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Seattle Arborist Association Criticizes City’s Proposed Tree Protection Ordinance for Discouraging Tree Planting by Property Owners

tree protection
Tree protection ( Photo: The Tree Council )

The ordinance was introduced to increase the city’s canopy coverage to 30% by 2037, following a relative decline in canopy cover of 1.7% from 2016 to 2021.

tree protection

Tree protection ( Photo: The Urbanist )

The Seattle Arborist Association has raised concerns about the proposed tree protection ordinance in the city

The proposal includes a tier system and requires tree replacement if one is cut down. The removal of heritage trees, which are historically important and large, can only occur if deemed hazardous. The proposed cost of replanting per square inch of trunk ranges from $17.87 to $2,833, depending on the tree’s diameter.

The Seattle Arborist Association believes the regulations in the proposed ordinance are too restrictive and will discourage tree planting, rather than increase canopy coverage. The Association is advocating for the city to consider incentivizing tree planting instead of restricting tree-cutting services. The proposed regulations are also frustrating property owners, with some reporting an increase in illegal tree work since the city council passed legislation requiring tree service providers to register with the city.

The Seattle Arborist Association has submitted a nine-page letter to the Seattle City Council outlining three key issues with the draft tree protection ordinance.

These include the hazard designation requirement for removing Tier three and four trees

Which disincentivizes tree ownership and proactive management, and the regulations for tree service providers, are counterproductive. The proposed legislation also contains technical errors and deviates from accepted industry standards and professional best practices.

Kelsey Gruenwoldt, the co-owner of the Seattle Tree Care and founder of the Seattle Arborist Association, suggests the city should implement incentive-based policies to encourage tree planting, rather than restrict tree-cutting services. A committee vote on the proposed ordinance is set for April 26, with a full City Council vote to follow if passed.

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