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Regulations
Illegal Cutting

City of Seattle Tree Regulations

Improving Seattle’s urban forest requires commitment and action by city government and our residents. In addition to outreach and incentives, tree protection regulations play an important role. The City has a number of regulations in place to protect trees.

What is an Environmentally Critical Area (ECA)?

PRIVATE PROPERTY: Seattle Department of Planning and Development (DPD)
Tree Protection Ordinance
(SMC 25.11)
Seattle tree protection regulations, including tree protection during development
Weeds and Overgrown Vegetation

Enforcement
Applies to trees on private property that overgrow onto any public right-of-way
Environmental Critical Areas Code
(SMC 25.09)
Tree removal in ECAs is regulated differently because trees play a critical role in preventing erosion and protecting water quality
Designation of Exceptional Trees
Exceptional trees are either designated heritage trees or are rare because of size, species, condition, or historic importance
RIGHT OF WAY, INCLUDING STREET TREES: Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT)
Tree Pruning and Removal
(Ordinance #90047)
Requires homeowners to obtain a permit from SDOT before removing or pruning a tree in the right-of-way
Street Tree Planting (Ordinance #90047)

Requires homeowner to obtain a street use permit from SDOT before planting a tree along the street
PARKS TREES: Seattle Parks & Recreation
Tree Management, Maintenance, Pruning, and/or Removal

 

Policy to increase the overall tree canopy, tree health and tree longevity within parks

 

Do I Need a Permit?

Within the City of Seattle, removing, planting, or pruning a tree may be regulated depending on whether the tree is located on private property or City right-of-way. Tree protection regulations vary depending on the zoning of your property, if your property is in an Environmentally Critical Area, if you are building an addition or new construction, or if you have any trees over 6” in diameter.

The Department of Planning & Development (DPD) administers and enforces regulations related to private property and development that affects trees. The Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) regulates trees in the street rights-of-way. 

What is an Environmentally Critical Area (ECA)?

REMOVING TREES
Private trees in environmentally critical areas (ECAs) DPD PERMIT REQUIRED
- You cannot remove any trees or vegetation from environmentally critical areas, such as steep slopes, wildlife habitat, and wetlands, without a Tree Removal and Vegetation Restoration approval from DPD
-Tree removal allowed if removal is part of an issued building or grading permit
Environmentally Critical Areas and trees
Street Trees outside of environmentally critical areas SDOT PERMIT REQUIRED
- Under Seattle ordinance  #90047, you must obtain a permit from SDOT before removing any tree on a City right-of-way
To apply for a removal permit, click here or call 206-684-TREE (8733)
Private Trees outside of environmentally critical areas DPD PERMIT MAY BE REQUIRED
- In general, you cannot remove exceptional trees (exceptional trees are trees that are of significant size or have historical or ecological value) or cut down more than 3 non-exceptional trees 6’’ or greater in diameter each year unless they are determined to be hazardous through a hazard tree assessment by a certified tree risk professional (see TIP 242 for details)
Tree Protection

Hazard tree removal application
 PLANTING TREES
Street trees SDOT PERMIT REQUIRED
-You must obtain a street use permit from SDOT before planting a tree along the street
-Fruit trees, big leaf maples, cottonwoods, and Lombardy poplar trees are explicitly prohibited as street trees
To apply for a street tree planting permit, click here or call 206-684-TREE (8733)

Free trees
Private trees NO PERMIT REQUIRED How to plant a tree

Free trees
PRUNING TREES
Private trees in environmentally critical areas (ECAs) DPD PERMIT MAY BE REQUIRED
Pruning must meet ANSI 300 standards and large trees shall be pruned by I.S.A. certified arborists only.  Pruning areas over 750 sq ft may require a maintenance plan
Map of Seattle ECAs by address

ECAs and Trees Overview

 

Street Trees outside of environmentally critical areas SDOT PERMIT REQUIRED
-Seattle City Ordinance #90047 requires that all persons who prune privately maintained trees within the public right-of-way area obtain a street use permit
To apply for a pruning permit, click here or call 206-684-TREE (8733)

SDOT tree pruning guide
Private Trees outside of environmentally critcal areas NO PERMIT REQUIRED

 

Pruning links

Questions?

On private property: Contact DPD at (206) 684-8850

On right-of-way property: Contact SDOT (206) 684-TREE (8733)

On parks property: Contact Seattle Parks and Recreation at (206) 684-4113

Click here for questions about illegal cutting and removal

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