Friends of Seattle’s Urban Forests

Save the Trees- Seattle is a citizen’s coalition in Seattle, Washington working to update it’s current ordinance dealing with trees and Seattle’s urban forest. We have  opposed  the Seattle Department of Planning and Development’s (DPD) past efforts to weaken and repeal existing protections for Seattle’s urban forest and trees.

As the Seattle Urban Forestry Commission noted, DPD’s 2011 draft would have removed existing protections for trees and tree groves on 99.5% of Seattle property. DPD proposed that education and incentives would increase our urban forest canopy more than strengthening existing protections. We disagree.

A second draft of DPD’s proposal was released in 2012 and was withdrawn for further revision after the Seattle Urban Forestry Commission, Save the Trees-Seattle and other groups criticized its weakening of tree protections on private property. DPD’s intent was still to not regulate tree protection but to remove all protections.

 DPD is currently working on a third draft of a new tree ordinance that they plan to release in Jan 2014. There work is being done behind closed doors and is not involving the public. The schedule is to try to pass a new ordinance the beginning of 2014.

Save the Trees-Seattle supports a comprehensive update of our existing regulations as requested by the Seattle City Council in Resolution 31138 but mostly ignored by DPD in the past. Save the Trees-Seattle is a coalition of community and environmental activists working to draft an alternative citizen’s proposal that includes the following elements: 

Important  urban forestry and tree regulation provisions  needed in a new tree ordinance to strengthen tree protection

  1. Maintain and expand protection for exceptional trees and tree groves
  2. Expand the current permit system for street trees to include all trees over 6 inches in diameter on public and private property;  require 2 week posting of permits on internet and visible sign on site,  have an appeal process
  3. Enact comprehensive regulations that cover both public and private sector trees
  4. Consolidate oversight, regulation and enforcement in an independent department other than DPD, that does not have a conflict of interest such as the Office of Sustainability and Environment or the Parks Department.
  5. License and train all arborists and tree cutting operations; with fines and suspension for violations of law
  6. Give priority to native trees and vegetation to help preserve native plants and animals
  7. Emphasize habitat and ecological processes and soil as part of urban forestry
  8. Require all real estate sales to disclose trees on property that would require a permit to be removed.
  9. Define canopy cover in terms of volume and area; enforce existing city policy of no net loss of canopy by requiring replacement of trees removed either on site or off site
  10. Incorporate incentives like a rebate on utility bills based on exceptional trees, total canopy cover, or on trees  over a certain size like 8 inches in diameter on property; property owners could file to get a rebate the same as property owners now file for a senior citizen property tax exemption
  11. Prepare meaningful and descriptive site plans that show all existing and proposed trees to scale

If you are interested or know of other people who want to assist in our effort to enact strong urban forestry and tree protection regulations send an e-mail to and request to be added to our e-mail list.  Save the Trees – Seattle, 2131 N 132nd St, Seattle, WA 98133, 206-366-0811 Check out our facebook page at Friends of Seattle’s Urban Forest and visit our website here at

This website is being added to as time permits so please have patience as we work on it.  We try to keep more current tree and urban forestry news items posted more timely on our facebook page. – Friends of Seattle’s Urban Forest.


Friends of Seattle’s Urban Forests — 1 Comment

  1. Help! Demolition planned – Exceptional trees present over 100 year old magnolia, vine maple, atlas cedar, and over 12 others. No evidence in file that City arborists were involved in reviewing tree actions on the proposed project at all. No tree removal and protection plan published on line. Building permits issued June 19, 2013, and owner paid for tree consultant July 22, 2013 – how was the tree report used in the design and planning? The July report said none of the trees would survive excavation and construction – the plans were already approved! This is directly on our historic boulevard and park – it is unthinkable that no formal tree study or review was completed prior to building acceptance and that the landscape design guidelines of the neighborhood were not imposed on the project. Plantings adjacent to Green Lake Park should be planned to celebrate the Olmstead Brothers legacy.