Commentary: Why Edmonds needs a new tree code

Let's try not to have too many more trees like this...
Let’s try not to have too many more trees like this…
...end up like this.
…end up like this.

The Edmonds Citizens’ Tree Board, created in 2010 by the City Council (Ordinance 3807), advises the council and mayor on tree-related issues. Among other things, the Tree Board is tasked with “developing a tree ordinance designed to preserve and protect existing trees” and “encouraging the Edmonds citizenry to become active stewards of the urban forest.” With a dedicated volunteer group of Edmonds citizens, the Tree Board’s unofficial motto is “right tree, right place.” Many on the board have wonderful memories of being outdoors and enjoying trees and nature, and we would love to be able to continue making those memories here in Edmonds.

The Edmonds City Council will soon begin reviewing the draft Tree Code. If you have not seen the draft, you may review it here. Last year, the Tree Code rewrite process started thanks to a City Council budget appropriation and supplemental funds obtained through a Department of Natural Resources grant. The City hired a code-writing consultant and received significant contributions from several staff members, notably Senior Planner Kernen Lien, the City’s staff lead in the development of the code. In a recent letter to the Planning Board, Mr. Lien pointed out that the proposed Tree Code revisions are intended to develop “a comprehensive tree code that is easier for citizens to understand and more efficient for staff to implement.

The Planning Board was asked by the City Council to evaluate the draft Tree Code this spring, and they have offered suggestions and asked questions about the background behind the code. The Planning Board and others have asked about new permit fees. While it is true that removal of 6-inch or larger trees will require a permit, the permit fees have not yet been determined and will not be part of the Tree Code. And to clarify another question that has come up: the 6-inch size noted above and in the code’s definition of “significant tree” is the diameter (thickness) of the trunk at approximately 4.5 ft above the ground.

In recent months, a few people have attended our meetings to ask more about the Tree Code, including several comments about pruning regulation. Pruning trees on private property will not be regulated by the proposed code revision (topping trees is not considered “pruning” and will generally not be permitted). Right of way tree pruning will be regulated as a safety precaution designed to protect people and vehicles that could be threatened by limbs falling during pruning activities in the public right of way. In our view it is appropriate and good practice to regulate this activity so that the City can have the opportunity to evaluate hazards and minimize risk exposure. Depending on the location and the pruning planned, protection may include temporary closure of a sidewalk or street during the pruning to keep the area safe.

Homeowners who have big trees on their properties enjoy their shade and beauty. Additionally, and more importantly, they can expound on the benefits these workhorses do for the environment, including electricity and natural gas conservation, air quality, and reduction of atmospheric carbon. They should be commended. Fortunate homeowners with big trees have the cleanest air on the block! What an opportunity to educate friends and neighbors to appreciate these marvels. And in this day and age, we should also not overlook the fact that tree canopy cover helps mitigate global climate change.

Trees also reduce stormwater runoff, and in Edmonds we are all familiar with the flooding problems downtown, which are a direct result of limited capacity in the storm drainage system. With scarce funding for infrastructure upgrades, an alternative we can all embrace would be to do more individually to reduce stormwater runoff throughout the city. Trees help do that.

The Tree Board would appreciate your support of the draft Tree Code! Read the draft on the City’s website here, and come out to the Planning Board Public Hearing May 27 at 7:00 at the City Council Chambers. If you have questions you may contact me at [email protected].

— By Steve Hatzenbeler, Edmonds Citizens’ Tree Board Chair

48 Replies to “Commentary: Why Edmonds needs a new tree code”

  1. Hi

    Just saw your post on Edmonds News about the tree permits. Mixed feelings. Why should a house next to me who already chopped down their trees now benefit twice over? I have 12 trees over 24 inches in diameter on our 0.23 acre lot. So it would cost us $10,000 in permits alone if we chop them down after the regs pass.

    Luckily we like trees and bought the property accordingly. But now our property is worth $10K less than before. You’ve created an incentive to hate having trees because they lower your property value.

    Also, my immediate thought was: gosh everybody is going to race out and chop their trees down. Sure enough my neighbor took out one of their three healthy trees citing the permitting discussion.

    Then what about dead and dying trees? Surely we don’t need to pay a permit for that? It’s a public and private hazard to have a huge dead tree next to a house.

    Trevor Branch
    Professor, Aquatic and Fishery Sciences, Univ Washington


  2. I too have serious concerns about the new tree code as it will not only require permit fees, but also in most cases an arborist and a lot plan. Thousands of dollars before even the cost of removal, and that includes diseased or trees damaging the property. On a lot where the previous owner seriously over planted (65 trees and bushes on a regular lot) this is a huge concern to me. Also the requirement that replacement trees be from a regulated list. I will definitely have any questions at the Council meeting on the 27th. I believe that these new regs will reduce property values in the area.


  3. I have two enormous trees behind my house that could easily crush it if either of them fell over. I worry about that every time there is a windstorm. If I decide I want to cut them down for my safety, I would not only have to pay someone to do the job, but also for a permit to the city… why? Things like this make me glad that I’m in unincorporated Edmonds.

    I do appreciate the sentiment behind this idea, but I think one likely short-term result will be everyone that is even considering chopping trees down will do it in a hurry to avoid permit fees or fines.


  4. I am really glad to see that this is happening to further protect our fragile environment, particlarly the air we breathe. Perhaps we can put together a fund for people with less means to help for permitting……or “need” exemptions for permits . With so many trees just randomly chopped down here, this is an important step of educating people regarding how important trees are and how important it is to not just randomly chop them down just because one thinks they are a hazard…..Some trees look like hazards but they may not be at all…..Good idea to have an expert look at them first

    Too many trees have been randomly chopped down in Edmonds for a long time


  5. Us people are the hazards on this small planet and that is a consensus now globally. We need new ways of living and taking care of the earth and the air we breathe or future generations will suffer immensely or be desroyed because they cant evolve. Science tells all.


  6. Looks like the tree cut was in danger of damaging utility lines. There are several locations around Edmonds where trees are leaning toward or actually touching utility lines. How do we deal with these situations in the planned code.


  7. The prior three citizens feel much as my friend Roger Hertrich and I do. None of us want the City Council to remove some of our property rights in order to satisfy the whims of a few tree hugging extremists.

    I have studied the proposed ordinance in detail and totally reject its main premise. The city would usurp our property rights with the simple misguided notion that preserving trees at all costs will always be beneficial to all concerned. That is dead wrong so In short this proposal sickens me.

    Allow me to make a comparison: Please drive past my home at 18704 94th AV W. and compare our tree management of the past 46 years with that of 18626 94th av W (behind 18704), which is how the city has mangled one property all ready. Mr. Kernan Lien and his arborist took control of that property when some other trees were cut down without a permit. What he left is a group of seven ugly spindly trees, six of which are within two feet of each other. This present situation is an obvious major problem for any potential buyer of that property and a threat to the safety of the neighborhood. These eyesore trees do nothing except to detract from the value of the properties; they don’t fit in at all. At least 5 of those trees should be removed as soon as possible; which would hasten the sale of this property. Its an exact example of what the proposed tree ordinance would do to property owners throughout the city, if it becomes the law.

    So I present you with an concrete example of a responsible property owner, myself, and my approach to tree management as opposed to the best bureaucratic work of Mr. Lien of the city and his arborist.

    Tell me, which one would you tend to believe has the best approach to tree management, the individual property owner or a city bureaucrat?


    1. How I wish we could discuss such issued without reverting to name-calling! “[T]he whims of a few tree hugging extremists” simply negates the deeply-held beliefs of those of us who believe trees are a vital part of our environment, an asset to the aesthetics of our city (yes – OUR city), and a matter of public concern.

      Sometimes it feels as if every time I go for a walk, yet another beautiful old tree is gone, some shady street left with a gaping hole. Surely we as a community have some right o determine what sort of environment we live in. We came to Edmonds in 1961 among other reasons, because it was a shady, green town. Now it more and more resembles Lynnwood, and my privacy has been compromised by tree-cuttnig to enhance someone’s view. if you don’t like trees, perhaps a move to Arizona?

      You ask the very legitimate question: “…which one would you tend to believe has the best approach to tree management, the individual property owner or a city bureaucrat?” May I suggest that this is the wrong question? Tree management is at present up to the committee and public input. ” Bureaucrats” administer what WE decide.

      There are to legitimate side to the question. Can we stay away from one-dimensional sound bits and name-calling? And give some thought to the broader, community aesthetics involved? Now is the time to make sure both sides re heard and reach a compromise we can all live with.


  8. And if the City is going to take over the decisions about the trees on private property are they also assuming the liability for any damage caused by their decision making process? If I make bad decisions about my trees or simply neglect them and they do damage, I am legally responsible for that. No ifs ands or buts about it. ( which is why I consult an arborist every five years, which isn’t cheap). But it is the responsible thing to do. But if I am not able to do that without the City “permitting” me to do that then it would seem the City will be responsible when they will not permit a tree to be removed and any damage occurs based on that preservation decision. And in the permitting the City will be surveying all the homeowners trees to boot.


  9. Putting “value” and monetary gains is exactly why there is a problem with our environment now…….and by the way, this type of thing is in the minority now arond the world…….This is why there are global climate summits with whole nations participating…… and calling people names like “tree hugging extremists” rhetoric we have heard before in the 1970s is old school and does nothing remotely positive to address the important issues TODAY regarding our environment

    We listen to the experts…….whats dangerous, what really isnt……..Ive heard many people around here just as soon chop EVERY tree down, just because ……..


    1. Ms. Ryder – if we lived in a Utopian Society, we wouldn’t have to weigh such impacts – financial, physical, or otherwise. These all have to be weighed objectively, not subjectively, but objectively, with distinct and measurable outcomes. I go back to Democracy as an experiment – and one that has, for the most part, worked extremely well in cities such as Edmonds. I highly doubt that the majority of Edmonds residents want to clear cut and put in cookie cutter track houses. I have no evidence to prove that other than driving around and looking at the houses that the folks in Edmonds live in. I agree completely with you and others that “tree hugging extremist” is not the best way to describe an environmentalist – but I also get the passion that it was delivered with. Every decision (or non-decision) has an outcome – and a value – be it positive or negative, and it is the responsibility of a society to weigh those costs and decide accordingly.


      1. It’s about the greater good Tonight I sat through the Planning Board/Tree Board meeting and I have to say I was shocked looking at a room full of mostly 60 to 90 year olds (no young people there or very few and I suspect I know why) laughing the whole meeting (and often being RUDE) in regards to what is a consensus around the world about our environment, In EVERY developed country now the destruction we have done to our planet in a very short time, particularly removing the canopy of trees that protects ALL living things……. just for short term gain and monetary gain. The greater good for our planet seems to take a back seat to people who are 50 YEARS behind the times, living in the past and are the very people that helped create this mess. It is our generation and prior that created the destruction on so much of our planet, and now we need to fix it for future generations……that’s the SCIENCE telling us

        Young people now all over the world care deeply about our planet and taking care of it. A community needs regulations that are fair and applied to all citizens equally and for the greater good…….No man is an island…….and that is true now more than ever. We are a collective living organism on this planet… being a key word here. Can we not be dinosaurs and move forward along with the rest of the world


        1. Tere, Where in the world did you get the idea that removing trees equates to a “monetary gain?” In times past when the stump and branches could be burned on site such a gain was possible. Since about 25 years ago, burning was no longer allowed and that required expensive loading, hauling and dump fees that greatly exceed the renumeration gained by selling the tree for lumber. The only reason to cut a tree today is if they are in the way of the new or remodeled structure and associated storm lines, sewer lines, PUD lines, water lines, Cable etc.


  10. Two questions:

    What sort of community do we wish to live in? Is leafy, shady Edmonds a thing of the past, giving way to the new Lynnwood?

    How do we balance individual property owners’ rights with a community decision about our environment and aesthetics?

    It seems to me that to live in a community, you give up certain “rights” to the greater good; this is why we have speed limits, noise restrictions, etc. Within reason – and that’s a broad window! – is there not a community standard we could agree on?

    The Tree Board is a very good idea – IF it will take the time to hear everyone’s concerns and reach a consensus genuinely representitive of the community.

    For my part, it troubles me greatly every time I go for a walk and see the loss of one more great tree, which cannot be re-grown in my lifetime. So many will have to go content with what we spoiled.


  11. Interesting dialogue. Personally I’m for managed tree growth and a very strong advocate for property rights. I have no challenge with the city managing their trees on their properties – and those who own property managing theirs.

    At some point we will surely have a flower commission that will want to set guidelines on what flowers I can and can’t plant in my yard. I know, that seems ridiculous. But there are some that prefer to have very strict policies and fees in place and those neighborhoods are available – managed by HOAs – or government housing.

    It appears the assumption is that homeowners that aren’t managed by government or HOAs simply aren’t responsible enough or wise enough to make decisions that influence their own property – of which, last I checked, the city likely didn’t help purchase.

    At what point does city eminent domain not apply?


    1. Great question Mike – I believe the government thinks it can act as if it has Eminent Domain like powers in almost any situation.

      I am also a strong advocate for property rights and have spent parts of the last 10 years trying to get the City of Edmonds to address its attack on my private property rights. That can be a lonely battle to fight. As citizens, it would be very helpful if we supported each other’s fight for simple basic property rights when the City of Edmonds chooses to attack those rights.

      Imagine for a moment that the City wanted to do much more with your private property than just regulate tree cutting. Imagine the City told you that your private property had to accept stormwater runoff and RETAIN that stormwater!

      The story of the Breske family and what this City has done and is willing to do to private property owners is of great concern.

      I encourage all advocates of private property rights to research the Breske Situation and support that family if you conclude that they have been treated unjustly.

      For those who want to read a great, comprehensive article on tree regulation, please do a search for American Planning Association zoning practice 7.06.

      Teresa – if possible can you post a link to this outstanding article written by Chris Duerksen, Molly Mowery, and Michele McGlyn? At the time the article was written, the three authors were employed by Clarion Associates, a national land-use and real estate consulting firm specializing in community planning, zoning ordinance review, landscape architecture, real estate appraisal, urban design, and historic preservation. Thank you.


      1. The July, 2006 article has a national focus, but it does say that stormwater flow during a heavy rain in the Puget Sound Region “has increased about 29 percent since 1972, a period during which heavily vegetated areas decreased by 37 percent.”

        The article states that “Another study by American Forests says that to replace the Sound’s lost stormwater retention capacity with reservoirs and other engineered systems will cost the local communities $2.4 billion plus annual maintenance costs.”

        The article also addresses the question: Do trees increase property values?

        The article’s conclusion includes the following: “…local governments can craft tree protection ordinances designed for the 21st century that will be effective and fair.”


  12. On a separate line of inquiry; what is state law that enables the City to do this? Not the Critical Areas law but by what legal authority is the City acting? Do not most of the property owners have timber rights in their deeds? I seem to recall that in mine ( thinking at the time that it was as silly as my having mineral rights).
    I am a strong believer in folks managing their own property. The notion that without such laws where the City manages our trees for us, Edmonds will become a barren treeless town offends me as a tree hugger myself. I like the trees, and have done all I can to responsibly manage the ones I have, as have my neighbors. I love trees but also recognize that sometimes they have to come down. I have actually suggested that an arborist be made available to the public by the City to consult with us on how best to manage our trees; with the ultimate decision being left with the owner. That would be a positive innovative step for the City to take and one which could actually bring a very real benefit to all.


  13. “It appears the assumption is that homeowners that aren’t managed by government or HOAs simply aren’t responsible enough or wise enough to make decisions that influence their own property.”

    A legitimate point. BUT: those decisions also effect their neighbors and the environment, aesthetic and global. We are a community, not a series of islands. Further, such decisions, in the case of trees, are very long term, both with regard to the age of the tree, and the time required to grow a new one. Guidelines are needed, or we simply wander into a future we may not want and failed to plan for,


  14. When the Tree Board presented this proposed ordinance to the Planing Commission they admitted that they did not address the issue of Puget Sound View blockage. We live on Sunset so this ordinance will do nothing to block our view. But, should it pass, everyone uphill from Sunset will eventually lose their view. Consider if the new construction on Sunset had to plant the required four 3″-5″ caliper trees (approx. 12ft tall). The two new houses recently built on Sunset,with one in front of the other, would each have to plant 4 trees. The new house built on 2nd Ave. last year would have 4 more trees. And so it goes up the hill with every new home constructed on 3rd Ave., 4thAve., 5thAve. and so on. In 5 or 10 years, the trees will be 25ft tall. In 20 years, 50ft or more. Why bother with a 25ft height rule on new homes when the tree will block the view anyway? Woodway is beautiful with all of the trees, but no one has Puget Sound Views except the folks that live on the bluff. This proposed ordinance may be great for a town like Redmond or Lynnwood with no view of Puget Sound, but it is not compatible with the aesthetics in Edmonds. The discussion about “city trees”…I hope everyone knows this is referring to the front 3-10 ft of every homeowners property. Because the city right of way is generally wider than the paved street and sidewalk, those trees you planted on the front of your lot are “City Trees” and will be highly regulated. The basic problem with this ordinance is that they had people who want to see a total tree cover for Edmonds develop it without a “peer” review from anyone else with differing perspectives. The Council should remand the question to a much broader review than just the Tree Board.


    1. And what if my “view” is a tree, not the water. Curious debate, but then we must enter the issue of the “value” of certain views, and the dilemma when ones view is blocked by something else, such as a new building. A view does very little to benefit the Earth and its critters……just ask my birds. They like my trees.


    2. Thank you, Mike! Edmonds is known as a city with views for many. Letting trees grow into the public view space compromises our long-term interests as a community and will limit views to the lucky few. There are plenty of awesome Puget Sound area communities with wonderful trees. There are few with views.


  15. This is one of those tough questions – and an expense that the City of Edmonds must weigh, (and offset by collecting those costs from the folks who live here through permitting fees, etc). I agree with Mr. Schindler – I am a huge proponent of managed tree and urban forest practices, and a huge proponent of individual property rights. The current proposal gives the majority of those rights to the City, neighbors, a certified arborist – and takes away rights (and penalizes) the current land owner. Moving to a city shouldn’t be the same as joining an HOA in a developed neighborhood. What is the impact of such codes on affordable housing (I say this as I am in month 6 of looking for a home in Edmonds – and can only imagine what the cost of some of the fixer uppers is going to be now to get rid of the overgrowth and nuisance trees…)

    I believe a Tree Code is a start – but why not start with a City ROW management plan, stronger new development or new construction rules, and stronger impact fees on new construction? Why should a 20 – 30 year resident of Edmonds who wishes to “open up” their yard to more sunlight have to determine a lot plan and an arborist as a cost factor in their plans?

    One last point – it took two months (maybe longer) for the City to decide on a hot dog stand – how long do you think it will take the City to decide on every tree that landowners want removed?

    I get concerned about another Ordinance that is broadly written to give a large amount of authority to the City – not the neighborhood, the friends, the people, the carbon dioxide reduction process – it gives the authority distinctly to the City – and indirectly gives the City my property rights, and that doesn’t sit well. I think it a very low risk that Edmonds ends up like Lynnwood – there are multiple other codes and restrictions in place that protect that.


  16. Trees also go through a life cycle and need to be removed when they are sick or dying. Some trees such as alders typically live less than a hundred years and can be quite dangerous due to their propensity to snap in half during wind storms. One suspects most of the people who believe that permits should be required to cut down trees have never lived on property with a lot of trees on it. I have, and this seems like an obnoxious overreach to me.

    I also find it interesting (and deeply ironic) that the people most likely to be opposed to the idea are exactly those landowners who currently have the trees that people so admire, while the people in favor of it probably live on cleared lots.


    1. John,
      A doff of my tinfoil hat to you:). I was thinking that those huge trees and drones could be friends. It would be nice to have drones examining some of the trees. Seeing damages after a windstorm, and checking out the general health. I am sure it will be a part of tree maintenance soon.


  17. Many homeowners, at some point in their adventurous tree planting lives, plant the wrong trees. We have all made this mistake, but then we learn within a few years, that a nuisance has been created for ourselves and possibly our neighbors. The right thing to do then is consider the issue and not fall out with a neighbor , but remove the offending mis-planted tree , and then plant the correct ( researched) tree. The potential cost , with these excessive fees would create a huge problem for the tree owner and neighbor(s) Who would pay?
    I don’t t think this ordinance will be possible and difficult to enforce, unless midnight tree removals are going to be reported by a neighbor to the City.
    What happened by the developer at Point Edwards a few years ago, was wrong by removing all the trees on the steep slope, and the City did not handle the situation the right way, stiffer fines and replanting large trees should have been the outcome. So for new development let’s have City involvement, but not for existing homeowners.


  18. Nathaniel,

    During one of your walks stroll past my home and you will instantly realize how confused you are. You will see that I’m a big time tree hugger myself, a description I proudly acknowledge.

    Knock on the door and I may invite you in for a cup. Perhaps we could share a few tree stories. I have a few, and I’m sure I would enjoy yours.

    Just don’t threaten my property rights, cause I really do find that extreme and unacceptable, OK?

    Ray Martin


  19. As a Planning Board Member, I’ll let my comments in the minutes stand on their own.

    Unfortunately, I will be unable to attend the May 27th Planning Board meeting due to business travel. I encourage you all to make your way to the Planning Board Meeting on May 27th to make your voices heard.

    But as we discuss our points of difference, please remember mutual respect. None of us is out to attack, control, or demean our neighbors. So please choose your words carefully to address the points in the proposed code, and not impugn the motives of those who worked very, very hard to draft it.


  20. I feel that this issue is so large that it should require a vote from all Edmonds home and land owners. It does not sound like it is in the best interest of the direst tax payers.


  21. I encourage everyone involved, to continue your involvement in this issue. we need voices to be heard from all perspectives. Trees can be a very emotional subject, but there is research behind the benefits trees provide to our community. Managing trees as a utility rather than a single owner resource is becoming more popular as community density increases.

    Listed below are some links from both government and not profit resources that speak of what trees provide for our community. I encourage people to educate themselves and think about what we will continue to loose if no action is taken to preserve and promote what we have.

    Trees are good – is a part of the International Society of Arboriculture outreach – A world recognized organization promoting implementation of the best available science in tree care standards

    ACT trees is a non profit organization with great education about trees in our communities.

    recently published for arbor day, here is an article from national geographic on how other cities in our nation are using their tree cover for community benefits.


  22. Ms Heckman- your are the vice chairperson of the tree board, correct? What does managing trees as a utility rather than a single owner resource mean? Thanks.


  23. Will this rule apply to the company that removes trees almost everyday in Edmonds for PUD? Will they have to pay for an arborist and a permit at every location, or will just Joe the taxpayer/homeowner be subject to this? You cannot make laws and rules with exceptions for some. Read the US Constitution, remember the Boston Tea Party and why we had a revolutionary war.


  24. I am a dedicated conservationist and proud, “Tree Hugger”. I am also adamantly against this tree code for all the same reasons (and more) the opposition has expressed here. I post this in response to the Ken Reidy/Diane Talmadge comments of May 22.

    I agree with Ms. Talmadge that the place to fight an injustice perpetrated against a citizen regarding trees (or anything else) lies clearly in a court of law. I suspect the City would take that stand as well. I also agree with Mr. Reidy when he points out that courts should not be burdened with these types of cases. I will, however, take it one step further; I do not believe citizens should have to resort to lawsuits and secure legal judgments in order to force its elected officials to treat all citizens fairly, play by the same rules and abide by its own laws and codes; Rather, these same elected officials should transparently, honestly, and above, all ethically (and that is really important) . . . obey the laws and codes written for the benefit of its tax paying citizens, as they should be. I don’t believe the majority of our 39,000 citizens have the resources to file these suggested (and sadly, necessary) lawsuits and I think our elected officials know that as well.

    I believe a better use of our taxpayer dollars (than investing in a tree code writer) would be to hire an expert to write a clear and detailed Ethics Code of Conduct for all elected officials and those working for them. The OPERATIVE words here are, “Clear and Detailed.” Perhaps then, there would be no need for lawsuits. It’s just a thought but I hope someone is paying attention. Especially the legislative branch of our City’s government that is charged with the authority to make this happen.


  25. Here here! Well stated. And I do the the court as the very last resorting agree with Ms Henry; it should never come to that. A Code of Ehtics would go far.


  26. Janet Henry, The council is supposed take up the ethics policy on June 2nd. Come to the meeting or email the council with your thoughts on this important subject.


  27. Thanks for sharing your thoughts Ms. Henry. I fear the City of Edmonds employs a strategy where it intentionally violates State law and/or the City’s Code or allows those laws to be violated by other parties and then the City makes it the burden of the harmed citizen to spend their private resources to seek justice. For example, I possess an email between the former City Attorney and staff in which the former City Attorney discusses taking action to “trigger” one citizen or another citizen’s “OBLIGATION” to appeal a staff decision. Why would staff do this rather than simply being scrupulously just in the fair and proper application of laws? Perhaps if they did so there would be less need to appeal anything. (FYI-that same email indicated “tree removal” as step one in a time table proposed by the former City Attorney.)

    I invite the current City Attorney and/or City staff to respond and refute my fear. I think an open and transparent discussion of my “fear” would benefit our citizens.

    I emailed new Council Member Michael Nelson yesterday to request a meeting. Two purposes for that meeting are:

    1: To use a well documented historical event to teach new Council Member Nelson that history proves that City Council members are not always provided factual and/or complete information by City Attorneys and/or City Staff.

    2: To discuss the need to provide the citizens of Edmonds clear, documented procedures that they can follow to facilitate City Council Reconsideration of its decisions when citizens can prove City Council was provided false and/or incomplete information by City Attorneys and/or City Staff.

    I believe an ethics code that also applies to City Staff has a direct relationship to the two purposes mentioned above.


  28. The current draft proposal to enforce harsh, and expensive, regulations related to tree retention, removal and maintenance is just another egregious, arrogant example of the overreach of government. There is a growing trend in America to legislate individual philosophy, even upon those who might not share our views. However, in this latest debate, whereas local government may dictate rules for public spaces, one of its principal roles involves the protection of individual property rights. Those who reside and enjoy the uniformity of planned residential neighborhoods may choose to follow pre-ordained ‘rules’ of conformity, but the citizens of Edmonds have always appreciated the right and the privilege of maintaining the individuality of their property, and I believe have addressed that level of freedom respectful of the vegetation and for the most part as conscientious stewards. The Tree Board’s proposal to impose upon all property owners it’s directives for a punitive tree-maintenance code is a slippery slope that I believe citizens need to reject. The agenda, when scrutinized, might not be shared and is definitely aimed at restricting the rights of individual property owners.

    Edmonds is in a distinctive position of being one of the only small towns that sit on the shores of the Puget Sound and as such, one of its principal appeals is the stunning view of a combination of water, with its marine traffic, framed by the Olympic Mountains and our downtown. If we allow the implementation of the regulations as proposed to become code our town will look like Lake Forest Park, and if that is the community appearance you desire, I for one am curious why you would choose to reside here. I am not suggesting that a collective concern for trees need is not important, quite the contrary. The retention, removal and maintenance of trees is very important; however, the decision of what to do on one’s own property should remain up to the individual. The number of trees that stand is evidence of the reverence our community has for its trees; individuals, almost without misstep and conflict, have done a commendable job at preserving both our trees and our views without any interference from government. Any suggestion that we require the heavy hand of paid tree wardens is in direct conflict with our right to enjoy what is probably the only place remaining where we truly have the control and freedom to make decisions about our personal surroundings.

    Any restrictions placed on tree removal will place the liability for damage and injury squarely on the shoulders of the City and its taxpayers. We must reserve the right to decide for ourselves if a tree is dangerous, a nuisance, has outgrown its site, looks unsightly, or needs to be lowered, without a requirement to seek permission from a City that believes it has a right to legislate every facet of our lives. The proposed draft codes, if adopted and implemented, will come into direct conflict with deeded view easements, some decades old, and verbal agreements between neighbors who have had in place pruning, and yes topping, arrangements, also for decades. I maintain that the majority who live in the Northwest are mindful of our ecosystem and if, and when, an individual makes the decision to remove or prune a tree it comes after months of contemplation and not mere whim. The implementation of these codes would open up a can of worms and legal battles waged by homeowners who, like myself, believe that government has no place imposing its ideology.


  29. Reading all of the comments I am reminded of one of my favorite poets Robert Frost who always reminds me of some of the deeper truths that nature and trees hold for all of us…….Thank goodness we have poets, and Im sure at least a few people here will refer to Robert Frosts tin foil hat, but I hope many read this and remember how important trees are in many ways. And, many, many poets have bared their souls about trees…..those darn extemist poets among us

    This is just a segment of his poem on trees and I hope all read the whole poem….
    which can be found in many books or online

    “When I see birches bend to left and right
    Across the lines of straighter dark trees
    I like to think some boy’s been swinging them
    But swinging doesnt bend them down to stay
    As ice storms do Often you must have seen them
    Loaded with ice a sunny winter morning
    After a rain They click upon themselves
    As the breeze rises and turns many colors
    As the stir cracks andcrazes their enamel
    Soon the sun warmth makes them shed crystal shells
    Shaterring and avalanching on the snow crust
    Such heaps of broken glass to sweep away
    Youd think the inner dome of heaven had fallen
    They are dragged to the winter braken by the load
    And they seem not to break once they are bowed
    You may see their trunks arching in the woods
    Years afterwords trailing their leaves on the ground
    Like girls on hands and knees that throw their hair. whind them
    Before them over their heads to dry in the sun
    But I was going to say when truth broke in…………….

    I should prefer to have some boy bend them…….

    Whose only play as what he found himself……..

    For him to conquer he learned all there was
    To learn about not launching out too soon
    By riding them down over and over…………

    Then he flung out ward feet first with a swish
    Kicking his way down through tha air to the ground………….

    And life is too much like a pathless wood
    Where your face burns and ticklss with the cobwebs
    Broken across it with one eye is weeping

    Id like to get away from the earth for awhile
    And then come back and begin all over………..
    Earths the right place for love
    I dont know where its likely to go better
    Id like to go by climbing a birch tree
    And climb black branches up a snow white trunk
    Toward heaven till the tree could bear no more
    But dipped its top and set me down again

    That would be good both going and coming back
    One could do worse than be a swinger of birches”

    excerped parts of a poem, BIRCHES by Robert Frost

    one could do worse


  30. Thank you Tere.

    Love our three birch trees we planted here on Birch Street to represent the three members of our family. The poem brought tears to my eyes (which I guess a great poem will do) because it reminds me that our birch-bending boy has moved off to college (but he’ll be back for the summer soon, yay!).


  31. First of all, I read the list of scheduled meetings a few days ago on the Edmonds Website and it noted the Tree Group meeting was to be held on June 4th at 6PM in City Hall Building, 3rd floor….now I see in this comment section that it is TONIGHT at 6. Am I losing my dang mind or what. This is most angering. Second, Edmonds made some proclamation a while back about being a “Tree City”, yet I just witnessed a major tree rape on Edmonds Way just east of 232nd. Many, many very large trees were leveled, roots and all for a commercial project. Tree removal is a concern when done by the average homeowner, but is criminal when done by commercial destruction. Fees mean nothing to a developer, if they even apply to them, they just plow the fees into the cost of doing business. Thanks again, Edmonds…….for keeping My Edmonds beautiful. Ha!


  32. In the past week or so, I’ve witnessed a few trees being removed from properties to the east and west of us on 232nd ST SW. Is a permit required if the homeowner is removing trees for personal use – i.e. firewood? The property owner of the more major tree removal site (who did get the necessary approval by the City) is getting ready to have several new homes built. It was disheartening to see all of these trees removed. My boyfriend and I have lived in the neighborhood for 10 years and one of the reasons was because of all the trees. I was also disheartened to see the trees removed from the property next door to Woodhaven Veterinary Clinic as well as by the Edmonds Winco. If people don’t like trees, then they picked the wrong city/state to live in.


  33. I, too, am conflicted about protecting our trees vs. my property rights. But things have changed since we were younger. No more backyard trash fires or wood burning in any old stove, no building of houses without permits and lots of insulation, etc. The weather is more unpredictable; we have hotter, drier summers; pollution of all sorts is rampant worldwide; the sea level is rising. Who or what can we blame? PEOPLE. Lots more PEOPLE, and people are living closer together. What each of us does really makes a difference, locally and globally. Before imposing harsh regulations, maybe we need a major educational push–maybe a speaker series and/or panel discussions of experts to help us think this through and a tree resource center? Field trips to places such as Lake Forest Park, which has had tree ordinances for years. I like the idea of a city arborist to help us make decisions about trees to remove and what to plant in their place. We owe it to our grandchildren to keep Edmonds from becoming just another treeless hot spot.


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