03 May Seattle Tree Removal Permit | Do You Need One?
Whether you’re a homeowner contemplating a landscaping project or a developer planning a major construction initiative, understanding the nuances of tree removal in the city of Seattle is crucial. The city’s regulations protect our trees and maintain the city’s verdant canopy, contributing to human and environmental health. But you might wonder: “Do I need a permit to remove a tree?” Read on to discover all you need to know about the Seattle tree removal permit process.
Understanding the Seattle Municipal Code
Seattle Municipal Code (SMC) lays out strict guidelines for tree removal within city limits, primarily focusing on the number, size, and type of trees that may be removed. You can check out the specifics of the SMC 25.11, Tree Protection, for detailed information.
Here are some crucial resources:
- Director’s Rule 16-2008 Designation of Exceptional Trees
- Director’s Rule 17-2018, Calculating Tree Valuations and Civil Penalties for Tree Protection Code Violations
- Tip 242, Tree Protection Regulations in Seattle
- Tip 331, Environmentally Critical Areas—Tree and Vegetation Overview
Do You Need a Permit for Tree Removal in Seattle?
The answer isn’t black and white. The need for a tree removal permit depends on several factors:
- Outside of an ECA: A permit is required for trees 6 inches in diameter or greater.
- Within an ECA: All tree removal requires a permit, granted only if the tree is hazardous.
For all neighborhood residential, low-rise, mid-rise, and commercial zones:
- No permit is needed unless the tree is exceptional, situated in an ECA, or if you’re removing more than three trees of 6-inches or greater in diameter in any one-year period.
Note: Tree diameter is measured at 4.5 feet above the ground.
How Much Does It Cost?
The city charges one hour at the land use review rate when you apply. If the review takes longer than an hour, additional charges apply. All fees are also subject to a technology fee. More details can be found in our Fee Subtitle.
How Long Does It Take?
The initial review is generally completed within two weeks, but the timeline for final approval depends on your project’s complexity and any necessary corrections.
Steps to Get Your Approval
Research Your Tree
Determine if you need a permit based on the criteria mentioned above. If your tree is exceptional or in an environmentally critical area, you’ll need approval.
Find a Certified Arborist
A certified arborist can assess your tree’s size, species, and hazard status.
Ask Our Experts
If you have questions about the removal application process, you can use our Building or Land Use Q&A tool.
Start Your Application
For tree removal, only hazardous tree removal outside of the development process is approved. You can complete the Hazardous Tree Removal and Vegetation Restoration Approval Request online via the Seattle Services Portal.
Submit Required Forms
Your application should include:
- Statement of Financial Responsibility Form
- Basic Tree Risk Assessment Form (completed by a professional)
- Tree and Vegetation Standard Mitigation Plan (completed by a professional)
Pay Your Fees
You’ll be notified of any final fees that need to be paid before your approval or denial is issued.
Print Your Results Letter
After paying your fees, your results letter will be available in the Seattle Services Portal.
Please note, you won’t need an inspection unless it is specifically noted in your approval.
In conclusion, navigating the tree removal permit process in Seattle can be complex, but with the right understanding and resources, you can responsibly manage the trees on your property. Always remember, the city’s regulations aim to preserve our urban forest for the health and enjoyment of all residents and visitors.