Shoreline City Council updates City’s tree regulations

Saturday, March 26, 2022

Photo by Steven H. Robinson

On March 21, 2022 Shoreline City Council adopted Ordinance No. 955 making several changes to the City’s tree regulations.

The most significant changes are described below:
  • All trees six inches in diameter at breast height (dbh) are considered significant. Prior to this change, conifer trees were considered significant at eight inches dbh and non-conifers at 12 inches dbh.
  • The removal of any tree greater than 24 inches dbh requires a clearing and grading permit from the City. Prior to this change, it was any tree greater than 30 inches dbh.
  • At least 25% of the significant trees on a given development site must be retained, excluding critical areas and critical area buffers. Prior to this change it was 20%.
The City’s tree regulations aim to balance private property rights with the community’s desire to preserve trees and their inherent functions and values. Among the goals of our tree regulations is to ensure there is not net loss of the City’s tree canopy coverage. One way of doing this is by regulating the rate of cutting and requiring replacement trees to be planted.

Trees in Critical Areas

If a tree of any size is in or near an area such as a stream, wetland, or steep slope, then the tree may be in a critical area or its associated buffer. These trees are protected and regulated under the City’s Critical Areas Ordinance. City review is required to determine whether property owners can remove or prune these trees.

Trees of Significant Size

Outside of critical areas or buffers, the City’s tree regulations only apply to significant-sized trees on private property, unless the area cleared exceeds 3,000 square feet. Significant trees are defined as any tree six inches dbh. Trees on public property and in the City rights-of-way are regulated differently than trees on private property. The City requires a permit for removal of trees in the rights-of-way.

A permit is required for removal of trees greater than 24 inches in diameter. Property owners may remove some significant trees with a diameter of less than 24 inches without a permit during a three-year period based on property size. Property owners may remove up to three significant trees on lots up to 7,200 square feet and one additional significant tree for every 7,200 square feet of lot area. It is always best to check with the City before cutting to ensure you are within the requirements of the code.

The City requires a property owner to obtain a permit to remove more than the number of trees outlined above. Please contact Planning and Community Development prior to any tree removal or pruning activity to verify code permit requirements.

Tree Removal Permits
Planning and Community Development

--City of Shoreline


Anonymous,  March 26, 2022 at 11:44 AM  

so once the tree has been removed to make way for new housing how do we know that a permit was obtained - or not? Lots around me are being clear cut of majestic trees as it's more expensive to work around existing trees then on flat dirt. And does the city have a way for me to find out what permits have been applied for or issued?

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