Amend the 2023 draft Tree Protection Ordinance at May 4th Meeting

We need trees where we live!

In a March 7th press conference, Mayor Bruce Harrell issued new draft legislation and an Executive Order with the stated goal to reverse recent declines in canopy coverage, improve equity in tree planting, and address climate and affordability issues.

On Thursday, May 4th, the Seattle Council Land-Use committee will vote on amendments (which have been continually changing) to the 2023 Tree Ordinance Draft. Your voice is needed! Please write a letter and/or contact the council.

The draft ordinance has some steps forward, it does have some major flaws that must be addressed via the amendment process; supporting the tree-friendly amendments is critical. Additionally, some of the proposed amendments substantially weaken the ordinance, so we must oppose those also.

Below is the list of the high priority amendments; under that is a button that you can click to send a customizable letter to the council urging support for tree-friendly action on these amendments.

Group A. Development Capacity and Development Standard Modifications


  • VOTE YES A6 – Maintain current FAR method for determining when trees can be removed in Lowrise, Midrise and Seattle Mixed Zones – Continue using the FAR or floor area ratio standard which allows for departures outside the building to save exceptional trees (Tier 2). Builders are pushing for a guaranteed 85% development area which would remove the city’s flexibility in saving existing exceptional trees. Trees are already scarce in these areas and this amendment would help save trees in these areas and reduce urban heat island impacts.


  • VOTE NO A2 – Development area percentage in Midrise, Commercial, and Seattle Mixed zones This amendment would guarantee 100% lot coverage in the Midrise, Commercial, and Seattle Mixed Use Zones with no options to save trees.
  • VOTE NO A5 – Tier 2 tree removal allowance and accessory dwelling units – Many accessory dwelling units are less than 15 feet wide. Builders do not need a guaranteed 15 feet. Amendment would be another guaranteed reason to remove exceptional trees. Let the city keep its flexibility to decide based on the trees on a lot.

Group G. Tree Protection During Development


  • VOTE YES G2Tree protection area delineation – This is the recommended ANSI-A300 methodology recommended that takes into account tree species and age of tree in determining the tree protection area.
  • VOTE YES G3 – Temporary reduction of tree protection areas – would result in less tree removal by allowing temporary intrusion under supervision.
  • VOTE YES G4 – Off-site trees during development – would require protection of off-site trees during development.


  • VOTE NO A4 – Calculation of lot coverage standard – tree protection area – Canopy drip line for tree protection areas and no temporary extensions into tree protection area would result in more tree removals.

Group C. Permit Review Process


  • VOTE YES C3Tree Protection Areas and subdivisions, short subdivisions and lot boundary adjustments
  • VOTE YES C4 – require certified arborists report and participation in application team

Group E. In-lieu fees and Replacement requirements


  • VOTE YES E6 – Codify and increase in-lieu fee amount – Addresses cost to city to plant and maintain trees by requiring fee start at $4000 and includes lost benefits of larger trees by fee being $4000 or $17.87 per square inch, whichever is larger.


  • VOTE NO E2 – Minimum in-lieu fee payment for Tier 1 and Tier 2 Trees – Does not cover estimated Parks Dept. $4000 cost to plant and maintain Tier 3 trees at recommended $2800 fee

Group F. Tree Service Providers


  • VOTE YES F2 – Penalties for unregistered tree service providers
  • VOTE YES F3 – Removal from tree service registry