Press Release – Seattle City Council Passes Tree Service Provider Registration Legislation

Press release
for immediate release:
Seattle City Council Passes TreePAC Priority Legislation to Increase Tree Protection in Seattle
The Seattle City Council today adopted legislation to require that Tree Service Providers working in Seattle be registered and certified to remove significant trees and do major pruning.
The ordinance passed was sponsored by Councilmember Alex Pedersen and Councilmember Dan Strauss. By a unanimous vote of Council member present, Council passes CB 120207 – AN ORDINANCE relating to land use and urban forestry; adding a tree service provider registration procedure and requirement .
Steve Zemke, Chair of TreePAC stated “We appreciate the City Council  taking action with this bill to increase tree protection. This is a good first step and we look forward to working with the Council to adopt a more comprehensive update of the Tree Protection Ordinance later this summer” Efforts to update the Tree Protection Ordinance have been going on for 13 years now after an interim draft was passed in 2009.
The goal of the adopted ordinance is to minimize the illegal cutting down of trees on private property that are protected by the existing Seattle Tree Protection Ordinance. The Seattle Department of Construction and Inspections (SDCI) will oversee the registration of Tree Service Providers and their meeting conditions in the just passed ordinance to be able to do tree work in Seattle. Registration will be required to be completed by Nov. 10, 2022. See summary and fiscal note here.
The new registration requirements are patterned after what the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT)  has been doing for the last 9 years. Spokane , Washington also has a similar program in place, to require registration of Tree Service providers doing any work on public trees in their city.
The state of Washington requires that a business be registered as a contractor if they deal with “Tree removal” – A contractor in this specialty falls and/or removes trees, stumps and/or branches on residential or commercial property or near a residential or commercial structure, outbuilding, or fence.” They also need to purchase a Washington Continuous Contractor Surety Bond in the amount of $12,000 for general contractors or $6,000 for specialty contractors. In addition, they need a general liability insurance policy in the amount of $200,000 liability and $50,000 property damage, or $250,000 combined single limit..
At least 8 other states require registration as a Tree Service Provider to do tree care work..  These states include – California, Connecticut, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, New Jersey, and Rhode Island.
Seattle’s registration process will provide additional oversight in protecting Seattle’s trees and tree canopy.. It requires Tree Care Providers to acknowledge they are familiar with Seattle’s Tree Protection Ordinance and other related regulations. If a second violation of current rules and regulations occurs in any year, the Tree Service Provider will not be allowed to work in Seattle for the next year. The city will publish a list on line of Tree Service Providers registered to work in Seattle.
The just adopted Ordinance was only one provision of nine recommended for adoption in 2019 by the Seattle City Council in Resolution 31902. A draft bill from the Department of Construction and Inspection on meeting some of the provisions in Resolution 31902, was released in Feb. with a SEPA determination of non-significance (DNS). The DNS is being appealed to the Seattle City Hearing Examiner by The Master Builders Association of King and Snohomish Counties and several developers . Once this process is completed, the expectation and stated goal is that the City Council will take up this summer the adoption of a stronger tree ordinance.
The Seattle Urban Forestry Commission released a draft ordinance in 2019 – Tree and Urban Forest Protection Ordinance. . TreePAC is urging the Council to use this bill as the starting draft for a comprehensive update, instead of SDCI’s draft..

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