Op-Ed: Shoreline City Council should represent the citizens, not developers

Monday, July 30, 2018

Cedar, Madrone, Fir, Hemlock, Spruce, Big-Leaf Maple, Birch
Will we care when they are gone?

Cynthia Knox is an artist, a neighborhood leader, and the creator and organizer of the SummerSet Arts Festival which ran for five years at Ronald Bog.

By Cynthia Knox

This Monday, at July 30th's Shoreline Council Meeting there is an agenda item regarding tree retention policy for developers in the MUR70 zones. As a resident of this city and one of your constituents, I request that Shoreline City Council Members represent me, a Shoreline citizen, and my future and my descendent's futures over developer's wishes/demands.

Trees are being cut down at a rapid rate all over Shoreline and the current replacement policies/fines are insufficient to keep this city a "Tree City" and retain our valuable tree canopy.

Do not be fooled by the statistic quoted by city staff regarding what seems like a small impact on the tree canopy with the current amendment. This amendment is a portent of more amendments like this to come.

Every amendment that allows loopholes for trees to be decimated is a downhill slide to making our city look and feel more like other urban centers. Do you notice how much cooler it is up here in Shoreline than Seattle? To keep it that way we must keep the trees.

City Council Members, I ask you to consider the following when representing RESIDENTS of Shoreline.

1. That building density with lack of trees (if builders get to buy their way out of saving trees), will lead to creating HEAT ISLANDS in our city. (Please note that the Aurora Corridor is already one) .

2. The Planning Commission is populated with people in professions that are tangential to, and profit from developers - they are not neutral in their viewpoints.

3. Shoreline does not have to bend over backwards to entice developers to do business here. We are the next city up from Seattle. If Seattle area is expanding, the expansion is definitely coming up here. Now is the time to set the standards for how we want this city to be for the near and far future. Do we want to be "green" in name only? OR in practice as well?

4. Would the fees paid for each tree (for fee-in-lieu) be commensurate with what a tree is really worth? My guess is that the price is too low if a developer doesn't think twice about paying the fee. I ask that Council Members and City Staff do more research into how much a 25/50/100 year old tree is worth when it comes to the value it provides to humans and animals - not how much one can purchase one for at a nursery. Clean air is priceless for people like myself who have asthma. FYI, the numbers of people in the USA suffering from asthma are going up rapidly each year!

5. As a way of mitigating the problem of heat islands and lack of air purification from lack of trees/plants, I request that ordinances/laws be put in effect to make developers, and then the building owners plant AND maintain greenery on the sides (actual walls) and tops of the large buildings. This will require new requirements for architectural plans, and large fines for building owners who do not comply . Now is our chance to keep Shoreline green. If we do not stand up for this now, we cannot get it back.

6. The notion of "affordable" housing in Shoreline is a joke. Many college graduates are making $15 an hour which makes paying even a $750/month rent a stretch. Please look around and see what $750 buys in rent in Shoreline? To pay a higher rent means they then start having to choose between paying their student loans OR rent. There is no way either non-educated or educated people can get ahead in this housing market. If developers are selling the Council the idea that they can cut down trees and not plant any TRULY equivalent trees/plants while experiencing no significant consequences as a way of being able to create "affordable housing" next to the Light Link Rail Transit Center, please do your research as to how true that actually is? Perhaps the City can give developers other environmental incentives - like how the rain garden program works for residents?

7. Our air and the health of our underground natural infrastructure (soil, roots, fungi, ground water/streams, etc.) is dependent on how well we preserve and care for our trees and plants. Please do not lose sight of this?!

Shoreline Council and City Staff, thanks for considering. You are our representatives. Please act in our interests.


Anonymous,  July 30, 2018 at 6:16 AM  

Compare Shoreline to Seattle...then...compare Shoreline to Lake Forest Park. Shoreline is already well on its way to becoming a heat island. The current development at the bottom of the RB Road hill is an example of the destruction wrought by unfettered development. What was once a beautiful, dense forest is now entirely devoid of trees and packed in with houses. Meanwhile, when we wanted to take out a single, dying tree overhanging our house, we went through a lengthy approval process. We also willingly planted many more trees on our property. Our tree laws make no sense.

Unknown July 30, 2018 at 7:00 AM  

I am in full agreement with Ms. Knox. Having lived in Shoreline for 33 years I have seen the effects of tree cutting on our community. Once trees are cut down they are gone forever. The trees benefit everyone, to allow them to be cut down for a private parties profit is unfair to us all.

Unknown July 30, 2018 at 10:36 AM  

Thank you so very much for trying to represent the citizens of Shoreline. My neighborhood is being destroyed with the wholesale leveling of trees. Corner of 180th & 1st trees were leveled to build 7 homes (one occupied by the Shoreline City Mgr.). Last week the corner of 180th & 3rd was shaved and MUR signs posted by developers. I used to be surrounded by huge old trees on both sides, now a huge gaping hole in the sky and the noise from the freeway has doubled. My heart is breaking, but thank you for your efforts. Developers would rather pay fines and build more, it is more profitable for them.

Anonymous,  July 30, 2018 at 11:13 AM  

Well said! The whole region is catching on to the idea that the fanatical urbanists and YIMBYs are nothing more than handmaidens for developers. Very UnSeattle. Very uncool. When they're on the side of developers with this situation of the Showbox potentially being demolished, you know the ideology is flawed.

Anonymous,  July 30, 2018 at 12:19 PM  

Development is going to happen whether the City Council makes it "easier" or not. I think when Janet Way was on the City Council she asked for more info, "slowing" the development at 165th and 5th that would have put in Trader Joe's. Well guess what - Trader Joe's went in to Shoreline, in a site much better suited!

Unknown July 30, 2018 at 2:03 PM  

I spoken to developers in my neighborhood, and have heard that the fines are so small that it is worth their money to cut the trees and pay the fines rather than to spend the time getting permits, then potentially be denied tree cutting.

Anonymous,  July 30, 2018 at 10:27 PM  

Come on Shoreline City Council, represent the people you should rightfully be representing, the citizens of Shoreline, not Developers. You should be doing what is best for the people who live in Shoreline. It's a travesty what you're doing to our trees. Soon all of the old growth trees will be gone and our children's children will not have a clue what used to stand. Why should we take down trees to build affordable housing. People who want to live in Shoreline should be able to afford to live here without us having to cut down our trees to put up cheap crappy housing. I would love to be a neighbor of Bill Gates and live in Medina. Do you think Medina is going to cut down there? Heck no. Come on get off your butts and do something. This city is being ruined. I have lived here 59 years and I am appalled at what is going on. Take care of this fast fading once beautiful city. What is wrong with you people?

Anonymous,  July 31, 2018 at 8:50 AM  

This shouldn't come as a surprise, the city council were on the verge of approving the parks departments request to bulldoze a considerable number trees in Hamlin park for a new maintenance yard before concerned citizens found out about the plan and lobbied to save them.

Dale Simonson,  July 31, 2018 at 9:34 AM  

I am so dismayed by what the city council deems "good" for the city of Shoreline. Shoreline is (soon was) a very desirable city. But it seems the perceived need for "growth" is changing that. We too enjoyed a heavily treed lot next to us. My neighbor counted 66 trees, many of which were more than 3 feet in diameter, but they were allowed to clear cut the lot, leaving only 6 trees and many of those in poor health. Supposedly the developer is required to “replace trees, with X number of smaller trees”. Like two 6 foot fir trees can replace a 100 year old, 200’ tree. The trees provided shade, which will now encourage us to consider air conditioning, making further demand on our energy consumption and contributing even more to climate change. More people, more and denser housing (which means more traffic) does not make an area more desirable. I too was told that the "tree canopy has increased" by a city official. I don't believe that is even possible. What period are they looking at? Are previous tree canopy reports comparable to current? What time of year was that one? Are they comparing evergreens and deciduous? What tools were used to make the comparison. Are they comparable to each other? We know statistics can be massaged to show varying degrees depending on the message that is being conveyed.

gramey August 2, 2018 at 7:33 AM  

Thank you for this well written request. Our problem is that we vote for these people. Remember when light rail redistricting got jammed down our throats? We need to start asking tough questions of our candidates before Shoreline becomes another Federal Way. As a 45 year Shoreline resident, I'm disappointed at the increasing rate of unchecked growth our city has become

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