KingBuffetDemolition042414 BEFORE: This tall, historic Sequoia tree located on a lot on SW 160th may have been over 100 years old, but that didn’t prevent it from being cut down on April 28, 2014.[/caption] [caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="490"] AFTER: The tree was cut down by workers clearing a lot on SW 160th in Five Corners for a new, $2 million, 16,882 square foot CVS Pharmacy. Photos by Scott Schaefer.[/caption] by Jack Mayne Councilmembers spent some time Monday night (June 16) trying to figure out how to update a city ordinance governing how trees are protected. In one of the shortest Council meetings in the recent past, the city’s tree ordinance gained some discussion about whether to keep it and, if so, whether or how to broaden its reach. Most cities in the area have laws governing when, how and why a tree on private property is removed. In Burien, if you cut down a tree in most cases you need to replace it with another or, in some cases, several others. The city law says “significant trees are defined as existing healthy trees which when measures four feet above the ground have a minimum diameter of eight inches for evergreen trees and 12 inches for deciduous trees” and that “all significant trees on an undeveloped lot must be retained.” But Councilmember Jerry Robison wondered whether the city needed a tree ordinance, and how it would affect the north Burien property since he planted them when they were saplings, but now they have grown to huge size that under the city’s tree ordinance requires “significant trees removed must be replaced with other transplanted significant trees” as big or potentially bigger. During the discussion there was even a suggestion that a new property owner who wanted to clear the trees on a lot would simply do so before applying for a building permit from the city. Chip Davis, the city’s community development director said with a smile that that had been done in the past. But, then City Manager Kamuron Gurol sternly warned developers and property owners not to consider that and the city would be watching for tree removal violators. Davis said the Council could consider modifying the ordinance’s definition of significant trees, or it could modify the percentage of a property that had to have trees on it. Also, he said the Council could consider expanding offers to keep trees or modify “tree replacement ratios.” The Council could even “extend significant tree protection for developed properties,” as now the tree law does not extend to already developed property. Several Council members said they wanted Davis and the city staff to find out what other cities do about protecting trees on private land, and then would reconsider the matter later on. Transportation Planning Tool The Council also voted to approve a six-year “Transportation Improvement Program” that is a “planning tool” to coordinate projects with local, state and federal agencies. In other action, the Burien Council approved a proclamation recognizing “Flight Pattern Kids” and declaring this week as Toxics Awareness Week. The Council is to hold a special meeting next Monday (June 23) to discuss six-year financial forecast and begin discussions on the next two-year city budget. On July 7, the Council is to begin review of the CARES animal control contract.]]>

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17 replies on “Burien City Council considers when a tree is ‘significant’ at Monday night session”

  1. Be careful about inviting the government to start regulating what one can do with plants on one’s own personal, private property.

  2. Thanks Jack, Well done. Reporting on the city council meetings could be a nice addition as a column for public awareness as to what is going on at city hall.

  3. Well this discussion after the loss of that huge tree is like closing the barn door after the horse was gone! We should have rallied the tree hungers in Burien to chain themselves to that old relic. Amazing how quickly it’s remains were removed!

    1. Remember the 150 year old tree cut down last year at Three Tree Point. The tree was perfectly healthy, in the middle of a forested area and no threat to anyone or any thing. There is something awe inspiring about big trees and our life is diminished without them.

  4. I’ve never been a fan of telling people what they could or couldn’t do with trees — significant or not — on their own property. However, in my opinion, that amazingly wonderful sequoia tree that CVS quickly cut down to end the discussion was an irreplaceable tree. It was a Burien landmark. If I understand the situation correctly, the tree was not in the way of the building. It would have been in the CVS parking lot — and it could have been a feature there. If so, there is no excuse for CVS’s hasty destruction of it. Perhaps instead of intensifying regulations on all significant trees, the council could come up with some way that the city could demand the preservation of special things like the sequoia when someone applies for a building permit.

  5. Trees have their place and it is not always next to your house. We should not have the city governing more than they already do, on if we should be able to remove trees and what we can or can not plant. I am thankful that we had two large evergreens removed when we first bought our house before the city regulated.
    I will take any baby fir or cedar trees that you have and plant them on our private forest land.

  6. Well at least they planted some new trees so the blog commenters of the future can bitch and complain when someone has to cut one down for jetpack parking.

  7. Sorry Burien city council,
    But if I choose to cut down any trees on my “PRIVATE” property, I`ll do just that.
    Cut them down without any type of approval from you.
    And before the haters start snubbing, I could give a rats *$&* how many thumbs down I get but nobody is going to tell me I can`t cut down any trees on MY land.
    I have no intention to do so as of yet but when I do, All you`ll hear is TIIIIMMMMBERRRRRRR”

    1. Gotta agree. If you’re not paying my property tax and your name isn’t on my deed, then you have no business to tell me that I can’t cut down one of my trees.

      1. That`s what happens when the city annexes you I guess, All the sudden they want to impose their bull____ on a private land owner. I`m with gestapo, If I chose to remove a tree from my property, I will do so.

  8. Most people don’t realize how large and extensive the root system of a mature tree is. The average tree has a root system is three times it height. They will have to regrade, fill, compact and run heavy equipment over the area – not at all what a tree needs to thrive. A little twenty foot protective circle around the trunk isn’t enough. Bottom line is the tree would have died and then people would be screaming about the dangerous dead tree that might fall any minute!

  9. Let me get this straight, the city council thinks I`m going to ask them for their blessing to
    chop down a tree on my land…*hahahahahahahaha*
    Thats a good one…

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