Movement forward on Updating Seattle’s Tree Protection Ordinance – April Action

Letter requesting organizations

to join Coalition for a Stronger Tree Ordinance

Seattle City Councilmember Rob Johnson has introduced a framework to update Seattle’s current Tree Ordinance.  This is something many citizens and organizations have been urging for almost 10 years.
We would like your organization to join with us and others to strengthen our coalition effort to coordinate and carry out a focused effort to update our outdated tree ordinance, last passed in 2009 as an “interim ordinance”.
It is important that organizations that have been working on trying to increase tree and urban canopy protection meet and work together to have an impact on shaping and passing this legislation. TreePAC and Friends of Seattle’s Urban Forest have been meeting for several months as part of a Seattle Tree Ordinance Working Group. The Seattle Urban Forestry Commission in April passed an abbreviated list of action items that are similar to those supported by our working group.

Go to Action Needed Now to Protect  Seattle’s Trees and Urban Forest – to see
final letter to the Mayor and City Council urging action on updating our current tree ordinance that we are asking organizations to sign onto.

April meeting Agenda:
1. Introductions
2. Background on the current ordinance and why action is needed
3. Discussion/Agreement to form a Coalition/Coordinated Action Plan
4. Discussion/Adoption of Draft Letter to Mayor/City Council
5. Adoption of Plan for moving forward
Steve Zemke Chair TreePAC and Friends of Seattle’s Urban Forest
Reference material:
Rob Johnson spoke on Wednesday April 11, 2018 before the Urban Forestry Commission. You can listen to the audio recording here, He speaks about 10 minutes into the audio for about a half hour
The summary letter sent to the Seattle City Council and Mayor by the Urban Forestry Commission is here:
Adopted Tree Regulations Update Letter of Recommendation
The UFC will continue the discussion of recommendations on updating the Tree Ordinance at their next  meeting on May 2, 2018 and send a more detailed letter at that point.

More detailed Statement by Friends of Seattle Urban Forest is here:
Recommendations for Updating Seattle’s Tree Ordinance

The following letter is a draft and organizations and individuals are being asked to join in supporting updating Seattle’s Tree Protection Ordinance by sending this letter with your comments to Mayor Durkan and the Seattle City Council.

April draft below:

Action Needed Now to Protect and Enhance Seattle’s Trees and Urban Forest

We urge you to take action now by updating our current tree ordinance and regulations as follows:

  1. Adopt a policy of no net loss of tree canopy with a goal of increasing tree canopy. This includes maintaining and strengthening current protections for exceptional trees, tree groves, Heritage trees, critical areas and natural areas
  2. Expand the existing tree removal and replacement permit, notice and posting system used by SDOT – to cover all public and private trees 6” DBH and larger on both public and private property in all land use zones. Allow removal of no more than 3 significant non-exceptional trees every 4 years.
  3. Require replacement of all trees removed that are 6” DBH and larger with equivalent sized trees (e.g. small, medium or large) – either on site or pay replacement and maintenance mitigation costs into a City Tree Replacement and Maintenance Fund. Allow the Fund to accept fines, donations and grants and allow funds to also be used for acquiring land, easements or set up Trusts to protect trees.
  4. Establish one city wide database system to apply for tree removal and replacement permits. Post permit requests and permits approved on line for the public to see. City should expand SDOT’s existing tree map to include all of the trees in the city that are removed and replaced.
  5. Require a detailed Urban Forest Canopy Impact Assessment for all development projects – basically a detailed tree inventory report on property before development proceeds. Information would be entered into a public database, including data on replacement using  equivalent tree sizes at maturity.
  6. Expand SDOT’s existing tree service provider’s registration and certification to include all tree service providers working on trees in Seattle
  7. Consolidate tree oversight into one city entity as recommended in 2009 by the Seattle City Auditor who recommended the Office of Sustainability and Environment. Give OSE the additional authority needed to ensure that trees have an advocate for their protection and independence from conflicting goals inherent in other city departments,
  8. Give emphasis to native trees and vegetation, particularly conifers to maximize sustainability and environmental services like reducing stormwater runoff, protecting wildlife habitat and minimizing climate change impacts. Require removal of invasives during development. Increase incentives for protecting trees and provide public assistance for citizens if needed to help comply with the city ordinance. Increase penalties, fines and enforcement for increased compliance.

Send this as a pdf to the mayor and City Council  – Protect Seattle’s Trees