Seattle Tree and Urban Forest Ordinance Update – Handout July 2018

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

 Urge Mayor Jenny Durkan and Seattle City Council members to provide strong leadership now to pass legislation this year to significantly strengthen Seattle’s current Tree Protection Ordinance.

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. Research has shown that retaining existing trees and planting new trees is one of the best ways to mitigate our climate crisis.    Trees help clean our air and enhance public health, reduce stormwater runoff, 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. It is urgent that Seattle act now to stop the continued loss of trees, particularly large trees and exceptional trees and tree groves, and to promote environmental equity as we replace and plant more trees to increase our tree canopy.

Urge the Mayor and City Council to adopt the draft revisions for the Tree and Urban Forest Protection Ordinance that the Seattle Urban Forestry Commission submitted in June 2019 to Councilmember Sally Bagshaw and the Seattle City Council. The updated draft would:

  1. Expand the existing tree removal and replacement permit program, including 2-week public notice and posting, as used by the Seattle Department of transportation (SDOT) – to cover all trees 6” DBH and larger on private property in all land use zones, both during development and outside development.
  2. Require the replacement of all trees removed that are 6” DBH and larger with trees that in 25 years will reach equivalent canopy volume – either on site or pay an in-lieu fee into a City Tree Replacement and Preservation Fund. Allow the Fund to also accept fines, donations, grants and set up easements.
  3. Retain current protections for Exceptional Trees and reduce the upper threshold for exceptional trees to 24” DBH, protect tree groves and prohibit trees over 6”DBH being removed on undeveloped lots. 
  4. Allow removal of no more than 2  significant non-exceptional trees in 3 years per lot outside development
  5. Establish one citywide database for 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.
  6. Expand SDOT’s existing tree service provider’s registration and certification to include all tree service providers working on trees in Seattle.
  7. Provide adequate funding in the budget to implement and enforce the updated ordinance.

Please let the Mayor and City Council know you support the 7 items above by copying  and pasting them in an email to send to the Mayor and Seattle City Council in support of updating Seattle’s Tree Protection Ordinance. They need to hear from you. Add your own personal comments and reasons for support.

Send to,
 and to the Seattle Urban Forestry Commission for posting as public comment 

 Coalition for a Stronger Tree Ordinance


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Good News – Tree Protection Ordinance Update this Year is a GO!

Coalition for a Stronger Tree Ordinance
Dear Tree Protection Advocates,

We have passed a big hurdle. On Wednesday Councilmember Sally Bagshaw came to the Seattle Urban Forestry Commission. She told the Commission that she met with Mayor Jenny Durkan on Monday. Mayor Durkan has agreed to move forward this year with  Councilmember Bagshaw and the City Council on working to pass an update to SMC 25.11 – the Tree  Protection Ordinance.

The tentative schedule will be a very tight one. But things are coming together and if we continue to let the Council and Mayor know that the people in Seattle urgently want a stronger tree ordinance that works, we can make it happen!

So one first step is to thank Mayor Durkan and Councilmember Sally Bagshaw for moving this legislation forward now. Thank them by sending an e-mail to: and

A key component was the work of the Seattle Urban Forestry Commission (UFC) in providing a draft revision of the Council’s last tree ordinance draft to Councilmember Sally Bagshaw as she requested. When Councilmember Bagshaw was asked on Wednesday if she saw any problems with the draft, she responded with a no. She gave the UFC  permission to  circulate the  UFC draft and here it is. The first 5 pages of the document below is an outline of what is in the draft, followed by the actual UFC draft ordinance.

Draft UFC revision to Council D7 draft – Tree Regulations:
Tree and Urban Forest Protection and Land Use Regulations

The plan moving forward is for the Council and City Departments to review the draft, have the City Attorney review the draft, complete a SEPA review, file the draft with the Council Budget and Neighborhood Committee chaired by Councilmember Bagshaw by the beginning of September, circulate the draft for public comment including holding  forums in September in both North and South Seattle, put adequate  funding in the budget to fund implementation of the ordinance  and pass the Legislation in the first two weeks of December after the budget is adopted.

So there are a lot of steps in this process, but it is moving. We can do this but we need to coordinate our efforts as tree advocates so that we can speak in unison and work in unison to be most effective.

Join us at our meeting tomorrow Sat. July 6th to discuss the next steps.

Coalition for a Stronger Tree Ordinance
Campaign Planning Workshop on Updating  Seattle’s Tree Protection Ordinance in 2019 
Saturday July 6, 2019 10:15 AM to 12:15 PM
Broadview Library, 12755 Greenwood  Ave NE, Seattle, WA

Also help is needed now with  donations to fund our campaign.
Click on this link to give a campaign donation to  update the tree ordinance via today. Thanks

  Donate here

Steve Zemke

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

websites – and

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

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Time to Step Up the Game if We Want to Update the Tree Ordinance!

Coalition for a Stronger Tree Ordinance
Dear Tree Protection Advocates,

Time is drawing short to update Seattle’s Tree Protection Ordinance this year. Seattle continues to lose tree canopy and the Seattle City Council stops considering legislation in October and November to deal with the budget. So we are left with 3 months – July, August and September – for an updated ordinance to be passed out of Councilmember Sally Bagshaw’s Finance and Neighborhoods Committee and then voted on by the full Council.

This update process started 10 years ago in 2009  and was resumed again in late 2017 by Councilmember Johnson who held a number of hearings and created at least 7 drafts. Councilmember Johnson unfortunately resigned before finishing the process.

2019 is an election year with 7 of the 9 Seattle City Council seats up for election. Four of the incumbents are not re-running, including Councilmember Bagshaw. We are close to a final draft and need to finish the process this year rather than start over with a slew of new Councilmembers next year.

At Councilmember Bagshaw’s request, the Seattle Urban Forestry Commission submitted a draft ordinance to her two weeks ago. Councilmember Bagshaw, the rest of the City Council and Mayor Durkan need to hear from the public that it is now time to move froward and restart hearings before the Neighborhood and Finance Committee on updating the Tree Protection Ordinance.

As part of the Mandatory Housing Affordability Ordinance  (MHA) being passage in April, the Council passed an accompanying resolution outlining their support for 8 major items. The Urban Forestry Commission agrees with the Council and  addresses all these  issues.

Please contact the Mayor and City Council and urge they act now. Ten years is long enough! and

And join us this Saturday to discuss our next steps.. We need your help to make this happen. Let’s put an end to the continued unnecessary removal of our trees, especially the large ones, and the clearcutting of lots for development.

Coalition for a Stronger Tree Ordinance
Campaign Planning Workshop on Updating  Seattle’s Tree Protection Ordinance in 2019
Saturday July 6, 2019 10:15 AM to 12:15 PM
Broadview Library, 12755 Greenwood  Ave NE, Seattle, WA

Steve Zemke  – Chair – Coalition for a Stronger Tree Ordinance –
a Project of Friends of Seattle’s Urban Forest and TreePAC. and

PS. -You can help with a donation for this effort, click on this link to give a campaign donation to TreePAC today. Thanks      Donate here

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Seattle City Council Passes Resolution to Update Seattle’s Tree Protection Ordinance

On March 18, 2019 the Seattle City Council passed CB 119444 – Mandatory Housing Affordability (MHA) legislation.

As part of that legislation they passed a Companion  RESOLUTION 31870 calling for additional measures by the City and its partners that complement mandatory housing affordability (MHA) implementation to promote livability and equitable development, mitigate displacement, and address challenges and opportunities raised by community members during the MHA public engagement process.

Section 6 of that resolution dealt with updating Seattle’s Tree Protection Ordinance.

Section 5. The Council recognizes the environmental, social, and economic benefits of Seattle’s urban forest and commits to working with community members and City departments to update the City’s tree regulations, advancing the goals of the Urban Forest Stewardship Plan across Seattle.
Potential measures may include, but are not limited to, the following:
A. Retaining protections for exceptional trees and expanding the definition of  exceptional trees.
B. Creating a permitting process for the removal of significant trees, defined as trees  6 inches in diameter at breast height or larger.
C. Adding replacement requirements for significant tree removal.
D. Simplifying tree planting and replacement requirements.
E. Maintaining tree removal limits in single-family zones.
F. Exploring the feasibility of establishing a in-lieu fee option for tree planting.
G. Tracking tree removal and replacement throughout Seattle.
H. Providing adequate funding to administer and enforce tree regulations.
I. Requiring that all tree service providers operating in Seattle meet the minimum certification and training requirements and register with the city.

This is an affirmation by the Seattle City Council of their intent to update Seattle’s Tree Protection Ordinance SMC 25.11. The Seattle City Council in 2009 passed a similar resolution but never updated the ordinance. It’s now 10 years later.

Unfortunately the Councilmember leading the effort, Rob Johnson, resigned on April 5, 2019. Councilmember Sally Bagshaw has stepped up and said she will now take  the lead in updating the ordinance.

The goal is to complete the drafting process of a new ordinance and have it adopted  by the end of September at the latest. In October and November the Seattle City Council shifts to drafting and adopting the City Budget.

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TreePAC ADU Intervention – quick update


May 2019 -TreePAC was allowed to intervene, but the scope and ability to participate was very limited. In retrospect it makes more sense to appeal to the hearing examiner directly and not just intervene, which limits your ability to participate on the issues.

April 2019 – Since early discussions in November, TreePAC discussed and then issued an intervention to the appeal on the proposed changes to single-family properties relative to the environmental impacts from tree loss.

The links are below.

TreePAC hopes to hear back from the Deputy Hearing Examiner is our motion has been accepted by the end of the week. The appeal hearings will take place next week Monday – Friday (Mar 25-29) in the Office of the Hearing Examiner at the 40th floor of the Municipal Building Tower.

· Appellant Final Witness & Exhibit List 2/12/2019

· City Final Witness and Exhibit List 2/19/2019

· TreePAC Motion to Intervene 3/14/2019

· Clarification 3/14/2019

· City Response to Motion to Intervene 3/14/2019

· TreePAC_Reply_to_City_opposition.pdf 3/18/2019

full records of Queen Anne citywide appeal may be found at:

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Urgent – Contact Seattle City Council to Add Tree Mitigation Amendment to MHA Ordinance

Tree PAC
Action Message from Steve Zemke – Chair – Coalition for a Stronger Tree OrdinanceDear Tree PAC Supporters,
The Seattle City Council will be considering amendments to the proposed Mandatory Housing Affordability (MHA) Ordinance this Friday May 8, 2019. We need your help to urge the Seattle City Council to support and adopt an amendment proposed by the Seattle Urban Forestry Commission to help mitigate for trees lost during development. They will be holding a public hearing Feb thursday Feb 21 and take a fianl vote on Feb 25, 2019.  Click here to see schedule.This amendment would  increase tree mitigation for trees lost during MHA implementation as proposed in Executive Order 2017-11 – Tree Protection by Mayor Burgess in 2017 and addressed as mitigation to be implemented in the final MHA Environmental Impact Statement. Unfortunately, both  the language to require a replacement fee for trees removed  during development and not replanted on site, and language to track tree loss and replacement as proposed by Mayor Burgess, have not been incorporated in the current MHA ordinance draft.Please e-mail the following message to the Seattle City Council and the Mayor to support and pass this amendment. You can cut and paste the following text in an e-mail, add your name and your own message. Mail to and Thanks.

Dear Seattle City Council,

Please add the following amendment proposed by the Seattle Urban Forestry Commission to the proposed Mandatory Housing Affordability Ordinance   The language proposed is within the scope of the final Environmental Impact Statement as discussed in section 3.6.3 MITIGATION MEASURES. To sustain our urban forest it is essential that trees removed during development be replaced. The proposed amendment addresses that issue.

SMC 25.11.090 – Tree replacement and site restoration (A)
“Each exceptional significant tree (six inches DBH and larger) and over two (2) feet 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 20 years, in a canopy cover volume that is at least equal to the canopy cover volume 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 a fee-in-lieu shall be paid to the City to replace and maintain the tree or trees in the neighborhood where they were removed or elsewhere as needed in the city. The City shall enter all significant trees on site, trees removed, and trees replaced into SDCI’s current database system; noting tree species, common name, DBH, height, condition and location.

Please add this amendment to the final Mandatory Housing Affordability Ordinance. Tree replacement is important to not lose tree canopy.  Can we count on you to support and vote for this amendment?  Thank you.


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Continuing the Fight to Update Seattle’s Tree Ordinance – Coalition Meeting this Saturday

Coalition for a Stronger Tree Ordinance
Dear TreePAC Supporters 

We ended last year in a stalemate as the Seattle City Council put off action once again on moving ahead with updating Seattle’s Tree Protection Ordinance. They say they will start again after they pass the MHA (Mandatory Housing Affordability) Ordinance in March. We are now into year 10 since the City Council first passed a resolution in 2009 to update the current tree protection ordinance and again are put on the back burner.

Continue reading

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Seattle City Council Again Delays Tree Protection Ordinance

Update – Coalition for a Stronger Tree Ordinance

Seattle City Council Again Delays Tree Protection Ordinance

Regretfully we end 2018 without an update to Seattle’s Tree Protection Ordinance. The Seattle City Council’s Planning, Land Use and Zoning Committee (PLUZ) had announced in Nov 2017 that they were going to once again attempt to update Seattle’s Tree protection Ordinance.  In December of 2017 TreePAC and Friends of Seattle’s Urban Forest again joined with other community groups to coordinate a renewed effort to update Seattle’s Tree ordinance.
Continue reading

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New Cheasty Bike trails are unsafe and unwelcoming

Letter from Seattle Nature Alliance, Oct 2018

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.) Continue reading

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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.  Continue reading

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