LETTER: ‘Proposed Tree Ordinance 14-043 not needed or wanted’

[EDITOR’S NOTE: The following is a Letter to the Editor, written by a Reader. It does not necessarily reflect the opinion of The Waterland Blog nor its staff:]

Contrary to what some people want you to believe there is nothing in the State law that requires cities to enact ordinances to limit tree trimming in critical areas or shorelines. This urgency is being made up by a city agency that seems to be over-reaching its proper governmental authority.

Other city and county councils may have been told that they needed to enact laws and did so, but some have considered it and decided no. For example, the City of SeaTac had a proposed tree ordinance and their council declined to pass it.

The City of Kent has a code managing trees planted for required landscaping only (KCC 15.07.070). They also have a code requiring retention of significant trees on undeveloped land (KCC 15.08.240). They have no code requiring a permit for tree-trimming.

In this instance I hope we follow the SeaTac and Kent councils and not rumors about what state law requires.

Des Moines is blessed with scenic vistas of Puget Sound, the Olympics, and Mount Rainier. Citizens here commonly engage in personal transactions to maintain their views and these transactions are at no cost to the City.

We all want what is “best” for our citizens, but we should let them decide what is best for themselves and their trees.

At an Asian and Pacific Islander candidates and issues forum I attended a speaker said their experts in child development came up with the “best practices” for preschools, so Seattle should pass an initiative to require this method.

The federal government has begun placing “best practices” in medicine above what your own doctor may recommend because the “best practices” are cheaper, but may not provide better outcomes.

The “best practices” on tree trimming are not universally agreed. The favorite arborist organization licensed by the City of Des Moines in the proposed ordinance is not the only arborist organization around, and may not be the “best” arborists. Arborists in the American Society of Consulting Arborists may be even better. Highly qualified Arborists who have degrees and years of experience may not even be in an organization. Where is the room for innovation and improvements if the innovator is not in that particular organization?

The Council learned of another method of tree control used in Europe at the second hearing on the ordinance a couple of weeks ago. That method may be superior to the one required in the proposed ordinance. What else has been missed or will be left out from the “best” (only) way the council will allow people to trim trees?

As I said in the last meeting on this subject, there is no evidence that harm will occur if this ordinance and its restrictions are not passed. Therefore our citizens should enjoy the freedom to trim their own trees as they desire.

If (and this is a big if) a tree-trimming ordinance was truly wanted, there are better ways of developing such legislation.

The American Society of Consulting Arborists has a web site with a section on tree ordinances. Their suggestion is to form a committee of residents interested in the issue and willing to work for months to develop a proposed ordinance. The make up of the committee is suggested to include:

“ Some suggested members for the group are a realtor, developer, garden club member, local arborist, planner, environmental group representative, landscape architect, forest landowner, interested residents, public works officials, forest products industry representative, business owner, lawyer and an engineer. Of course, you won’t be able to have each of these represented, and the composition of your working group should represent the demographics and needs of your community. Strive for a working group that balances having people with needed expertise with those who represent a wide variety of views and those that can dedicate the needed time and effort into creating an ordinance. The working group should strive to have a minimum number of members while meeting the group’s needs. Prior to starting work, the working group should develop rules governing decision making and processes for conflict resolution.

For more information, visit http://conservationtools.org/guides/show/37#ixzz3FlvFHxjR

When developing proposed ordinance 14-043 there was no citizen’s committee. The approximately 50 people at the last hearing were against it. Please ask your council members to vote no.

– Jeanette Burrage

[Have an opinion or concern you’d like to share with our Readers? Please send us your Letter to the Editor via email. Include your full name, please remain civil and, pending our review, we’ll most likely publish it.]


5 Responses to “LETTER: ‘Proposed Tree Ordinance 14-043 not needed or wanted’”
  1. Pat Nardo says:

    This seems to be “over reaching” on the part of whomever thought this little jewel up. Our city needs more than unnecessary restrictions on what we can or cannot do with our trees, shrubs, or flowers. We need more emphasis on things to improve the attraction to our Des Moines. My thrust would be for Business Perpetuation not citizen persecution. Her is my agreement with The Honorable Council Member and I intend to share this with all within my contacts, and beyond. We do not want and we do not need this so called ordnance. It is not relevant.

  2. Earl Gipson says:

    I was there for the whole tree ordinance debacle in SeaTac. It ultimately failed, however it took a year of Citizen involvement, about $500K in staff time, and filling the Council Chamber on numerous occasions to kill it.

    In SeaTac it was thought up by an over zealous Planning Director (no longer with us) and some goofy Council Members. The Director went as far as to lie to the Council telling them our Planning Commission was all on board. They were not. I was at all the Commission and Council meetings. The Commission was “upset” when they found out they were being misrepresented. This type of regulation serves no one and the chainsaws would be going wild on the weekends.

    Many of us were simply going to cut all our trees down before the ordinance went into effect and not have to worry about City regulations or some bureaucrat wandering around our properties telling us what we can and cannot plant/cut on our own properties. The City would have wound up with less trees and the ordinance would have had exactly the opposite affect intended. Some owners cut trees that they were going to keep just in case it passed.

    With its defeat we now have more trees (30 on my property alone), in my SeaTac neighborhood that we would not have planted.

    Thank you Ms. Burrage for standing up for Citizens/property rights and against clueless regulators and government officials who want to control every aspect of our lives.

  3. Pat Nardo says:

    Mr. Gipson; thank you for standing up and speaking your feelings for all to read and understand fully! Sometimes one or two get into office and the perception of power overcomes them, such that they need to make rules for those they are supposed to serve, but ending up with disservice. We had one in Des Moines, who, thank God, is no longer with us and his vocabulary was strongly fortified with the word “NO”. For this, our city suffered a loss of more than one business startup. Every once in awhile, sir, someone comes to the fore and says what many of us feel; so THANK YOU!

    • Vicki Lockwood says:

      How true! We all have our share of those type of politicians … so full of themselves and their self-importance and super-wisdom. Our CM Barry Ladenburg proudly announced at our last Council Meeting that he and his fellow Council Members were elected to make the right decisions and to tell us what is best for us. He didn’t even hear the ridiculousness of his own voice. He appeared to honestly believe his words. WOW! Aren’t we fortunate to be the “subjects” of their kingdoms?

  4. Duhhh moines says:

    Anyone who has lost their view of Puget Soundor or has potential to lose it due to this ordinance needs to attend the City Council meeting tonight 11/13 at 7pm and speak up!! This is likely your last chance to say anything before the council votes. The ordinance completely takes away our property rights to maintain the view we paid for when we moved to this community. City staff are on a mission to ruin a view community!

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