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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