Seattle’s New Tree Ordinance
Seattle's 2023 Tree Protection Ordinance
The long awaited update to Seattle’s Tree Protection Ordinance was passed by the Seattle City Council May 23rd with a June signing ceremony and press conference planned by the mayor’s office. But there was no signing ceremony or press conference… the controversy around this legislation had already become the main story.
- First Tree ordinance passed 2001 (CM Jan Drago – sponsor)
- Exceptional Tree Director’s Rule –2008
- Interim Tree Ordinance 2009 (CM Richard Conlin – sponsor)
- Urban Forestry Commission (UFC) created 2009 (CM Nick Licata – sponsor)
- SDCI released 2 drafts of Tree Ordinance 2010/2011 to weaken tree protection
- 2017 draft Ordinance to weaken tree protection (CM Rob Johnson)
- 2019 draft Tree Ordinance by the Seattle UFC ignored by Council and Mayor
- 2022 draft Tree Ordinance released by Mayor Harrell
- 2023 The Master Builders of King and Snohomish Counties (MBAKS) challenged the draft and subsequently lost, having no evidence to support their assertions about the financial burdens of saving trees during development.
- 2023 The Mayor, with input from the MBAKS, amends the draft Tree Ordinance and sends it to the Council.
- May 2023 The Council amends the draft with more developer friendly provisions and passes the ordinance.
- May 2023 Mayor signs ordinance
- August 2023 New ordinance goes into effect. Building permits granted after July 31st will be impacted by the new ordinance. Since permits are good for 4 years, so many current projects are still operating under the old ordinance.
- Support the petition to the WA State Growth Management Hearings Board to ensure the City meets the City’s current Comprehensive Plan goal of 30% tree canopy by 2037, as required by the WA Growth Management Act (GMA). Find out how you can help: click Seattle Needs Trees
- Support and help elect Seattle City Council Candidates who support trees and our urban forest. Here is a list of the candidates, their campaign contact information, and their completed TreePAC questionnaires. Contact their campaigns (via email, phone or contact forms on their websites) and let them know that you support the requirement that developers maximize the retention of existing trees on site, by modifying their plans (by building-up or by using alternative site plans) to save more trees. Feel free to include other items from the “Fixes Urgently Needed” section above.
- Contact the current City Council, Mayor and/or staff.
- All council members can be reached by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. Mayor Harrell can be reached here.
- SCC Insight – info on getting messages to the council
Like the message above for the candidates, let them know that you support the requirement that developers maximize the retention of existing trees on site, by modifying their plans (by building-up or by using alternative site plans) to save more trees. Feel free to include other items from the “Fixes Urgently Needed” section above.