Take Action!

Take Action: How can you help with updating Seattle’s  Tree Protection Ordinance

Here’s a handy list of how you can help. Click here for Points to emphasize, or scroll down past the Seattle City Council contact info link.

1) Join our coalition. Upcoming meetings will be posted in these newsletters, on TreePAC.org and Friends.Urbanforests.org – come and provide input!

2) Contact the City Council and Mayor directly and urge them to actually ENFORCE and UPDATE the existing Interim Ordinance to protect and enhance Seattle’s tree canopy. You can use the Action Needed Now letter as a template, or take those points and add your own input. And don’t forget that they get a lot of email – but they may not get as many actual phone calls – calling in and having a conversation with staff or possibly even the Councilmember directly may be just as effective and still allows you to send the email, reminding them again to keep an eye out for your followup.

3) Attend City Council meetings in person and comment. Now that a Draft exists (D7 as of this writing), this is official Council business that can be commented on at any meeting (not just Land Use Committee meetings). Keep your points clear and short for best emphasis. As of October 2018, the drafting of the Tree Protection Ordinance is on hold as the Council works on the budget and then the MHA legislation. This passed on March 18, 2019. Councilmember Rob Johnson who was the prime mover of the Tree Ordinance Update has resigned from the Seattle City Council and is leaving April 5, 2019.  What happens next? We don’t know yet.

4) Attend district-based City Council “local” meetings as soon and often as possible. Now that a portion of the City Council is elected by district, make your voice heard to your district’s City Councilmember directly in at their local meetings in your district. If you are meeting with a district Councilmember of another area, that’s great too, but make sure to bring along a friend, family member or similar from that local area to guarantee face time, because those local meetings are intended for area residents first of course. Schedules linked below.

5) Get a (downtown) office meeting with the Mayor (incl. staff if that’s the only possibility) or City Council personnel. It’s not necessarily ‘less’ to meet with City Council or Mayoral staff, if the emphasis is kept professional and succinct – remember that Rob Johnson’s staff is on point for much of the Tree Ordinance work.

6) Last but certainly not least, SPREAD THE WORD! Tell your neighbors, other Seattle residents you may serve with on a local Community Council, neighborhood group, church group, social media, if you work in the city, etc. – the more people know, the more can provide input and help the effort.

Click for Contact Information and City Govt Schedules. (all links verified again 1/6/2019) Note Councilmember Rob Johnson leaving the Council on April 5, 2019.

Points to emphasize include:

1) Maintain protections for Exceptional Trees – “An exceptional tree is a tree that: 1. Is designated as a heritage tree by the City of Seattle; or 2. Is rare or exceptional by virtue of its size, species, condition, cultural/historic importance, age, and/or contribution as part of grove of trees “.

2) Lower the threshold for large exceptional trees to 24 inches diameter at 54 inches high (DBH).

3) Require removal permits for all trees 6″DBH and larger in all property zones across the city for both developed lots and lots undergoing development.

4) Base tree permits on diameter and species of trees, not tree canopy measurements.

5) Require all trees 6″ DBH and larger that are removed to be replaced on site or a replacement and maintenance fee be paid to the city.

6) Require 2 week posting and yellow ribbons on trees on site for all permit applications for removal. Include on line public posting of applications and permit approvals.

7) Limit removal of significant trees non-exceptional trees to no more than 2 per year on developed property.

8) Maintain the prohibition on cutting down trees greater than 6″ DBH on undeveloped lots.


Additional Reference Material beyond the list linked above:

1) Draft D7 of the “Tree Regulations Update Ordinance”

2) Policy Considerations regarding proposed tree regulation billCouncil memo, Sept 19, 2018: Planning, Land Use, and Zoning Committee (PLUZ)

3) Adopted Letter – Re: Draft Tree protection ordinance update – Seattle Urban Forestry Commission – Aug 31 2018

4) Current Tree Protections (NOTE: this is not the direct ordinance, this is a DCI ‘how to know’ summary): https://www.seattle.gov/Documents/Departments/Council/Members/Johnson/Current-Tree-Protections.pdf