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Seattle updates street tree rules

Photo by wanderflechten
Under a proposed ordinance, homeowners in Seattle will have to follow new guidelines when planting trees in parking strips.

The city of Seattle is revamping its rules regarding street trees. The rules clarify what homeowners can and cannot do to trees planted in parking strips and other city right-of-ways.

The ordinance under consideration is the first update of the city’s street tree rules since 1961.

City Arborist Nolan Rundquist says the goal is to clarify policies that have been unclear and unenforceable.  For example, the new ordinance specifies that the city will take care of any trees it plants, while homeowners must maintain any trees they plant.

There will be also stricter rules regarding how trees are cared for. For example, homeowners will be required to hire professional arborists for major pruning jobs.

Rundquist, who’s already attended three public meetings on the Street Tree Ordinance, says people get “very emotional” when they talk about trees.

“I’ve seen the blogosphere misinterpret the proposal, saying that the city will plant trees and make us take care of them and that’s just simply not the case,” he said.

There are two more public meetings scheduled on the Street Tree Ordinance:

  • Jan. 9 Meadowbrook Communioty Center 10517 35th NE Room 22
  • Jan. 11 Ballard Community Center 6020 28th Ave NW Sunset Room

You can also submit feedback to:

Street Tree Ordinance
Attn. Urban Forestry
P.O. Box 34996
Seattle, WA 98124


Paula reports on groundbreaking legal decisions in Washington State and on trends in crime and law enforcement. She’s been at KNKX since 1989 and has covered the Law and Justice beat for the past 15 years. Paula grew up in Idaho and, prior to KNKX, worked in public radio and television in Boise, San Francisco and upstate New York.