Environmental checklist issued by the Seattle School District, even though the Seattle School District said we had to file then or lose our right to appeal.

Judge John Erlick of the King County Superior Court noted that the City of Seattle had the power to alter the project or put additional conditions on it and until the city approved the permit, the final project could be altered by the city. The Judge felt it was premature to rule on the merits of the case.

This is of course the hope of those opposing the trees being cut down and why your comments to the city are so important. The city has the option of saying the environmental impacts are significant in the proposed location that results in so many trees being cut down and ask the Seattle School District to move the project to another location.

Right now the Project has only been reviewed within the Seattle School District. Now it is the City of Seattle’s turn to review the Project for compliance with city laws, including our land use and environmental and SEPA laws. This is your opportunity to comment on the project and it is important that as many people as possible respond and urge the city to not approve the Seattle School District’s plan to cut the trees down. Comments must be sent by Nov. 13, 2008.

The fact is that there are other locations at Ingraham High School that the addition can be built on that do not require that any large trees be cut down, including the open lawn area on the North side of the school. They do not need to cut the trees down. Neighbors support the renovation which is to replace decaying portables at the school but not in the tree grove. We can have both education and trees on the Ingraham campus, which at 28 acres is the largest public high school campus in Seattle.

Important points to make to help save the trees:

1. Seattle’s latest Comprehensive Plan in the Environment Element states that the city should “strive to protect and retain certain trees and groups of trees that enhance Seattle’s historical, cultural, environmental and aesthetic values” and “work to achieve a sustainable urban forest that contains a diverse mix of tree species and ages in order to use the forest’s abilities to reduce storm water runoff and pollution, absorb air pollutants, provide wildlife habitat, absorb carbon dioxide, provide shade, stabilize soil, and increase property values.”

2. In addition the Comprehensive Plan’s policy is “to strive to achieve no net loss of tree canopy coverage starting in 2008, and strive to increase tree canopy coverage by 1% per year up to a total of 40 percent, to reduce storm runoff, absorb air pollutants, reduce noise, stabilize soil, provide habitat and mitigate the heat island effect of developed areas.” Seattle’s urban tree canopy has gone from 40% in 1972 to 18% today.

3. The west grove of trees at Ingraham HS was acknowledged by the Hearing Examiner for the Seattle School District to be a de facto park area used by students and neighbors for passive recreation and would be lost if the trees are cut.

4. SMC 25.05.675 N Plants and animals. City SEPA law states that it is “the City’s policy to minimize or prevent the loss of wildlife habitat and other vegetation which have substantial aesthetic, educational, ecological and/or economic value. A high priority shall be given to preservation and protection of special habitat types… A high priority shall also be given to meeting the needs of state and federal threatened, endangered and sensitive species of both plants and animals.”

5. The Washington State Department of Natural Resources through its Natural Heritage Program has classified the habitat in the west grove as a rare plant community in King County. The plant association includes Douglas fir, Pacific Madrone and salal. Pacific madrone trees are in decline in the region and need to be protected.

6. The band-tailed pigeon, which feeds on the fruit of the madrone tree, and has been seen in the Ingraham neighborhood, has been listed by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife as a priority species. “Priority species require protective measures for their survival due to their population status, sensitivity to habitat alteration ….”, according to the Department.

7. The Seattle City Council’s recently passed tree grove resolution stated that , “Section 25.05.675(N) of the Seattle Municipal Code allows for preservation of trees as mitigation when a project would reduce or damage rare, uncommon, unique or exceptional plant or wildlife habitat, wildlife travel ways, or habitat diversity for species of substantial aesthetic, education, ecological or economic value”

8. The Seattle School District’s DNS (Determination of Non-significance) is not a mitigated DNS. This means they are under no obligation to do anything they say they will do if they cut the trees – like plant more trees or protect the east grove of trees. The Seattle School District has a terrible record at Ingraham of trees dying that they previously planted.

9. Removing the trees creates drainage problems because the trees help control runoff and absorb water.

These are some points you can make but please write up in your own words your personal comments. Add any other reasons that you believe as to why the trees should be saved.

You can send comments 3 different ways:

1. Click on this link and you can just fill in your comments right now and send them in for the project. http://web1.seattle.gov/dpd/LUIB/CommentEmail.aspx?BID=358&NID=8971&P=3009549&D=10/16/2008

2. Send comments to: Tamara.Garrett@seattle.gov

3. Send comments to:

DPD/Attention Tamara Garrett
700 5th Avenue, Suite 2000
PO Box 34019
Seattle, WA 98124

Please include your name and address so you can be kept updated on the project, and be notified when there is a public meeting.Note the comments are on Permit Application #3009549 on the Ingraham High School Renovation.

Please send a blind copy – bcc to me at stevezemke@msn.com so that we can track the response and input we are getting if you send by separate e-mail and don’t use the form in the link above.

Even a few short sentences are helpful. We need to show strong public support from as many people as possible for saving the trees and moving the addition to another site, like the North lawn area at Ingraham.

The DPD on their website gives the following suggestions for making comments:
http://www.seattle.gov/dpd/Notices/Public_Comment/How_To_Comment/default.asp#Tips Tips on Making Effective CommentsAlthough the quantity of letters DPD receives regarding land use activities may indicate the extent of neighborhood or agency interest, it is the relevance of the comments—the information they contain—that will most affect a project’s outcome. Here are some tips on making your comments effective:

Briefly explain who you are and why you are interested in the project.
State your concerns clearly and succinctly using objective language.
Comment only on issues relevant to the decision being made.
State opinions and preferences, ask questions, and propose alternative solutions to particular issues. State informed opinions and, where possible, include data to support your opinion.
Review the project’s technical reports or Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) data, comment on conclusions, assumptions and the data collecting methods.
Keep focused on your objective. You want DPD to hear your concerns and be compelled enough to investigate further.
Identify the topics you want to include in your letter and how you want to organize them.
Ask for studies that you think are important but have not been provided.
If the proposed project is subject to SEPA and you think it will have significant environmental impact, request that an EIS be prepared.
Provide your own information.
Identify project features that you like and think should not be changed.
Provide any comments about the project’s compliance with the Land Use Code.
Ask to be added to the project mailing list and request a copy of the notice of decision. (Copies are sent via U.S. mail, s o please provide your mailing address when making request

For reference:

Here is the environmental checklist for the project:
Here is the environmental policies and SEPA laws for Seattle:

see also

www.MajorityRules.org/blog – numerous posts

Judge halts Tree Cutting near Ingraham High School – http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/localnews/2008112745_trees14m.html

Judge – Tree Cutting at Ingraham High needs city approval – http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/localnews/2008138212_trees26m.html

Thanks for your help!

Steve Zemke
Save the Trees – Seattle

Please call if you have questions.

Please forward this link to others who might respond. Thanks

PS. Save the Trees – Seattle still owes about $4000 to their attorneys. If you can help with a contribution it would be appreciated. Checks can be made out to “Save the Trees – Seattle” and sent to Save the Trees – Seattle, c/o Steve Zemke, 2131 N 132nd St, Seattle, WA 98133

Please note revised date for sending in comments. The current updated date is by Nov. 13, 2008.

Seattle Public School Violates Court Injunction!

Threatened NW Tree Grove at Ingraham High School

On Monday Judge Erlick of the King County Superior Court ruled on behalf of the plaintiffs Save the Trees – Seattle and put in place an Injunction to prevent the Seattle School District from cutting the trees or destroying the habitat in the grove of trees on the West side of Ingraham High School. This afternoon, a contractor for the Seattle School District drove into the center of the grove and commenced putting up another fence in the proposed construction area. Using an air hammer the contractor started driving steel posts into the ground.

This action was in direct violation of Judge Erlick’s ruling that the trees and habitat were to be preserved and protected while the Seattle School District resubmitted its construction permit application to the City of Seattle. Steve Zemke of Save the Trees – Seattle called the police and contacted their attorney, Keith Scully, of Gendler and Mann, who contacted Ron English, Attorney for the Seattle School District who contacted MidMountain Contractors who called their employee to stop any further work.

The truck was driven out of the grove a short while later. The call to the police was cancelled as they had not yet shown up. Tree Solutions and other consultants have advised the Seattle School District to keep trucks out of the trees because they damage the tree roots and affect the survivability of the trees. The Seattle School District continues to ignore this advice and the court order prohibiting damage to the tree grove until the environmental review process is completed.

Why was the Seattle School District not able to obey the court order and inform all contractors of the Injunction prohibiting any activities which would harm or destroy the trees or the habitat of the groove? The Project manager at Ingraham is John McWilliams and he should be held responsible along with Don Gilmore who is in charge of the BEX program.

John McWilliams and Don Gilmore were both present in Judge Erlick’s courtroom on Monday when Judge Erlick ruled. Did they not understand what the Judge said? As Project Manager for the Ingraham Project isn’t McWilliams responsible for what the contractors do? Or is this just going to be called another one of those “mistakes” or “miscommunications” and brushed aside?

Contactors working at Denny Sealth in West Seattle recently cut down trees and bulldozed an area along Longfellow Creek on the Sealth campus at the same time an appeal was underway before a Seattle School District Hearing Examiner. This action destroying that habitat made that part of the appeal mute and resulted in the Hearing Examiner saying the School District needed to up the loss of trees there from 25 to 35 to reflect that action. The actual result was contrary to a statement by Seattle School Board member Peter Maier who at the time was seen on television saying that all that happened was that a few trees were nicked.


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!



Save the Trees – Seattle in Court Seeking Preliminary Injunction

Threatened NW Tree Grove at Ingraham High School

A hearing is scheduled for 2:00 PM Monday, August 25, 2008 before Judge Erlick of the King County Superior Court, 516 Third Ave, Seattle in Rm W 10-60 on the Save the Trees Motion for a Preliminary Injunction and Motion to Reduce Bond.

Save the Trees is back in court today on their motion for a Preliminary Injunction to prevent the Seattle School District from cutting down 68 Douglas fir, Western Red Cedar and Pacific madrone trees on the west side of Ingraham High School before a hearing can be held in King County Superior Court to resolve the environmental impacts of the project. The temporary restraining order expires today, which means the Seattle School District could again try to cut the trees down tomorrow unless the Preliminary Injunction is granted.

As Save the Trees Attorney Keith Scully of Gendler and Mann notes in the petition to the Superior Court,

“The District’s Decision to withdraw its MUP and other permit applications
has dramatically altered the factual picture since the Hearing Examiner made her
decision. As the District has gone to great pains to demonstrate, the District
has not applied for permits…It can cut the trees without any city permits or
even finalizing construction plans. It is not bound to submit the proposal as
described to the Hearing Examiner to the City. There is thus no guarantee that
any mitigation will actually be constructed once the trees are gone, let alone
enough to compensate for the massive increase in untreated stormwater to Haller
Lake, increase in greenhouse emissions, removal of habitat, and other impacts
that will result from the District’s clearcut. Unlike most land use cases, where
the court reviews both the permits and the associated SEPA review, the District
in this matter is attempting to manipulate the City of Seattle’s review process
by cutting trees before finalizing permit plans. The necessary consequence to
the District of this course of action is that they cannot rely on hypothetical
mitigation measures to justify the determination of non-significance: unlike the
facts presented to the Hearing Examiner, the only action on the table at this
time is clear-cutting a rare collection of trees and other native species”

The Ingraham Tree Grove is comprised of a plant habitat that has been identified by the Washington State Department of Natural Resources as a rare plant community in King County. The area has also functioned as a school and community park and has been used by Ingraham High School biology and ecology classes for education purposes. While the Seattle City Council and Mayor Nickels are urging the preservation of existing trees and adding canopy to the city, the Seattle School District is going in the opposite direction.

The issue at Ingraham High School is not one of education versus trees. We can have both trees and education. The Seattle School District can build the proposed addition on the open lawn area on the North side of the School without cutting down any large trees. This is a location they have already identified and selected as a future building site in the Ingraham Master Plan. Save the Trees supports the renovation of Ingraham High School and building the new addition on the North side of the school.

By having withdrawn their construction permits and trying to just cut the grove of trees down, the Seattle School District is trying to avoid any consideration of Washington State and Seattle environmental and land use laws. They are saying the issues will be settled by the chain saw not the rule of law.

To date the environmental issues have only been evaluated by the Seattle School District which obviously has a conflict of interest. The appeal before a hearing examiner was before a hearing examiner hired by the Seattle School District. The issues have yet to reach the King County Superior Court.

The Seattle School District is playing the school yard bully and trying to prevent the normal process by which citizen’s have a right to seek redress from actions or decisions of their government which they think are wrong.

Ingraham Tree Grove Given Temporary Stay of Execution

Save the Trees!

Threatened NW Tree Grove at Ingraham High School

Save the Trees – Seattle, representing the neighbors and community around Ingraham High School, was granted a temporary restraining order on August 13, 2008 to halt the cutting of 68 trees in the West Grove. This action became necessary when the Seattle School District withdrew their construction permits, trying to avoid further environmental review of their project by the City of Seattle. They believed they could then just cut down the trees and then reapply for a new permit.

The Seattle School District wanted to prevent further judicial review by those who believe the trees don’t have to be cut. Save the Trees position is that the District can build the project on the open lawn area on the North side of the school without cutting down any large trees. We can have both the educational benefits of a renovated school and the environmental benefits of a healthy urban forest and park. It is not an either or situation but a choice to have both.

Save the Trees! needs to go back to court on August 25, 2008 to get a preliminary injunction to stop the tree cutting while the environmental appeal of the Seattle School District’s proposal is being heard in the King County Superior Court. The August 25, 2008 hearing will again be before Judge Erlickin the King County Superior Court and will start at 2 PM.

Save the Trees! needs your help to continue their battle. Neighbors and other supporters of Save the Trees in Seattle have already helped raise a $7500 bond or the trees would have been cut down. Now Save the Trees needs to raise another $25,000 to continue the legal battle.

If you want to see both trees and education coexist in our neighborhood and city, please copy the coupon below and send a generous check to Save the Trees!. Please include your e-mail so you we can keep you updated. Thanks for helping!

Send your check today to:

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

P.S. Please forward this post to your friends. The trees at Ingraham represent in a nutshell the crisis facing Seattle’s urban forests. If we can’t save the trees at Ingraham, what tree in Seattle is safe from the chainsaw? Seattle’s urban tree canopy has gone from 40% in 1972 to only 18% today. It’s time to preserve the remaining trees in our city, not keep cutting them down!


Yes we can have both education and trees at Ingraham High School! Here is my check to help pay for the legal battle to save the trees in the West Grove from the chainsaws and move the proposed addition to the North Lawn area.

I can help with [] $1000 [] $500 [] $250 [] $100 [] $50 [] $25 [] other $_______

Name __________________________________________ Phone (h) _______

Address ________________________________________ (w) __________

City _______________________State ______Zip _______ (cell) __________

e-mail (print clearly)___________________________________________

Send checks to Save the Trees!, c/o Steve Zemke, 2131 N 132nd St, Seattle, WA 98133
Copy this coupon and send with your check. Thanks
Recent news articles and blogs writing about saving the Ingraham trees:

Judge prohibits School District from cutting Ingraham High trees

Judge halts tree cutting near Ingraham High School