Final Tree Ordinance Hearing - Comments Needed!

ALERT! The Seattle City Council will vote on a new Tree Ordinance on May 23rd, City Ordinance 120534 . Land Use Chair Dan Strauss and Council President Debora Juarez in their newsletters last week both stated that

“now that the bill has passed out of committee, we will provide additional opportunities for people to submit public comment prior to the bill coming to the full Council for a vote on May 23rd.”

As written, the ordinance reduces protections of Seattle’s existing trees during development in favor of (often off-site) tree planting programs. We can and should do both… preservation, and replanting.

We strongly encourage you to send the following comments to the full Council urging increased protection and retention of existing tree during development. Please click on the button below to send a customizable pre-written letter to the City Council. Feel free to add your own comments regarding the need to retain trees where people live.  

Urban growth and tree retention CAN CO-EXIST. We urge the City Council to:

  • Remove the guaranteed lot development areas of 85% in Low Rise zones and 100% in Mid Rise, Seattle Mixed and Commercial zones. Current canopy coverage in the Multifamily zone is 23% and the Mixed Seattle zone is 12% according to the 2021 Seattle Tree Canopy Study. Retain the flexibility of the current system for the city to work with developers based on what’s on each lot. Evaluate the environmental impact of the proposed changes on Seattle’s ability to reach a 30% canopy cover goal as the city responds to state legislation increasing housing density across the city.
  • Require a Tree Inventory (Arborist’s report) and Tree Plan (Retention and Planting) prior to issuing a building permit. Portland, Oregon; Kirkland, WA; Vancouver, BC; and other cities require Tree Inventories up front. This helps to reduce both the time and money spent by both developers and the city in moving projects forward. The Seattle Urban Forestry Commission has repeatedly recommended requiring Tree Inventories and Tree Plans upfront before a Building permit is issued.
  • Maximize the retention of existing 6″ DSH and larger trees during development. This is already required during pre-development and many of the trees are not in the building footprint. PEOPLE NEED TREES WHERE THEY LIVE!!! These trees are paid for, well established, and less vulnerable to climate change and lack of frequent watering. Planting replacement trees is expensive, not all survive, and it takes decades to replace the environmental services and benefits that they now provide.