It’s been a hectic couple of day here in Seattle battling to save the old trees at Ingraham High School! A somewhat ordinary environmental review process has turned into a battle to stop the chain saws as the Seattle School District has resorted to dirty developer tactics and an all out attempt to bully their way over the public by just cutting down the trees. On Thursday they withdrew their building permit applications with the City of Seattle, claiming that without the pending land use applications they could just cut down the trees. Neighbors and Seattle be damned they said! The School District said they plan to cut down the trees on August 15th and 16th .
Once the trees are cut down the Seattle School District plans to resubmit its plans to again add the building addition where the trees once were. Oh and don’t despair. They said you’ll be able to comment on their proposal again at that time. But this time there won’t be any trees in the way for angry neighbors and tree lovers and park lovers to complain about losing.
We urgently need the help of the public to stop them. This blatant evasion of the normal planning process is outrageous and a callous attempt to avoid environmental protection and land use laws. One might expect such arrogant bullying from a private developer but the Seattle Public Schools are owned by the taxpayers. Its our money and our schools. Please help now to save the trees at Ingraham.
Please note: It’s not a question of trees versus school renovation. It never has been. Save the Trees supports replacing the decaying portables with new classrooms. We support putting the new addition on the North side of the school on an open lawn area where no large trees have to be cut down. The Seattle School District, without seeking public input from neighbors and the community, chose to build the addition in a grove of 75 year old 100 foot tall Douglas fir, Pacific madrone and western red cedar trees. Some 68 trees would be unnecessarily cut down. They have long been are a neighborhood park. They also constitute a rare plant community in King County under the Washington State Department of Natural Resources Natural Heritage Program.
You can read our press release here on MajorityRulesBlog: http://www.majorityrules.org/blog/2008/08/seattle-school-district-seeks-to-avoid.html
There has been major coverage in both the print and broadcast media.
In the Seattle Times by Susan Gilmore http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/localnews/2008101880_ingraham09m.html
And a post by Lisa Stiffler. http://blog.seattlepi.nwsource.com/environment/archives/145622.asp
A link to the KOMO site http://www.komonews.com/news/26442089.html
A link to the King 5 news story is here: http://www.king5.com/education/stories/NW_080808WAB_seattle_school_tree_controversy_TP.2a35ef0b.html#
Also you can find a series of blog posts on the Ingraham battle as it has evolved over the last several months at www.MajorityRules.org/blog
We need people to email or call Seattle City Council members, the Mayor’s office and Seattle School Board and the Seattle School’s Superintendent expressing outrage at the Seattle School District’s decision to evade environmental scrutiny by a developer’s loophole.
Urge the School District and Superintendent to continue the environmental review process in the Courts or just move the proposed addition to the North side of Ingraham High School where they could build without cutting down any large trees. Urge specifically they not cut down the trees.
Urge the Seattle City Council and Mayor to pass now a strong tree preservation ordinance to close this and other loopholes and give protection to saving and expanding tree cover in the city! Urge action now, not next year. If you are outraged by this slimy trick to evade environmental review tell the city council and mayor to end these developer loopholes.
Send a contribution made out to Save the Trees! to help pay legal expenses. Initial costs are several thousand dollars. More costs are anticipated if the School District digs in further. Send as generous a check as you can to “Save the Trees!” c/o Steve Zemke, 2131 N 132nd St, Seattle, WA 98133 206-366-0811