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Delivering a first-rate transportation system for Seattle Scott Kubly, Director







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Street Tree Management Plan

Plan Description

The City of Seattle’s Department of Transportation (SDOT) oversees trees along streets and in other right of way (ROW) areas. This is a big job – of the estimated 250,000 street trees in Seattle, SDOT maintains 40,000 of them.  To better manage this task in a holistic way, we launched the Street Tree Management Plan (STMP) in 2016.  Through better information-gathering, analysis, deliberate maintenance, and targeted tree replacement, this citywide plan aims to improve the condition of SDOT maintained street trees by the end of 2024.

The plan divides Seattle into 27 management units with a goal to focus on 3 units per year. In 2016, we inventoried, maintained, and planted street trees in the first three units:

  • South Park / Highland Park (unit 3)
  • Rainier Beach (unit 5)
  • Lake City / Olympic Hills (unit 18). 

In 2017, well focus on:

  • First Hill / Central District (unit 10)
  • University District / Ravenna / Eastlake (unit 14)
  • Ballard / Fremont (unit 23)

Moving forward, we hope to do our part creating and maintaining clean, healthy, resilient and safe environments.

Plan Objectives

Complete a 100% inventory of all street trees in Seattle by the end of 2024. By inventorying all of Seattle's street trees, SDOT and affiliated urban forestry organizations can better prepare for street tree related emergencies and plan an improved future for street trees in all Seattle communities.

Prune every SDOT-maintained street tree as needed by the end of 2024. Through scheduled pruning, maintenance, emergency response, hazardous tree removal, and planting, SDOT will increase the health of SDOT maintained street trees. Routine maintenance ensures safety of pedestrians, bicyclists, and vehicles alike.

Replace trees by planting at least two more for every tree removed.   Executive Order 03-05 requires any trees removed by the City to be replaced with a 2:1 ratio to keep Seattle a "green" city. We will leverage iTree analysis of our updated inventory to make sure we are planting the most suitable trees to ensure a diverse, resilient urban street canopy that is accessible to all.

Perform a program-long engagement plan that connects healthy green spaces equitably to all communities. This plan will change yearly based on the needs of each management unit. Community involvement can help inform decisions that minimize harm and maximize opportunity in underserved communities. Utilizing Seattle Race and Social Justice Initiative principles and resources will help us connect communities to the street trees around them.

Street Tree Management Plan Activities

Updating the street tree inventory

To improve SDOT’s ability to capture street tree inventory changes and identify empty planting locations in the ROW we are using an application that updates street tree data using handheld devices. During the summer, SDOT will hire additional temporary staff to inventory privately maintained street trees to achieve a 100% inventory.





Maintaining street trees

For safety and tree health we schedule pruning and maintenance of SDOT trees to reduce known hazards. We also respond to emergencies when they occur.

Planting street trees

Starting in October, planting projects attempt to fill empty planting spaces identified during inventory. The City also works to replace every tree removed with at least two additional street trees.

Racial Equity Toolkit

The Racial Equity Toolkit (RET) helps SDOT assess programs like the STMP for racial disparities and inequity. It is our understanding that until the civil rights movement, some policies in Seattle, like everywhere else in the United States, were explicitly racist. These policies, as well as private investment, have created the legacy of inequity that we are now working to overcome as a city. To better serve diverse communities within Seattle, we’re using tree and demographic data, community feedback, and the RET analysis to steer the remainder of the STMP with an equity lens.

To read more about the Racial Equity Toolkits, please visit the Race and Social Justice Initiative website.

Next Steps

Until 2017, the STMP was driven by our already existing knowledge of street trees in Seattle, not by data-driven studies. From January to May we analyzed data about the density, quantity, and percent canopy cover of SDOT trees in the right-of-way to better understand the relationship between street tree benefits, investment, and historically underserved populations.

We combined this data with over 400 survey responses from our STMP survey to create fact sheets about each of the unscheduled units. We then used these fact sheets to draft a tentative schedule for the next 7 years. With this better understanding our work aims to distribute resources equitably by addressing the primary need of each management unit appropriately.

We are happy to announce the schedule for the next two years of the STMP! The schedule outlined below balances our ability to address the needs of each management unit equitably and includes the top 5 areas that our survey respondents identified as a priority.

In 2018, we’ll focus on:

  • SODO (unit 8)
  • Fremont (unit 13)
  • Greenwood / Crown Hill (unit 21)

In 2019, we’ll focus on:

  • Columbia City / Seward Park (unit 6)
  • Greenwood / Crown Hill (unit 20)
  • Downtown (unit 27)

If you would like to learn more about your management unit, our survey responses, or the scheduling process, please download our survey results report.

How Can You Help?

We are looking for your feedback! If you have any additional questions or comments, you may:
Call: 206-684-TREE (8733)

Project Funding

The project is partially funded by the Levy to Move Seattle, a nine-year levy for transportation that provides funding to improve safety, maintain streets and bridges, and invest in reliable, affordable travel options for the growing city. The $930 million levy was passed by Seattle voters in November 2015. The STMP will invest over $9 million in Seattle’s street trees.

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