Trees and Construction

The SDOT Landscape Architect's Office provides Landscape Architectural design, design review and construction inspection services for:

  • City of Seattle Capital Improvement Projects funded by SDOT and other city departments
  • SDOT Street Use Major Street Improvement Project (SIP)
  • SDOT Street Use Major Utility permit requirements
  • Seattle Department of Construction and Inspection (SDCI) permitted building and development projects

The work performed by this office within SDOT Urban Forestry ensures consistent application of tree protection meausres and ensures code-compliant street design, in part by prioritizing street trees to meet The SDOT Right of Way Manual (Streets Illustrated) and City of Seattle standards for the Right of Way.

New Development & Trees

In coordination with SDCI and SDOT Street Use, the Urban Forestry Landscape Architect's Office provides Early Design Guidance review for new projects. We also provide Conceptual Approval to identify street trees to be retained and protected, trees pre-approved for removal and replacement, and species & spacing to maximize canopy cover in the Right of Way. This approval process for project owners, architects and landscape architects on the design team is required prior to intake by SDCI for entry into the building permit process. This approval, required early in the design phase of projects, prioritizes identification of trees to be retained and protected. It also designates species and spacing for new trees to meet citywide goals for canopy cover. This is important for neighborhood residents and constituents who are interested in street trees and aware of their value for the public health, safety and welfare of those who live or work in the City of Seattle.

The Conceptual Approval process begins with an architect, landscape architect or project owner application for a Street Use - SDOT Urban Forestry Permit application through the Accela portal - https://cosaccela.seattle.gov/Portal/welcome.aspx. A step-by-step help guide is available in the Resources menu on the righthand-side of this page.

Street Trees & Construction

Landscape Architects of Record (or Landscape Professional per the SDCI DR link below) are required to monitor and document tree and soil protection measures prior to work under an SDCI Demolition Permit or prior to SDCI First Ground Disturbance.  Requirements for tree protection and landscape construction in the Right of Way, including inspections of soil preparation (documented in photos)  prior to installation, street trees prior to installation, tree installation and tree establishment are defined in the Construction Phase Checklist for Landscape Professionals (see resources).

Street trees approved or proposed for removal are marked by SDOT with yellow placards that identify the date proposed for removal (a minimum of 14 days from the posting date). Contact information for SDOT Urban Forestry is also included on the notice. Tree removal or tree pruning by Registered Tree Service Providers or Contractors must be permitted prior to scheduling the work. Issuance for these permits follows the Conceptual Approval record on Accela. Please send a message to DOT_LA@seattle.gov including your Conceptual Approval record number, SIP/UMP number and the project address in the subject line. Allow at least 2 weeks for review of the schedule, tree service provider requirements, and street impacts prior to the required 14-days posting period. For trees 18" in diameter or greater, an additional 2 weeks may be required to address public comments submitted in response to the posting.

Capital Improvement Projects

We design, review and complete construction inspections for SDOT Capital Improvement and SPU Natural Drainage Programs. Examples include the Mercer Corridor, First Hill Streetcar, Delridge Corridor, Madison BRT, the Burke Gilman trail extension, as well as SDOT Interagency Projects such as the North and South Portal Viaduct Program, SR-520, and the Waterfront Project. Trees adjacent to construction sites marked with green Protect Tree signs are designated for protection and are routinely inspected by the Seattle Transportation Landscape Architect's Office.

Tree Removal Approval Process

When trees must be removed for construction of new projects, the City of Seattle requires public notification. If you see a notice and want to comment on a project, check tree placards for appropriate contact information. Follow the link to Seattle Dept. of Construction and Inspections for information on tree protection regulations on private property during development. SDCI provides incentives for developers to work with community members through Design Review meetings where the public can speak to the importance of tree preservation landscape elements, and building design issues.

What we do & Program Goals