Seattle Urban Forestry Commission
Tom Early, Chair • Steve Zemke, Vice-Chair
Weston Brinkley • Leif Fixen • Megan Herzog • Craig Johnson
Joanna Nelson de Flores • Sarah Rehder • Andrew Zellers
September 13, 2017.
Councilmember Rob Johnson
600 4th Ave.
Seattle, WA 98124
RE: Design Review Program Improvements – CB119057
Dear Councilmember Johnson,
The Urban Forestry Commission commends the intent of the Design Review Program
Improvements. A city should continually re-examine its procedures in order to efficiently meet its goals. Based on the Commission’s review, the proposed changes conflict with the goals of the City’s Urban Forest Stewardship Plan (UFSP), specifically to reach 30% canopy cover by 2037. In light of this, the Commission makes two recommendations to the proposed Design Review Program Improvements, which should also be applied to the current permit review procedures such as clearing and grading.
The first recommendation is to track tree and canopy removal per project. Specifically, the Commission recommends tracking significant tree removals, exceptional tree removals, and removed canopy coverage, in square feet, as part of a complete application. Without this data, the City cannot accurately quantify tree and canopy removal and implement appropriate tree planting efforts. See the Commission’s previous letter of recommendation dated June 25, 2014
The second recommendation is to provide a fee-in-lieu option for projects unable to replace trees equal to the number of trees and amount of canopy removed by a project. There is a lost public benefit associated with the removal of public and private trees which impacts human psychology, ecosystem services, public health, and neighborhood character. A tree removal fee-in-lieu option should be similar to the alternative compliance option for stormwater mitigation yet deposited in an Urban Forestry Account to fund planting and maintaining for long-term, healthy trees in Seattle.
These recommendations are intended to aid the UFSP’s monitoring goals and provide an offsite approach to mitigate tree canopy cover loss due to development. Thank you for the
opportunity to provide comments on the proposed Design Review Program Improvements
described in CB119057.
Tom Early, Chair