You have a week to let Seattle's Department of Planning and Development know whether you want the city to require a permit to cut down trees on private land. Lawmakers are considering changing the city's existing tree regulations, triggering a most contentious debate.
Although the Seattle City Council asked DPD to explore a permitting process, DPD has recommended against permits. Officials say they would be too hard to enforce, expensive, and a burden on property owners. The public can weigh in here until Oct. 31 before DPD makes a final recommendation to the council, which will pass legislation next year.
Under existing law, the city requires permits for cutting trees during development. Private property owners are allowed to cut down three trees on their lots without permits. You can't cut down rare trees unless you can prove they are hazardous. Tree preservationists worry that without permits to keep track of trees being cut outside of development, the city would end up losing big, rare trees.
Their concerns are echoed by the city's Urban Forestry Commission, which sent a letter to DPD last week urging them to consider a "cost-effective" permit process and extend the public comment period. The commission pointed to Atlanta, which reportedly makes almost a million bucks every year from tree permits. At a Sept. 21 City Hall meeting to gather public feedback on DPD's proposal (the only one held so far), not a single person backed up DPD's arguments for not having a permit process. The audience bombarded planners with questions.