Tag Archives: Seattle Tree Grove Resolution

Help Pass Seattle’s Interim Tree Protection Ordinance – email City Council & Attend Dec. 15th Hearing!

On Monday, December 15, 2008 at 5:30 p.m., the Seattle City Council Environment, Emergency Management, and Utilities Committee will hold a public hearing at Seattle City Hall, 600 4th Ave, on an emergency tree protection ordinance for the City of Seattle. The proposal would provide for interim protection for most trees for a period of six months to a year while Seattle develops a long-range solution to increase the tree canopy and stop the loss of healthy, mature trees.

For more information, see the following links:

Public Notice of Hearing
Briefing Memo
Council Bill 116404

Your input is vital to helping to pass this interim piece of legislation to protect trees in the City of Seattle. This bill was drafted as the result of our efforts to protect the trees at Ingraham High School from being needlessly cut down when alternatives existed to the proposed construction site. When the Seattle School District withdrew their construction permits in August of 2008, we went to King County Superior Court and got an injunction to stop the trees from being cut down. The Seattle School District’s attempted clear cutting of the trees without further environmental review by the city of Seattle exposed a loophole in Seattle’s tree protection ordinances. Other tree battles like trying to save trees at Waldo Woods in North Seattle also are driving this legislation.

If you cannot attend the Hearing on Monday at 5:30 PM it is critical that you send emails to all the City Council members urging their support for Council bill 116404 to provide interim tree protection until strong permanent protections can be put in place.

You can write one e-mail and send copies to all the council members by cutting and pasting the e-mails below.
Emails are:
richard.conlin@seattle.gov; tim.burgess@seattle.gov; sally.clark@seattle.gov; jan.drago@seattle.gov; jean.godden@seattle.gov; bruce.harrell@seattle.gov; nick.licata@seattle.gov; richard.mciver@seattle.gov; tom.rasmussem@seattle.gov

This legislation is a first step towards strengthening tree protection laws in the City of Seattle. It is being attacked by so called “property rights advocates” who oppose efforts to protect trees. They are contacting members of the Seattle City Council with their opposition and we need to counter their efforts.

We need you to add your voice in support of the city stepping up and providing stronger protection for both individual trees and tree groves and our green urban habitat. Seattle’s urban tree canopy according to the city had decreased from 40% in 1973 to 18%. Unless we speak out our remaining urban trees are in danger of being lost because Seattle existing tree ordinance only provides protection to 1% total of all the trees through a very limited “exceptional tree” provision. Other cities in the region and in the US have much stronger protection measures.

Urge that the proposed legislation be amended to strengthen SEPA (State Environmental Policy Act) provisions, that permits be required to cut down any tree over 6” in diameter, that tree grove protections are vital to protecting unique urban habitats and that the exemption for “additions to existing buildings” be dropped or clarified as limited to a certain size.

Passing Council bill 116404 is only a first step but we need to take it to protect trees while permanent legislation is being drafted up. We need to generate strong citizen support via e-mails and people attending the hearing on Monday as a show of support for protecting trees in Seattle. Please help. Thanks.

The Seattle City Council noted the following:

1. “The public hearing on the tree protections is taking place in the Seattle Council Chambers (one floor above the 5th Ave entrance to City Hall) on the second floor. A different hearing will be taking place at the same time in the Bertha Knight Landes room on the first floor of City Hall (one floor below Council Chambers). This hearing is on the Mayor’s proposed gun ban and also begins at 5:30. “

2.” The sign up sheet to make public comments will be available at 5:00 pm on the December 15, 2008 right outside of Council Chambers. People will be called in the order in which they sign up.”

3. The City Council also suggests that you provide “your comments in written form either to all Council members via email, in hard copy when you come to the hearing, or via the USPS. This is important because comments are normally limited to two minutes and many people have more than can be said in that time. Submitting your comments in writing will ensure that the Council hears what you have to say.”

Seattle City Council Passes Tree Grove Protection Resolution

The full Seattle City Council on Monday , June 30, 2008 unanimously passed Resolution 31065 to help protect the remaining tree groves in the city of Seattle from being cut down. The resolution is an attempt to clarify the city’s current tree protection policies which are very weak and have only emphasized protection of exceptional individual trees.

The city has continued to lose tree cover . Between 1973 and now the city’s tree canopy has gone from 40% to 18%. The Council is trying to reverse this situation by protecting existing trees and planting new trees. Two recent proposed projects have pointed out the weakness and flaw in the past city tree policies.

A Seattle School District renovation proposal at Ingraham High School in North Seattle to add new classrooms to replace portables threatens some 62 Douglas fir, western red cedar and madrone trees that are over 75 years old. The School District without public input decided to build the new addition in the grove of trees rather than around the corner on the North side of the school where an open lawn exists.

In the Maple Leaf community in North Seattle neighbors are fighting cutting down most of a grove of old trees at the former site of the Waldo Hospital. The old hospital is being razed and a block of houses is being put on the site.

Below is the Resolution passed by the Seattle City Council.

A RESOLUTION requesting the Director of the Department of Planning and Development to submit legislation to extend the City’s tree protection efforts to include groves or groups of trees or other vegetation that are determined to have substantial ecological, educational, or economic value and to update existing Director’s Rules in support of these efforts.

WHEREAS, 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 travelways, or habitat diversity for species of substantial aesthetic, education, ecological or economic value; and

WHEREAS, Director’s Rule 06-2001 focuses on individual trees and how the SEPA policy interacts with SMC chapter 25.11, the Tree Protection Ordinance, which also focuses on individual trees; and

WHEREAS, the language of Section 25.05.675(N) is not restricted to preserving single trees nor does it suggest restricting mitigation to a single tree; and

WHEREAS, the policy intent of the Council, as stated in SMC 25.05.675(N)(1)(a), is to have decision makers mitigate impacts resulting from the loss of plant or wildlife habitat, wildlife travelways, or habitat diversity for species of substantial aesthetic, educational, ecological, or economic value; and

WHEREAS, development impacts in the City have significantly contributed to a reduction of our urban tree canopy from 40% in 1972 to 18% today, as documented in the City’s Urban Forest Management Plan (UFMP) completed by the Office of Sustainability and Environment in 2007; and

WHEREAS, the City’s Urban Forest Management Plan (UFMP) identifies an urban tree canopy goal of 30% for the City of Seattle to be achieved by 2037 and in Seattle’s most recent Comprehensive Plan amendments (Ordinance 122610), the Council adopted a goal of a 1% per year increase in urban tree canopy coverage up to 40% , and this goal is consistent with the urban tree canopy goal recommended by American Forests, the nation’s oldest non-profit citizen’s conservation organization; and

WHEREAS, the Council adopted a new Comprehensive Plan policy in Ordinance 122610 stating the City’s objective to strive to achieve no net-loss of tree canopy starting in 2008; and WHEREAS, mitigating the cumulative impact of the loss of Seattle’s urban tree cover by planting new trees will take decades; and

WHEREAS, climate change, effects of runoff to our streams, lakes, rivers, and Puget Sound, and air quality are issues of immediate importance; and WHEREAS, an environmentally and fiscally superior way to reach Seattle’s urban tree cover goal of 40% is to make every reasonable effort to prevent the loss of trees;

NOW THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED BY THE CITY COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF SEATTLE, THAT: Section 1. The City Council requests that the Director of the Department of Planning and Development promulgate or amend department rules to identify, consider, recognize and protect groves or groups of trees that provide rare, uncommon, unique or exceptional plant or wildlife habitat, or wildlife travelways, or habitat diversity for plant species of substantial aesthetic, educational, ecological or economic value, for the purpose of evaluating and mitigating development proposals; and Section 2. The Council requests that the Director of Planning and Development submit legislation to extend the City’s tree protection to include groves or groups of trees that are ecologically interdependent, including groups that may contain exceptional trees as defined in SMC chapter 25.11.

Adopted by the City Council the 30th day of June, 2008, and signed by me in open session in authentication of its adoption this 30th day of June, 2008.
Richard Conlin
President of the City Council