Seattle Talaris Project Needs to Protect More Trees while Increasing Housing Density
This project and the lot size and tree canopy presents a unique opportunity to preserve trees and build more housing. Instead of packing the property with single family housing, it presents an opportunity to call for a rezone to add multifamily housing – and concentrate the units in areas that are either vacant or absent of healthy and exceptional trees.
Building up rather than spreading out could save more trees and natural areas. Extra efforts should be made to maximize the retention of existing healthy and exceptional trees. Also potential larger trees currently less than 24 inches in diameter need to be also be saved because there needs to be replacement trees for current exceptional trees that will eventually die. A healthy urban forest needs both a diversity of tree species as well as tree ages.
The project is close to the University of Washington to the southeast and University Village and transit to the northwest. It should be considered for selective rezoning
The eagle habitat area should be enlarged both for the eagles and because cottonwood trees are brittle and houses and yards should not be in a drop or fall zone of branches and trunks.
Where trees are removed that are healthy, they should be replaced with 2 or more trees whose canopy equivalence is reached in 20-25 years. Removing a 50-70 year old tree that is currently providing significant environmental services to the community is hard to replace. Replacing it with a 6 foot tall Douglas fir will take some 50-70 years to reach any equivalence at the time lost, while if the removed tree had continued to grow, it would be 100-140 years old.
The climate crisis is such that there will be no significant benefits from replanted trees in the near future when we need them. Replacement is also assuming the replanted tree survives.
Portland Oregon currently says that any tree over 20 inches in diameter removed must be replaced inch for inch. If not replaced on site, a fee of $450/inch must be paid.
Even Seattle public trees removed must be replace two for one. And trees need to be watered during summer for 5 years to help ensure survival. They do not all survive.
Any trees planted should prioritize native trees to provide habitat for birds and other animals. The same goes for shrubs and other plants. Planted trees should grow large enough to help shade hardtop areas like roads and sidewalks to reduce heat island impacts. Also trees and shrubs should be selected that will best tolerate climate change.