Large trees at entrance to RB Saltwater Park cut down

Thursday, June 8, 2023

Madrone, Doug fir at entrance to Richmond Beach Saltwater Park

By Jonelle Kemmerling
Save Shoreline Trees Advisory Board

There has been shock and disappointment in the Richmond Beach neighborhood and larger Shoreline community. The afternoon of June 1, 2023, at 20th Ave NW and NW 190th, the tall trees on the corner across from the Richmond Beach Saltwater Park entrance were cut down.

After: stumps and debris. Photo by Marla Tulio

The beautiful old madrone measured 92" in circumference. It was 29.6" diameter at breast height (dbh). The Douglas fir was 100 years old.

Save Shoreline Trees contacted the City Public Works Department, as we had been informed these were right-of-way (ROW) trees. We worked for a year to save them from being removed due to the sidewalk project along 20th Ave NW.

On Friday, June 2, 2023 the Director of Public Works responded that these were not ROW trees as specified in the arborist report, but were privately owned and, per code, the owner could remove them without a permit. 

The property owner sought an exemption for tree removal under SMC 20.50.310(B). The information provided by the property owner's representative indicated that they met the criteria for the exemption. However, after receiving further information, the City is investigating whether the information relied on for the exemption was accurate.

However, the initial 2021 conceptual design by KPFF Consulting Engineers places the trees in the ROW. The Director of Public Works referred us to Rachael Markle, Director of Planning and Community Development.

After a day of emails with the City, it has been determined there is a discrepancy in the tree measurements. There are the measurements in the City-contracted arborist report, and the measurements provided to the Planning Department by the owner.

Remains of the madrone
Save Shoreline Trees has received emails, there were many comments at the Save Shoreline Trees booth at the Farmers Market on Saturday, June 3, and there have been postings on Nextdoor of concern about the loss of the trees.

Residents who enjoyed the beauty and benefits of these trees are dismayed by this outcome. 

We will see more trees come down in our neighborhoods due to the increasing need for housing and the impending middle housing regulations now required by state law. 

However, we will pay a price. Science is telling us now that trees are the cheapest and best defense against climate change.


Anonymous,  June 8, 2023 at 6:18 AM  

When are we going to learn? It will be too late.

Anonymous,  June 8, 2023 at 6:48 AM  

This is no surprise to people living in the Richmond Beach neighborhood. Time after time we have witnessed similar events. It's really disappointing as a law-abiding tax payer to see laws being clearly violated and our city having very little meaningful response. This corner near a public park used to be quite beautiful with two (or more) mature madrone trees and lots with mature plantings. Now, we have crammed in mega houses, a vacant lot, and incomplete "modern" structures that have been under construction for years. The response from our city is so typical and disappointing. Just politics as usual in Shoreline.

Anonymous,  June 8, 2023 at 9:52 AM  

With 2 of the 3 council seats up for re-election unopposed I have to assume that the citizens of Shoreline are happy with the direction of the city. Perhaps Save Shoreline Trees should consider proposing candidates?

Just My Opinion June 8, 2023 at 7:21 PM  

Sad but not surprising. Shoreline government has not shown any spine when it comes to saving trees. Homeowners who can afford to cut them and "maybe" pay a fine will cut away. Several years ago my neighbor had a beautiful red maple cut down because it was "messy". So it goes...

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