09 Nov Seattle Arborists and Homeowners Will Be Fined For Negligence Says New Law
The world is becoming increasingly urbanized and according to the United Nations, 54% of the world’s population now lives in cities, which is expected to increase to 66% by 2050. As cities grow, it’s important to ensure they are sustainable and livable places for residents.
Protecting and expanding urban forests is one way to make cities more sustainable. Trees provide many benefits to cities, including reducing air pollution, providing shade and cooling, absorbing stormwater, and improving mental health. Seattle is leading the way in the US when it comes to protecting trees by adding a new law that will reduce the amount of trees that can be removed as well as putting a limit on the size of the tree and the type of tree that can be removed.
Seattle Tree Protection Code
Seattle is working to protect its urban forest with a new tree protection code. On Nov. 10, a new rule to Seattle Municipal Code (SMC) 25.11 will take effect, mandating that all tree service providers handling commercial tree work in Seattle register with the Seattle Department of Construction and Inspections.
The rule, proposed in March 2017 and unanimously approved by the Seattle City Council in November 2017, is meant to improve public safety and increase accountability for tree service providers. It will also help the city track which companies are providing tree services in Seattle and ensure that they are properly insured and licensed.
Last March, the city council passed a new law, Seattle’s Tree Protection Code, limiting the number and size of trees that can be removed from private property. The code also includes penalties and fines for violators, including stop-work orders and daily civil penalties of up to $500. A huge step forward for urban forest protection, this code is the first of its kind in the country.
Why is this important?
The new code is important because it will help to protect Seattle’s urban forest. Trees provide many benefits to cities, including reducing air pollution, providing shade and cooling, absorbing stormwater, and improving mental health. Protecting trees can make Seattle a more sustainable and livable city for all residents.
The goal of this new law has been in the works for over a decade as part of the ongoing Seattle Comprehensive Plan. Its origins are in the 2007 Urban Forests Management Plan, intending to increase Seattle’s 18% canopy coverage to 30% over thirty years. The plan was updated in 2013 to include a more definitive target of 30% canopy cover by 2037.
The Urban Forestry Commission announced in August that Seattle’s tree canopy shrank by 1.7%. This is about the same as 255 acres of land or slightly larger than Greenlake. Losing a tree canopy has consequences for a city and its residents. Trees help reduce air pollution and provide shade and cooling in summer. They also absorb stormwater, which helps to prevent flooding.
According to a new report, tree coverage in Seattle is slipping away and may need to meet the city’s 2037 goal. The report cites factors such as removing trees for infrastructure and development, aging urban forests, budget cuts, and a recent increase in warmer, drier weather introducing new pests.
The report recommends that the city invest more in tree planting and protection and public education on the benefits of trees. The city has already taken steps to address these recommendations, such as increasing the tree fund budget by 50% in 2019. It will take a concerted effort from the city, residents, businesses, and developers to ensure that Seattle’s urban forest is protected and continues to provide all the benefits trees offer.
This is why the new tree protection code is so important. It will help increase accountability for tree service providers and ensure trees are properly protected. In addition, the code will help the city track which companies are providing tree services in Seattle and ensure that they are properly insured and licensed.
What does this new code mean for the citizens of Seattle?
If you are a business owner or property manager in Seattle, you must register your tree service providers with the Seattle Department of Construction and Inspections. This includes companies that provide tree trimming, removal, or planting services. The registration process for tree service providers officially opened on August 26th. All tree workers who plan to operate within the City of Seattle must be registered by November 10th.
You will also need to ensure that your tree service providers are properly insured and licensed. The new code will help the city track which companies are providing tree services in Seattle and ensure that they are properly insured and licensed. Property owners and businesses should only hire arborists from the approved and registered list to avoid penalties.
For the city’s part, Seattle’s Department of Construction and Inspections will investigate complaints about unregistered tree service providers. They will also be working with the city’s Urban Forestry Commission to develop an education and outreach campaign to inform the public about the new code. So, spread the word to your friends and neighbors about this important new law!
If you fail to register your tree service provider or they are not properly insured, you may be subject to a fine of up to $500. The city may also take legal action against the unregistered tree service provider.
Should this law be applied in another city?
The new tree code has been successful in Seattle and at Root Cause LLC | Urban Arborist & Porous Paving they believe it is a step in the right direction. Many other cities across the United States struggle to protect their urban forest. If other cities were to adopt similar laws, it would help to protect the trees in these cities and the many benefits they provide.
By implementing these regulations, Seattle is showing other cities that it’s possible to take meaningful action to protect urban forests. Hopefully, this will inspire other municipalities to follow suit and adopt laws to protect trees. It is time for other cities to step up and take action to protect the trees in their communities.
Urban forest management should not be taken lightly. Trees provide many benefits to cities and their residents and must be protected. Seattle’s new tree code is a step in the right direction, but other cities must follow suit. Only then will we be able to protect the trees in our urban areas. If you would like to know more about protecting the trees on your property or finding a way to coexist with trees that you may consider problematic, then Root Cause provides tree protection services and tree care solutions to Seattle and surrounding areas that will allow you to happily share your outdoor living space with the beautiful trees of Seattle!