Why is Seattle dragging its heels on setting up a tree removal and replacement permit system?

The Seattle Department of Planning and Development (SDCI) is dragging its heels on setting up a permit system for tree removal and replacement. The Seattle Council urged SDCI in Council Resolution 31902 to consider a permit system to remove trees 6″  DBH (diameter at 4.5 feet above ground). SDCI with OSE held “listening sessions” with 29 people (including 10 members of the development community) and concluded the public didn’t support permits. 29 respondents is not statistically valid,
Meanwhile a poll done by the Northwest Progressive Institute last year found that Seattle voters favored requiring permits to remove trees by a 2 to 1 margin. The results were 57% supporting to 28% opposing with 15% unsure.
Other cities are doing it with the same Accela database system that Seattle uses. Even Seattle’s Department of Transportation is using it for their  permits for tree removal and replacement.
A permit system can be set up now without the need to update the Tree Protection Ordinance. The existing Tree Protection Ordinance states in SMC 25.11.100 Enforcement and Penalties A. Authority 1. that ” The  Director shall have authority to enforce the provisions of this Chapter 25.11, to issue permits, impose conditions and establish penalties for violations of applicable law or rules by registered tree service providers, establish administrative procedures and guidelines, conduct inspections, and prepare the forms and publish Director’s Rules that may be necessary to carry out the purposes of this Chapter 25.11.”  (Note –  Highlighting done by author to focus on key phrasing and authority)
Here are some other cities (and associated information) that are using an online  Accela database system to set up permits for removing trees. Also included is SDOT’s  link to their system in Seattle.
Entering permits on a database system allows a city to track tree loss and replacement. With posting requirements and online database systems, people can confirm that trees are being removed under city ordinances and not illegally. Seattle’s tree protection enforcement is currently based on trusting people are cutting down trees legally. That is often not the case. Citizens only option is a complaint based system which doesn’t work..
Lake Forest Park :  
Atlanta, GA:

Comments are closed.