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Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Shoreline's Trees: A Triumph of Hope Over Fear

Trees Represent Hope and Hope Is Alive in Shoreline

Old Madrones Frame and ARE the "View"
Above Richmond Beach Saltwater Park
Last night, June 18th was a turning point for Shoreline's Trees. At the City Council meeting, four coucilmembers (Will Hall, Chris Roberts, Jesse Salamon and Chris Eggen) voted to protect trees.
They voted for some amendments in the Development Code crafted by the Shoreline Planning Commission. 

It is a significant victory for Shoreline's trees.

The major changes will be to require a permit for cutting a tree 30" in diameter or larger, AND for a 
provision which will be the cornerstone of a new policy. That is, no longer will any property owner be able to cut 6 trees in 3 years. Only those with lots of 1 acre in size. Smaller lots will be allowed to cut significant trees in smaller increments.

The Council agenda item is here and the public can watch the meeting online here
There were over a dozen speakers and most spoke in favor of the Planning Commission amendments. Over 30 members of the public had sent comments to the council in favor of those amendments as well.

These new amendments to the Development Code cap a 10 year struggle to put in place protections for Shoreline's tree canopy. The Shoreline Preservation Society and others, including Thornton Creek Alliance, Interurban Trail Tree Preservation Society, and members of Sustainable Shoreline, and people from all over Shoreline advocated to better protect trees.

Councilmember Will Hall made the motion to move the Planning Commission amendments forward. There were some attempts to amend and some of the provisions were altered or removed, such as one that would have prevented pre-emptive cutting of trees for possible development before any proposal was submitted. According to one councilmember, this happened probably because the item was confusing.

But the heart of the ordinance, the provision to reduce the number of trees cut and protect 30" trees stands!
Southwoods Park, saved by the
passage of the 2006 Parks Bond
Longtime Briarcrest Neighborhood Association member, Bettelinn Brown testified that the community had voted by over 70% to protect trees such as Southwoods and the Kruckeberg Garden in 2006, in the 
Parks Bond measure and therefore it is clear that Shoreline residents want to protect trees.

Boni Biery, who is a Sustainable Shoreline boardmember testified about how many trees have been lost over the years surrounding her home.

There were implied threats made by some view neighborhoods that legal action could follow, and that remains to be seen.  But, other legal experts have asserted that under the Growth Management Act, cities and city councils are clearly permitted to take these actions. In related case law:
Upon review of a city’s planning decision, the Board “shall find compliance unless it determines that a [city] action is clearly erroneous in view of the entire record before the board and in light of the goals and requirements of the GMA.”  To find an action “clearly erroneous,” the Board must have a “firm and definite conviction that a mistake has been committed.”
So for now, Shoreline's trees have a shot at survival. Trees are a triumph of hope over fear for Shoreline.


  1. Nancy Morris, Shoreline residentJune 19, 2012 at 11:13 AM

    "On the last day of the world, I would plant a tree." -- W.S. Merwin

  2. “The older the tree, the more music it makes in the breeze.” Anonymous

    I hope we will always have a wonderful orchestra!

  3. I am happy to see that some positive results came from all the years of work invested by many people on this issue. I would like to thank 2 of my former planning commissioners in particular for the work they invested. Former commissioners Perkowski and Broli invested work, expertise, and dedication to refuse to give up on this issue. I as long as the rest of the city thank you! To quote Michael Broli,"Cheers".

  4. Thank you, commissioners, for your great work! You drafted good amendments that the council could pass, and everyone benefits; not to mention a few trees!

    Good job, tree-savers, on your perseverance and success!

  5. More here!

    Joyce Kilmer said it best...Ironically, he was from my hometown of New Brunswick, NJ which is nearly devoid of old growth trees. The tree Kilmer wrote about is now a Sears parking lot.


    by: Joyce Kilmer (1886-1918)

    I think that I shall never see
    A poem lovely as a tree.

    A tree whose hungry mouth is prest
    Against the earth's sweet flowing breast;

    A tree that looks at God all day,
    And lifts her leafy arms to pray;

    A tree that may in Summer wear
    A nest of robins in her hair;

    Upon whose bosom snow has lain;
    Who intimately lives with rain.

    Poems are made by fools like me,
    But only God can make a tree.

    1. Thanks again for all your input and passion! Keep up the good work all!

  6. Did not former planning commissioner Janne Kaje contribute extensively to the development of the tree code? You should not left his substantial input out John.

  7. Yes, Janne contributed before he left, and so did Mike Broili. Many, many people have spent many, many hours on this issue.

    But what was so great was that Ben Perkowski, put his foot down, and the four remaining commissioners followed his lead. Michelle Wagner was also very insistent on creating the "chart" for the different levels of protection. Now if we can just get a more comprehensive code in place we can prevent the still ongoing cuts happening weekly.