Tree & Vegetation Removal

What Is It?

Trees and vegetation play an important part in managing stormwater, stabilizing slopes, providing habitat, reducing air pollution, and contributing to neighborhood character. For these reasons, we regulate trees and vegetation removal on private property in certain situations.

Tree removal: Our codes limit the number and size of trees that you are allowed to cut down. (See our Tree Protection Code page.)

Vegetation restoration: Our codes restrict removing vegetation from most environmentally critical areas (ECAs) and buffers. You need a restoration plan (called an ECA revegetation approval) to plant native vegetation and to remove non-native or invasive plants in an ECA. The vegetation restoration plan helps prevent erosion, protect water quality, and provide diverse habitat.

Do You Need a Permit?

Environmentally critical areas: You need to apply for an ECA revegetation approval plan to remove and restore trees and vegetation in landslide-prone critical areas, steep slope erosion hazard areas and their buffers, fish and wildlife habitat conservation areas (including riparian corridors), wetlands, and wetland buffers.

To conduct this type of work anywhere in the Shoreline District (generally within 200 feet of a shoreline) you will likely need a Shoreline Exemption. Please consult with SDCI before removing vegetation in the Shoreline District.

Research your property to find out if it has environmentally critical areas.

Developing property: If you are developing your property, we will review your tree and vegetation removal plans as part of your permit application. See our complete list of permits for specific requirements.

Public right-of-way: If the trees are located in a public right-of-way, you need a permit from Seattle Department of Transportation Urban Forestry to remove them.

How Much Does It Cost?

We charge one hour at the land use review rate when you apply. If it takes us more than an hour to review your application, we will charge for the additional time spent on your request.

How Long Does It Take?

We try to finish the initial review within two weeks.

How long it takes to get the final approval depends on how complex your project is and how many corrections, if any, you need to make.

Steps to Get Your Approval

Get your property information. Use our GIS Map to find your zoning, lot size, environmental critical areas, and tree canopy. 

Ask our experts. If you have questions about the removal application process for trees and ECA vegetation restoration approvals, send us a question through our Building or Land Use Q&A tool.

Start your application. You must complete the Hazardous Tree Removal and Vegetation Restoration Approval Request online using the Seattle Services Portal.

Hazard Tree Removal
You will need to include:

  • Brief letter by qualified professional summarizing data
  • Basic Tree Risk Assessment form
  • Statement of Financial Responsibility form
  • Photos
  • Site plan showing site address, tax parce number, existing structure(s), north arrow, streets, hazardous tree(s), and environmentally critical areas

You can submit a Tree and Vegetation Standard Mitigation Plan instead of a site plan.

The following forms can help you with your application.

ECA Vegetation Restoration
You must use the Tree and Vegetation Standard Mitigation Plan, or an alternate format.

When you draw the planting plan, clearly identify existing vegetation and structures and the boundaries of parcels, ECAs, and ECA buffers. You should select plants appropriate for the soil and light conditions of your site. A list of recommended native plants is in Tip 331A.

Pay fees. We will notify you if you need to pay any final fees before we issue your approval or denial.

Print your results letter. Your results letter will be available in the Seattle Services Portal after you pay your fees.

You don't need an inspection unless it is specifically noted on your approval.