Tuesday was a sad day for tree lovers in Shoreline.
We received a call from an neighborhood leader about the contracted tree crew in the act of cutting down three huge "significant trees" at 15th NE and NE 145th.
Two huge London Plane Trees and one large Douglas Fir were cut and put into the chipper by "Best Tree Service". One London Plane Tree was in the center median and the other next to it adjacent to the Goodwill Store. These trees were at minimum 40 years old and had provided a beautiful entryway to an otherwise unattractive "gateway" to Shoreline. The large Douglas Fir was also of similar age, but it had been "limbed up" and was not healthy.
A contingent of citizens gathered next to the one remaining tree scheduled to be cut on the West side of 15th NE. They were members of Briarcrest Neighborhood Association, SE Subarea Citizens Advisory Committee, Paramount Park Neighborhood Group, Sustainable Shoreline Education Association, and Sunrise North Condo Association. These groups met with Shoreline City staff on site and asked for explanations on why these trees had been cut without any notice to the community. The citizens also requested staff to look for other alternatives to cutting the last tree. This tree is also a large London Plane tree of the same age. All of these trees were originally planted by King County in the Forward Thrust program in the 1960's and 70's.
Citizens are very concerned about the implications of this incident. The City had undertaken an extensive planning process in this area called the SE Subarea Plan. The CAC group members stated that tree cutting at this site was never discussed with the committee over that year and a half process. The Council has yet to approve this plan. Gateways were discussed but never tree cutting. Extensive tree planting and existing tree protection ARE part of this citizen plan.
A new "Tree Ordinance" policy is coincidentally working its way through the City process. It is expected to come before the Planning Commission later this year. Staff stated that there was an "Urban Foresty Management Plan" completed in 2003. Shoreline is NOT at this time a "TREE City USA" member. This is the basic program for urban trees run by the Arbor Day Foundation. However, several years ago a past City Council did vote to make Shoreline a part of the Cascade Land Agenda Cities Program. The Council also passed a visionary project called the "Sustainability Strategy" which calls for tree protection and increasing the city's "tree canopy".
Citizens are asking the City for a comprehensive response to this incident with "reparations" which should include the include the following:
• Report and review on policies for street tree removal and retention including community notice
• saving the remaining trees
• extensive replanting and gateway design
• retention of medians and pedestrian safety planning
• pass a comprehensive Tree Ordinance which protects and increases street trees, and includes a new "improved" urban forestry management plan to increase the urban forest canopy
Citizens who are concerned about this incident are encouraged to contact the Shoreline City Council.