Tree and Environment Advisory Committee
The Tukwila Tree and Environment Advisory Committee first met in 2012-2013 to help draft new Comprehensive Plan goals and policies related to the natural environment and urban forestry. These goals and policies were adopted by the Tukwila City Council in 2013 and can be found in Chapter 4 of the Comprehensive Plan. Among the new goals and policies are those that promote the City-wide increase of tree canopy and tree retention, and recognize the benefits trees provide to the environment and urban infrastructure, as well as the beauty provided in the urban setting.
The Committee met again in 2015-2016 to help draft revisions to the City’s landscaping code, which had not been updated for 17 years. The landscaping code applies to commercial, industrial, multi-family, and non-residential development in the single-family district. The new landscaping regulations can be found here in TMC 18.52. The revised landscaping regulations implement Comprehensive Plan urban forestry goals and policies that promote best management practices in landscape maintenance and ensure replacement of trees when removed due to disease or death.
The Tukwila Tree and Advisory Committee met September – November 2017 to review proposed changes to the City’s Tree Regulations (TMC 18.54) and Definitions (TMC 18.06). The Committee completed its work on November 1, 2017 and forwarded its revisions to the Tukwila Planning Commission. The Committee’s recommendations can be found in the November 11, 2017 Planning Commission packet here: http://records.tukwilawa.gov/WebLink/Browse.aspx?startid=17011&row=1&dbid=1
The Planning Commission met in November and December 2017 to review the draft regulations and held a public hearing on January 25, 2018. The Commission completed its review of the draft tree regulations and revisions to definitions after the public hearing, and subsequently proposed changes to both TMC 18.54 and TMC 18.06. Recommendations include increasing the size of a “Significant Tree” (Definition 18.06.775) from 4-inches to 6-inches. If approved by the City Council, this means that the proposed tree regulations will not apply to tree removal unless the diameter of the tree is 6-inches or greater.
The City Council Committee on Community Development and Neighborhoods considered the draft regulations at its meetings on February 13th and February 27th and has forwarded its recommended changes to the full City Council. A public hearing on the two proposed ordinances will be held on Monday, March 26, 2018, beginning at 7:00 p.m. in the City Council chambers. Final action of the draft ordinances may come as early as April 2, 2018. Materials for the public hearing will be posted here: http://records.tukwilawa.gov/WebLink/Browse.aspx?startid=10154&row=1&dbid=1
If you have questions about the proposed changes, please contact Carol Lumb, at Carol.Lumb@TukwilaWA.gov, or call 206-431-3661.
Some additional proposed changes are:
- Linking the number of trees that can be removed in a 36-month period on single-family zoned properties improved with a dwelling, to the size of the tree. As currently proposed, four trees 6-8” in diameter can be removed in a 36-month period. For trees larger than 8-inches in diameter, the number that can be removed in a 36-month period without the requirement for replacement, depends on the size of the tree.
- A no-fee tree inventory survey for the removal of 1-4 trees on a single-family property. This will allow the City to track the number of trees removed each year to gauge whether the Comprehensive Plan goal of maintaining 47% tree canopy in single family residential is being met.
- Removal of more than the number of trees permitted in a 36-monoth period would require a permit (fee required) and replacement of the lost tree canopy either on-site. If the number of replacement trees cannot be planted on the property, payment can be made into the tree fund for the remaining trees.
- No tree removal on vacant lots prior to approval of a development proposal.
- As part of development, such as a short plat or subdivision, , or adding onto an existing house where the construction would impact the critical root zone, ftree protection is required for trees that are proposed for retention. Trees that are removed or damaged during construction must be replaced using on a sliding scale based on the tree canopy lost.
- Alterations may be required to the layout of development to preserve trees on-site.
- Exceptional trees, those over 18-inches diameter at breast height, cannot be removed without a tree permit. Replacement at the appropriate ratio may be required.
- A Heritage Tree program is proposed to recognize trees that are exceptional in size, have historical significance to the community, of rare species, etc. The property owner must agree to the designation of a Heritage Tree for a tree on their property.
- Similar to the landscaping code – the violations section is expanded, and penalties are proposed for the removal of trees without a permit
- The Tree Replacement Fund is codified and uses of funds specified.