The June 27 public hearing on the Seattle 2035 Comp Plan featured eloquent commentary by people from many neighborhoods and from all walks of life. We are transcribing and publishing some of these comments.
Trees are provided less protection in the proposed 2035 plan than in the current plan. The current plan has specific tools to preserve trees, such as flexibility in development standards, promoting retention through design review, and public education on the value of retaining trees. And even these are not enough.
The proposed plan contains only vague comments extolling “benefits of nature” and “urban forests” (in section ENG-1). That’s not enough.
Trees and tree canopies make walkable neighborhoods livable. Trees are green-space amenities for the Urban Villages and the surrounding neighborhoods.
Wonderful 100-year-old trees and significant younger trees will be lost as older neighborhoods with mature trees are rezoned, unless the City prioritizes the value of trees. Once mature trees are destroyed, they cannot be replaced. Mature trees provide different and significantly greater environmental benefits than a few saplings and some ground cover.
The City has acknowledged they lack funds and capacity to add park space or open areas, but what they can do is to create and preserve standards that protect trees. The City has the ability to do this – it just needs to be prioritized.
We need codes and land-use policies that require this. Before wholesale upzoning occurs, and lovely old yards and mature trees are eliminated, consider methods, policies, and language to protect the urban forest we have. Reduce upzoning levels where appropriate, and be thoughtful about vegetation.
Adding affordable housing is important, but this should not be the only value.
The fate of all the trees in all the Urban Villages is in your hands, whether they’re protected for everyone to enjoy, or whether we just build to the maximum everywhere that we can.
> In this video, at time index 52:37.