Tukwila is fortunate to be located in the lushly forested Pacific Northwest, where trees are integral to our region’s identity. Trees and urban forests are vital to the health and sustainability of any community and Tukwila is no exception. Urban forests create a higher quality of life through a cleaner environment and the ability to enjoy nature close at hand. Trees provide many benefits – shade and beauty, energy savings, cleaner air and water, reduced stormwater runoff and carbon dioxide reduction. Urban forests and landscape trees can increase property values by 15% and have positive economic benefits for businesses by stimulating more frequent and extended shopping and a willingness on the part of shoppers to pay more for goods and parking. Many studies show trees and urban forests promote well-being and health by reducing stress, improving memory, increasing creativity and reducing aggressive behaviors. Adopted Comprehensive Plan land use goals and polices acknowledge these benefits and seek to increase tree canopy throughout the City and to improve the health of our urban forests.
The City has started to implement these land use policies by conducting City–wide tree assessments and inventories to document the species, size and health of its trees. Educational materials and classes are being developed and offered to City employees and residents to teach the value of trees and improve tree care skills. Partnerships are being formed with Forterra to create a long-term strategy for care and protection of our urban forest and parks. Shoreline restoration work continues with re-forestation efforts along the Green River. Community members are encouraged to become involved in these efforts through volunteer activities, advisory boards and by protecting and caring for the trees in their own backyards to ensure the long-term health of urban forests one yard at a time.
The City updated its Landscaping Code, TMC 18.52, to reflect the urban forestry goals and policies of the Comprehensive Plan in March 2017. The Landscaping Code is primarily for use in areas of the city zoned commercial, multi-family, and industrial.
In April 2018, the Tree Code, TMC 18.54 was updated for use in single-family residential zones and sensitive areas. This is the final step to implementing the goals for urban tree canopy retention as set forth in the Comprehensive Plan. Owners of property in areas zoned single-family are now required to contact the City prior to removal of trees over 6 inches in diameter.
If you have questions about the proposed changes or want to provide written comments, please contact Andrea Cummins at firstname.lastname@example.org or 206.431.3663.
Below are links to resources that were identified during the development of the land use goals and policies, links to Tree Care videos and class materials that were produced by Tukwila in partnership with the Washington State Department of Natural Resources that help to address common questions or concerns property owners may have about the trees on their properties, and relevant current City codes:
Articles and links related to urban forests:
- Trees are Good, But…
- Arbor Day Foundation
- Protecting and Developing the Urban Tree Canopy
- City of Tukwila Urban Tree Canopy Assessment – Dec. 2012
- The Benefits of Trees
- The Case for More Urban Trees
- Primer on Tree Biology