The. Rights of way cover a whopping 27 percent of the city, but trees are planted on only a sliver of that area, usually just a narrow strip between sidewalk and curb. Photo from City of Seattle Municipal Archives Digital Collection, public domain. (CLICK TO VIEW A TIME LAPSE OF THE THREE IMAGES). the problem is not construction but cost. Regarding livability, I think the high rents and prices in places like Seattle and Portland speak for themselves: plenty of people find these urban places so livable that they’re willing to pay a premium. After all, the city’s coniferous crown is what makes the Emerald City emerald in the first place. Installing. But that’s what the community wanted.”. Seattle 2016 LiDAR Canopy Cover Assessment . This 2016 tree canopy assessment represents the most accurate accounting of tree canopy ever done for Seattle, with trees as small as eight feet in height mapped (Figure 3D). Hope this helps clarify the unknowns, and I appreciate the discussion! During those two decades Seattle’s 32 urban villages captured three quarters of the city’s new housing. As a result we have no baseline. July - December, 2018: Public engagement phase I November - December, 2018: Assessment of current programs and policies January - May, 2019: Review of inclusive engagement findings June - October, 2019: Draft plan production October 2019 - February, 2020: Internal review and historically underrepresented communities report-backs March 2020: Incorporate report-backs input April - May, 2020: Second iteration of plan update and submittal to Mayor's Office for approval June - August, 2020: … In Portland, we also have a lot of infill development, where single family homes are being taken out and replaced with larger footprint duplexes and other higher density designs within single family zones. They include Douglas fir and western red cedar and Big leaf maples. , two thirds of which are in single-family zones. This lack of tree loss corroborates a 2014 study of Seattle’s “urban villages”—designated commercial centers and transit hubs that are zoned for higher capacity to absorb housing and job growth. There are undoubtedly ways to manage density while protecting possibly the most valuable future asset we have: the mature tree. Are you saying that the problem is we have no baseline of large trees versus small? In part, Johnson wants to establish a system of permits and fees, whether paid by developers who clear a lot to build or homeowners who want to remove a troublesome tree. The best available evidence busts the myth. Over the past 30 years Seattle has installed over 1,000 traffic circles that take back part of the right-of-way in intersections in residential neighborhoods to create space for trees and other greenery, and calm car traffic at the same time. (Remember, on the Green View Index, Vancouver scored higher than Seattle.) USFS – Urban Tree Canopy Assessment. This article has some good points but side-steps a number issues relating to the data documenting the decline in the size, diversity and distribution of urban trees in Portland. But that doesn’t make it any less important to maximize trees in urban areas. Three hundred mature trees have been lost, some 200 years old. The removal of large, native trees in Seattle is quite noticeable, and planting a few spindly maples in their place is not going to make up for the loss., On your last point, “livable” and “affordable” are separate issues. Linking tree planting requirements with development ensures it happens when and where new development occurs as Michael Andersen’s article described. “And so with that comes the realization of a sense of fairness, almost a sense of ethics that everyone in this city should have access to these resources.”. For a long time after non-Native settlers arrived, the idea was to cut down the trees. That responsibility may be assigned to the adjacent property owner. The most common tree-monitoring yardstick is canopy cover—that is, the portion of the ground that is covered by trees’ branches and leaves when looking down from above. The latter is increasingly well documented (see my comment here on Michael Andersen’s piece) and is clearly an under appreciated the ingredient to creating affordable communities and denser communities. Read on for the longer story. You seem to conflate issues of building with the functions and values of mature trees to our city. The tree-protection ordinance passed a decade ago was advertised as an interim measure. The opportunity is enormous: Rights of way cover at least a quarter of a typical city’s land. A change analysis shows that the city’s canopy has decreased by approximately 2 percent, down from 41 percent when it was last assessed based on 2010 imagery. (See this University of Washington study for a review of previous Seattle tree canopy assessments.). District, conducted an Urban Tree Canopy (UTC) Assessment to map tree cover using satellite imagery and GIS technology. Of course no city will ever convert anything close to all of its on-street parking spaces, or plant 16 trees at every one of its neighborhood intersections, but the upper limit illustrates the huge potential. The northend was the last bastion of these great trees, but not for much longer. Here is a photo of an area slated for development a few miles from my home:, Here it is today: Again, we can’t say to what extent this is impacting canopy, since our analysis didn’t go down to that scale. I can’t seem to pull away from what I see as the flawed and incomplete reasoning in this piece. We work to promote smart policy ideas and monitor the region's progress towards sustainability. Most of these efforts have been focused on street trees, which are currently being inventoried by Department of Transportation analysts who expect the total count to hit 200,000 or so. Founded in 1993, Sightline Institute is committed to making the Northwest a global model of sustainability, with strong communities, a green economy, and a healthy environment. Seattle's goal, established in 2007, is to reach 30% canopy cover by 2037. Out of these, the cookies that are categorized as necessary are stored on your browser as they are essential for the working of basic functionalities of the website. “‘Oh, aren’t trees pretty’ and ‘Gosh, isn’t it nice to have a park in our neighborhood’— (nature) used to be nice to have,” she said. Seattle’s Pavement to Parks Program has begun picking off pieces of excess roadway to create small paved parks. As applied, this policy over-burdens low-income home owners and contributes to the inequitable distribution of urban street trees. There are about 6100 large exceptional trees left in Seattle according to the 2016 Seattle Tree Canopy Assessment. While only recently popular in the U.S., the concept of forest bathing has been around for more than thirty years in Japan, it originated and where it has been proven to improve stress levels, blood pressure, immune function and general health, even within mere minutes. See for example my detailed summary here in commenting on Michael Andersen’s recent piece on street tree planting in Portland (required by code as a condition of development and to mitigate on-site tree loss). An Urban Tree Canopy (UTC) Assessment can help a community measure, monitor, and improve tree cover over time, and combat threats that can lead tree canopy loss. Installing curb bulb-outs one parking space long on every single-family corner (eight spaces per intersection) would make room for 160,000 trees. Increasing urbanization around the globe is leading to concern over the loss of tree canopy within cities, but quantifying urban forest canopy cover can be difficult. So as question of fact, the claim (implied in the statements above) that tree preservation and planting policies are a significant threat to housing affordability simply doesn’t hold up to the facts. These are trees over 30″ DBH and up to 140 feet tall and probably 100 years old or more. , opponents invariably raise the issue of tree loss. The fees for tree removal could help fund planting in areas like the Chinatown-ID where canopy is scarce, Johnson said. The city’s most rigorous analysis to date pegged it at 28 percent in 2016. Seattle’s latest data on tree canopy cover demonstrate that cities can rapidly densify without sacrificing trees. Click photo to enlarge. Across the neighborhood populated heavily by elderly Asian Americans, rates of homicide and other violent crimes are some of the highest in the county. These latest tree findings corroborate a study of Seattle’s commercial centers from 1993 to 2014 that detected tree canopy increases in six of the ten centers studied, and no changes in the remaining four. (It would be a great project for any grad students out there!). I’d like to see chunks of the ROW much bigger than planting strips used for trees so they could be more healthy and grow larger. URBAN TREE CANOPY IN BELLEVUE Results of this study indicated that in 2017, the city of Bellevue contained 37 percent tree canopy (or 7,877 of the city’s 21,435 total acres); 2 … You may add a link with HTML: text to display. Though the scale of this development is unusual in an urban area, the relative loss of big trees is not unusual. The reality is that the cost of tree preservation, mitigation or planting is extremely marginal in most cases to an overall development. (Not sure how having more trees would help with that anyway?). Click photo to enlarge. Compared to LiDAR, the aerial photography results are higher across the board. What is your estimate of the canopy overestimation that causes? In the long run urban trees and urban housing are not trade offs at either neighborhood or regional scale. Meanwhile, the same study found no statistically significant change in tree canopy where the growth actually has been happening: the land zoned for commercial buildings and multifamily housing that absorbed the vast majority of Seattle’s new apartments, offices, and stores. Results from Seattle’s 2015 aerial photo-based assessment of tree canopy change over time. However, in that case we observe that trees don’t receive the maintenance they require. make private car ownership less important or valuable. It’s a remarkable success story: Seattle increased its stock of homes by 14 percent, confined almost completely to the 18 percent of city land where multifamily housing is allowed—with no measurable impact on trees! Seattle’s 2007 Urban Forest Management Plan notes that “forested parklands have too few conifers, too many deciduous trees, and too many non-native invasive plants when compared with native ecosystems.”. You can contact me through my website: Sensing Vitality. Is it 5%, 1%, 0.1%, unmeasurable? By clicking “Accept”, you consent to the use of ALL the cookies. Credit is due to numerous city tree programs and protection regulations, as well as non-profits and dedicated individuals. …and for those neighborhoods that have been infested with new owners who insist on cutting old growth on ‘their property’, how do we protest? It has less than one quarter of the tree canopy in Seattle’s most tree-dense neighborhood, the predominantly white Broadview district in north Seattle. Regarding planning, well, I have a masters in urban planning so I get it. Urban Tree Canopy Assessment 2 Well-placed trees around a home can save 36% of annual air conditioning costs and 25% of winter heating costs in the Pacific Northwest. Cities throughout Cascadia and beyond can opt to take back underutilized pavement from cars instead of further squeezing much-need housing options. Fortunately, Seattle and other North American cities facing the same affordability challenge have a big escape hatch for accommodating trees: the publicly owned right-of-way—the quarter of urban land typically devoted mostly to pavement, mostly for motor vehicles. The 3 percentage point decline in single-family canopy is equivalent to a loss of 8 percent. In principle, Seattle could boost its current tree count by two thirds just by planting in its curb parking spaces. It proposes to remove numerous large mature Douglas Firs for low density detached single family homes (despite some relatively descent transit service and bike-pe’s facilities). One could hardly escape our last 3 smoke filled summers when we need mature trees now more than ever. Trees have always been a part of Seattle’s draw. But that, of course, threatens the two thirds of Seattle’s tree canopy in single-family zones. But, more importantly, pitting housing against trees in the name of affordability is as myopic as it is inaccurate. by 2 percent between 2002 and 2007, a period during which the city also grew, albeit not as rapidly as in the current boom. On Seattle’s Bell Street Park, the city narrowed the portion of the street devoted to car lanes and repurposed the right of way for trees, bike parking, and expanded sidewalks. The necessity of tree removal is often result of other constraints on site design not the number of housing units. Most of the trees in Seattle are located on private property- both owned, in transition, or about to be developed. Trees are essentially vertical lifeforms. The trees are right on the property line separating our property from the development. … That’s why there’s been such a focus on ensuring those communities have a seat at the table.”. The city study analyzed two factors: percentage of people of color, and percentage of people with incomes at or below 200 percent of the poverty level. Like you said, we need a balance, and right now Seattle has a pretty dire housing shortage. USFS – Climate Change Tree Atlas – eastern US. : “In the 1970s, Seattle was mantled with trees, with about 40 percent canopy cover… but as the number of city inhabitants has increased, we’ve shed at least a quarter of that protective green veil.” Nope. Where has this really happened as a result of policies with the intent to preserve and plant trees? Annie. Based on aerial photographs, meanwhile, 2015 coverage for both Portland and Seattle was 31 percent. What I’m seeing replacing these conifers is pathetic: spindly little maples that barely offer shade. Indeed, the analysts who conducted the study, To restate: from 2007 to 2015 Seattle fit. Source: City of Seattle. Dan: You always marshal a lot of great and compelling data to make your specific point about affordable housing, but I think you often loose sight of this simple fact along the way. I would appreciate any information on how I protect our trees from the developer to assure they don’t get damaged. Three different ways to measure tree canopy from left to right: LiDAR, aerial photography, and color infrared, with Seattle’s final LiDAR-based tree canopy result mapped on the far right. Re: your second comment, it makes me think of that Yogi Berra line: “nobody goes there anymore, it’s too crowded.” Again, I agree that trees are important everywhere, but I don’t see how you wiggle out of the basic math that the higher density housing typical of cities covers less land per person compared to the lower-density housing (and roads to get there!) And that’s great news, because trees bring immense value to city dwellers in numerous ways. Assuming two trees fit on a space, that’s room for 1 million trees. “Communities have recognized this is really important for individual and community health to have trees, to have parks and gardens around every home, every residence,” Wolf said. Even if sensible strategies for preserving and planting urban trees did have a measurable negative impact on aggregate housing supply and affordability (I am still waiting for the evidence on this), urban trees do have a measurable positive effect on reduced healthcare costs. Apparently, the 40 percent data point for 1972 was based on a. that was assessing the region, not just Seattle proper. For comparison, Vancouver, BC, was 26 percent; Sacramento was 24 percent, Boston was 18 percent; Los Angeles was 15 percent; and Paris was 9 percent. The results are partially traceable to historic practices know as redlining, starting with a Federal Housing Authority practice later adopted by banks that made it difficult or impossible for would-be homeowners to obtain mortgages and become homeowners. “This is particularly important for communities of lower socio-economic status because they may be people who don’t have access to getting out to those wild, dramatic landscapes,” Wolf said in an interview. The new commissioners will focus on environmental justice, public health and community and neighborhood issues. Photo by Dan Bertolet, used with permission. History of canopy cover assessment in Seattle. Even though the measured decline in Seattle’s single-family zones was statistically significant, is it possibly just bad data? In 2007, Seattle adopted a goal of 30 percent tree canopy cover by 2037. Maybe if you had written this article two years, it’d make more sense. Shoreline, WA – 30.6% canopy – Urban Tree Canopy Assessment – March 2011 True but so does failing to integrate trees (and all their associated biodiversity, health and livability benefits) into urban development in urban areas because people will move in the suburbs or exurbs to access those benefits for themselves as we repeat the mistake of toxic urbanism of the 20th century. Support more research like this with a year-end gift! Not to get too far in the weeds, but our analysis included multi-dwelling zones, where many of our new apartments are being built, in with residential. But with the city’s 2015 launch of the Equity and Environment Initiative, or EEI, a city government-community partnership meant to address issues of race and social justice, the tree assessment also offered an opportunity to find out how exactly different neighborhoods fared in the realm of tree canopy. In 2007, Seattle adopted a goal of 30 percent tree canopy cover by 2037. It’s hard to imagine how a claim that the city lost over half of its tree canopy since the 1970s wouldn’t have failed the laugh test with anyone who had been around during those decades. You should read Lara Roman’s (USFS, Philly region) about the incidence of street tree death. Dedicated to the preservation of the urban tree canopy in The Puget Sound Consulting Arborist Arboricultural consultation to identify potential risks and mitigating solutions. Tree canopy for Seattle, WA, mapped to 2016 ground conditions. revolution that’s brewing in transportation. Based on LiDAR, Vancouver’s tree canopy cover was, in 2016. All around me in Portland are multifamily housing buildings going up-2,000 with five blocks of me and no trees are being replaced. SFR zones may preserve trees by needlessly and crudely limiting development in some instances but they are just likely to threaten trees in other instances. Wolf has seen first-hand how public perception of green space has changed over the years. Increasing urbanization around the globe is leading to concern over the loss of tree canopy within cities, but quantifying urban forest canopy cover can be difficult. GIS Assessment and urban tree canopy assessment iTree Hydro Modeling, GIS & Urban Forestry technical expertise SCOTT MACO Director of Research & Development The Davey Institute Over 19 years in the Urban Forest Industry Leads development of iTree Suite of Tools iTree Developer, Project Stakeholder & Collaborator. Also, complexities of funding for planting, establishment, and maintenance of right-of-way trees. Concern over loss of trees is one of the most common reasons people give for opposing, The risk is that political pressure will beget overzealous tree protection rules that make it harder or, to build new homes. “The people who are most impacted by these issues are being left out of the conversation. Limiting new homes in the city core to preserve trees pushes homebuilding to outlying areas, accelerating the eradication of not only trees, but forests. However, every cost matters, and in the end the renter will pay. The Seattle Tree Canopy Assessment says white, wealthy neighborhoods are more likely to have trees lining their streets than their poor, non-white counterparts. The purpose of the Urban Forest Management Plan (UFMP) is to provide a policy guide for managing, enhancing, and growing trees in the City of Sammamish over the next twenty (20) years. But Seattle is at the forefront in considering the relationship between race, income and tree cover, according to University of Washington social scientist Kathleen Wolf, whose website provides a comprehensive look into the multiple benefits of urban greenery. So, while we have seen a significant increase in canopy in residential zones over the past 15 years, we can’t say with any certainty that canopy is increasing in those portions of the zones where development is happening. People have different tolerances and priorities for dense urban living in its current form. The city has roughly 500,000 curb-side parking spaces . Seattle’s 2007, states that “today, about 18 percent of the city is covered by tree canopy as compared with 40 percent just 35 years ago.” Turns out that statement is bunk. Also, I proposed using parking and car lanes for trees, which often wouldn’t be under power lines. Likewise, Portland attributes its measured canopy gain of 12 percent over 15 years to areas of the city that actually grew, writing that, “residential, commercial, and industrial zones are more likely to undergo development changes and are likely to have more opportunities for planting and growing trees.” It makes sense when you consider that new construction in large, built out cities usually replaces spent buildings or parking lots that have few if any trees to begin with. Have definitely taken the time to read your other research on red tape seattle tree canopy assessment! Neighboring city of Seattle Municipal Archives Digital Collection, public domain pieces of excess roadway to create.! The experience of pedestrians, as seen in an aerial View '' > text to is mandatory to procure user consent prior to running these cookies here the! Demonstrate that cities can rapidly densify without sacrificing trees savings that result from avoiding the real health impacts of trees... 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