Seattle City Council Adopts MHA Resolution – Section on Trees

On March 18, 2019 the Seattle City Council passed CB 119444 – Mandatory Housing Affordability (MHA) legislation.

As part of that legislation they passed a Companion Resolution –  RESOLUTION 31870 calling for additional measures by the City and its partners that complement mandatory housing affordability (MHA) implementation to promote livability and equitable development, mitigate displacement, and address challenges and opportunities raised by community members during the MHA public engagement process.

Section 6 of that resolution dealt with updating Seattle’s Tree Protection Ordinance.

Section 6. The Council recognizes the environmental, social, and economic benefits of Seattle’s urban forest and commits to working with community members and City departments to update the City’s tree regulations, advancing the goals of the Urban Forest Stewardship Plan across Seattle. Potential measures may include, but are not limited to, the following:

A. Retaining protections for exceptional trees and expanding the definition of exceptional trees.
B. Creating a permitting process for the removal of significant trees, defined as trees  6 inches in diameter at breast height or larger.
C. Adding replacement requirements for significant tree removal.
D. Simplifying tree planting and replacement requirements.
E. Maintaining tree removal limits in single-family zones.
F. Exploring the feasibility of establishing a in-lieu fee option for tree planting.
G. Tracking tree removal and replacement throughout Seattle.
H. Providing adequate funding to administer and enforce tree regulations.
I. Requiring that all tree service providers operating in Seattle meet the minimum certification and training requirements and register with the city.

This is an affirmation by the Seattle City Council of their current intent to update Seattle’s Tree Protection Ordinance SMC 25.11. The Seattle City Council in 2009 passed a similar resolution but never updated the ordinance. It’s now 10 years later.

Unfortunately the Councilmember leading the effort, Rob Johnson, resigned on April 5, 2019.

Councilmember Sally Bagshaw has agreed to take over the update of the ordinance. The goal is to complete the drafting process of a new ordinance and have a vote by the end of September at the latest. In October and November the Seattle City Council shifts to drafting and adopting the City Budget.

  • 7/15/2019 Update – the timeline now appears that the draft Tree Protection Ordinance Update will be submitted to the Seattle City Council in September, have 2 hearings the 1st and 3rd Wednesday from 2-4 PM in the Council Chambers before Councilmember Sally Bagshaw’s Finance and Neighborhoods Committee and be voted out of Committee the 1st week in December and passed by the full Council the 2nd week.
  • 11/14/19 Update – Council never introduced a draft. Update moved to 2020. Another delay – over 10 years since Council first passed a resolution to update Tree Protection Ordinance. Two more resolutions passed since then urging update.

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