Heidi Wills for Seattle City Council District 6 – 2019 Questionnaire

Heidi Wills - district 6
  1. SUPPORT FOR COUNCIL ORDINANCE RESOLUTION 31870 As part of the MHA Ordinance passage in March 2019 the Seattle City Council passed Resolution 31870. Section 6 of that Resolution called for updating Seattle’s Tree Protection Ordinance. Do you support that provision?

Yes X No            

Optional Comment (50 word maximum): As I have said throughout the campaign (and my life), climate change is the most urgent issue facing humanity and all life on our planet. Simply put:

climate change and tree canopy are inextricably linked (“Tree planting has mind-blowing potential to tackle climate crisis (Link from The Guardian article here)

  1. SUPPORT FOR COUNCIL RESOLUTION 31902 The Seattle City Council on Sept. 16, 2019 passed Resolution 31902 declaring the City Council’s and the Mayor’s intent to consider strategies to protect trees and increase Seattle’s tree canopy cover.” The resolution calls for the city to update Seattle’s Tree Protection Ordinance in 2020 . Do you support this resolution for updating Seattle’s Tree Protection Ordinance?

Yes X No            

Optional Comment: I love this list of heritage trees on the Seattle.gov website (Link). Trees are what make our city and our community an attractive place to live, work, and play. This measure will protect and grow tree canopy which shelter wildlife and add countless health and climate benefits to our community.

  1. PERMITS FOR TREE REMOVAL AND REPLACEMENT Seattle’s current Tree Protection Ordinance SMC 25.11 is a complaint-based system for developed property. It is not working according to the 2017 Tree Regulations Research Project Report done by DCI and OSE. The report states that Exceptional trees and groves were being lost. Trees were being removed from Environmental Critical Areas. Large conifers were being replaced with deciduous and dwarf species. Do you support updating the ordinance to require permits to remove and replace trees, like SDOT does for street trees and like Portland, Lake Forest Park and other cities do for all trees removed?

Yes X No            

Optional Comment: We should borrow what is working in other cities and look to adopt best practices here. I want to safeguard against the removal of trees. As a lifelong champion of the environment, I am the only candidate with both the Washington Conservation Voters and Sierra Club endorsements.


The Seattle Department of Transportation requires the posting on site of all tree removal and replacement permit applications for two weeks prior to trees removed. Do you support requiring Tree Removal and Replacement Permit Applications being posted on site and on- line?

Yes X No           

Optional Comments: We need to meet citizens where they are. I know that the public agrees with me that trees are an integral part of what makes District 6 livable. I am 100% in support of anything that keeps people informed of tree removal.

Do you support a Tree Removal and Replacement Permit being posted on site for a week after the tree is removed so that neighbors know it was taken down legally?

Yes X No           

Optional Comments: Again, citizens need to know what has happened to their neighborhood. There is no downside to keeping people up to date. Actually, it’s one of the main reasons I am running. There are too many District 6 residents who do not feel included on important decisions, including tree removal.



REPLACEMENT OF TREES CUT DOWN – Many other cities require that trees removed, whether on developed property or property being developed, must be replaced. All trees 6” DBH and larger are currently required to be on development site plans. In the single-family zone, trees 6 inches DBH and larger represent about 48 % of the trees. Do you support requiring tree replacement when trees larger than 6 inches DBH are removed?

Yes X No           

Optional Comments Yes, we should look at best practices from other cities in how they are protecting trees? Let’s develop a tree action plan and continue to refine it as we go along. This is a project I would lead on.


FEE-IN-LIEU OF REPLACEMENT – Portland, OR and other cities allow for a fee to be paid to replace trees elsewhere if they cannot be replaced on the property where they were cut down. Seattle is considering an option to allow a fee in lieu to be paid to plant a new tree elsewhere and maintain it for 5 years. Replacement of trees in other areas can be sited based on race and social justice considerations. Do you support this option?

Yes X No           

Optional Comments: There is overwhelming support to protect our tree canopy. That said, if trees cannot be replaced onsite, I support this fee. I’ve worked in our city’s parks for the last 13 years and in particular south Seattle. I agree we should be mindful of racial and social justice considerations.


EXCEPTIONAL TREES are defined as “a tree or group of trees that because of its unique historical, ecological, or aesthetic value constitutes an important community resource”, including large trees, heritage trees and tree groves. They are protected by the current ordinance. Do you support continuing the protection of exceptional trees?

Yes X No           

Optional Comments: Absolutely. I walk a lot and it’s not uncommon to talk with residents about exceptional trees and lament their loss. They’re important for wildlife, birds and humans. We are stewards of them. They were planted by those who came before us, and we owe their protection to the next generation.


LOWER LARGE TREE EXCEPTIONAL THRESHOLD The Urban Forestry Commission has recommended that the upper limit to declare a large tree exceptional be lowered from 30 inches diameter at breast height (DBH) to 24 inches DBH to save more large trees. Do you support this protection of more large trees?

Yes X No           

Optional Comments: Yes! In addition to being needed for wildlife and bird life, they are important for human health. You’re likely familiar with doctors prescribing time in parks and around trees. Link. Seattle should be on the forefront of protecting trees.

  1. DATABASE TRACKING OF TREE REMOVALS The Seattle Urban Forestry Commission has repeatedly recommended that the city use its database system to track all tree loss and replacement, both on developed property and property being developed. Such data will help the city monitor the changes occurring in the urban forest over time. This data would be collected through Tree Removal and Replacement Permits being entered into one system for both trees removed during development and trees removed on developed property. This data will help guide the City’s Urban Forest Management Plans. Do you support the implementation of the database program as directed by Mayor Burgess’s Executive Order 2017-11 Tree Protection?

Yes X No            

Optional Comment: Yes, and it is surprising that a city which values trees has not been tracking this data, necessitating Mayor Burgess’ executive order. We live in the Emerald City and we should be managing our trees according to best practices including following this recommendation from our Seattle Urban Forestry Commission.

  1. ARBORIST REGISTRATION The Seattle Department of Transportation currently requires registration and certification for Tree Care Providers, like arborists, to help ensure they understand and comply with Seattle’s Tree Code and Regulations. Do you support requiring all Tree Care Providers working in Seattle to be registered and certified by the city as Portland already does?

Yes X No            

Optional Comment: Yes, we should have registered and certified professionals as our tree care providers. Portland is setting the standard. If elected, I’d like to work with Tree PAC and other stakeholders to help create a city where other cities look to us for best practices on managing our tree canopy.

  1. INVASIVE PLANT CONTROLRemoval of invasive vegetation in our city parks has been a long and expensive project for the city under the Green Seattle Partnership. To protect this investment, it is important that invasive species like English ivy and holly trees not get re-introduced from plants in other parts of the city. Would you support all building project landscape plans requiring the removal of all invasive plant species on the property?

Yes X No            

Optional Comment: Invasive species are harmful to our native vegetation, in fact, invasive species have led to a third of animal extinctions since 1500 (LINK). I’m encouraged by neighborhood leaders in Crown Hill, for example, who are encouraging residents to remove English ivy in our open spaces which are killing trees.

  1. CITY AUDITOR REVIEW OF COMPLIANCESMC 25.11.090 currently says “Each exceptional tree and tree over two (2) feet in diameter that is removed in association with development in all zones shall be replaced by one or more new trees, the size and species of which shall be determined by the Director; the tree replacement required shall be designed to result, upon maturity, in a canopy cover that is at least equal to the canopy cover prior to tree removal. Preference shall be given to on-site replacement. When on-site replacement cannot be achieved, or is not appropriate as determined by the Director, preference for off-site replacement shall be on public property.”

This provision, in the Tree Protection Ordinance since 2001, has apparently not been enforced by DCI or its predecessors with any consistency. No funds appear to have been collected by the City to plant off site trees nor does there appear to have been any cumulative record kept of trees removed or total trees replaced either on site or off site to meet the requirements of this provision. Would you support a review by the Seattle City Auditor of the city’s compliance with SMC 25.11.090?

Yes X No

Optional Comment: If elected, I’ll be an advocate for the Tree Protection Ordinance like I was 20 years when I served on the Council. We need to determine the roadblocks and get past them. I was on the Council in 2001; I’m proud to have this passage as part of my record.

  1. URBAN FORESTRY COMMISSION INVOLVEMENT – The Seattle Urban Forestry Commission at the request Of Councilmembers Bagshaw and Herbold submitted to the Seattle City Council and Mayor Jenny Durkan a draft Tree and Urban Forest Protection Ordinance. The draft started with the last draft by the Seattle City Council staff requested by Councilmember Rob Johnson. It addresses all the issues in the recent City Council resolutions. It represents ten years of positions established by the Seattle Urban Forestry Commission regarding efforts to update the existing Tree Protection Ordinance. Many of the issues in that draft are topics in questions

The City Council passed Ordinance 123052 in August 2009 establishing the Urban Forestry Commission (UFC) “to advise the Mayor and City Council concerning the establishment of policy and regulations governing the protection, management, and conservation of trees and vegetation in the City of Seattle.” One of the responsibilities of the Urban Forestry Commission in that legislation is “To provide recommendations on legislation concerning urban forestry management, sustainability and protection of associated trees and understory vegetation and related habitat on public or private property prior to its introduction and referral to any Council committee” Will you agree to continue to work with the Seattle Urban Forestry Commission in producing the final update to the Tree Protection Ordinance?

Yes X No            

Optional Comment: Yes, I commit to seeing this through. I value citizen involvement and neighborhood planning. Our city leaders haven’t been great about involving citizens in decision- making around issues pertaining to livability in our neighborhoods. I want to change that. Protecting our tree canopy directly impacts our quality of life.

  1. Some people believe here is a conflict between preserving and planting trees in Seattle and building more housing, particularly affordable and low – income housing. What measures or proposals do you think we could put in place to have more affordable and low-income housing as well as achieve our urban forest and tree canopy goals to keep Seattle a healthy and vibrant city for all?

Comment: Trees and affordable housing are mutually inclusive. We need both. In fact, there’s link between trees and overall happiness (“Understanding the Pursuit of Happiness in Ten Major Cities” (Link)). Let’s learn what’s working in other cities like Portland. My opponent supports converting park land into affordable housing; I do not.

  1. Do you have a story or experience regarding trees that you could share with us? 


I moved thirteen times growing up. My solace was the outdoors and nature. It allowed my soul to breathe and for my world to calm down. My favorite books growing up were “The Lorax” and “The Giving Tree.” Trees matter a lot to me. Just look at my campaign logo.