Comments by Tina Cohen Certified Arborist on the NPI/Tree PAC Tree Poll

Tina Cohen, Certified Arborist Northwest Arborvitae Seattle WA 

 I’m Tina Cohen and I’m a retired Certified Arborist. In my career I worked with both developers and tree preservationists.  

 I’ve been very discouraged by the cognitive dissonance of climate change and continued tree removal. If asked, most people will tell you they love trees and then add: BUT if they’re in the way or messy or remotely a hazard, then they should be cut down. Developers would tell me how much they love trees and at the same time they would remove all of them for a project.  

 Our existing large trees are a cheap and effective way to combat localized climate change. Besides providing obvious shade, they sequester carbon and help prevent erosion and flooding. UW’s Kathy Wolf and USDA Forest Service have done endless studies proving the value of trees.  Large trees provide more benefits than small trees. The Seattle Municipal Code should reflect this and only allow removals if a tree is a hazard under existing conditions (not future development). 

 I urge the City to follow their existing code and in addition:  

  • During development permitting, the Seattle Department of Construction and Inspection, SDCI, must require design modifications to allow adequate root and canopy space for saved trees. This is already allowed in the Directors Rule. Otherwise the trees will not survive long term. 
  • The Seattle Department of Transportation currently requires credentials for arborists working on Right of Way trees. The City should adopt the same.  
  • Replacement trees should be required if there’s adequate space for the roots and canopy at maturity (50 years). Otherwise change the design or add trees elsewhere.  
  • I agree with the Urban Forestry Commission that Seattle needs a central tree portal or department for permits and inspections. Currently it’s spread among several departments.  
  • We can have development AND trees, however McMansions and other projects that cover an entire lot are not compatible with tree retention. The Code should be changed to require more open space (less lot coverage) to allow for large trees.  

 In conclusion, our elected officials have long delayed the update to Seattle’s Tree Ordinance, and SDCI fails to enforce our existing code. We need to change this before every tree is cut. 

 Tina Cohen, ISA Certified Arborist #PN0245A 

ISA Tree Risk Assessment Qualified 

Member American Society of Consulting Arborists 

Registered Consulting Arborist #473, retired 

Questionnaires returned to TreePAC show Strong Support for Updating Seattle’s Tree Protection Ordinance

Questionnaires returned to TreePAC show Strong Support for Updating Seattle’s Tree Protection Ordinance

Thirteen of the fourteen candidates running for the Seattle City Council District elections in the 2019 General Election have returned questionnaires to Tree PAC. Overwhelmingly,  the responses were positive for supporting key provisions to strengthen the existing Tree Protection Ordinance. You can see our TreePAC endorsements and questionnaires on this link.  These questionnaires were weighted heavily, but were not our sole criteria for endorsement.

Earlier this year, the Seattle City Council unanimously passed  the following two resolutions that support the updating of Seattle’s Tree Protection Ordinance.

3/18/19  Seattle City Council Resolution 31870  Section 6 deals with updating Seattle’s Tree Protection Ordinance.

Section 6. 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:

  1. Retaining protections for exceptional trees and expanding the definition of exceptional trees.
  2. Creating a permitting process for the removal of significant trees, defined as trees  6 inches in diameter at breast height or larger.
  3. Adding replacement requirements for significant tree removal.
  4. Simplifying tree planting and replacement requirements.
  5. Maintaining tree removal limits in single-family zones.
  6. Exploring the feasibility of establishing a in-lieu fee option for tree planting.
  7. Tracking tree removal and replacement throughout Seattle.H. Providing adequate funding to administer and enforce tree regulations
  8. Requiring that all tree service providers operating in Seattle meet the minimum certification and training requirements and register with the city.

9/17/2019 Seattle City Council Resolution 31902 – A resolution declaring the City Council and the Mayor’s intent to consider strategies to protect trees and increase Seattle’s tree canopy cover

All of the  candidates (13 out of 14) who responded to the TreePAC questionnaire indicated that they support these two resolutions. 

The Seattle Urban Forestry Commission on June 15, 2019, at the request of Councilmembers Bagshaw and Herbold, submitted to the Mayor and City Council a draft Tree and Urban Forest Protection Ordinance.   Council action on an updated Tree Protection Ordinance is expected next year. TreePAC is encouraged by the strong response of the city council candidates in support of updating the current Tree Protection Ordinance.