Can you cut down a tree in Seattle? Safe answer is always no. But in actuality it depends.
We just went through this exercise on a tree covered lot in West Seattle.
- You cannot remove any “exceptional trees.”
- You cannot cut down more than 3 non-exceptional trees 6 inches or greater in diameter each year.
- You can remove trees determined to be hazardous through a hazard tree assessment by a certified tree risk professional.
First you need to determine if any of the trees are “Exceptional Trees” meaning: “a tree or group of trees that because of its unique historical, ecological, or aesthetic value constitutes an important community resource, and is determined as such by the Director according to standards and procedures promulgated by the Department of Planning and Development.”
I am happy we cleared that up. Any questions on what an exceptional tree is?
First place I look is the “Heritage Tree List” If your tree is on this list, you are pretty much done. Unless it presents a hazard.
The next place to look is Director’s Rule 16-2008. This directors rule gives species of trees and DBH (Diameter at Breast Height) trees need to qualify for Exceptional Tree designation.
If your tree is an exceptional tree, it can still be cut down, if it is a hazard. To have a tree blessed as a hazard you will need a Tree Risk Assessment Form filled out by a “qualified” professional. Which is defined in Tip 331 b.
Qualified Professional – A qualified professional shall have a minimum of three years of experience in tree evaluation and hold a current Tree Risk Assessment Qualification (TRAQ), as established by the International Society of Arboriculture (ISA).
After your tree has been deemed hazardous you get to fill out a “Hazard Tree Removal Application.” You can file your hazard tree removal application the Public Resource Center (PRC), located on the 20th floor of the Seattle Municipal Tower at 700 Fifth Ave.
OR, call me. I have a few phone numbers of excellent tree removal specialists.