The Seattle City Council today unamiously passed by 8-0 votes two measures designed to help protect Seattle’s urban forest. The two measures were Resolution 31138 to improve City tree policies sponsored by Councilmember Conlin and Ordinance 116577 to create an Urban Forestry Commission that was sponsored by Nick Licata.
Councilmember Licata sent out the following e-mail:
“I believe we must expand our urban forest canopy. Our urban forest provides benefits to drainage, air quality such as CO2 reduction, as well as aesthetic benefits. It also provides useful shade on the 95+ degree days we had last week.
The Urban Forest Commission can assist the City in meeting the challenge of expanding our tree canopy while increasing residential density, as foreseen in the Seattle Comprehensive Plan, by providing broad-based expertise.
The Urban Forestry Commission passed by the EEMU Committee would have nine members: a wildlife biologist, an urban ecologist, a representative of a local, state, or federal natural resource agency or an accredited university, a hydrologist, an arborist, a landscape architect, representative of a non-profit or NGO whose mission is to advocate for the urban forest, a representative of the development community, and an economist or real estate broker, preferably with expertise in land use or environmental planning.
The Urban Forestry Commission has the following duties:
* to provide recommendations regarding City plans, major or significant policy recommendations, and any City department’s recommendations related to urban forestry, arboriculture, and horticulture;
* to provide recommendations on any Urban Forest Management Plan, or similar document designed to provide policy direction on preserving and protecting the City’s urban forest habitat;
* to provide recommendations on legislation concerning urban forest management, sustainability and protection of trees on public or private property;
* to review and comment on any proposal to inventory trees within the City of Seattle;
* Monitor implementation of City plans and policies related to the urban forest, and provide review and comment to the Mayor and City Council
* to educate the public on urban forestry issues;
* to review programs for identifying and maintaining trees with significant historical, cultural, environmental, educational, ecological or aesthetic value; and
* comment on the proposed Office of Sustainability and Environment work program, and any work by any City interdepartmental advisory body relating to the Urban Forest.
In addition, the Urban Forestry Commission will consider making recommendations for items included in the resolution, including incentives for developers to preserve existing trees and/or plant new trees. While I understand some might prefer to not have developers represented on this commission, it would be difficult to carry out this task, and reach practical, sensible incentives that can be used by developers to preserve and add to our urban forest canopy without their being represented.
Resolution 31138 passed tree protection guidelines, with City departments due to report back to the City Council in 2010 on various tree-related policy questions.”