LFP Property owner fined $35,000 for cutting trees without a permit

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Photo courtesy City of Lake Forest Park

In April 2017, a code violation notice was sent to a Lake Forest Park property owner who cut down two landmark-sized trees without a permit, a violation of LFPMC 16.14 and the City’s tree removal moratorium.

The city arborist consultant valued the trees at $35,056, which is the fine.

The party accused of the violation has requested a mitigation hearing, as allowed by LFPMC 1.25 – Code Enforcement, which will be heard by the City’s Hearing Examiner.


Anonymous,  May 2, 2017 at 1:02 AM  

Woah. How do you know if you have a landmark-sized tree?

Anonymous,  May 2, 2017 at 6:44 AM  

Why is the fine based on the theoretical value of the tree? Is the City asserting that it owns that value?

Anonymous,  May 2, 2017 at 6:53 AM  

But if they were a developer, they could clear the lot.

Anonymous,  May 2, 2017 at 1:37 PM  

I'd love a little more info - did a neighbor rat them out or did someone from the city just happen to drive by and see it? Will the owner claim they were diseased or otherwise a hazard and the fine will be reduced to zero? Is it a lot that's being redeveloped and the trees were in the way of construction?

Michele Lundeen May 2, 2017 at 8:09 PM  

This brings up a subject that I have been curious about for quite some time. Are the builders and contractors held to the same standard as homeowners? I have watched many landmark trees being removed so one of the new mega houses can be built in their place. As a resident that lives on the 204th st hill I am concerned with the building sites that has been stripped of all vegetation. Although I do not condone what this person has done with their landmark tree I am concerned that there is double standard.

Suz May 3, 2017 at 10:45 PM  

If a commercial tree removal company was involved they, too, know better. I trust they have lost the privilege of practicing in this city.

kathy holzer May 4, 2017 at 3:47 PM  

i for one applaud the size of the fine and hope that the mitigation hearing falls short of the property owner's hopes. i am a resident of LFP, and like many of you i moved here for the trees. unlike most of you, i run a tree company which is on the LFP approved tree co. list and i do business here. if this company owner didn't know better, they will now pay more attention to the stipulations of various municipalities rules as i believe fines are split by business and homeowner. if the homeowner didn't know better, it's too bad they contacted a tree company who was unable to educate them.

i too am concerned about double-standards for homeowners vs developers, and we will all have to see how that plays out with the new ordinance. city council and many concerned citizens put a lot of time and effort into this new ordinance but there are no legal precedents as it's so new (or at least that's my understanding). i'd like to see far fewer big old trees removed before they need to be removed. i could likely make $300k by splitting my lot and cutting down my trees, and i am not interested in doing so. i intend to be an excellent steward of my little remnant forest, and i know there are many like-minded LFP residents because i've worked for half a dozen already.

Anonymous,  May 4, 2017 at 5:16 PM  

So check me on this, I purchase my property, manage the vegetation so Ivy and Blackberrys are not all that grow on it, maintain it at my expense, pay taxes on it, yet somehow the City has the right to dictate my right to cut a tree down and collect a fee for the privlege of reviewing what I am allowed to do and another fee for either permitting me to cut or not and to instruct me on what and how to replace it. So some altruistic recent college grad "expert" now gets to determine the asthetics of how my property can look. Wow! That sort of thing used to be called a public park not private property didn't it?

Anonymous,  May 5, 2017 at 1:06 PM  

Dear Anon-5:16pm I think of the trees more like the "mineral rights" - trees help everyone far and wide - you bought your lot, but I'm willing to bet you don't own the mineral rights - and if the government wanted to dig for coal in your front yard your opinion about it wouldn't matter...

Anonymous,  May 5, 2017 at 5:08 PM  

Hey, if you choose to live in LFP, I'd certainly hope it's not just because it's cheaper than Seattle. If you don't care at all about the look and feel of LFP, then find yourself a property elsewhere. It's perfectly in a city's interest, for the benefit of all city resident's, to limit the cutting of trees and ask that if property owners wish to do so that they file for a permit first.

Anonymous,  May 11, 2017 at 4:34 PM  

I live in LFP and have read the new tree ordnance 1152. I understand the intent, but I believe it is a huge overreach for property rights. I have a large number of landmark trees on the perimeter of my property; I like and value the trees! But, I am essentially locked out of any development (increased building footprint) due to the CRZ (critical root zone) protection setback requirements. This is 1' per 1" of tree diameter (DBH); so a landmark tree >= 24" DBH requires a 48' circle to protect the CRZ AND a 5' setback. Really? There are provisions to get around this, but it requires an extensive study (which you pay for) and it MIGHT not be approved. If the tree is deemed an 'Exceptional' tree no permit will be issued. WTF? There are few exceptions like if the tree is dead or a public safety hazard. To much power in the hands of an administrator over your property rights. There will be a court challenge..might be a while..it will be interesting to see what happens.

Anonymous,  August 7, 2017 at 6:34 PM  

I have a large "exceptional" tree in my small yard and I have called to have an appraisal for removal or pruning. Of course I called references from Plant Amnesty and was told consistently it was exceptional and could not be taken down. While I love trees and this tree it does take up most of my city yard. And I too want to hear about the regulations for developers.

Anonymous,  August 7, 2017 at 8:33 PM  

If they fell in windstorm, who would be liable?
What if someone were killed (like Seward park a couple years ago)?
How much would that have cost?

Anonymous,  August 8, 2017 at 6:49 AM  

If I was his neighbor to the north, I would have given this guy a medal!

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