Update on May, June Action on Seattle Tree Protection Ordinance

Its Time to Update Seattle’s Tree Ordinance

Friends of Seattle’s Urban Forest and TreePAC invite organizations and individuals to attend our next meeting where we will be gearing up to update Seattle’s Tree Ordinance.

Next meeting of Seattle Tree Ordinance Working Group:

Saturday May 26, 2018 3 PM to 5:30 PM
Northgate Public Library
10548 5th Ave NE, Seattle WA

Meeting of Seattle City Council Planning, Land Use and Zoning Committee:

– to discuss Rob Johnson framework for updating Tree Protection Ordinance

come and speak in favor of updating the tree ordinance

June 6, 2018  9:30 AM

June 20, 2018  9:30 AM

Seattle City Council Chambers



Seattle City Councilmember Rob Johnson has introduced a framework to update Seattle’s current Tree Ordinance.  This is something many citizens and organizations have been urging for almost 10 years.
We would like your organization to join with us and others to strengthen our coalition effort to coordinate and carry out a focused effort to update our outdated tree ordinance, last passed in 2009 as an “interim ordinance”.
It is important that organizations that have been working on trying to increase tree and urban canopy protection meet and work together to have an impact on shaping and passing this legislation. TreePAC and Friends of Seattle’s Urban Forest have been meeting for several months as part of a Seattle Tree Ordinance Working Group. The Seattle Urban Forestry Commission in April passed an abbreviated list of action items that are similar to those supported by our working group.
Go to Action Needed Now to Protect  Seattle’s Trees and Urban Forest – to see
letter to the Mayor and City Council urging action on updating our current tree ordinance that we are asking organizations to sign onto.
Please come on Saturday May 12th to join the effort.
1. Introductions
2. Background on the current ordinance and why action is needed
3. Discussion/Agreement to form a Coalition/Coordinated Action Plan
4. Discussion/Adoption of Draft Letter to Mayor/City Council
5. Adoption of Plan for moving forward
Steve Zemke Chair TreePAC and Friends of Seattle’s Urban Forest stevezemke@msn.com
Reference material:
Rob Johnson spoke on Wednesday April 11, 2018 before the Urban Forestry Commission. You can listen to the audio recording here, He speaks about 10 minutes into the audio for about a half hour  http://video.seattle.gov:8080/podcasts/urbanforestrycommission/UFC041118meeting.MP3
The summary letter sent to the Seattle City Council and Mayor by the Urban Forestry Commission is here:
Adopted Tree Regulations Update Letter of Recommendation
The UFC will continue the discussion of recommendations on updating the Tree Ordinance at their next  meeting on May 2, 2018 and send a more detailed letter at that point.

More detailed Statement by Friends of Seattle Urban Forest is here:
Recommendations for Updating Seattle’s Tree Ordinance

The following letter has been drafted and organizations and individuals are being asked to join in supporting updating Seattle’s Tree Protection Ordinance by sending this letter with your comments to Mayor Durkan and the Seattle City Council.

Action Needed Now to Protect Seattle’s Trees and Urban Forest

Dear Mayor Durkan and Seattle City Council Members, 

We urge you to provide strong leadership now to significantly strengthen Seattle’s tree ordinance to protect our trees and urban forest. 

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.  Trees help clean our air and enhance public health, reduce stormwater runoff, mitigate climate change, increase property values, 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, particularly during development across our city. It is urgent that you act now to stop the loss of trees, particularly exceptional trees and tree groves, and to promote environmental equity as we increase our tree canopy.

We urge you to act now by updating our current tree ordinances and regulations as follows:

  1. Adopt a policy of a net increase of Seattle’s tree canopy each year to reach the city’s current goal of 30% tree canopy.  This requires maintaining and strengthening current protections for both significant and exceptional trees, tree groves, Heritage trees, environmentally critical areas and natural areas.
  2. Require the replacement of all trees removed that are 6” DBH and larger with equivalent sized trees (e.g. small, medium or large) – either on site:  or pay the replacement and maintenance mitigation costs into a City Tree Replacement and Maintenance Fund. Allow the Fund to accept fines, donations, grants and for acquiring land and setting easements and Tree Protection Trusts.
  3. Expand the existing tree removal and replacement permit, 2-week notice and posting system used by SDOT – to cover all public and private trees 6” DBH and larger on both public and private property in all land use zones. Allow removal of no more than 1  significant non-exceptional tree per year.
  4.  Establish one citywide database when 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.  Expand SDOT’s existing tree map to include all the trees in the city that are removed and replaced.
  5. Require a detailed Urban Forest Canopy Impact Assessment for all development projects prior to any development beginning. This detailed tree inventory should be entered into a public database.  Replacement trees should be based on equivalent tree size at maturity.
  6. Expand SDOT’s existing tree service provider’s registration and certification to include all tree service providers working on trees in Seattle. 
  7. Consolidate tree oversight into one city entity: The Office of Sustainability and Environment, as was recommended by the Seattle City Auditor in 2009.  Give OSE the additional authority needed to ensure that trees have an independent advocate for their protection to avoid conflicting goals in other city departments.
  8. Emphasize native trees and vegetation, particularly conifers, to maximize sustainability and environmental services.  Require the removal of invasive plants during development. Increase incentives for protecting trees and provide public assistance for property owners who need help complying with the city ordinance. To increase compliance increase penalties, fines and enforcement. Ensure environmental equity in maintaining and increasing our tree canopy across the city.

Send this as a pdf to the mayor and City Council  – Protect Seattle’s Trees