Op-Ed: To Save Shoreline Trees - contact the Shoreline City Council

Friday, March 18, 2022

The tree canopy of Shoreline is sparse
Map shown as part of NOAA's Sea Level Rise map viewer

For two years Save Shoreline Trees has been active in our community to save our tall existing trees. 

This Monday, March 21, 2022 the Shoreline City Council is reviewing the tree codes presented by the Tree Preservation Code Team and making final decisions whether to approve them. 

At this pivotal point, let’s review.

The King County Growth Management Act created strategic goals through 2035. Shoreline’s growth target for 2006-2031 included building a minimum of 5,000 additional housing units which equates to a minimum of 13,920 new residents by 2035. 

A recent NOAA aerial photo of Shoreline shows the true reality of the results of development in Shoreline. Except in parks and privately held large, wooded land lots, it shows our tree canopy cover is sparse. What is Shoreline’s vision for what kind of city are we becoming? Are we going to be another Ballard? How does all of this affect our tree canopy?

Based on the number of city permits in place, we expect to see another 1,000 trees, a conservative estimate, to come down

(This is the same number of trees removed along 1-5 for the Sound Transit Link in Shoreline alone.) Along with the housing requirement, the city is also implementing the voter-approved new sidewalk installations throughout Shoreline. 

In March 2021, Shoreline staff changed the width requirements of new sidewalks from 5’ to 6’. The idea behind wider sidewalks is to encourage people to walk more, especially on streets connected to the Lynnwood Link transit stations. 

The city claims replacement trees, wherever they can fit, will make up the loss of removed trees. Cutting down our mature trees in favor of wider sidewalks in the hope of changing the behavior of people living here is a false assumption. 

We do believe housing and sidewalks are important – none of this is contested, but all of it is happening at the cost of our trees. We want the city leaders and staff to execute thoughtful creativity and a holistic approach to development that includes retaining and protecting our tall trees.

The city does not know how many trees there are in Shoreline. The last census of sidewalk trees was taken in 2003 and based on the 2003 data of the street tree inventory, a financial replacement value of $45,618,301 was assessed for just the right of way trees. These trees have value! 

According to City tree removal information, hundreds of trees are removed each year, Shoreline has lost conservatively over 2,000 trees since 2019. We need to save more trees.

A European study showing temperature differences
between a concrete and steel street and a tree lined street
Temperatures are in centigrade

Since the inception of Save Shoreline Trees, we have learned that in addition to the science-proven benefits of our mature, native Douglas Firs, Western Red Cedars and other evergreen species, are our FIRST line of defense to fight climate change by sequestering carbon 24/7. 

Our trees filter runoff that feeds our watersheds which in turn feeds the Puget Sound sea life; they clean the air we breathe, provide shade to counter heat island effects, are homes for birds and other urban wildlife. Replacement trees will take decades to do the job of a mature tree.


Douglas Fir in Shoreline. Photo by Melody Fosmore

As we studied and examined the City Code by reading the details, we found ourselves asking more questions and determined the city needs to strengthen and update existing tree codes.

If you agree with these code changes, please email, or call the City Council this weekend in time for the Council meeting on Monday. 

Every voice counts.


Our goal is to continue to save trees wherever they are in Shoreline for today and the near future. 

For example, we are advocating for creative sidewalk solutions so that mature tall trees remain to provide shade and ambience in our neighborhoods. 

We are advocating for a stand-alone Urban Forestry Advisory Panel that will pool volunteer community experts who will advise and assist the City on tree canopy issues.

In our two years, our readership and support has grown which is a sign that people care and value our trees and are willing to speak for them. 

All of us understand that Shoreline is growing, and the loss of trees is a casualty of development to meet future multi-housing needs. 

Yet, it is our belief that our city’s policymakers can guide this type of development to retain and preserve more of our existing tree canopy. Let’s prove to a new future Shoreline resident that Shoreline is livable because of thoughtful preservation of its natural environment and the trees in it.

Melody Fosmore
Co-Chair, Save Shoreline Trees
www.SaveShorelineTrees.com



1 comments:

adsell March 22, 2022 at 4:58 PM  

Thank you, our house many degrees cooler than 125' to the street where our mailbox is. I imagined that the city would install winding asphalt paths vs. hard concrete; it is much nicer to run and walk on vs. concrete. It is flexible easy to fix (they always need to dig up sidewalks, and it is expensive to replace it right when it's concrete, so typically you get an asphalt patch). It also lends itself to bending around big trees when needed and undulating as roots dictate.

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