TreePAC Questions for Seattle City Candidates
1. Seattle currently has a 23% tree canopy cover. Seattle’s Comprehensive Plan targets a 30% canopy goal by 2037. To help reach this goal do you support strengthening tree protection by requiring permits to remove large trees on private property which Portland, Oregon ; Redmond, WA; Lake Forest Park, WA; and Vancouver, BC currently do and as the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT ) now requires for street trees?
Y _X__ N______
2. Seattle’s Comprehensive Plan also states a goal of no net loss of canopy. Do you support requiring large trees being removed on public and private property to be replaced either on site or off site and proportional in size, over time, to the canopy being lost as Cities like Portland, OR and Redmond, WA currently do?
3. Seattle’s interim tree ordinance protects existing groves of trees from being removed. The Department of Planning and Development has proposed removing this protection. Do you support continuing the policy of protecting tree groves to conserve habitat and canopy?
Y _ X___ N______ (See below)
4. The City Auditor in 2009 stated that the “City’s current approach to tree issues lacks top leadership.” Unifying “all City Departments behind a single vision through clear and demonstrated leadership of the Office of Sustainability and the Environment” has been recommended. Would you support a true City Arborist’s Office located in OSE with oversight and coordination of all urban forest issues in parks, streets, critical areas, private property and utilities?
Y________ N________ (See below)
5. Larger trees provide significantly more ecological value to Seattle’s green infrastructure, including reducing storm water runoff, cleaning pollutants from the air and providing animal habitat. Do you support giving greater protection to large trees like Heritage Trees and exceptional trees? (by requiring a larger permit fee and greater numbers of trees being planted if they are removed or by prohibiting removal unless shown to be hazardous)
Y _X___ N_________
6. TreePAC believes that deferred maintenance results in the costly replacement of trees and landscapes. Will you fight to fund the maintenance of public greenspaces, including increased funding for the Green Seattle Partnership so that the goals to restore our parklands, greenbelts, and critical areas can be met?
Y __X (see below)____ N _________
7. Are you willing to meet briefly with representatives from TreePAC, at a time and place that is mutually convenient?
Y __X_____ N ________
1. Any clarification or comments you would like to convey to us regarding the above questions, or on protecting trees and the urban forest in general.
Regarding question 3: I support protection for groves of trees. I believe we also should look to our Environmentally Critical Areas Ordinance as a source of protection.
Regarding question 4: As a step toward leadership and coordination, we are convening departments through an interdepartmental team that resolves issues as they arise. Departments do have unique needs. As we review tree policies, we must be responsive to the particular needs of each department as we also move to a more comprehensive approach to tree policy. I support a city arborist position with oversight of city tree policy, but it should have a more direct reporting responsibility to the Mayors office, as that is the most practical way to overcome departmental inertia against new policies. With the city’s improved budget position I would look forward to partnering with advocates to win city council approval for such a position.
Regarding question 6: Parks and green space funding has long been a concern of mine. In the 2013-2014 budget, I allocated $1 million in additional funds for the Green Seattle Partnership over two years, increasing support for this program by approximately 50%. Having been a leader of the effort for a Parks and Green Spaces Levy in 2007, and having managed our City parks system as an executive, I’m very aware of the maintenance funding issues we are faced with. I have convened (with City Council) a Parks Legacy Plan Citizens’ Advisory Committee that will recommend different funding options, including potential renewal of the Parks and Green Spaces levy, while examining how we should allocate these funds across the spectrum of needs, like operations, maintenance, land purchase, and development of new facilities. In the meantime I have proposed a 1-cent-per-ounce soda tax, which could result in between $21 and $29 million in revenue each year, potentially matching the $20 million shortfall in funding for operations and maintenance that exists in our parks system. This idea has been presented to the Parks Legacy Plan Citizens’ Advisory Committee as they consider future funding options, including a renewed levy and a metropolitan parks district. I look forward to their recommendations.