Make Developers Pay for Tree Canopy Loss!

Action Alert – and Friends of Seattle’s Urban Forest

With the tremendous growth going on in Seattle, trees are more threatened than ever. Developers are clamoring for fewer restrictions and are winning as the Seattle City Council continues to assist developers in their push for more housing and especially affordable housing.  Current legislation before the City Council Planning, Land Use and Zoning Committee, CB 119057 modifying the design review process, is set to be moved on in committee, this Tuesday, Sept 19th at 9:30 AM. It will speed up the design review process and make more administrative decisions rather than citizen review.

The current tree protection ordinance is out of date and has been in interim status for 8 years. Its way past time to update it as development interests put increased pressure on tree loss.   Besides repeatedly recommending the City update its interim tree ordinance, The Seattle Urban Forestry Commission has made 2 recent specific recommendations to the City Council to act on now.

  • 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 (enclosed).
  • 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.

Please contact the Committee members before Tuesday if possible, either by e-mail or phone,   and urge them to act on these recommendations. They can also be contacted after Tuesday urging support for passing a strong tree ordinance. If you are able to come to the committee meeting on Tuesday in Council Chambers in City Hall, there is a public comment period at the beginning of the meeting. –  Chair    206-684-8808    206-684-8802   206-684-8803     206-684-8802


Steve Zemke – Chair – and Friends of Seattle’s Urban Forest

P.S. for additional information see:

Seattle Urban Forestry Commission letter – Design Review Program Improvements – CB119057

Friends of Seattle Urnban Foest and TreePAC letter –

Concerns about CB 119057 modifying design review process

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