LETTER: Where Have All the Ambaum Trees (And the Truth) Gone?

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On November 18, 2010, we – the citizens were told for the first time in a posting on The B-Town Blog (read about it here and here) that 96 significant growth trees would be taken down for the street overlay project on Ambaum. This caught most citizens by surprise because nowhere in the City Council presentations, on the city website or in the city newsletter was the destruction of these trees ever mentioned to citizens.

Once the B-Town Blog exposed what the Xs on the trees meant, it raised citizens’ concern. Citizens were told by the city that the trees had to go in order to lay new sidewalks and to provide safe sidewalks for the disabled. However, new trees would replace the old ones. Citizens were allowed no voice in the choice of trees but were told that proper ones by city standards had been selected for the replanting.

Those old trees were taken down in record time. Burien has never worked so fast to destroy or remedy a situation in the city. Sometimes in Burien, it takes up to one year just to get one piece of graffiti removed but those trees were gone in two weeks-interestingly enough just in time for our rainiest part of the year. This is the time when significant trees are most important to the environment for the amount of water they take up to prevent flooding. One significant tree can take up to 1 million gallons of water in one year-that is a heck of a lot of storm water and surface water runoff.

On December 12-13, 2010, we had record rains and Miller Creek had record flooding. The trees that were removed on Ambaum used to take up and divert some of that runoff from entering the creek. Perhaps part of that record flooding in Miller Creek was intensified by the removal of that many trees along Ambaum.

Now we are approaching spring. The new sidewalks are in along Ambaum and strangely there are no trees where the old ones used to be and there appears to be no planting space for trees. So where are the trees? And where will they be planted?

Around 50 sick-looking trees sit in a storage lot at SW 148th and Ambaum Blvd. SW.

At the corner of SW 148th and Ambaum, there are a stack of trees in what sometimes serves as a Christmas tree lot. It appears that the city or the contractor that the city is using for the street overlay is using this space for staging. A number of trees are wrapped in burlap and exposed to the elements. They have been there for at least a month. They have no dirt mounted around them and in the cold weather we have had probably have a 50-50 chance of surviving when planted because they were not protected correctly. Are these our new trees for Ambaum? The root ball size does not look like it will fit into the small amount of space that is left between the sidewalk and the curbs on Ambaum.

When Eagle Landing Park was put in, hundreds of shrubs and trees were left out on the open ground and never planted. This was an expensive waste of plant materials at tax payer expense. Hopefully, this is not the fate of the Ambaum trees-if in fact there are ever going to be any replacement trees put back in.

– Chestine Edgar

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8 Responses to “LETTER: Where Have All the Ambaum Trees (And the Truth) Gone?”
  1. Chris says:

    I was thinking the same thing during one of my frequent trips up and down Ambaum.

    I too noticed that there are NO planting areas for trees on the east side of Ambaum. What’s up with that Burien?

    Let’s not forget what “Ambaum” means. In German, “Am baum” it means “on the tree or trees.”

    Ambaum is (or I guess was) great because of the trees lining BOTH sides of the street. This is a pretty big FAIL on Burien’s part. Very lame…

  2. Eric says:

    Very good questions. It is funny I was up on Crown Hill over the weekend. They have trees many times larger than the 96 trees the city took down on Ambaum. The trees in Crown Hill look great. They give the city an almost park like feel. Yes, the sidewalks are a little uneven, but what a great look to the street.

    Burien, well not so much. What happened to the trees that were to be planted on 1st Avenue? Why does 1st Avenue look like L.A. on a bad day. As I drive on Ambaum, I too cannot see where there tiny replacement for the 30 year old trees will go. There dose not seem to be a planting strip around most of the new sidewalk, and where there is a planting strip it seems to be too small for any good sized tree.

    Is Burien anti tree or is Crown Hill just better managed when it comes to trees?

  3. Peter says:

    Loved this point in the article:

    “Burien has never worked so fast to destroy or remedy a situation in the city. Sometimes in Burien, it takes up to one year just to get one piece of graffiti removed…”

    Burien’s the slowest moving city around.

    As far as the tree planning goes, come on Mayor Joan! Put that Master’s Degree in Environmental Engineering to some good use.

  4. V says:

    and dont forget about the trees that were taken out at Seahurst School Park! That was another big shame.

  5. Joan H says:

    For a city that claims it desires to draw people to this area ~ it seems much is being done to destroy what is beautiful. I used to love driving along Ambaum, but now it’s so depressing. We live near Chelsea Park and the road noise has significantly increased since the removal of these trees. Another downer for property values. Time to elect new people into office that truly care about our city?

  6. Ed Dacy says:

    I remember when the Council was briefed on the removal of the trees on Ambaum as they were destroying the sidewalks, the new trees are supposed to be ‘street friendy’..

    However the trees on 4th ave SW between 150th & 152 were removed years ago and never replaced as they were supposed

    Hopefully we will get the new trees in the ground soon on Ambaum

  7. Maureen says:

    Remember how the main drag through Des Moines was lined with grand, old trees not too many years ago! It was beautiful and lush. They took them all out and replanted small trees that will take decades to achieve the same grandeur.

    I have a giant red cedar right next to my driveway and it’s caused the asphalt to buckle and break. Am I going to cut down the “troublesome tree”? No way! I’ll consult an arborist about cutting a few of the roots without endangering the tree’s health, then I’ll pay for repaving.

    In Italy the sidewalks are all cockywampus, but any of us that travel there, or other countries, swoon over the environmental beauty of the place with its large trees lining the boulevards.

    As I drive through one area or another, I take note of great old trees – or their absence. It’s the presence of the big trees that lends the feel of an “established, cozy neighborhood”, and that’s what many people have said they value about Burien. Identifying the important part that these trees play, it behooves us to consider ALL other options before doing a wholesale slice-and-dice through our city. And when action “must” be taken – one cut with a chainsaw – INFORM US LONG AHEAD OF TIME, Burien!

  8. Thom Grey says:

    Duh City Staff and City Council dudes,
    Is there like no one willing from the city to explain or tell the truth about what is happening on Ambaum? Everyday more sidewalks are poured and laid and there are no spaces for trees. Duh, like thousand of square feet of new impervious surface are being put down. Dudes, shouldn’t someone have had to do at least an environmental impact study or something like that to study how much new runoff this is slamming into Miller Creek? This will be like the animal control business-no one in city hall wants to discuss it. La, la, la, la la, they can’t hear us the citizens.

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