Support Strengthening Seattle’s Tree Policy NOW

(Update 5/17/2018: We sent another letter to Councilman Rob Johnson (and the Planning, Land Use & Zoning Committee), urging them to further strengthen the “Trees for All” proposal by adopting the 6″ DPH criteria for tree permitting. If adopted, we would like this criteria to be known as “Cass’s Rule” in honor of Cass Turnbull (1951-2017), who was unwavering in her support for a stronger tree policy, and an inspiration to us all.)

On October 13, 2017, interim Mayor Tim Burgess took the first step in strengthening Seattle’s tree policy by signing an Executive Order, bolstering protections for trees on private property. This was a small, but critical step in setting the stage for Mayor Durkan and City Council to continue the momentum by fully adopting the recommendations from the 2017 report, that outlined steps for the city to take, in order to attain the 30% tree canopy goal by 2030.

Recently, Councilman Rob Johnson has championed this effort, with the launch of the Trees for All “framework’, which proposes: a clearer permitting process for citizens; mandatory permitting for homeowners/developers removing trees meeting a specified criteria; a replanting program that would offer those removing trees,  the option to either replant on their property or nearby, or pay a fee that would go into a fund for the City to plant trees in locations in the city where tree canopy data has shown to be lacking. Read the draft framework…

The Urban Forestry Commission (UFC) has written a letter in support of the framework, with additional recommendations for the Mayor and City Council’s consideration. Perhaps most important of which is the criteria for determining when permits to remove trees are required. We support the 6″ DBH proposed by the UFC. vs. Councilman Johnson’s 12 ” DBH (DBH refers to the tree diameter measured at 4.5 feet above the ground). According to an Ecosystems Services Report done by the city, 12” covers only 18% of the trees in the residential zone, while 6 ” would cover 45%. We support the UFC’s stronger recommendations and urge you to as well.

The Seattle Nature Alliance has sent a letter to the Mayor and City Council supporting the ‘Trees for All’ framework including the UFC’s additional recommendations. Read SNA’s letter…

We encourage all SNA members to review the proposed framework with Trees for All  as well as the UFC letter, and then write the Mayor,  City Council(see contact info below). Feel free to use language from our letter if needed to express views that may be similar. Also, we urge you to voice your support for the stronger recommendations proposed by the UFC, and that Council includes the  UFC in drafting the final tree policy. Please see Seattle Friends of Urban Forests website to keep up to date with late breaking information. These folks are passionate, and dedicated to this issue.

NOW is the time for the city to place as much emphasis on preserving trees as it does on development.

Mayor & City Council Contact Info

Mayor Durkan

Council Members include: Sally Bagshaw (District 7), Teresa Mosqueda(District 8), Lorena González (Citywide-Position 9), Bruce Harrell (District 2), Lisa Herbold(District 1), Rob Johnson(District 4), Debora Juarez (District 5, Heads Parks Committee), Mike O’Brien, (District 6) and Kshama Sawant (District 3).


Seattle City Hall
600 Fourth Ave. 2nd Floor
Seattle, WA 98104
Phone: 206-684-8888
Fax: 206-684-8587

Mailing Address:
PO Box 34025
Seattle, WA 98124-4025

Upcoming Meeting

Planning, Land Use & Zoning Committee
Wednesday, May 16th, 9:30am
City Hall, Council Chamber
Note: Rob Johnson is scheduled to present the proposal.

Attend Urban Forestry Commission (UFC) meetings
Held the 1st and 2nd Wednesday of month, 3 PM – 5 PM, Seattle Municipal Tower, Room 2750. If you can’t make the meeting, please send emails and speak out about a strong tree ordinance. Be sure to thank the UFC for providing leadership in pushing to update the Tree Protection Ordinance over the last 9 years.


4 thoughts on “Support Strengthening Seattle’s Tree Policy NOW

  1. Just a quick note, Johnson is not proposing consolidating the Departments at this point but consolidating into one website the ability of citizens to address trees in the 9 city departments. Mainly it is one portal for applying for a permit to remove trees. One issue that is crucial is the size of trees that require a permit with the Seattle Urban Forestry Commission and citizen groups weighting in to support 6″ DBH while Johnson is considering 12 ” DBH. The difference according to an Ecosystems Services Report done by the city is that 12 ” only cover 18% of the trees in the residential zone while 6 ” would cover 45%. That is a big difference In terms requiring equivalent tree replacement by size for trees removed.

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