In response to the City Council’s request for a comprehensive approach to protecting Seattle’s trees, the Department of Planning and Development (DPD) has proposed draft tree regulations.  You can review the proposal at:

Comments are being taken until October 31.

The Council has just begun its review of these proposals, and we do not expect to begin consideration of formal legislation until 2011.  When legislation is submitted, there will be a public hearing and opportunity to comment.  I proposed and the Council adopted an interim tree ordinance in 2009 because we knew it would be difficult and challenging to craft a comprehensive ordinance that will work to protect and enhance our trees.  Until we approve new legislation, the interim ordinance will continue to be in effect.  Current regulations can be reviewed at:

I am looking for a new permanent ordinance that will strengthen the protection of our trees and provide incentives for property owners to preserve existing trees and plant and maintain new ones.  Most importantly, we must start thinking of trees as part of an urban ecosystem.  Protecting existing trees and planting new ones are important, but not sufficient to create the urban forest that the Emerald City should have.

I appreciate the fact that DPD has started to take us out of the box of linear thinking about trees, and imagining a new way to approach the issue, but I’m not sure they are headed in the right direction.  I am looking for a long-range strategy that will provide protections and incentives, but that will most importantly integrate thinking about trees into our way of life, so that the need for protection becomes the exception rather than the rule.  I’m not sure how to get there, but I am looking for new approaches, and intend to take the time to ensure that we design a system that will truly lead us towards an urban forest that we can all cherish and value.