Councilmember Dan Strauss proposes expanding tree protection in Seattle

Two local lawmakers are proposing enhanced protections for trees across Seattle.

Councilmembers Dan Strauss and Alex Pederson have announced legislation to expand protections for trees in the city. Tree protection efforts were on the table for consideration in 2020 but were delayed due to the pandemic.

The Seattle Department of Construction and Inspections (SDCI) recently published proposed legislation and environmental reviews that remove a major obstacle to tree protections which could allow for the city council to pass formal legislation.

Strauss and Pederson’s legislation includes the following updates:

  • Expand the types and sizes of trees that are regulated, including a new definition of significant trees;
  • Apply replacement requirements to include significant trees 12 inches in diameter and larger;
  • Simplify provisions, including allowing development standards to be modified to aid in tree preservation as an administrative process without requiring Design Review, while maintaining Design Review as an option in multifamily and commercial zones;
  • Establish a payment option for tree replacement (payment in lieu);
  • Support tracking of tree preservation, removal, and replacement; and
  • Increase penalties for violations of tree regulations.

“I am relieved SDCI has finally been allowed to release legislation to create stronger tree protections,” Strauss said in a statement about the legislation. “We know we can have stronger tree protections and build the housing and density our city needs, and we know we need to re-tree many parts of our city while protecting the tree canopy we have today.”

The SDCI is accepted public feedback on the proposal until March 3; to view it in full, visit this page and review the published PDF documents.

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