New Cheasty Bike trails are unsafe and unwelcoming

Dear Seattle Parks and Recreation, 

We are writing to express our strong opposition to the latest version of the Cheasty Greenspace Pilot Project (released October 2018). The latest version puts bikes and pedestrians on the same paths and is unsafe, unwelcoming, and it is not what the Parks Department promised. We are asking you to either stop the Cheasty Pilot altogether, or to redesign the trails to be safe, welcoming, and pedestrian-only.
(See the maps in the pdf attached below. We redrew these maps so people can easily see the trails. They are accurately traced from Parks-provided maps, which are confusing to look at.)

As a citywide nature advocacy group, we are opposed to adding specialized uses in park natural areas. Seattle’s forest remnants are too small and fragmented to withstand the cumulative impact of specialized activities that each require their own separated spaces. We believe a policy of “passive use” that is low-impact and compatible with other uses and with wildlife habitat is the only sustainable way to manage our natural park spaces. Urban mountain biking is not a passive use because it requires specialized, separated trails. 

We opposed the previous trail design (presented in 2015) mainly because there were too many trails for a small space and the cumulative impact on the forest would have been too high. It is notable that community opposition was so strong a group of citizens went to the considerable effort and expense to make a formal appeal to the Hearing Examiner. It is significant that they won their case. It is also worth noting that if they had not appealed, Cheasty would now have trails impacting several Environmental Critical Areas.

After all that, it is astounding that the latest version of trail design (released October 2018) is equally unwise. Half of the trails in the new design are bike-only, and the other half are extremely unsafe and unwelcoming for pedestrians. Younger children, older people, and less-abled people will be excluded from this forest, and all pedestrians will have to be constantly vigilant for speeding bikes.This will ruin the nature experience for everyone except bikers.

Furthermore, this unsafe and unwelcoming trail design is the exact opposite of what Parks has been promoting for the last several years. From the beginning, this pilot was trumpeted to bring “equity” to nature-access for less privileged people who tend to feel excluded from nature. Maps showed perimeter walking trails, easy bike trails, and accessible-pedestrian/wheelchair trails. It was even promoted as a way that elementary schoolchildren would be able to walk to school. 

But, in the latest design there are no pedestrian-only trails. Pedestrians will be forced to either stay off trails, or to share narrow 4-foot trails with bikes. The trails zigzag sharply, and unless the understory plants are completely stripped away—something that is not mentioned in Parks’ latest DNS—the trails will be a series of blind switchbacks. Also, the “shared” trails are poorly sited—going to and from awkward points and leading nowhere interesting in the forest. They are mainly links for bikers to access their own trails, not as walking trails for people who want to experience nature. This will make Cheasty  a specialized mountain bike park, not a park that serves everyone. 
The appearance is that Parks made false promises to get community support for something that few people would have supported if they had known the true outcome. It appears to be a backdoor way of using a pilot project to get around current policy, and possibly to open the door to allowing bikes in all park forests without having to get further community input.

The fact is, mountain biking is not an appropriate activity for Seattle’s park forests. Mountain biking takes space, and Seattle is a rapidly growing city with many people that depend on a few small forests for health and happiness. Our park forests are completely different than other places that allow mountain biking or shared bike/pedestrian trails (the examples used in Parks’ rationale were roughly ten times bigger than Cheasty). Our urban forests should be preserved, carefully managed, and shared with all people, not with all “uses.” 
The best way to manage Seattle’s park forests is by adhering to a policy of passive use. True passive use was the genius behind the National Wilderness Act of 1964, and without it we would not have Wilderness Areas today. Back then, activists foresaw the direction National Parks were heading: too many roads, visitor centers, hotels, amusement parks, and other high-impact and incompatible uses. They knew that without a “use-restriction” to permanently preserve core areas of public lands for passive-use only, we’d end up losing wild nature to the forces of development and commercialization.

Today, Seattle faces similar forces from density and development. Special-interest groups are organizing, and each one demands space for their own particular use. Park forests are an easy target, because many people view them as empty spaces just waiting to be put to use. But, they are not empty or unused. Our forests are beloved by many, and they are essential to the health and happiness of all people. We should do more to encourage people to use park forests, but it must be passive use. It is of the utmost importance that these irreplaceable core areas of semi-wild nature in our park system are preserved so they will be there for future generations.

We are asking you to either stop the Cheasty Pilot altogether, or to redesign the trails to be passive use only, with pedestrian trails that are environmentally low impact and sustainable. 

Seattle Nature Alliance

Directors: Denise Dahn, Mark Ahlness, and Rebecca Watson

seattlenaturealliance@gmail.com
www.seattlenaturealliance.org

Posted in TreePAC | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Seattle Tree Ordinance Update Meeting – Next Steps

Dear Tree PAC supporters,

Join other tree protection advocates this Saturday October 27th for a public coalition meeting to discuss and review proposed changes needed to strengthen the current Tree Ordinance draft proposed by the Seattle City Council. 

We will be working on developing a coordinated community response to their proposal  – a united front is our best way to enact a strong ordinance. The Seattle City Council Planning, Land Use and Zoning Committee will take up amendments to their draft in December after the Council will has adopted their Budget for next year.  

The Coalition for a Stronger Tree Ordinance

will be meeting Saturday, October 27, 2018 from 11 AM to 1 PM
at the Montlake Public Library, 2404 24th Ave E in Seattle

Read more here:
What’s Next for Seattle’s Tree Ordinance?
current draft Tree Ordinance – version D7

Looking forward to seeing you on Saturday.

Steve Zemke 

Chair – Coalition for a Stronger Tree Ordinance – a Joint Project of the Friends of Seattle’s Urban Forest and Tree PAC.

www.Friends.UrbanForests.org and www.TreePAC.org

facebook – Friends of Seattle’s Urban Forest  and facebook – Tree PAC

Donations are needed to support the efforts to update the Tree Ordinance and can be made through TreePAC. Click on the following link –  Donate Here

Posted in TreePAC | Leave a comment

What’s next for Seattle’s Tree Ordinance Update?

The Seattle City Council heeded public input and has decided to slow down their rush to update SMC 25.11 – Seattle’s Tree Protection Ordinance by the end of September . This will give more time for public input and scrutiny. The public needs to continue to send in their concerns and suggestions on how to make the ordinance more effective. The Seattle City Council and the Mayor are currently focused this month and next month on adopting their 2019 Budget. They will again take up the Tree Protection Ordinance after the Budget is adopted.

You can help us get a stronger ordinance by continuing to contact the Mayor and the SeattleCity Council with your concerns and suggestions. Their e-mails are:

jenny.durkan@seattle.gov and Council@seattle.gov

Below are our  suggestions  of changes needed in the current draft they are working with labeled as version D7 that we believe would significantly strengthen the draft ordinance.

Major changes to draft Ordinance being proposed:

Retain the emphasis in the current ordinance by adding back to the draft ordinance the  priority of saving existing trees rather than concentrating on how to remove trees and replace them. This means protecting exceptional trees from being removed unless they are  hazard trees.

Exceptional trees are the largest trees of their species and the survivors over time. Exceptional trees should be defined as trees that are exceptional because they are a Heritage tree as defined by the city or rare or exceptional by virtue of their  species, condition, cultural/historical importance, age, habitat value, environmental or ecological services provided to the city and/or are part of a grove of trees.The upper threshold for becoming exceptional should be 24 inches DBH.

Use a tree diameter and tree species criteria for issuing a tree removal and replacement permit. The tree canopy approach proposed in Draft D7 requiring property owners not just to measure the canopy of the tree to be removed but all the trees on your lot is a time consuming process that ignores property lines, the size and importance of the tree involved, and would result in the loss of many exceptional trees over time.

Limit removal to a maximum of two significant trees, non-exceptional trees per year. Prohibit the removal of any trees over 6 inches DBH on an undeveloped lot. Allow any exceptional tree that is determined to be a hazard tree to be removed.

All significant trees (trees greater than 6 inches DBH), including hazard trees, that are removed on any lot, whether  a developed lot or a lot undergoing development, in any zone in the city must be replaced either on site, off site or a fee in lieu paid for the city to replace the tree. 

The goal is not just to have no less loss of canopy but to increase it. Tree replacement requirements shall increase as the diameter and canopy volume of the tree removed increases. An example of such a system would be would be 1 tree for a 6-12 inch diameter tree, 2 trees for 12 -24 inch trees,  3 trees for 24 -36 inch trees and 4 trees for trees greater than 36 inch DBH. The reason for the number of trees increasing is that the goal is to try to replace the lost canopy volume over a 20 year cycle and also that all trees do not survive over time. Replacement trees should be targeted to increase conifers, native tree species and trees determined to respond best to climate change.

Property owners outside development should be able to apply for a minor Tree removal and replacement permit for the removal of 1 or significant non-exceptional trees or a hazard tree. Developers will have to apply for a major tree removal and replacement permit which includes preparing a detailed tree inventory for  the site and a replacement landscaping plan. Developers shall, like homeowner be required to replace all trees they removed, either on site, off site or pay a fee in lieu system. If the lot canopy cover is below the goal for that zone, developers shall, at a minimum,  be required to retain and  plant sufficient trees to ensure that the lot reaches the zone canopy goal.

These are some of the major changes under consideration by tree advocates. Feel free to contact us with your suggestions. Send to steve@friends.urbanforests.org.

See reference material below:

Draft D7 of the “Tree Regulations Update Ordinance” 

Policy considerations regarding proposed tree regulation bill 
Council memo -September 19, 2018 the Planning, Land Use, and Zoning Committee

Adopted letter  – Re: Draft Tree protection ordinance update – Seattle Urban Forestry Commission – August 31, 2018

Posted in TreePAC | Leave a comment

Action Item – Council Hearing on Draft Tree Ordinance Wed. Sept 5, 2018

Public Hearing on Draft Tree Ordinance

The Seattle Land Use and Zoning Committee of the Seattle City Council is holding a Public Hearing on its proposed draft Tree Ordinance:

Wednesday, Sept 5, 2018
9:30 AM to 11:30 AM (sign up starts at 9 AM)

Seattle City Hall, City Council Chambers,
600 4th Ave, Seattle,WA 98104

Please come and testify or send a letter to the Mayor and City Council.
jenny.durkan@seattle.gov and Council@seattle.gov

Issues to comment on:

  1. Allow more time for possible changes. analysis of impacts, and public input on the current tree ordinance draft by delaying final action to the beginning of 2019 as recommended by the Seattle Urban Forestry Commission (See more detail below)
  2. Put back existing protections for Exceptional Trees –  “An exceptional tree is a tree that: 1. Is designated as a heritage tree by the City of Seattle; or 2. Is rare or exceptional by virtue of its size, species, condition, cultural/historic importance, age, and/or contribution as part of grove of trees “.  Lower the threshold for large exceptional trees to 24 ” diameter at 54 inches high (DBH).
  3. Limit removal of trees to no more than 2 per year on developed property.
  4. Put back the prohibition on cutting down trees greater than 6″ DBH on undeveloped lots
  5. Base tree permits on diameter and species of trees, not tree canopy measurements. 
  6. Require all trees 6″ DBH and larger that are  removed to be replaced on site or off site or a replacement and maintenance  fee be paid to the city.
  7. Require 2 week posting and yellow ribbons on trees for all permits for removal;, include on line public posting of applications and permit approvals.

You can see a more detailed explanation of the pros and cons of the proposed Tree Ordinance here:
Friends of Seattle’s Urban Forest Analysis of Pros and Cons of Draft Tree OrdinanceOrdinance Language for Repeal and Replacement of SMC 25.11 – Seattle’s Tree Protection Ordinance  now called the Tree Regulation Bill – August 16, 2018 

This is the only scheduled public hearing on the proposed Tree Ordinance update. After this hearing the Planning Land Use and Zoning Committee is currently planning to meet on Wed. Sept 19 to discuss the bill, possibly consider amendments and vote on it. It would then go to the full City Council the next week for a final vote.

This last Friday the Seattle Urban Forestry Commission voted unanimously to urge the City Council:

to extend the public comment period and allow for more evaluation of the proposed ordinance. Revising the tree code for Seattle is long overdue and nearly a decade in the making, however, the UFC believes fully understanding the potential impacts, incentives, and enforceability of the draft code will take more time than is currently planned for in this process. Please move the final decision on this to 2019 to allow for additional consideration, definition, analysis, and public input on the impacts of such policy proposals. One public daytime hearing on a still being revised draft is not adequate public involvement on a major policy issue affecting all property in the city.”

You can read the Seattle Urban Forestry Commission’s full recommendations here :
  “LEG Tree regulation updates ORD D7” and August 16, 2018 Central Staff Memo “Summary of proposed tree regulation bill and identified issues”

Thanks for your support and help.

Steve Zemke – Chair TreePAC

Chair – Coalition for a Stronger Tree Ordinance – a joint coordinating project of the Friends of Seattle’s Urban Forest and TreePAC.org  www.friends.urbanforests.org and  www.TreePAC.org

PS – Please help support our efforts to protect trees by making a contribution to TreePAC today.            Click here – Donate

 

 

Posted in TreePAC | Leave a comment

Campaign Continues to Update Seattle’s Tree Ordinance

Campaign Continues to Update Seattle’s Tree Ordinance

TreePAC is a member of the Coalition to Strengthen Seattle’s Tree Ordinance

LATEST NEWS (8/29/18): DETERMINATION OF NON-SIGNIFICANCE RELEASED ON NEWEST VERSION OF TREE REGULATIONS ORDINANCE

Summary:

Seattle City Councilmember Rob Johnson’s relentless push to repeal Seattle’s current Tree Protection Ordinance SMC 25.11 has advanced with the release of final language for the proposed new Ordinance (Version D7 – https://www.seattle.gov/council/meet-the-council/rob-johnson/trees-for-all)

Unfortunately the Seattle City Council’s latest version of an update to the current Tree Protection Ordinance  has changed to what we consider a “Tree Removal and Mitigation Ordinance.” There is a big difference between proactive tree retention/protection vs mitigation, which occurs after a tree is cut.  The current proposed ordinance:

  1. Removes any limit on the number of trees that can be removed per year;
  2. Removes the prohibition against cutting down exceptional trees (which are the largest of their species) on developed lots. The definition of exceptional trees includes Heritage trees and tree groves; and
  3. Removes the current prohibition of cutting down any tree over 6″ in diameter (DBH) on undeveloped lots. 

Other details are seen below the meeting announcement – Please try to attend either or both of the meetings below and make your voice heard!

1) The Coalition for a Stronger Tree Ordinance public meeting:

Saturday, Sept. 1st from 11:15 AM to 1:15 PM 

Green Lake Public Library, 7364 East Green Lake Dr North, Seattle WA 98115 

Please come to learn more about what is happening, to voice your  opinion and discuss what actions should be taken.

Bring a laptop or device so you can write and send some e-mails on this issue.

2) The Seattle Land Use and Zoning Committee (PLUZ) is holding a Public Hearing on the draft ordinance 

Wednesday, Sept. 5, 2018  9:30 AM to 11:30 AM (sign up starts at 9 AM)

Seattle City Hall, City Council Chambers,  600 4th Ave, Seattle,WA 98104

Please e-mail us at steve@friends.urbanforests.org to let us know if you can testify 

additional details (continued from above):

  • Other provisions add very complex requirements for property owners to calculate canopy coverage themselves, contain no guarantees or funding for increased enforcement and essentially would leave most of the City’s trees vulnerable to being cut down at a time when increased fires, adverse climate change impacts and problems associated with stormwater pollution are top of mind and serious city and regional issues.

The proposal would add some long needed updates to current code but these changes should be in addition to the current protections, not in place of them.

On balance the proposed new ordinance’s emphasis is on making it easier for development to occur, not on protecting existing trees. Once a mature tree is taken down and replaced by a 2 inch sapling, the full benefits and functions of that tree will not be realized for the decades it takes to replace trees removed. During that time, the City would then suffer from the supercharged effects of climate change in the absence of this mature tree canopy. The City has a notoriously poor record of tree replacement. For 17 years the Seattle Planning and Inspection Department, and its previous incarnations,  has not enforced an existing provision in the current Tree Protection Ordinance, SMC 25.11.090, which required developers to replace exceptional trees and trees over 24″ DBH.  The City also has failed to create or maintain any record of the thousands of trees that have been cut down n private property and during development for those 17 years.

Here are the links to the current documents regarding the proposed repeal and replacement of SMC 25.11 – Tree Protection Ordinance.

The operating document is now the August 16, 2018 Draft (Version 7 b)  Ordinance for Repeal and Replacement,

 What  is added, changed or removed:

·         added – requires permits for removing trees greater than 6″ DBH in all zones of city for both developed lots and lots undergoing development. Separate permits established for major and minor tree removal

·         added – requires tree replacement if canopy falls below Urban Forestry Management Plan canopy goal for zone that lot is in

·         added – requires tree replacement for all lots where canopy falls below Urban Forestry Management Plan (UFMP), either on site, off site or pay fee in lieu if trees cannot be replaced on site

·         added – tree care providers must sign statement they  have read and are familiar with tree regulations

·         added – increases penalties for illegal tree removal, including not getting a permit

·         added – on site posting required (2 days – minor permit, 2 weeks – major permit)

·         major change –  going from a concept of permits for tree removal based on the species and diameter of a tree at 4.5′ to measuring  the amount of canopy removed.  Property owners would have to determine the area of their lot, add the area of their right of way which is city property,  measure all the canopy of the trees on their lot and the right of way, measure the canopy of the tree or trees they are removing, subtract it from the overall canopy measurement , then check it with the canopy goals for the zone they live in and if the remaining area is under the canopy goal, replace the tree or trees on site, off site with the ensuing estimated canopy reaching in time the lost canopy or pay a fee in lieu. Right of way tree planting and removal is not covered by this permit however as SDOT has its own tree permit system and City Light can prune and remove trees.

·         major problem with this approach as written is that it says no tree replacement is required as long as the trees removed and their canopy does not reduce the lot coverage below the zone goal in the UFMP.  Since the zone goal is an average based on the total canopy coverage divided by the area of the zone, not replacing trees removed over the average value for the zone  means the actual zone canopy over time will result in a net loss of tree canopy.

·         major problem – Using LIDAR studies to measure  tree canopy in a zone is not a precise measurement  as LIDAR measurements are really a vegetation cover analysis, not a tree cover analysis. The 2016 LIDAR analysis measured canopy at 8 feet which can include a lot of shrubs like laurel bushes. This distorts the actual tree canopy per cent for zone goals and is an additional problem if these measurements are used to determine lot coverage. The accuracy of the measurement decreases with a decrease in the sample area.

·         major problem –  Trees cross property lines. A tree trunk may be on one lot, the tree’s canopy can actually be on two or more lots depending on location of the trunk.The city should stick with tree removal, not canopy removal which crosses lot lines. Also canopy is an area measurement based on branch sizes. Tree canopy volume and leaf density is the true measure of ecological services and that varies with the tree species and age of the tree.

·         changed – SMC 25.11.090 required developers to replace all trees over 24′ DBH and that are exceptional. The proposed ordinance  replaces it with requiring developers to replace all trees over 6′ DBH but only up to the canopy goal in that zone. This will result in a net loss of trees where the original canopy is greater than the average for the zone. (Note – SMC 25.11.090, requiring developers to replace all exceptional trees removed and trees over 24″ DBH was not  enforced by the Seattle Building Department it appears since it was passed in 2001).

·         removed – designation and protection of exceptional trees which are the largest trees of a species. The current ordinance said developed  property owners can not remove exceptional trees unless they were hazardous. The change in the draft  significantly reduces protection for large trees. From Director’s Rule 16-2008 – “An exceptional tree is a tree that: 1. Is designated as a heritage tree by the City of Seattle; or 2. Is rare or exceptional by virtue of its size, species, condition, cultural/historic importance, age, and/or contribution as part of grove of trees and trees …”

·         removed –protection of tree groves (they were added as exceptional in 2008). Tree groves would no longer be protected.

·         removed – a limit of 3 trees per year being removed  which were significant (over 6 ” DBH) but not exceptional. Draft sets no limit on number of trees that can be removed or any limits on the size or age of the tree.

·         removed – prohibition of cutting down any tree over 6″ DBH on an undeveloped lot. Limit would now be by zone allowing a fully treed lot to have its  canopy reduced significantly without requiring tree replacement above the canopy goal for that zone, eg  100% canopy cover to 20% in the multifamily zone would be allowed with no replacement required.

The most recent ordinance change was made in the last 2 weeks of summer (coincidentally during the worst smoke pollution we have ever experience), with only ONE hearing date scheduled for September 5th, a day after people  return from a federal holiday.

Unfortunately with the major changes proposed and the lack of real public outreach and discussion of possible alternatives and their impacts, the city needs to slow down and allow a careful evaluation of these changes. It should prepare an environmental impact statement.  Rather, it issued what is called a Determination of Non-significance under our state Environmental Policy Act law, called SEPA. This ordinance will have major and anticipated, catastrophic impacts on the future of the trees and urban forest of this city.

A strengthened tree ordinance would have restored the removed provisions mentioned above from the current ordinance and required tree replacement for all trees removed over 6″ DBH either on site or off site in all zones, regardless of whether it is a major or minor permit, while keeping the canopy goals for coverage of lots.

The city has chosen not to do that for some reason despite urging by the Seattle Urban Forestry Commission, citizen groups, environmental experts and individuals. However, as written right now, it would significantly reduce  protection for existing large trees and allows canopy coverage to decrease in zones. A Douglas fir that is 80 years old that is cut down takes 80 years to replace an equivalent canopy of just the canopy removed when the tree was cut down and not counting the canopy that would have increased if the tree had not been removed.Every tree removed is a loss to the existing canopy coverage and only over a long period of time can it be replaced. Not all trees replaced survive.

Implications for Seattle’s Tree Canopy goals

Using canopy goals in the 2013 Urban Forest Stewardship Plan (UFMP) would result in lower goals than actual canopy cover measured in 2016 LIDAR Study in 2 zones. Institutional canopy cover measured in 2016 was 25%, UFSP goal is 20%. Multifamily canopy cover measured in 2016 was 23%, UFSP goal is 20%. LiDAR study also showed higher canopy cover in Developed Parks and Parks Natural Areas than listed as canopy goals.

The Urban Forestry Management Plan is currently being updated and the zone goals could increase. Canopy measurements are actually an average value across a zone meaning lots with more trees average out with lots with less trees – all lots do not have identical canopy.

The City’s Own Tree Regulations Research Project Points Out Weaknesses

According to the Tree Regulations Research Project Phase 1 Summary, the city deals with about 10,000 permits/year. A recent Seattle Times article put the building permit number last year (a busy one) at 7,000.  Most of these have trees associated with them. There is ONE arborist working for the Seattle Department of Construction and Inspections (SDCI) where the tree regulations are developed.

The proposal for major tree permits under the current draft, most of which would occur during development, would require a detailed tree inventory and tree report identifying trees on site by species and size, so identifying exceptional trees would not be a  problem. People could use an app like Find It, Fix It that the city has for repairs to send a photo of the tree and a close up of its leaves or needles to help identify it when they request a permit to remove a tree. a

The city has not kept track of trees lost or replaced  during development and appears not willing to really do so here as it does not propose one system for tree permits and keeping track of results but will let trees be removed during development by being “included with another SDCI approval.”  That approval system has not tracked tree loss and replacement to date and under its current Accela data system being used is continuing that trend even though it has the authority  under SMC 25.11 to issue permits and keep track of them.

The ordinance also purports to have a parallel permit system for “minor” tree removal permits. This permit does not require tree identification and the City claims that “it will be too difficult to determine tree species.”  Rather, it has foisted an arcane tree canopy measurement and calculation system onto the property owner but which all but guarantee an unenforceable gaming of the system. Again an app allowing property owners to send pictures of the tree to the city with their application for a permit would solve this problem. 

Council member Johnson’s Trees for All  Timeline now has scheduled only a single Sept 5, 2018 public hearing and possible vote by the Planning, Use and Zoning Committee on Sept 19, 2018. If the full Council does not vote by the end of September this proposal will be back before the Council in January as they deal with the budget for next year in October and November.

 Please Act Now By Writing

Now is the time to let Mayor Durkan and the Seattle City Council know that the current draft is not acceptable as proposed but needs to be thoroughly and carefully evaluated and revised. Send e-mails to  jenny.durkan@Seattle.gov and Council@Seattle.gov  Current protections that were removed need to be added back. The ordinance  needs to be based on individual tree removal, not canopy in terms of replacement. All trees removed must be replaced to ensure a no net loss of canopy over time.

The city needs to slow down and allow adequate public debate and  discussion on this major citywide issue that will have a significant impact on our urban forest. It needs to do an environmental impact statement, evaluating the current ordinance, the proposed replacement ordinance and a third alternative. Since the city has released a determination of non-significance in its SEPA decision, unless the city withdraws its conclusion, it will be necessary to appeal their decision to the city hearing examiner, asking that an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) be conducted.  That must be done within 3 weeks of the release of the DNS, which would be September 13th.

You can make a donation to our effort by clicking here!  Thanks

Posted in Seattle Tree Protection Ordinance | Tagged | Leave a comment

Action – June 1-7, 2018 – Coalition for a Stronger Tree Ordinance

Coalition for a Stronger Tree Ordinance 

Dear Friends of Trees,

Can you show your support for trees next week?  Let us know. We need people to show up and speak for stronger tree protection at these Seattle City Council Hearings:

Monday June 4, 2018 10 AM – Press Conference by Coalition for a Stronger Tree Ordinance at City Hall outside Council Chambers, City Hall, 500 4th Ave. Come! We need you!  Invite others!

Monday June 4, 2018  10:30 AM – give public comments at the MHA Select Committee at Council Chambers in City Hall, 500 4th Ave This is the full City Council discussing the Mandatory Housing Legislation.  Testimony at the beginning of the meeting needs to address that issue. It’s fairly simple.

What to say:

1. With the increased development occurring, we need to add stronger  protection for trees in the MHA ordinance.

2  Require that developers get permits to remove all tree 6″ DBH and larger and that they replace all trees removed either on site or they pay a replacement and maintenance fee to the city to replant the lost trees. Green factor is not an  adequate substitute for trees. We need to grow our canopy, not mow it down.

Wednesday, June 6, 2018 9:30 AM – give public comments to Rob Johnson’s Planning, Land Use and Zoning Committee, Council Chambers, City Hall, 500 4th Ave on his proposed Tree Ordinance Update. Note that the Council memo on the update was not available until the beginning of the last meeting and say you want to comment on it now before he releases a draft on June 20, 2018.

What to say:

1.    Urge that developers be required to get permits for all development projects just as they are  suggesting homeowners do.  Everyone removing trees needs to get permits,  Developers should not be excluded. Its a question of fairness.

2.     The permits should be required for all trees 6 inches in diameter at breast height. This would cover about 45% of the trees on single family lots.

3.     All trees 6″DBH and larger should be replaced, either on site or by paying a tree replacement and maintenance fee to the city to replant them in the neighborhood or elsewhere as needed in the city. We can’t grow our canopy if we are removing it faster than it’s growing. 

4.     Tree care professionals should be licensed.

Background reference material:

website with lots of information and links on trees and tree ordinances, including Seattle’s – www.friends.urbanforests.org   

Here are the recommendations the Coalition for a Stronger Tree Ordinance made: Action Needed Now to Protect Seattle’s Trees and Urban Forest

 Here are the recommendations the Seattle Urban Forestry Commission made: Tree regulations update “Trees for All” proposal recommendation 

 Here is the memo from City Council Central Staff and Rob Johnson that needs strengthening: Draft Updates to Seattle’s Tree Regulations

 Here is the city report that said the current ordinance is not protecting  trees: Tree Regulations Research Project – Final Report  March 31, 2017

 Steve Zemke – Chair – Coalition for a Stronger Tree Ordinance

steve@friends.urbanforests.org

Coalition for a Stronger Tree Ordinance

Posted in Seattle Tree Protection Ordinance, TreePAC | Tagged | Leave a comment

Update on May, June Action on Seattle Tree Protection Ordinance (new)

Its Time to Update Seattle’s Tree Ordinance

Friends of Seattle’s Urban Forest and TreePAC invite organizations and individuals to attend our next meeting where we will be gearing up to update Seattle’s Tree Ordinance.

Next meeting of Seattle Tree Ordinance Working Group:

Saturday May 26, 2018 3 PM to 5:30 PM

Northgate Public Library

10548 5th Ave NE, Seattle WA

Meeting of Seattle City Council Planning, Land Use and Zoning Committee:

– to discuss Rob Johnson framework for updating Tree Protection Ordinance

come and speak in favor of updating the tree ordinance

June 6, 2018  9:30 AM

June 20, 2018  9:30 AM

Seattle City Council Chambers

12

I

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
letter to the Mayor and City Council urging action on updating our current tree ordinance that we are asking organizations to sign onto.
Please come on Saturday May 12th to join the effort.
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 stevezemke@msn.com
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  http://video.seattle.gov:8080/podcasts/urbanforestrycommission/UFC041118meeting.MP3
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 has been drafted 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.

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

Dear Mayor Durkan and Seattle City Council Members, 

We urge you to provide strong leadership now to significantly strengthen Seattle’s tree ordinance to protect our trees and urban forest. 

Seattle’s urban forest is an integral and vital part of our city.  It provides many benefits and amenities to those living in our city.  Trees help clean our air and enhance public health, reduce stormwater runoff, mitigate climate change, increase property values, decrease the impacts of heat and wind, provide habitat for birds and wildlife and give us a connection with nature in our neighborhoods.

Seattle’s rapid growth is reducing these beneficial impacts as trees are removed, particularly during development across our city. It is urgent that you act now to stop the loss of trees, particularly exceptional trees and tree groves, and to promote environmental equity as we increase our tree canopy.

We urge you to act now by updating our current tree ordinances and regulations as follows:

  1. Adopt a policy of a net increase of Seattle’s tree canopy each year to reach the city’s current goal of 30% tree canopy.  This requires maintaining and strengthening current protections for both significant and exceptional trees, tree groves, Heritage trees, environmentally critical areas and natural areas.
  2. Require the 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 the replacement and maintenance mitigation costs into a City Tree Replacement and Maintenance Fund. Allow the Fund to accept fines, donations, grants and for acquiring land and setting easements and Tree Protection Trusts.
  3. Expand the existing tree removal and replacement permit, 2-week 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 1  significant non-exceptional tree per year.
  4.  Establish one citywide database when applying for tree removal and replacement permits and to track changes in the tree canopy.  Post online all permit requests and permit approvals for public viewing.  Expand SDOT’s existing tree map to include all the trees in the city that are removed and replaced.
  5. Require a detailed Urban Forest Canopy Impact Assessment for all development projects prior to any development beginning. This detailed tree inventory should be entered into a public database.  Replacement trees should be based on equivalent tree size 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: The Office of Sustainability and Environment, as was recommended by the Seattle City Auditor in 2009.  Give OSE the additional authority needed to ensure that trees have an independent advocate for their protection to avoid conflicting goals in other city departments.
  8. Emphasize native trees and vegetation, particularly conifers, to maximize sustainability and environmental services.  Require the removal of invasive plants during development. Increase incentives for protecting trees and provide public assistance for property owners who need help complying with the city ordinance. To increase compliance increase penalties, fines and enforcement. Ensure environmental equity in maintaining and increasing our tree canopy across the city.

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

Posted in Seattle Tree Protection Ordinance, tree canopy, TreePAC | Leave a comment

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

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 stevezemke@msn.com
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  http://video.seattle.gov:8080/podcasts/urbanforestrycommission/UFC041118meeting.MP3
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

Posted in tree canopy, tree planting, tree preservation, TreePAC, urban forest, urban trees | Tagged | Leave a comment

Fight over Issaquah hillside

Fight over Issaquah hillside: How much development is too much?

www.seattletimes.com  Dec 18, 2016
The owners of a 45-acre parcel of land next to Cougar Mountain Regional Wildland Park say a proposed development would leave most of the property as open space, but neighbors want the land to be part of the park.
Posted in private land, public land | Tagged | Leave a comment

“Exceptional trees are incompatible with Urban Villages and backyard cottages” says Seattle OPCD employee Brennon Staley

The Death of Single family zoning starts in HALA, Urban Villages + ADU’s near you!  And Exceptional Trees Will Not Survive. – story by Richard Ellison

“Exceptional trees are incompatible with Urban Villages and backyard cottages” says Seattle OPCD employee Brennon Staley (at the Oct 27, 2017 EIS Scoping meeting at the Hales Brewery). When I asked Brennon how, in the best possible circumstances, under ANY possible conditions could Exceptional trees be saved during development. He smiled and said that was not really possible.

So, with the City about to (1) eliminate Single Family Zoning in all Urban Village areas, and (2) allow extra ADU’s (mother-in-law units/ backyard cottages) in the remaining Single Family Zones, Seattle is going to accelerate the loss of Exceptional Trees and limit the available soil areas where new trees might ever grow to a large size and maturity.

Read the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) to study the potential effects of removing barriers to creating accessory dwelling units (ADUs) in single-family zones. Visit the ADU EIS website to learn more and provide comments.

Staley, Brennon               206-684-4625         brennon.staley@seattle.gov

It was a large and vocal event for the City, taking comments on the 2 new proposals: An EIS for zoning changes, and public comments on new ADU’s.

Posted in TreePAC | Leave a comment