Seattle Tree and Urban Forest Ordinance Update – Handout July 2019

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


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

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.