January 9, 2019.
MHA Council Committee
600 4th Ave
Seattle, WA 98124
RE: Amendments to MHA Ordinance
The Urban Forestry Commission (UFC) would like to provide additional input as you undertake amendments for the Mandatory Housing Affordability (MHA) Ordinance.
The UFC is concerned about the feedback loop between all the different pieces of tree
protection legislation currently being considered. The Tree Protection Ordinance (currently on hold) affects Green Factor, its Director’s Rule, and the MHA Ordinance.
The UFC still feels mitigation measures proposed on the MHA EIS are not enough, especially being that the Tree Protection Ordinance is on hold. Available space for trees is being significantly reduced as part of MHA. The UFC believes the City needs to be more intent in protecting existing trees and requiring tree replacement. Other efforts that would support successful tree protection would include:
1. Clearly defining what a tree is (as done in version D7 of the Draft Tree Protection
2. Including protection for all significant trees 6” in diameter and larger (not just
exceptional trees) removed during development in all zones.
3. Establishing a fee-in-lieu option to fund tree replacement when it’s not possible to do
4. Replacing significant trees removed on site or paying an in-lieu fee to the City to
cover replacement and maintenance costs in the neighborhood or elsewhere in the city
as needed (SMC 25.11.090).
5. Establishing the tree replacement requirement to be calculated based on canopy
volume lost and tree species and size at maturity (in 20 years).
6. Setting a minimum canopy cover requirement per property, including Residential Small
7. Capturing all data on significant tree retention, loss, and replacement into the City’s
8. Properly funding enforcement for tree protection to be effective.
9. Considering previous input provided by the UFC on the Green Factor Director’s Rule
letter of recommendation and Draft MHA Ordinance recommendations, which was
based on the current draft DR and additional changes might be warranted.
The UFC would like to propose specific language changes to SMC 25.11.090 (A), as follows:
exceptional significant tree (six inches DBH and larger) and tree over two (2) feet that is removed in association with development in all zones shall be replaced by one or more new trees, the size and species of which shall be determined by the Director; the tree replacement required shall be designed to result , upon maturity in 20 years in a canopy cover volume that is at least equal to the canopy cover volume prior to tree removal. Preference shall be given to on-site replacement. When on-site replacement cannot be achieved, or is not appropriate as determined by the Director , preference for off-site replacement shall be on public property a fee-in-lieu shall be paid to the City to replace and maintain the tree or trees in the neighborhood where they were removed or elsewhere as needed in the city. The City shall enter all significant trees on site, trees removed, and trees replaced into SDCI’s current database system; noting tree species, common name, DBH, height, condition and location,
The UFC would be happy to work with Council to help explore creative ideas and solutions to support Seattle’s urban trees as our city grows and gets denser as well as coordinating the different elements to tree protection regulation currently being considered by the City.
Weston Brinkley, Chair Steve Zemke
cc: Mayor Durkan, Nathan Torgelson, Samuel Assefa, Jessica Finn Coven, Michelle Caulfield, David Driskell, Mi Podowski, Maggie Glowacki, Chanda Emery, Brennon Staley, Vera Giampietro, Urban Forestry Management Team, Urban Forestry Core Team, Sara Maxana, Aaron Blumenthal, Eric McConaghy, Yolanda Ho, Amanda Hohlfeld
see original document here – Re: Amendments to MHA Ordinance
The following email was sent to the Seattle City Council urging they add a tree
mitigation amendment to their proposed MHA Ordinance.
To Seattle City Council:
Last week the Seattle Urban Forestry Commission adopted and sent to the Seattle City Council and Mayor a letter entitled Re:Amendments to the MHA Ordinance Jan 9, 2019. In the letter was a specific recommended amendment regarding tree mitigation to add to the draft MHA ordinance 119184. It is within the scope of the MHA EIS. TreePAC and others support this amendment and need your help to sponsor it and get it considered by the full MHA Committee. Can you help us?
Proposed amendment: SMC 25.11.090 – Tree replacement and site restoration (A)
exceptional significant tree (six inches DBH and larger) and over two (2) feet that is removed in association with development in all zones shall be replaced by one or more new trees, the size and species of which shall be determined by the Director; the tree replacement required shall be designed to result , upon maturity, in 20 years, in a canopy cover volume that is at least equal to the canopy cover volume prior to tree removal. Preference shall be given to on-site replacement. When on-site replacement cannot be achieved, or is not appropriate as determined by the Director, preference for off-site replacement shall be on public property a fee-in-lieu shall be paid to the City to replace and maintain the tree or trees in the neighborhood where they were removed or elsewhere as needed in the city. The City shall enter all significant trees on site, trees removed, and trees replaced into SDCI’s current database system; noting tree species, common name, DBH, height, condition and location.”
References as to why this amendment is within the scope of the MHA EIS:
Under Section 3.6.3 Mitigation Measures in the MHA Final EIS Nov. 2017 Biological Resources Section it states “The following mitigation measures are provided which would reduce impacts.”…
“Executive Order 2017-11: Tree Protection:
In October of 2017, the Mayor signed executive order 2017-11 directing City departments to improve departmental coordination, strengthen enforcement and adopt new regulations to improve and expand protections for Seattle’s urban trees and canopy cover. …The order also calls for expansion of compliance options to include in-lieu payment options for tree mitigation. Fees from any in-lieu payment will be used for mitigating the loss of canopy cover through replanting and reforestation while prioritizing addressing racial and economic disparities in accessing and enjoying the benefits of urban trees.”
Burgess’s executive order 20-17 in “Section 1. Enforcement Adjustment and Procedural Improvements” says “(B) SDCI will require consistent documentation for required tree removal review on private property including mitigating canopy cover loss of trees removed, and monitoring of planted trees for survival. Informational materials and resources for developers, property owners, and the public related to trees and vegetation management shall be updated to reflect this emphasis”
Thanks for your consideration. We are also contacting other Council members asking for their support as we know 5 votes are needed to pass it.
Steve Zemke -Chair Friends of Seattle’s Urban Forest
Update – Coalition for a Stronger Tree Ordinance
Seattle City Council Again Delays Tree Protection Ordinance
Regretfully we end 2018 without an update to Seattle’s Tree Protection Ordinance. The Seattle City Council’s Planning, Land Use and Zoning Committee (PLUZ) had announced in Nov 2017 that they were going to once again attempt to update Seattle’s Tree protection Ordinance. In December of 2017 TreePAC and Friends of Seattle’s Urban Forest again joined with other community groups to coordinate a renewed effort to update Seattle’s Tree ordinance.
By August of 2018 the PLUZ Committee had produced 2 public drafts of a new ordinance and an least 8 internal drafts.
In late September, the Seattle City Council Planning, Land Use and Zoning Committee agreed with the Seattle Urban Forestry Commission and with TreePAC and other community groups and individuals that the city needed to slow down and draft a new Tree Ordinance that actually protected existing trees as well as requiring trees that were removed be replaced.
In October and November of 2018 the Seattle City Council dedicated its time and effort to drafting and passing the City Budget. Unfortunately after this was completed, the Planning, Land Use and Zoning Committee decided to shift their attention and staff to other legislation and delay further action on the Tree Protection Ordinance until after they pass their Mandatory Housing Affordability Ordinance. They have now tentatively said they would again work on the tree ordinance in the second quarter of 2019.
The Seattle City Council is now entering its tenth year since they passed Council Resolution 31138 urging an update of SMC 25.11 – the Tree Protection Ordinance. The Coalition for a Stronger tree Ordinance will continue to meet as an organization to build support across Seattle for a stronger tree ordinance as well as work with the City Council, Mayor and the Seattle Urban Forest Commission on specific language.
The Coalition continues to urge supporters to continue to contact the Mayor’s office and the City Council on a regular basis to urge they finally enact a strong tree protection ordinance and enforce it.
The main points to emphasize to them is that an updated ordinance must:
- 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 “.
- Lower the threshold for large exceptional trees to 24 inches diameter at 54 inches high (DBH).
- 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.
- Base tree permits on diameter and species of trees, not tree canopy measurements.
- Require all trees 6″ DBH and larger that are removed to be replaced on site or a replacement and maintenancefee be paid to the city.
- 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.
- Limit removal of significant trees non-exceptional trees to no more than 2 per year on developed property.
- Maintain the prohibition on cutting down trees greater than 6″ DBH on undeveloped lots.
From: ReVisioning Northgate <email@example.com>
Sent: Thursday, December 06, 2018 5:33 PM
To: firstname.lastname@example.org; mike.o’email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; lorena.gonzález@seattlegov.org; Juarez, Debora <Debora.Juarez@seattle.gov>; email@example.com
Subject: Tree Code: SMC 25.11 and Council’s proposed changes
December 6, 2018
Dear Councilmembers Johnson, Herbold, O’Brien, and González,
City Council Planning, Land Use & Zoning Committee
ReVisioning Northgate is a community group dedicated to advocating for a healthy, safe, and livable Northgate with its surrounding neighborhoods. We applaud the effort to build a stronger and more enforceable, city-wide Tree Code, SMC 25.11, and of expanding protections to trees on private land. We urge the Council to keep tree preservation as the uppermost goal in each step of revising the Code, and to make this goal explicit in the final ordinance language.
RVN strongly supports the following:
- Greater emphasis must be given to protecting large trees and groves of trees
- The category of “Exceptional Trees” should be maintained, with modifications specified by the Seattle Urban Forestry Commission on November 18, 2018
- New legislation require developers and builders work with City tree experts to adjust plans that would require tree removal, with the goal of preserving trees
- Tree service providers must be made liable for violations of protections
- Removed trees should be replaced on or near the original site, in the same block or neighborhood when possible
- Better definitions of hazardous trees should be written, with review of these claims provided by the City
- A City corps of tree experts should be funded to enforce protections, review claims, and work with builders towards the preservation of existing trees.
We urge adoption of several of the Seattle Urban Forestry Commission’s suggested revisions from its letter to you dated August 31, 2018, and its responses to questions from the Council on November 18, 2018, especially that:
- The prohibition on cutting Exceptional trees be maintained: RVN also urges limiting exceptions to the prohibition, such as that of “precluding full development potential”
- The measurement unit for permitting be based on size and species, not on canopy cover
- Exceptional trees include all those greater than 24” DBH , with the exception of invasive non-native species
- “Habitat value and and ecosystem service provided” be added to protection criteria
- All trees removed a year prior to a property’s sale be considered to be under the ordinance, to discourage cutting prior to the new protections taking effect
- The ratio of replacement be greater than 1:1, to better ensure survival of at least one replacement, and depend on species, increasing with size of the tree removed
- Best-management practices of fall/winter planting and 5 year watering of replacement trees be mandated
- No more than 2 trees per year be removed from a developed lot
- Require a longer posting period: RVN suggests 3 weeks
- On a single family lot where a unit is to be constructed, the minimum number of trees required by SMC 23.44.008 be maintained, and this requirement be extended to other zones.
We agree with Councilmember O’Brien that preservation of and replacement with native hardwoods and conifers should be prioritized. We also urge that if trees are to be removed, they will be replaced by trees that will reach the same size or greater.
The reduction in diameter (DBH) of protected trees from 12” to 6” is greatly appreciated. As is the requirement to make tree service providers sign a statement affirming they know the rules.
We urge that new legislation require developers and builders work with City experts to adjust plans that would require tree removal, with the goal of preserving trees.
The removal of invasive, habitat-threatening trees should not require fees for permitting. These should be listed as exempt, and should include such species as Ilex aquifolium (English holly) and Laburnum anagyroides (chain tree).
And finally, RVN questions whether the fee to be charged for removing non-hazardous trees is a sufficient deterrent, or if it should be increased. At the same time, we question whether property owners should be charged for removing a truly hazardous tree, if experts agree it should be removed. The rules should be reasonable, and not simply a mechanism to generate fees and encourage non-compliance.
Trees are one of our city’s greatest resources. They are our allies in cleaning the air, cooling our increasingly warm, dry summers, controlling storm run-off, and soothing our collective and individual souls. They are indispensable to our streets and neighborhoods. They define the character of Seattle.
Susan Ward, Chair
Proposed revisions to Draft D7 for discussion – Nov 2018
Require permits to remove any tree over 6 inches DBH. Base permits on measuring tree diameter and species identification, not canopy area as proposed in the draft.
Limit the number of significant, non-exceptional trees that can be removed per yr on developed property. to 2 trees/year. Alternative is to allow x diameter inches per year e.g. 10 inches/year.
Adopt a policy of no net loss of canopy/year and a goal to increase canopy.
No exemption on replacement for trees removed on lots over zone goal for canopy as this over time results in a net loss of canopy. The zone goal is an average, with lots above and below this average in tree cover.
Simplify replacement by requiring that all trees removed over 6” DBH, both on developed lots and lots being developed, in all zones, must be replaced, either on site, or by paying a replacement and maintenance fee to the city.
The permit should be called the tree removal and replacement permit. Current draft would let homeowner or developer plant trees off site. Consider removing the provision that a homeowner or developer plant trees off site as this gets very hard to track. Instead pay the city to do this with a fee in lieu to ensure proper trees are planted and maintained.
Current draft requires homeowners and developers removing a tree/trees below canopy zone goal having to bring canopy up to zone goal. Apply this to developers, not homeowners.
Draft starts with 2:1 replacement at 6″ DBH as the city does but has no increase in numbers as the tree removed gets larger. There are two reasons for increasing the number of trees for replacement increasing as the size of the tree increases – many newly planted trees do not survive and the larger DBH trees are older trees that take much longer to replace in equivalency.
The number of trees required as replacement increases as the size of the tree removed is increased. This is what other cities like Portland OR, Medina WA, and Mercer Island do. Medina 6-10 inches – replant 1 tree,10-24 inches -replant 2 trees, 24 inches and larger – replant 3 trees; Mercer island adds over 36 inches – replant 6 trees.
Target for tree replacement numbers to reach equivalency in 20 years per arboriculture standards. Draft says 25 years.
Target replacement to increase conifers, native trees and trees determined to respond best to climate changes
All replaced trees shall be considered significant when planted. (draft provision 25.11.122E)
Protect larger and older trees by reinstating the current exceptional tree protections. Use the definition given in Director’s Rule 2008-16. ”An exceptional tree is a tree that Is designated as a heritage tree by the City of Seattle; or Is rare or exceptional by virtue of its size, species, condition, cultural/historic importance, age, and/or contribution as part of grove of trees.”
Add the words “habitat value, ecological and environmental services” to the definition.
Lower the upper threshold for exceptional trees as recommended by the UFC to 24″ DBH from 30″ DBH to protect more older. larger trees.
Continue existing protection that exceptional trees on developed property cannot be removed unless they are hazardous.
Require hazard trees to be replaced. (Maybe 1 for 1)
Put back prohibition on removing trees greater than 6” DBH on undeveloped lots.
Set up database system to track all tree loss and replacement in one database for all property, both developed and developing. Not “Maybe included with another SDCI permit” – must be tracked).
Minor permit – 1 or 2 significant non-exceptional trees outside development, hazard tree . Major permit – trees during development
Application and permit posted on public city website Sign up list for people and neighborhoods to be notified when applications are filed.
Permit application with tree species and diameter DBH shall be posted on site and available for public to see as SDOT currently does. Yellow ribbon must be visibly placed around tree proposed to be removed. Two weeks posting for application, then 1 week posting for trees approved to be removed. Applies to both minor and major tree removal permits, including during development. (Current draft only has posting for “approved permits”)
Time of tree planting in fall/winter – Mercer Island – “Timing. Replacement trees shall be planted in the wet season (October 1 through April 1) following the applicable tree removal or in the case of a development project, completion of the development work, provided the city arborist may authorize an extension to ensure optimal planting conditions for tree survival”
Lots undergoing development shall be free of invasive plant species prior to approval of final landscape and tree planting approvals.
Determination of trees and tree canopy on a development site shall be that which has existed for 2 years prior to the development application being submitted as determined by LIDAR, Google Earth, or Google Street maps or other means by the city.
For purposes of this chapter and it’s enforcement by the city, the city shall have the power to access any property, public or private, as it may reasonably deem necessary to carry out the provisions of this chapter.
Performance Evaluation of ordinance – “The tree program manager shall collect and maintain all records and data necessary to objectively evaluate whether progress is being made toward the stated goals of this ordinance. An annual summary and analysis of the evaluation, and recommendations for action shall be prepared at the direction of the tree program manager and presented to the City Council. The City Council shall consider the report and recommendations and take all actions deemed necessary to accomplish the goals of this ordinance. These actions may include, but are not limited to, revision or amendment of this ordinance or the adoption of other resolutions or ordinance.” www.Phytosphere.com
Send your comments to firstname.lastname@example.org and Council@seattle.gov
Coalition for a Stronger Tree Ordinance SteveZemke – Chair www.friends.urbanforests.org SteveZemke@Friends.UrbanForests.org
Coalition for a Stronger Tree Ordinance
Join other tree protection advocates this Saturday October 27th for a public coalition meeting to discuss and review proposed changes needed to strengthen the current Tree Ordinance draft proposed by the Seattle City Council.
We will be working on developing a coordinated community response to their proposal – a united front is our best way to enact a strong ordinance. The Seattle City Council Planning, Land Use and Zoning Committee will take up amendments to their draft in December after the Council will has adopted their Budget for next year.
The Coalition for a Stronger Tree Ordinance
will be meeting
Saturday, October 27, 2018 from 11 AM to 1 PM
at the Montlake Public Library, 2404 24th Ave E in Seattle
Looking forward to seeing you on Saturday.
Chair – Coalition for a Stronger Tree Ordinance – a Joint Project of the Friends of Seattle’s Urban Forest and Tree PAC.
Donations are needed to support the efforts to update the Tree Ordinance and can be made through TreePAC. Click on the following link – Donate Here
The Seattle City Council heeded public input and has decided to slow down their rush to update SMC 25.11 – Seattle’s Tree Protection Ordinance by the end of September . This will give more time for public input and scrutiny. The public needs to continue to send in their concerns and suggestions on how to make the ordinance more effective. The Seattle City Council and the Mayor are currently focused this month and next month on adopting their 2019 Budget. They will again take up the Tree Protection Ordinance after the Budget is adopted.
You can help us get a stronger ordinance by continuing to contact the Mayor and the SeattleCity Council with your concerns and suggestions. Their e-mails are:
email@example.com and Council@seattle.gov
Below are our suggestions of changes needed in the current draft they are working with labeled as version D7 that we believe would significantly strengthen the draft ordinance.
Major changes to draft Ordinance being proposed:
Retain the emphasis in the current ordinance by adding back to the draft ordinance the priority of saving existing trees rather than concentrating on how to remove trees and replace them. This means protecting exceptional trees from being removed unless they are hazard trees.
Exceptional trees are the largest trees of their species and the survivors over time. Exceptional trees should be defined as trees that are exceptional because they are a Heritage tree as defined by the city or rare or exceptional by virtue of their species, condition, cultural/historical importance, age, habitat value, environmental or ecological services provided to the city and/or are part of a grove of trees.The upper threshold for becoming exceptional should be 24 inches DBH.
Use a tree diameter and tree species criteria for issuing a tree removal and replacement permit. The tree canopy approach proposed in Draft D7 requiring property owners not just to measure the canopy of the tree to be removed but all the trees on your lot is a time consuming process that ignores property lines, the size and importance of the tree involved, and would result in the loss of many exceptional trees over time.
Limit removal to a maximum of two significant trees, non-exceptional trees per year. Prohibit the removal of any trees over 6 inches DBH on an undeveloped lot. Allow any exceptional tree that is determined to be a hazard tree to be removed.
All significant trees (trees greater than 6 inches DBH), including hazard trees, that are removed on any lot, whether a developed lot or a lot undergoing development, in any zone in the city must be replaced either on site, off site or a fee in lieu paid for the city to replace the tree.
The goal is not just to have no less loss of canopy but to increase it. Tree replacement requirements shall increase as the diameter and canopy volume of the tree removed increases. An example of such a system would be would be 1 tree for a 6-12 inch diameter tree, 2 trees for 12 -24 inch trees, 3 trees for 24 -36 inch trees and 4 trees for trees greater than 36 inch DBH. The reason for the number of trees increasing is that the goal is to try to replace the lost canopy volume over a 20 year cycle and also that all trees do not survive over time. Replacement trees should be targeted to increase conifers, native tree species and trees determined to respond best to climate change.
Property owners outside development should be able to apply for a minor Tree removal and replacement permit for the removal of 1 or significant non-exceptional trees or a hazard tree. Developers will have to apply for a major tree removal and replacement permit which includes preparing a detailed tree inventory for the site and a replacement landscaping plan. Developers shall, like homeowner be required to replace all trees they removed, either on site, off site or pay a fee in lieu system. If the lot canopy cover is below the goal for that zone, developers shall, at a minimum, be required to retain and plant sufficient trees to ensure that the lot reaches the zone canopy goal.
These are some of the major changes under consideration by tree advocates. Feel free to contact us with your suggestions. Send to firstname.lastname@example.org.
See reference material below:
Policy considerations regarding proposed tree regulation bill
Council memo -September 19, 2018 the Planning, Land Use, and Zoning Committee
Adopted letter – Re: Draft Tree protection ordinance update – Seattle Urban Forestry Commission – August 31, 2018
The following appeal of the determination of non-significance (DNS) regarding the proposed draft tree ordinance D7 by the Seattle City Council was filed on Sept 13, 2018. On Sept 24, 2018 the Department of Planning and Development withdrew the DNS.
BEFORE THE HEARING EXAMINER
FOR THE CITY OF SEATTLE
In Re: Appeal by TreePAC, Greenwood Exceptional Trees, SCALE (Seattle Coalition for Affordability Livability and Equity), Beacon Hill Council Seattle, Fremont Neighborhood Council, Mt Baker Community Council, SUN (Seniors United for Neighborhoods), University District Council, and Wallingford Community Council, of the August 23, 2018 Determination of Non-Significance by Chanda S. Emery AICP, Senior Planner, Department of Construction and Inspections. NOTICE OF APPEAL Non-Project Action Amending Seattle Municipal Code (SMC), including repealing and replacing Chapter 25.11
Appellants are public interest and community based organizations in Seattle with an interest in working with the City of Seattle to improve the structure, implementation and effectiveness of the City’s codes regarding the protection and restoration of the City’s urban forest and its functions expressed as tree density, health, diversity, and distribution.
Each appellant will be adversely impacted by enactment of the proposed ordinance notwithstanding the determination by the responsible official that it is not likely to have any significant adverse environmental impacts. Together Appellants represent many thousands of Seattle residents who will be significantly and adversely impacted by the proposed non-project action amending Seattle Municipal Code (SMC), including repealing and replacing Chapter 25.11.