City of Shoreline acknowledges error in early removal of trees along NE 5th Avenue

Friday, April 22, 2022

Photo courtesy Shoreline Tree Code committee
As part of the 5th Avenue NE sidewalk project between NE 175th Street and NE 182nd Court, the City of Shoreline identified 23 trees to be removed in order to complete the project. 

This was after making design adjustments to reduce the original estimate of 99 trees for removal to 23. 

As part of the construction process, the City marks the clearing limits for the project and with an arborist makes a final determination if any trees planned for removal can be retained. 

In addition, trees scheduled for removal are posted for 14 days with a notice of their intended removal. During the 14-day noticing window, no trees are to be removed.

After the contractor staked the project area along 5th Avenue NE, but before the arborist’s review and the end of the 14-day tree removal noticing period, which would have been April 25, the contractor began cutting trees. 

In all, the contractor removed 15 trees early. This was an error in communication by the contracted city inspector and the sidewalk contractor. We acknowledge that the timing of the tree removal was an error. City staff are evaluating what led to this mistake and what steps need to be taken for future projects to ensure trees are not removed before the end of the 14-day noticing period.

The final inspection by the arborist occurred April 21. The arborist determined that all 23 trees identified for removal needed to be removed. Although the 15 trees were removed early, they still would have been removed as part of the sidewalk project. Of the 15 trees removed early, five were non-native Hollies that were found to be badly diseased and rotting.

The 5th Avenue sidewalk project is part of the 2018 Voter-Approved Sidewalk Program. We will construct sidewalks on both sides of the street and will connect to other new sidewalks that are under construction on 5th Avenue NE, north of 182nd Court, as part of Sound Transit’s 185th Street Link Light Rail Station. Sidewalks along 5th Avenue will provide a critical link for Shoreline residents to light rail.



3 comments:

Jan Buchanan April 23, 2022 at 3:03 PM  

If this was truly an oversight and the city is genuine in its intent to review what happened and come up with a process whereby it will not happen again, it will include community input into the review and recommendation process, namely, the community organization that has been most involved, Save Shoreline Trees. Anything short of this will not make the community trust the city again with related processes.

Anonymous,  April 26, 2022 at 12:44 PM  

To clarify some comments in the City press release regarding sidewalks, when people voted for sidewalks in 2018, they voted for sidewalks that were a maximum of 5 feet wide in residential areas and had no idea that the city would later expand the width to 6 feet wide to even wider in other residential areas, nor did people know it would lead to the destruction of so many of our northwest native trees in the street side ROW's. Only with intense citizen advocacy to save trees has some of the sidewalks been redesigned by the city -- this took extraordinary effort by the citizens. Climate emergencies we all face in our communities are real, and saving mature conifer trees are one major tool to mitigate heat island effects and help reduce heat wave effects in our warming summers. Also the migratory birds and our resident northwest bird species need our tree canopy as much as possible.

Kathleen Russell,  April 26, 2022 at 4:22 PM  

Regarding the trees on 5th Ave NE, we had hope that one or two of the 23 trees would be retained as per staff “in other projects we have had the opportunity to preserve trees once the project is staked.”

The public notices on the 5th Ave NE trees stated “tree removal April 25 or after” and on April 25 the Western red cedars were de-limbed and will be cut down this week. However, some of the trees were cut down on April 20. Per this City press release “the final inspection by the arborist occurred on April 21.” This is the crux of the issue and our question about information provided in this press release. What if one or two of the trees could have been saved? It would have been too late because the trees were already cut down. We are not referring to the shrubs and hollies and small trees that were cleared.

It was due to a citizen driving along 5th Ave NE that we were alerted to the trees being cut down on April 20.

There are many sidewalk and transportation projects coming up where hundreds of non-hazardous public trees will be cut down and citizens will continue, at each project, to ask if all options were considered to save public trees. We ask for more information and transparency in advance of public tree removal.

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