City to fine homeowner for tree removal

Tree removal crews cut down a large Monkey Puzzle tree at the corner of NW 60th and 9th Ave. last week. Today, Seattle’s Department of Planning and Development tells My Ballard that they’re preparing to fine the homeowners for removing an “exceptional tree” without a permit.

An exceptional tree is defined “by virtue of its size, species, condition, cultural or historic importance, age, and/or contribution as part of grove of trees,” explains the city rule (.pdf). In this case, a Monkey Puzzle tree is exceptional if it measures over 1 foot 10 inches in diameter at 4.5 feet above the ground.

“We’re anticipating a violation,” said Alan Justad, Deputy Director of DPD, explaining that the removal required a permit. “They needed to go through the approval process.” Justad says the fine will be based on the estimated market value of the tree, which he expects may total “several thousand dollars” for a tree that size, although the final amount is still being calculated. Fines also typically involve a restoration requirement, he said.

Some neighbors were disappointed in the new homeowner’s decision to take down one of the largest Monkey Puzzle trees in the city, while others supported the move, explaining the tree was in danger of damaging the house.

197
Leave a Reply

avatar
  Subscribe  
newest oldest most voted
Notify of
Neighbor
Guest
Neighbor

If people had just left it alone and not complained so much, these homeowners would probably not be the subject of all of this drama and subjected to a fine.

Aldo
Guest
Aldo

Wow.

Doesn't the company who cut it down bear some responsibility as well? I would have thought that they would make sure all the paperwork was in order before showing up to do the job.

max
Guest
max

It is not a native tree. This should not be an issue.

robotspider
Guest
robotspider

I completely agree. Besides, this law is certainly the city overstepping it's boundaries.

super_v
Guest
super_v

Fight the Power, former Monkey Tree Puzzle owners. This is Seattle, not Bainbridge Island.

monkeylover
Guest
monkeylover

If the city can fine someone for removing the tree – then do the help pay for pruning and other maintenance? If not then they should get out of other's business.

Name
Guest
Name

this is pretty funny in a way. it wouldn't be if i were the one being fined but…

MGHart
Guest
MGHart

Amen. It seems to be the contractor's responsibility to take care of permits, etc. Now maybe they're subject to potential litigation on the part of the homeowner (to recoup fines and fees) and the city (for permit violations)?

CC
Guest
CC

You have got to be kidding me. Absolutely ridiculous. This dumb ass city is going way over board to find more money for its bloated financial needs. Don't be fooled, this is all about the money and nothing else. I'm tired of this city overstepping its bounds.

I vote, and now that corporations can quiet me with their unlimited funds going to there favorite causes I don't see things ever getting better.

Just leave us alone, really we can do fine without you. Michael McGinn and the city council.

fiddler crab
Guest
fiddler crab

serves 'em right if you ask me.

and no, this was not the responsibility of the company that did the work–lame excuse.

shouldn't expect to cut down a giant tree anytime you damn well please. this isn't the 20's any more pal.

Neighbor
Guest
Neighbor

/sarcasm on

I am sure none of the posters on MyBallard had anything to do with reporting these folks to the city. We're so neighborly we wouldn't do that.

/sarcasm off

Idle Activist
Guest
Idle Activist

So if/when this tree came down in a big storm, you were going to pay for the damages?

Sarah
Guest
Sarah

What the hell happened to property rights?! This is absolutely absurd.

If the city actually does follow through with a fine I encourage the homeowners to let the public know. I hope that empowers the public to poison as many “exceptional” trees as possible in the arboretum. Let's see how the city feels about that. Google “girdling a tree” for instruction.

whowouldhavethought
Guest
whowouldhavethought

I agree. I'm sure myballard reader had something to do with this.

crownhillgardener
Guest
crownhillgardener

This is bogus. That tree overwhelmed the entire lot that little house is on. It isn't a native and is not very useful for any native wildlife. Pretty sad and a great example of the road to hell being paved with good intentions (badly written laws).

mc7
Guest
mc7

I hope the homeowners go public with this. It's their property and they should have every right to remove any tree. I'm sure I'm not the only one who would donate to help them pay this fine.

alonzo neighbor
Guest
alonzo neighbor

Yikes. Please say you are kidding about poisoning trees in the aboretum.

Coyote Joe
Guest
Coyote Joe

Cry me a freakin' river… 1) Property Owner Rights: The ordinance in question can be appealed. It's not an blanket oppression of anybody's “blood and land rights” so stop whining. Failing to observe is simply laziness or active irresponsibility/malice, like not getting a building permit or digging a trench in your yard without first consulting utilities. 2) Tree Removal Company: They damned well should have been aware of the regulations that govern their business. They are no less excusable than an unlicensed electrician or sub-code plumber. Chances are they put their desire for the owner's business ahead of the regulation in the hopes no one would notice. Time to pay the piper. 3) MyBallard Are Tattletales: Get over it, community based news and community responsibility go hand in hand. If they had anything actively or passively to do with this coming to the attention of the city, then so be it. Stop getting upset with whistle-blowers. Hasn't that trend caused enough problems in this country? 4) Invasive Species: Invasive species are an issue for great concern… when they displace existing species. I hardly think that an otherwise barren plot of cultivated lawn grass qualified. If you really care about encouraging… Read more »

Name
Guest
Name

are you nuts? wtf does the Arboretum have to do with someones' property, or anything in this story?

ynh90107
Guest
ynh90107

It is pretty common for a major city to monitor tree cutting, especially when the tree is rare and somewhat large. See http://www.atlantaga.gov/government/planning/ne… for an example. I am actually surprised Seattle has such a policy, since they seem to overlook other issues so readily. I actually think they owner should have submitted a permit request and consulted with state/local arborist officials (if such an agency exists). I do agree that an property owner does have a right do do as they wish, but should consider consequences, community, nature, etc. In this case a large fine is justified. This tree was one of the largest, if not the largest, in Seattle or perhaps even the Northwest. I am sure some agency may have wanted to monitor the tree. I see that others on this forum seem to think since it was not native that anything goes. Well, although I may agree with that idea somewhat, does someone have the right to exterminate a rare, perhaps endangered species of eagle nesting in a yard, for example. probably not. Most family pets and many plants in gardens are not native or white people for that matter. I think the initial forum on this… Read more »

fred117
Guest
fred117

The “Tree Ordinance” in its present form has been in effect for about 7 years now. Just another step in slowly relinquishing our property rights to the Collective. Excuse me, I better go out and measure the trees in my yard. Where did I put my chain saw?

BTown
Guest
BTown

I think that is a very interesting point… very interesting. Just because something is big doesn't mean it should be here in the first place.

BTown
Guest
BTown

Not that anyone reads all the posts, but the tree law is only about 2 years old. It's is a pain for people doing construction or remodeling and as other have mentioned the city take no responsibility. So, if you want to have a large tree removed you need a certified tree person (arborist) to assess the tree. The tree needs to be fair or have some reason for it to be removed. Then you get the owners permission and the city permission. Amazingly, you insurance company can make you get your neighbors signature that their tree represents a threat to your home and property. More or less stating that if your tree falls on my house you will owe me… such and such $. The whole tree law exists because so many view h0mes have removed tree's and the “Emerald City” is far from green. I think there are 75% less tree's in Seattle now then there were in 1960 or 1970. At least that is what I remember from the Seattle Times. What is sad is that there are hundreds of people in Ballard breaking code and building without permits all the time. And who can blame them… Read more »

SarahToo
Guest
SarahToo

Suggesting that people damage trees in the Arboretum is reprehensible. This is a valuable collection of plants that may be enjoyed by the citizens of Seattle and anyone in the world. I can't even imagine the juvenile mind that would think that is appropriate under any circumstances – I am embarrassed that we even share a name. And just so you know: the city doesn't own the plants in the Arboretum, the University of Washington does. I believe the owners do have the right to expect that the professional arborist they hired is aware of needed permits. When I was considering taking a tree out, the arborist I consulted told me I would need a permit. I expect they will consult a lawyer.

Dogmud
Guest
Dogmud

I am sure the drama is due to the posters on here.