Trees are valued in Seattle and legally protected in a variety of ways. Among their benefits, trees and landscaping add aesthetic value to the landscape, provide shade to cool structures, reduce stormwater runoff and aid in climate protection. The City of Seattle:
- understands the value of trees
- promotes the informed planting and care of trees by property owners
- plants trees on City property
- actively enforces regulations protecting existing stock
DPD administers and enforces regulations related to development that affects trees. Whether at a major construction site or just in your backyard, if you are considering cutting, removing or preserving trees, this website will help you identify applicable tree and landscaping regulations in Seattle.
Tree protection regulations vary by a number of factors. To find which regulations apply to your circumstance, you will need to answer the following questions:
- What is the zoning of your property?
- Is your property in an environmentally critical area (ECA)? If so, what category of ECA (e.g., wetland, steep slope, etc.)?
- Is your property undeveloped?
- Are you planning new development—either an addition to an existing structure or completely new construction (new construction includes demolition and rebuilding)?
- Does your property contain trees over six inches in diameter?
Current zoning information on Seattle properties and neighborhoods is accessible through our online GIS tool. Build, view and print map displays using online Seattle GIS data; includes an integrated property research tool. Other property research tools are available through DPD's Research page.
For more detailed information, see CAM 242, Tree Protection Regulations in Seattle.
The following City of Seattle departments hold responsibility for landscaping activities:
- DPD requires landscaping on private property for many developments to mitigate adverse impacts (e.g., for screening of parking, blocking headlight glare from a neighboring property, or visually reducing the bulk of a project).
- Seattle Department of Transportation is responsible for activity in the public right-of-way, including planting strips. A Street Use Permit is required both to pave a planting strip and to plant, prune, or remove street trees, which are intended to enhance downtown and neighborhood roadways. Visit SDOT's Urban Forestry website for more details, including procedures, guides and applications for tree pruning and removal permits.
- Parks Department maintains the City's park and recreation system and is responsible for permits for individuals to prune trees on Park land, including over 10 miles of Boulevard and 2,500 acres of forested areas. The Senior Urban Forester reviews such permit applications in order to maintain belts of natural landscape and habitat for wildlife.
- Seattle City Light is responsible for maintenance work on some 3,600 miles of power lines. City Light's Vegetation Management Program lays the groundwork for City policy on tree removal and replacement. City Light has also published "The Right Tree Book" to help residents choose appropriate trees near power lines.
December 26, 2012