The following letter was sent to the Edmonds Planning Board and City Council regarding the proposed tree code:
Edmonds Planning Board and Mr. Lien;
Thank you for letting me provide recommendations to the proposed tree code.
We know that the proposed code will only impact 3% of the residential area in Edmonds; the 3% that has not already been developed. Edmonds is 97% “built out”.
We know that 83% of our forest canopy is in residential areas. The proposed code does not address the 80% of all our trees, those that are on already developed lots.
The proposed code is simply too little too late. There isn’t much more land to develop. It would have been much more meaningful if it had been enacted 10 years ago!
Plus, it doesn’t seem fair to the new construction home owners that have to maintain 30% canopy on their lots, while the rest of us don’t. It has been said that everyone should have some tree canopy requirements!
We must address the forest canopy where it mainly is; on private, already-developed lots.
Most folks in Edmonds will go along with a tree code, concerning their private land, if it is friendly, inexpensive and reasonable. We should encourage tree retention with economic incentives (reduced stormwater bills). We can encourage new tree planting by giving away free appropriate saplings.
The regulations of trees on private property should not be about expensive permits and fees and blame and punishments. It should be more of a notification system where citizens notify the city of tree cutting on their land.
The city will only interfere if there is mass clearcutting planned on heavily forested lots.
A tree code, as in all forest management, is centered around tree replacements. For every tree that is lost; for any reason, any place, at any time; there should be multiple replacement trees planted. If we are to “maintain or enhance” our urban forest canopy, we must plant multiple replacement “of kind” saplings for every significant tree lost.
Please don’t weaken the tree size requirements for multiple replacement trees. We simply don’t have that many very large second-growth trees in our city, such as 24 inches in diameter.
All fees collected from the tree code should go directly to funding the planting of more trees.
We may find that because of increased housing density, there is not enough available land in Edmonds to plant all the replacement trees. The city should enter into a partnership with the Snohomish County Healthy Forest Project, whose aim is to plant a million trees by 2040. We need to think beyond ourselves and realize that we are all in this together. We all breathe the same air.
We realize that we are in a climate crisis. The easiest way to mitigate our greenhouse gases is by carbon sequestering. Every time we cut down a tree, carbon is released into the atmosphere. If we plant multiple replacement trees they will sequester more and more carbon as they grow.
Our grandchildren and their grandchildren are really going to need those trees that we plant today.
Are we going to enact an insignificant tree code that doesn’t address the main problem? A tree code in name only? A symbolic and token effort? To make us feel good, or look good, as if we had done something?
Or are we going to get back to work and create a meaningful, effective and far reaching tree code that we can be proud of? A code that achieves the goal of “no net loss.” A code that our grandchildrens’ grandchildren can be thankful for?
If we are going to enact a tree code, why not do it right?
Thank you for your time and consideration.