Search This Blog

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Are We Shoreline or Innis Arden?

"Friendly signage" warning pedestrians who
controls Bear Reserve
If Innis Arden has its way, we might as well all be living there,  but without benefit of the view!
Some of 46 significant trees cut in Bear Reserve

46 Significant Trees being cut in IA's
Bear Reserve. Signage posted now
warns "the public" to stay out of Bear

Innis Arden is a "covenanted" community within Shoreline, with "restrictive easements". It was founded originally over 60 yrs ago on lands platted by William Boeing.

Right now, the Innis Arden Board is busy cutting a forested grove called Bear Reserve that generations have enjoyed as a community trail. Nearby residents and the City tried but failed last year to defend this grove of trees in an Environmentally Critical Area. The Innis Arden Board pursued a policy to cut these trees in order to benefit other residents "view corridor", and has aggressively pursued this "view policy" for decades.
Much of Innis Arden is devoid of large trees, but
a few remain. You can bet they are in some intrepid
home-owners yard who has stood firm to protect a
significant tree.

Many Innis Arden residents have been sued by the Innis Arden Board, and ordered to cut trees on their properties in order to please other residents. This policy enhances property values for the "view residents" but encumbers others with fines, liens, and destruction of their own landscaping.

Now, in an Orwellian twist, ironically, Shoreline City Council is considering a new ordinance to create a Tree Board. This is to allow Shoreline to become a "Tree City, USA". The current concept is to designate the Tree Board as a committee under the Parks Department and only consider the city's "public trees".  This would mean all other trees would not be covered, and decisions about these public trees would be left to the Parks Department. THIS provision is being specifically inserted to benefit Innis Arden, in a blatantly political move which will satisfy a specific legal settlement.

So why is this a concern you ask?

It is a concern because nothing would be protecting the other trees other than some current codes (which are also up for change at the Planning Commission), and those under Parks control would be under new rules, where only trees on a specific list of street trees (which are only deciduous, that is trees which lose leaves, not "evergreens") would be "permitted" as street trees. So now all trees not on the list, including "conifers" could be easily cut down with a permit.

And this is what the Innis Arden Board has wanted all along. To be able to cut any tree that has the audacity to grow tall and is in the way of someone's million dollar view.
Conifer within the Right of Way 

But what would be the impact of losing those conifers? It turns out that there are many, many conifers in the "right of way" or ROW now in Innis Arden and elsewhere in the City. Estimates based on city surveys indicate 40 - 50% of the Right of Way trees are likely conifers. Losing them could have a serious environmental impact to the community as a whole. All of those trees now provide huge benefits, not the least of which is stormwater attenuation, water quality and air quality.

The Innis Arden "Reserves" are open space areas, platted in the original design of Innis Arden to be trails and respite from the hub-bub of modern life. They are mostly in ravines with native growth, and often have steep slopes and "Critical Areas" with stream corridors. They have interesting names such as "Grouse" and "Heron" and "Bear" named after previous inhabitants. But they are not open to the public.
Lower Bear Reserve with newer native growth and
snags visible from previous cuts

Some members of Innis Arden have complained bitterly at Council meetings about concerns on stormwater impacting the downstream areas of Innis Arden and imploring the City Public Works to spend dollars on infrastructure upstream to stop the runoff. But, at the same time, the Board spends year after year pursuing tree cutting policies, even in their "Reserves" and filing lawsuits against citizens and the City to achieve its tree cutting goals.

It seems like a strange way to conduct business and a strange way to be a neighbor. And a strange way to ask the City to spend its resources.

Shoreline's trees are an incredibly valuable asset for all of its citizens providing "services" of at least $1.8 million. A moderate estimate would put replacement value for our trees at least at $180 million for the services they provide. Most people in Shoreline value them highly and would like to find reasonable ways to protect and enhance our urban forest infrastucture.

You can comment on this matter by contacting the Shoreline City Council before Jan 23rd.

It also makes one wonder what will be the outcome of this latest tree battle. Will Shoreline be forced to live by Innis Arden Board's rules or will Innis Arden be governed as a part of the City of Shoreline? 


  1. QUESTION: Just where exactly are the borders of the Innis Arden area?

    1. Hi Kelly,
      Innis Arden borders the Sound and Richmond Beach Road. Not to be confused with Richmond Beach to the North. The southern border is Boeing Creek and The Highlands. The Highlands is quite different and has zillions of trees.

      Innis Arden is a place unto itself.

      You couldn't pay me to live there.

      But now, as I said, if they prevail in this tree issue, we might just as well all live in Innis Arden.


  2. Wow, this is a really amazing post, thank you so much for providing this information. I have been thinking about buying a house in Shoreline or in North Seattle nearby, specifically because there are a lot of large coniferous trees up there, what I am learning about Shoreline (after 20 years on lower-Queen Anne where 6 of the largest deciduous trees in the are got chopped for views in Kerry Park), kind of worries me about moving up there. I lived in LA & West Hollywood for a long time and all of the super rich areas had tons of trees, but then there's a lot of busy body against tree people that come out of the woodwork in middle class and especially poor neighborhoods. Keep Shoreline Green and thanks for sharing this information.

  3. Hi Travis, I would think carefully about investing in a home here. Unless you are committed to help change the mindset and governance here. It will take committment from many to change the culture in Shoreline. There is great resistance from Innis Arden, which seems to be able to control what goes on with FEAR.

    Hoping things might change.

  4. Thanks Janet

    I wrote my letter to the council. I have often wondered how our city has allowed our trees in the Innis Arden reserves to be cut. I also can't understand how the public has been denied access to public lands in these reserves.