Letter to the Editor: Proposed amendments to Tree Code apply to specific zones and are not city-wide

Tuesday, March 8, 2022

To the Editor:

As reported in Pam Cross’ column “Notes from Shoreline Council meeting on February 28, 2022”, Council voted 6 to 1 to remove the construction contract for the new sidewalk program along 5th Ave NE. 

This item returns to the Council agenda on Monday, March 21. Regarding the proposed tree code amendments submitted by the Tree Preservation Code Team, several Councilmembers had questions, which we hope will be addressed on March 7. When asked “which zoning designations do these amendments apply to”? Staff responded, “Unless they’re specifically called out zones, they apply citywide.” 

I am commenting on this response as the proposed codes do not apply “citywide.” Per Shoreline municipal code 20.50.310.5. Exemptions from permit: all trees can be clear-cut and no tree replacements are required on the following zones in Shoreline: Community Business (CB), Neighborhood Business (NB), Mixed Business (MB), Mixed Use Residential (MUR-70’), and Town Center 1-2-3 unless within a critical area or critical area buffer. 

The proposed tree code amendments do not affect these 7 zones. In addition, the proposed tree code amendments, C8 and C9, pertaining to the director authority to reduce tree retention and tree replacement do not apply, as proposed, to R-4 or R-8 zones so the example of a single family home with one significant tree causing foundation and utility issues is not impacted by this proposed tree code. 

Removal of director authority to reduce tree retention or tree replacement applies to R-8 thru R-48, MUR-35’, and MUR-45’ zones only. In addition to C9, tree supporters ask Council to approve the following: 6” significant tree definition; penalties if a tree is destroyed or removed at a construction site; and, a cap on hundreds of tree removals at large property sites without review by Staff, this does not apply to 7 zones that, by code, can remove all trees. The proposed tree codes are not extreme but will help accomplish the City goal of “no net tree loss”.

Kathleen Russell
Tree Preservation Code Team/Communications


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