Scene in Edmonds: Where have all the trees gone?

Joe Scordino shared this photo of the trees cut down at 546 Paradise Lane June 3, to make room for a new Paradise Heights development. City of Edmonds Development Director Shane Hope notes that the application for this projects began in 2019. As a result, the permit issued predates the city’s new tree code, aimed at retaining existing trees during development on private property.
  1. This is happening all over Edmonds and the region. It comes from the greed of property developers. They buy and gut lots to build monstrosities in the name of affordable housing. However they are selling these ugly monstrosities for huge prices.

    1. Yet. Who are those that would benefit from this so called affordable housing? First. Last and deposit? Is that affordable housing!

      1. We have enough people here already and them ripping up tree’s is taking away homes for owls and other critters. The greed is terrible here. Our evergreen state won’t have anything left but houses. Stop building up. We’re so over crowded now its ridiculous. I’ve lived here for 52 year’s now and everything has changed just to make a buck. Plus they build on these hills that I wouldn’t buy. One big earthquake and goodbye to you and your home. Stop building these homes and preserve the woods we have left. You’re destroying the environment. We don’t need any more people here. Again, Washington is crowded enough. Im tired of seeing this going on. Plus they build so close to one and other you can hear what your neighbors are doing. I wouldn’t spend that kind of money with no land or so called yard. We’re expensive enough here as it is and bringing in more people won’t help. Traffic is horrible as it is.

      2. Developers even have “accidental tree clearing” on projects (new luxury condo/appts near the fish hatchery) where they build fines into their cost of doing business — thumbing their noses at the community — all to stuff their dirty, greasy wallets.

  2. Agreed with last post.. MUGA, or Municipal Urban Growth Areas exists all over our area and were designed to meet “benefits”. (and likely promote) new growth, yet it seems like environment and aesthetics weren’t well thought out, and now we reap the so-called “benefits”.. sigh

    1. Real Estate Cartels are alive and doing well in Puget Sound area. City planners are rubbing their hands together with greedy smiles think about the taxes that will flow in. “Affordable Housing” developers have been granted huge tax breaks while being allowed to destroy the ambiance of neighborhoods. Birds, bees, shade, windbreaks, fresh air and beauty. I see a big bubble on the horizon as well as a relentless sun beaming down on our rooftops and parched yards.

      1. I have lived in Edmonds. My sister and her husband live there, though I’m currently in south Everett. It is a lovely place to live, with many trees. and of course it’s on the water. However, I don’t think building more homes will ruin Edmonds. I would like to see numbers of how many acres of trees remain in Edmonds. My guess is that it’s a lot. Why prevent more people from enjoying the beauty of Edmonds?

        1. Ummm… Edmonds is the has the most houses per square mile than pretty much any other city in Washington. There is NO justification for destroying the trees and wildlife habitat. This is greed! Pure and simple. We do not need more houses or housing in Edmonds. Period.

      2. Well said. Indeed And this is exactly the point:

        Real estate cartels …developers….to destroy the ambiance of neighborhoods. Birds, bees, shade, windbreaks, fresh air and beauty. I see a ….relentless sun beaming down on our rooftops and parched yards.

    2. Perhaps consider a property tax benefit for having trees. It costs money to maintain healthy trees, land maintanance, tree care, roof care. Reward those who are willing and love the trees. It is a proven fact that trees bring much more to a neighborhood than just shade. They provide an energy of peace and well being.

      1. What a fantastic idea! We love our treed lot but as retirees, it takes money that is hard to spare to provide the maintenance required. We will keep the trees no matter what but a tax break would really help.

    3. I drive for a living and I’ve been crying for the past 2 years since I have seen the tearing down of trees on the freeway the side roads the the neighborhoods…It just breaks my heart to see such a beautiful place being taken over by cement and buildings.. after work I would enjoy a ride home with the tall trees and it would soothe my soul and doesn’t make me anxious now it’s out of control

      1. Yes it is. Good for you. Speaking out and with force is our only option we want to exercise. Don’t make us exercise more options.

    4. I am wondering when it rain if there is going to be a problem with soil erosion and flooding. Hopefully this was taken into consideration!

      1. There is not a location in edmonds you cant walk a short distance to and be buried in trees that are in parks often. Take the kingston ferry and look at edmonds. Trees everywhere. Get over it.

      2. William,

        No, erosion was not taken into consideration. Just as the timing of when trees are cut down is not taken into consideration. (See Alan Mearns post about cutting the trees at peak nesting season for many birds.)

        Flooding of down hill homes and yards happens all over Edmonds as a result of removal of large trees and vegetation for developments such as this. Perrinville Creek residents and other Edmonds property owners are dealing with serious flooding issues.

        Not only is the “Edmonds Bowl” a bowl, ALL of Edmonds is a bowl with smaller bowls throughout. Flooding occurs even when there is a nearby stream to flow into. Without the absorption protection of the trees and vegetation removed to clear the lot, the water will go elsewhere, taking the disturbed soil with it. Our stormwater infrastructure is old and unable to handle all that water.

  3. Agree with Starfeather…trees are our air filters…they remove air pollution and give us Prior to the city code changing, I was wondering why there was a sudden felling of large trees on my walks in Edmonds.

  4. Is it my eyes or is this a picture of less than 12 trees that have been removed in the city? These folks that are up in arms should move to the country. They would have so many trees to hug and love that they might even get a sliver.

  5. I walked by yesterday morning and what was once a quiet wooded road is now what you see with large slash piles strewn across the emptiness. I live in the neighborhood and never saw postings for public comment for this development.

    We can do better. The existence of the Edmonds tree ordinance clearly states our community priority to maintain our trees. The comments prior to mine say there are many lots beyond this one grandfathered out of needing to balance growth with environmental preservation.

    Perhaps someone can comment on where and how as an community we can continue to speak out to demand that new developments do not raze down the natural beauty we all want to preserve. Soon it will be too late.

    1. While I do love our big beautiful trees and sympathize with residents, one must understand it is nearly impossible to develop the land with high density housing, as required, without killing the trees. While cutting into the earth for foundations, roads, and deep utilities the roots are damaged. The only option left is to require the builder to seek out large trees of various types from specialty places like Big Trees in Snohomish to reintroduce some mature plant life to the site once built out.

      The new ordinance will save a few trees but not many. Developers will argue and will win on the account of high density housing demand. The city will almost always side with developer waiver applications for the sake of increased tax revenue.

      Sadly we will see this ordinance is really nothing more than a pacifier for the public. It will likely disappear in within ten years. The fact is we are a growing population. Everyone wants a home. As a result we have a housing shortage. Working around existing trees is expensive and time consuming. In the end many trees end up dying due to root damage or disease due to site stresses.

      Additionally many of us have witnessed neighboring homes sells and find new homeowners cutting down existing trees before they even move in.

      The best path forward in my opinion is requiring developers to salvage as many trees and shrubs from the site to be replanted. As well as introducing more mature trees and shrubs from businesses like Big Trees or other sites to be developed. I was able to successfully plant two 35ft Scarlett Oaks on either side of my driveway from Big Trees 18 year ago. They’ve now grown together to create one big canopy. The neighborhood children play under on the canopy on hot days. Our neighborhood bbq is under the canopy on hot days as well. Transplanting large tree does wonders for a site…..that is if the site is not covered in homes and asphalt. Limited yard= no trees. Sad!


      1. Good idea to replant when it can be done. Canopies if trees do help provide health, peace and well-being, and need them for the birds, bees and other wildlife.

  6. What a disgusting, brutal, life-crushing picture.

    So much of what I grew up enjoying is now gone. Not just in Edmonds of course, but while logging policies, for example, are beyond our immediate control, our hometown environment is not. What are we leaving behind us? Are we simply drifting, rudderless, toward a city we would not want to live in, if we had to start over?

    As Wilfred Owen put it a century ago, “Now men will go content with what we spoiled.”

  7. This just breaks my heart. Those were some great old cedars.
    The reason the trees on that slope were cut is to preserve the view advertised: “three 4 unit condominium buildings with individual private two car garages and elevator opening into each unit. Units will have a view of sound, Whidbey island …”
    Obviously these are NOT “affordable housing.”

    1. Marjie,

      You’re correct that “these are NOT “affordable housing.” All of us who care about the environment and about our neighborhoods should be concerned about many of the Citizen Housing Commission recommendations and the potential for loss of more trees and the addition of more concrete and very expensive housing. This is the third CHC policy recommendation:

      Medium density single family housing (SR-MD)

      “Establish a new zoning type of single-family housing that allows for construction of zero-lot line duplexes, triplexes, and quadruplexes of only 1- or 2-story height located in specified areas of Edmonds”

      The “construction of zero-lot line duplexes, triplexes, and quadruplexes” in single family neighborhoods would result in zero open space, zero trees, zero vegetation. Any existing trees or vegetation would be replaced with concrete and buildings. And if you are unfortunate enough to live next door, it means a two story structure right along your lot line.

  8. If they must develop, why can’t these developers see beyond destroying the environment and build within the spectrum of existing trees? It would be more ecological and aesthetically pleasing. They do this in other places. I agree with Marjie above. It is indeed heartbreaking, and really shortsighted as well.

    1. Short sided thinking, to build these large multi unit multi story structures is a step in sprawl. Edmonds can decide how big it wants to get, it should not be at the expense of the environment to fill it with large structures where it is the corporations and investors of these buildings are profiting from the construction deals and rents from the people, as well as control of the land. Changing it from forests and trees with birds and Wildlife to concrete. Canopies of trees that research shows makes it better for people living in these communities than those towns over developed with fewer trees and places to be in nature. Do not let money from developers and fast deal makers dictate what happens, this is just my opinion.

  9. In addition to wiping out another increasingly rare green space in Edmonds, this clear cut occurred right in the middle of local and migratory bird breeding season. If it had to be done it should have been done in fall or winter before the hummingbirds, finches, chickadees, nuthatches, wrens, sparrows, woodpeckers, and bandtails complete their nesting, egg laying, fledgling feeding cycle is underway. Not to mention the migratory warblers and flycatchers that are looking for nest sites now. I wonder how many young birds have been lost to the entire neighborhood and the city. Is there no accounting for wildlife?

    1. As a long-time feeder of birds, I see fewer and fewer, and fewer species.

      One small thing that has helped – very small – is that I have replanted my lawn as a meadow; the birds and bees do seem to love it. But its a drip in the ocean next to hell-bent developers and people who don’t believe that the trees ARE the view.

      Hate trees? Want a view? Arizona is calling you!

  10. As someone who moved to the Edmonds area for the park like setting in 2006, is heartbroken about all the felled trees in/around Edmonds. Several years ago, my boyfriend and I watched/heard the thud of 60+ trees felled in a neighboring lot for 3 – million $ plus homes. People were willing to pay that for those homes.
    More recently, I noticed that trees were felled in the lot next to the lawn mower business on Edmonds Way. What’s going up in that lot?

  11. For those in our community who feel they have no way to affect this clear-cutting and almost zero open, green or treed space remaining, you absolutely can have your voices heard. Get engaged!

    There is a public hearing scheduled for the Edmonds City Council meeting on June 22nd. Attend and speak up! This relates to the unit lot subdivision process being expanded within Edmonds. This type of destructive developer tool is currently being used to hack up larger lots to get around provisions for even a minimal 5% green space. These track developments are being used to maximize development profits and squeeze in as many units as possible with zero regard to the environment, infrastructure, or neighborhood character. If concerns are not brought up now, the City Staff has recommended these be encouraged in even more areas of Edmonds.

    If the multiple Housing Commission policies to eliminate single-house zoning are passed and upwards of 4 houses per lot are now allowed for every single-house lot in Edmonds (1 house becomes 2 houses allowed, becomes 4 with each having a detached DADU house allowed), we will absolutely end up looking just like Ballard in the end.

    We as citizens need to show up and tell Council these policies are not the right fit for our fragile environment in Edmonds, as well as the quality of life that residents seek here. We do not have to become Seattle or Lynnwood. Keep local control of our zoning by coming together to encourage development that fits our small 8 square mile town. There are local groups like ACE who are working hard to engage in the process to allow for reasonable discussions on these topics that have permanent consequences.

    Why are the Council and Staff not advocating for the 78% of citizen voices saying no to changing single family zoning? Instead they are giving developers free range to do whatever they want. Citizens are at the top of the City of Edmonds’ organizational chart. Show up and speak your mind to Council on June 22.

  12. “Why are the Council and Staff not advocating for the 78% of citizen voices saying no to changing single family zoning?”

    And therein lies a VERY Big Question!

  13. It’s called Greed. Greed in a city who thinks it’s a liberals heaven. It isn’t anymore. We only have so much space up here you can stuff…then what are you going to do? Beware Bowl People.ha…you will be your city governments next victims. As you know you can’t get blood out of a turnip. You are the only place left. I would expect to see lawsuits coming, and many more to follow with such irresponsible behavior. The city may be the ones on the hook. Much much more is going to happen here. Choose your sides in this carefully. Pay close attention your life and your livelihood depend on it.

  14. Save the trees. Once it is developed it can not be undone. Edmonds has something very special. I hope all proposals to build are considered carefully and there be public hearings for approval that location and types of buildings fit into what already is here. I’d rather see affordable single family homes built than large multi unit buildings and people live a life close to nature and enjoying spent in their yards.

  15. Landscaping with Pieris Japonica and Pyramidalis will ensure wildlife cannot return. Yeah that photo caught some ugly.

    1. Sadly, it seems like there’s always an excuse/reason for our city to allow these developers to cut down any and every tree they can, simply to make their job EASIER. No regard for the importance or value of our trees, especially the older growth trees. It’s pathetic.

  16. Just contemplating the irony of this happening on “Paradise Lane.” “Deadmonds” was paradise and lots of us old folks would like to have that back now. I get snail mail and email almost daily now from someone or some group wanting to buy my joint. I consider my home and nice size lot a little bit of paradise saved and I plan to keep it until I’m priced out of town or rolled out of the joint horizontal.

  17. We recently visited Bend, OR, and toured some of the newer housing development there. Developers are required to save ALL of the trees, and the lots are left naturalized. Houses fit into the environment. I don’t buy that trees have to be taken. Lots are logged because there is money in trees. Land and housing development is one business where long term relationships and building community support is none existent….just take the natural resources, strip the land, sell to builders, and get out as fast as you can. This is one area where elected officials and city staff need to protect what we have because the private sector will simply take what they can and leave.

    It can be done well…dense housing behind Bartell’s…a beautiful building that enhanced the neighborhood.

  18. Not only it is greed and a green light for the developers but at the same time the council says private property owners can’t remove “landmark” trees from their own property!! Please explain why that is even constitutional. We DO NOT want Edmonds to become Seattle or Lynnwood.

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