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Thursday, August 7, 2008

Seattle School District Moves Forward With Controversial Tree Removal

posted by on August 7 at 12:37 PM

Neighbors in North Seattle have been locked in a heated battle with the Seattle School District over a plan to remove 92 trees on Ingraham High School’s campus, to make way for new classrooms. The project has been slowed by permitting and environmental studies but a recent move by the district to circumvent the city process has caught neighbors off guard, and perhaps without recourse.


Neighbors protested the tree removal plan at several planning meetings this winter and had hoped the city’s Department of Planning and Development would refuse the district’s permit requests. But today, neighbors received certified letters from Seattle Schools, informing them that the district has rescinded its permit applications. The district now claims it doesn’t need permits to remove the trees and plans to send in construction equipment sometime next week.

“They decided they canít win the process and are cutting the public out of it,” says Steve Zemke, who lives two blocks from Ingraham. “They donít care what the public thinks about this. Theyíre cutting down a park like area thatís been used by the community for years.”

While Zemke and his neighbors are fuming over the district’s tactics, Seattle School District Spokesman David Tucker says the district provided adequate public process and are moving forward with the tree removal for the safety of students. “Thereís been a public process all along.” he says. “We looked at all the best possible designs for the school. This design is the most academically and environmentally sound.” Tucker says the district will plant three trees for every one removed, which could add nearly 200 more trees to the school’s campus.

It’s unclear whether the district can move forward with the tree removal without city approvalóDPD’s spokesman was not available for commentóbut Tucker says the district needs to move forward now so the process can be finished before the beginning of the school year. “The ideal for us it to have the trees removed when there arenít students on campus and to avoid using heavy machinery during the wet weather,” Tucker says. “Weíre doing this because we want to make sure we do this in the safest fashion possible.”

Zemke and his neighbors are now scrambling to find a way to halt the impending tree removal, and are planning to protest at Ingraham next week. Zemke also says neighbors will fight any future plans for construction at the school.

RSS icon Comments


-barf- what about all the trees you or your predecessor mowed down to make way for your townhome that you now complain from?


Posted by Non | August 7, 2008 1:14 PM

GOD, treehuggers need to get over themselves.

Posted by Cook | August 7, 2008 1:22 PM

They're not interested in the lives of the trees, they're interested in their green street.

Posted by Non | August 7, 2008 1:28 PM

What, no editorializing? Reassign this to Mr. Holden. He'll get those trees mowed down pronto.

Posted by tomasyalba | August 7, 2008 1:29 PM

"Zemke also says neighbors will fight any future plans for construction at the school."

Brilliant. As if renovations and expansions of our public schools weren't hard enough already.

What a noble cause.

Posted by moonface | August 7, 2008 1:34 PM

ahhh, Seattle, Seattle, Seattle.

Posted by CommonKnowledge | August 7, 2008 1:36 PM

@ 1 - Go fuck yourself.
We can't keep all the trees, and we certainly haven't... but it is a shame to see the big ones go.

Even when you have benefited from what has been done, wanting to preserve what's left is not hypocritical.

You think that the means have justified the end, and from that poor idea, you have decided that future actions do not require any further reflection. You're an idiot - go fuck yourself.

@2, We don't have many big trees left in the city. These trees are habitat for our native bird population (which is also disappearing)... and the twigs that they replace them with won't be suitable for the birds for decades.

And, yeah: it's really hard for me to get over the complete devastation of our native species. So, in conclusion: fuck you, too.

Posted by Trees | August 7, 2008 1:49 PM

I graduated from Ingraham a while ago, and this grove of trees housed our "Goat Farm", which is where all the smokers and stoners used to hang out between classes. It's back to hiding in bathroom stalls !

Posted by benjr | August 7, 2008 1:53 PM

You're not getting our trees!

This calls for a song:

You're all gonna die. Nothing you can do about it. You're all gonna die. And the trees will eat your corpse.

Now give me a quarter, you cheapskate!

Posted by Squirrel Liberation Army | August 7, 2008 2:01 PM

@7 I don't need to fuck myself, I already fucked YOU. Read #3, ignorant shit.

Posted by Non | August 7, 2008 2:08 PM

Cutting down the trees around Ingraham is like removing lipstick from a pig.

Posted by laterite | August 7, 2008 2:28 PM

@10 - Oh, the shrillness in your voice is hardly disguised by this medium. Your second point doesn't invalidate my argument, and your latter point reinforces it.

Posted by Trees | August 7, 2008 2:45 PM

@10 - Oh, the shrillness in your voice is hardly disguised by this medium. Your second post doesn't invalidate my argument, and your last post reinforces it.

Posted by Trees | August 7, 2008 2:46 PM

These trees are what, 60-80 feet tall? And the city wants to replace each one with three saplings that are are maybe 4-5 feet tall? These things are not equivalent.

Posted by Greg | August 7, 2008 2:50 PM

@7 - The persuasiveness of your argument is matched only by the classiness of your vocabulary. Bravo! Way to make friends and influence people. With defenders of the trees such as yourself, we should expect the clearcutting to begin any day.

Posted by Former Tree Hugger | August 7, 2008 3:23 PM

Want to be a good neighbor? Go earth first on SPS' ass and spike the fucking trees!

Posted by Stillatreehugger | August 7, 2008 3:30 PM

Keep your lawn spikes off my arboreal body!

If we wanted to go punk, we'd have done it ourselves.

Oh, and no, we're not amused by that poster of your lost dog you pounded into our bark last year.

Posted by Trees Against Ferrous Torture | August 7, 2008 3:58 PM

This is school property not an arboretum. If you want more trees in town get some property and grow as many trees as you like.

Posted by inkweary | August 7, 2008 4:16 PM

What the school district is doing is making an end run around the city's Planning process and trying to avoid adhering to state environmental policy laws. They feel they can't win on the merits of the issues and so they are going outside the public process.

They are definitely acting as the schoolyard bully here, trying to change the rules in midstream. They feel they don't have to involve the public in the process and that laws and regulations to protect the environment don't apply to them.

They did the same thing at Denny Sealth School last week. The DNS was being appealed via the hearing examiner process and at the same time the buldozers were mowing done the trees that the hearing was about.

When it came time for the Seattle School District to reply in the hearing they huddled and then said they made a mistake. The trees were already cut down.

The School District's environmental attorney is Ron English who in the past was a lawyer for WPPSS, defending them agianst bondholder's suits, namely the people who lost their money.

Seems Ron English is doing the same kind of dirty work here, advising the Seattle School District that it is OK to just cut the trees down and that envirnomental laws can be avoided by the school district.

And these are your tax dollars at work paying to cut down trees at Ingraham when an open lawn area exists on the north side of the school where they could build the addition without cutting any trees down.

And to explain a little, I and many others will be opposing any further money for school construction over which the public has no oversight. The school district is shutting the public out of the process and conducting their business behind closed doors.

The Ingraham High School decision was made in secret design committee meetings without public input. When neighbors were told 6 months later that the school district was going to cut down half of the trees in the west grove. they were also told it was a done deal, that we couldn't talk about any alternative locations.

That's the arrogant school yard bully approach. Yet its the public's money and the school district needs to conduct its business in public if it expects public support in the future.

All in all, it seems these dirty dealings really call into question whther the present Seattle School Board members really understand what the word public means in Seattle Public Schools. They are acting just like anti-environmental developers,
disdainful toward public involvement and public trust.

Posted by Steve Zemke | August 7, 2008 6:59 PM


Posted by Lumberjack | August 7, 2008 7:25 PM

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