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Northwest Voices

Seattle Times letters to the editor

August 6, 2009 at 4:00 PM

Trimming trees: Is it about to get harder under city law?

An invasion of property rights in new tree-cutting rules

I do not like the tone of the new tree-cutting rules [“Tree-cutting rules to get more strict in Seattle,” NWTuesday, August 4]. City Council President Richard Conlin is quoted as saying something about “our urban trees.” That may be true for trees in parks and parking strips, but the trees on my property aren’t “our” trees, they are “my” trees.

I have close to 50 trees on my property in West Seattle. I selected them, I paid for them, I dug the planting holes, I pay for the water at third-tier summer rates, I fertilize, I pay my gardener to prune, transplant or remove as I choose.

Some of my trees have been in the ground since the late ‘ 80s and are pushing 20 years old. If I decide I don’t like their appearance or growth habits or there is another type of tree I want to grow instead, it is my choice what to do with them.

My garden is my art project — it doesn’t belong to the city. If I sell my property, it is the right of the new owners to decide if they want to continue our style of gardening. This is a private decision, and the city has no say in it. Some people don’t like shade or trees hiding their houses.

The city of Seattle should put its own house in order and take care of its own trees. City Light crews still butcher trees to accommodate power lines; recycle trucks and garbage trucks routinely snag and tear branches of parking-strip trees in our neighborhood; trees in public spaces are frequently underwatered and ungroomed; the madronas in Lincoln Park are diseased and need thinning and removal of dead limbs; the Kwanzan cherry trees in the median on Admiral Way have been removed and replanted at least four times in the past two decades by street crews.

These sins against city trees are just the ones in my own neighborhood. Multiply that many times and city crews could be busy for years taking care of what they already have.

— Kathy Schwartz, Seattle

Saving trees or letting government go unchecked?

Your headline regarding saving trees in Seattle is misleading and downright bad journalism. The new resolution, not yet a law, will allow the following, if passed into law: “… the Department of Planning and Development] may permit exceptions to this prohibition when evidence is presented that development of the site would be substantially precluded or prohibited or when documentation is provided by a licensed or accredited professional that the health of the tree would be ignorantly undermined as a result of construction.”

This is a loophole that not only makes certain trees will lose out in any development case, it also creates a situation of government powers that are unchecked. If the DPD decides so, then any tree may be removed for development at any time, based on this clause.

You should do some investigative writing, not just promote what those in power want us to believe.

— Thomas Erdmann, Seattle

Comments | More in Environment, Parks, Politics, Seattle, Seattle City Council

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