UPDATE: Seattle Tree Ordinance
To Do: Write Letters to Mayor and City Council (Ongoing)
At Council member Bagshaw’s request, the Seattle Urban Forestry Commission submitted a draft ordinance in mid June. The updated draft of the Tree Protection Ordinance will be submitted to the Seattle City Council in September. It will tentatively have two hearings (1st and 3rd Wednesday from 2-4 PM) in the Council Chambers before Councilmember Sally Bagshaw’s Finance and Neighborhoods Committee and be voted out of Committee the 1st week in December and passed by the full Council the 2nd week.
Key points to mention in your letter:
- Protect and prioritize exceptional, significant and heritage trees. Prioritizing exceptional trees before talking about removal/replacement is imperative. Protect exceptional trees from being removed unless they are deemed hazardous.
- Exceptional tree definition should be clearly stated. Exceptional trees should be defined as exceptional because they are a “heritage tree” as defined by the City of Seattle,or rare or exceptional by virtue of their species, condition, cultural/historical importance, age, habitat value, environmental or ecological services provided to the city and/or are part of a multi-tree grove. We can’t grow our canopy if we are removing it faster than it’s growing.
- Use a tree diameter and tree species criteria for issuing a tree removal and replacement permit. The D7 ‘tree canopy’ measurements are way too complex, time consuming and will simply result in property owners ignoring them – trunk diameter and species identification is straightforward and can be done in a matter of minutes by comparison.
- Mandatory tree replacement/compensation. All significant trees (trees greater than 6 inches DBH), including hazard trees that are removed on any lot, whether a developed lot or a lot undergoing development, in any zone in the city must be replaced either onsite, off site or a fee in lieu paid for the city to replace the tree.
- Acknowledge the goal to increase tree canopy. The goal is not just to have no net loss of canopy, but to increase it. Tree replacement requirements shall increase as the diameter and canopy volume of the tree removed increases. Replacement trees should be targeted to increase conifers, native tree species and trees determined to respond best to climate change.
- Property owner allowance. Property owners (non-developers) should be able to apply for a minor tree removal and replacement permit for the removal of 1 or significant non-exceptional trees or a hazard tree. Developers will have to apply for a major tree removal and replacement permit which includes preparing a detailed tree inventory for the site and a replacement landscaping plan. Developers shall, like homeowner be required to replace all trees they removed, either on site, off site or pay a fee in lieu system.
Too keep updated on this issue, consider attending the Urban Forestry Commission (UFC) meetings which are 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.
Also 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.
Mayor & City Council Contact Info
Council Members include: Sally Bagshaw (District 7), Teresa Mosqueda (District 8), Lorena González (Citywide-Position 9), Bruce Harrell (District 2), Lisa Herbold (District 1), Abel Pacheco(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
PO Box 34025
Seattle, WA 98124-4025
Protect Discovery Park from Development
To Do: Write Letters/Sign Petition
An organized group is lobbying to convert part of the Discovery Park into an arts campus. We oppose this change to the park’s current use and purpose. Please sign and share the petition and/or by write the Interim Mayor or City Council to show your support for protecting Discovery Park and preserving its current use and purpose as a natural area park. Read our blog post to find out more…
Friends of Discovery Park petition
Sword Fern Die Off in Seward Park
To Do: If you notice that your park is affected too, notify the group working on the issue
Read or watch a short video about the sword fern die off.
Send reports to: Paul Shannon
Issues on the Back Burner
UPDATE: Cheasty Green Space – Bike Park Pilot
To Do: Stay tuned.
You can help by sending comments to Seattle Parks and Recreation staff:
Not sure what to say?
Here are the key points:
Park Natural Areas should be preserved for passive use.
Passive uses are:
- UNIVERSAL – uses that are available to virtually everyone
- COMPATIBLE – they are compatible with other passive uses and with the other living creatures that depend upon the land for habitat.
- FREE – they do not require fees for entry
- OPEN – they do not require their own special, segregated spaces.
Read our post: Park Natural Areas Must Be Preserved for more details.
Seattle Parks Dept – The Cheasty Mountain Bike and Pedestrian Trail Pilot Project
Off Leash Dogs in Parks / Update: People, Dogs & Parks Strategic Plan
To Do: Congratulate yourselves for making a difference.
Stay vigilant, watch for new proposals
Seattle Parks & Recreation released it’s final version of the People, Dogs & Parks Strategic Plan. (A very long, and detailed document, if you don’t have the time, read the shorter Executive Summary).
We are pleased that Parks did not pursue the idea of expanding off-leash access to nature trails and beaches, or in the unfenced recreational areas in parks. These expansions were pursued quite vigorously by the various off-leash groups. SNA participated in focus groups, attended meetings, wrote letters, and publicized the issue to get support from our membership and the public to convince Parks that nature and off-leash do not mix. We are pleased with the outcome but realize that COLA will most likely continue to pursue expanding off-leash areas in our Parks. With this plan, Parks outlines a process for submitting new off leash area proposals. We hope that any future proposals do not include the natural areas in our parks, but instead look to other city property or public/private partnerships, land more appropriate for the unique needs of off leash dogs.
COLA and their supporters often state how far behind Seattle is in comparison to other cities in offering off leash dog parks but fails to acknowledge the huge difference in available acreage. Read our blog post… or download our SNA Off Leash Dog Action Sheet.
Denny Park – temporary OLA looks like it may become permanent (see Briefing paper).
Seattle Parks & Recreation Development Plan
To Do : Write a letter / Attend Community Meeting(s)
From the Parks website:
The 2017 Development Plan is a 6-year plan that documents and describes SPR facilities and lands, looks at Seattle’s changing demographics, and lays out a vision for the future. A goal in the Seattle 2035 Comprehensive Plan is to consider access to our parks by transit, bicycle, and on foot when acquiring, siting and designing new park facilities or improving existing ones. SPR manages approximately 11% of the City’s land area, and is proposing a new mapping approach based upon walkability to inform the City’s long-term acquisition strategies for future open space.
Camping in City Parks and Greenspaces
To Do : Write a letter / Attend City Council Meeting
UPDATE: After outpouring of public opposition to the proposal in its current form, City Council members working to modify proposals for allowing homeless encampments. Read about the latest proposals…
Send a letter with your concerns to the City Council.
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).
Homelessness has become a heartbreaking reality in our city. You cannot walk downtown without encountering someone camped out on the sidewalk or taking shelter in a stairwell. Recently the Seattle City Council has introduced legislation that would create a right to camp on public property throughout the city including public parks and greenspaces. Clearly homelessness has reached a crisis point and the city should make finding a sustainable solution a priority. However, pitting the homeless need for housing against preserving the remaining natural spaces in our public parks is shortsighted. Nature – a healthy natural ecosystem- is essential to everyone’s health and well being. In addition it is contrary to the Parks Department commitment to the Green Seattle Partnership volunteers who spend countless hours restoring these areas. See what happened in Magnusen Park after only a few weeks of unauthorized camping.
Other cities are currently experimenting with allowing more camping in public places. The City of Vancouver has opened up camping in certain areas but restricted camping in public parks. Portland’s Mayor adopted a plan to open up camping in public spaces only to find himself reversing the decision approximately 6 months later, with much damage already done.
Seattle City Council should focus their attention on permanent low income housing solutions. If they move forward to opening up camping as an interim solution, they should select defined areas that would be able to withstand high-impact use and where they would be able to centralize public health/safety services . City leaders should solve the housing crisis without damaging our urban forests.
Read Councilman Tim Burgess’ post about the ordinance and what’s at stake.
Myers Parcels – transform into park or public green space
To Do : Contact Seattle Green Spaces Coalition
For the past two plus years many groups throughout the city have worked to preserve Myers Parcels, the last large property in Seattle that could be preserved as a green space and potentially developed as a Park. After originally proposing to sell the land off to developers, we are happy to report that Seattle Mayor Ed Murray has reversed his decision to sell Myers Parcels. First reported by the West Seattle blog.
The Seattle Nature Alliance is very grateful that the Mayor had the courage to do the right thing and reverse his decision. Many thanks to everyone who signed the petition, wrote to the Mayor or to the City Council. Thanks for the individuals & organizations across the city who tirelessly worked on this issue, especially Cass Turnbull, Mary Fleck, Seattle Greenspaces Coalition and TreePac. A special thanks to Council member Lisa Herbold who took the time to really engage and listen to the community. Many thanks to great reporting by Crosscut and InvestigateWest, the Seattle Times, KUOW, KPLU, and of course, our own West Seattle Blog.
If you want to help out in this effort, please contact:
Seattle Green Spaces Coalition
4511 50th Ave SW Seattle WA 98116