Over 150 trees belonging to the City of Seattle (aka ‘all of us’) and under the stewardship of the Seattle Parks & Recreation Department, were recently cut down, illegally. As the investigation unfolded, it was discovered that the incident had been reported to City and Parks department officials almost two months before the story broke on the front page of the Seattle Times.
As people found out about this story, they were understandably outraged. Outraged at why such destruction took so long to be reported. And as the story unfolded, outraged at what appeared to be the entitlement of some homeowners who felt their ‘city view’ was of more importance than this green space, a public resource benefiting all – by providing tree canopy, slope stabilization, improved air and water quality, not to mention homes to the birds and other creatures living there.
The new growth on the hillside suggests this is not the first time trees have been cut in quest of the ‘city view’.
Scenic views of the Cascades & Olympics, of Mt. Rainier, of Puget Sound, are undoubtedly spectacular. But so are trees – with their elegant branch structure, changing foliage, and the calming sounds as leaves rustle in the wind. Trees also mitigate the effects of climate change; they provide shade, improve air quality, filter polluted waters, and offset our needs for energy. I wonder what would happen if a public utility, such as a water treatment facility were on this property and people tried to disassemble it because it blocked their view?
We need to redefine the term view to include trees, as we will be ever more dependent on them in the future. Some day, tree views may be the highest draw for prospective home buyers, and instead of reading about ‘water and mountain view property’ in real estate ads, we might be reading ‘this property has many mature, majestic trees.’
- 4/4/16 WEST SEATTLE TREE-CUTTING CASE: City Council committee to discuss, publicly, Thursday – West Seattle Blog
- 4/1/16 FOLLOWUP: West Seattle tree-cutting investigation continues; council to be briefed – West Seattle Blog
- 3/31/16 An expensive, clear-cut crime in West Seattle – Seattle Times Editorial
- 3/30/16 Illegal Tree Cutting, Update on 23rd Ave, and Secure Scheduling Discussion Lisa Herbold’s blog
- 3/30/16 Illegal tree cutting brings assessment investigation and more – West Seattle Blog
- 3/30/16 Homeowners cut 100+ trees for better views. It’s time to lower the boom – Op-ed from Crosscut
- 3/29/16 Seattle Tree cutters could face felony charges – King 5
- 3/29/16 Charges considered in illegal clearing of 150 West Seattle trees – KOMO 4
- 3/28/16 FOLLOWUP: Where East Admiral tree-cutting investigation stands; City Attorney’s Office says ‘could be a felony’ – West Seattle Blog
- 3/28/16 Councilmember Herbold’s Statement on Illegal Removal of over 150 Trees in the Duwamish Head Greenbelt – Seattle.gov
- 3/28/16 A Forest Steward Faces Off Against Homeowners Fighting to Maintain Their Grand Views – Seattle Weekly
- 3/27/16 Seattle Investigating after 150 Trees Cut – KOMO 4
- 3/27/16 Lawyer disclosed damage to 150+ trees last month; appears more than 1 person involved, city official says – AP and Channel 13, Seattle
- 3/26/16 UPDATE: Outrage after 100+ trees cut without permission on city-owned West Seattle slopes – West Seattle Blog
- 3/25/16 The guts of some people’: Acre of public trees in West Seattle cut down – Seattle Times
- 3/30/16 Protect Seattle Trees NOW! – TreePac
- 3/29/16 Change Seattle law: stop people clear cutting greenbelts and risking landslides – petition on Change.org