Statement by Steve Zemke – Chair TreePAC
Results released today of a Poll done by Change Research in July for the Northwest Progressive Institute included questions regarding increasing protection for trees in Seattle. The responses showed strong support for updating Seattle’s Tree Protection Ordinance. TreePAC and other community groups and citizens have been urging Seattle mayors and City Council members for 12 years to update the ordinance. Their repeated delays and reluctance to act is strange considering the polls strong support for increasing tree protection. Even Change Research was surprised by the strong support.
Steve Zemke, Chair of Tree PAC and a former member of the Seattle Urban Forestry Commission for 6 years, said the response confirmed strong public support for action now. The Seattle Urban Forestry Commission has been advocating for the city to act since it was formed in 2009.
Steve Zemke said. “The Mayor and Seattle City Council should take heart in these poll results and move forward quickly to update and strengthen protections for trees and Seattle’s urban forest. The public wants action now after 12 years of delay by city officials.”
The poll focused on issues repeatedly raised by members of the public and the Seattle Urban Forestry Commission and incorporated in the 2019 Seattle City Council Resolution 31902 – A RESOLUTION declaring the City Council’s and the Mayor’s intent to consider strategies to protect trees and increase Seattle’s tree canopy cover.
The Seattle Urban Forestry Commission even produced in 2018 a draft updated Tree and Urban Forestry Protection Ordinance for the Seattle City Council and Mayor to consider but that was ignored by the City. Over a thousand e-mails were sent to city officials by citizens urging action. An on-line petition signed by over 5270 people also was sent to the city urging action.
Zemke noted, “With increasing climate impacts affecting citizens in the city, officials need to act now to stop the unnecessary loss of exiting trees and plant more trees in those areas with low tree canopy. To do otherwise is to ignore both science and the health and welfare of Seattle residents. With better planning, Seattle can continue to add needed housing that is affordable while also maintaining and growing its tree canopy. It is not an either/or situation. We can and must do both.”