FOLLOWUP: Illegal West Seattle tree-cutting brings assessment investigation, and more

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(Saturday WSB photo by Christopher Boffoli)

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

Whether or not they’re directly responsible for the illegal tree-cutting in the Duwamish Head Greenbelt, nearby property owners may be taxed for it, sooner rather than later.

Checking the status of the investigation and other revelations, we found out today from City Councilmember Lisa Herbold that the King County Assessor has received a “constituent request (to) increase 2016 real-estate tax to reflect View Property status.” She says the Assessor’s Office already “has sent division directors out to visit the site and will be sending an appraisal team out shortly.”

Speaking of valuation, Herbold told us there’s something else that she’s emphasizing to the City Attorney’s Office and others who are investigating:

I want to be sure the evaluation of the value of the trees takes into account the role the trees play in maintaining soil stability in an environmentally critical area by absorbing water, thus lessening the risk of landslides onto a major arterial.

Further, trees maintain air quality by absorbing carbon —an important issue in West Seattle, which sits adjacent to SODO and the Duwamish industrial area. The Green Cities Research Alliance 2012 Report, Seattle’s Forest Ecosystem Values, has additional information about Seattle’s trees, estimated to have a replacement value of $4.9 billion — an important capital asset.

If you’ve been away or are otherwise just tuning into this, The Seattle Times broke the news last Friday night that the city was investigating the illegal cutting of more than 100 trees on parcels owned by the city Parks and Transportation Departments in the Duwamish Head Greenbelt, north of 35th SW and northwest of 34th SW/City View.

We followed up on Saturday and on Monday, which is when the City Attorney’s Office disclosed the cutting was brought to the city’s attention in January, and that a lawyer for at least one of the guilty parties had written to the city about it in early February. We published a statement from lawyer Clayton Graham in our Monday report. We now also have a copy of his February 5th letter and the proposed restoration-plan outline, both obtained from the City Attorney’s Office. Here’s the letter (PDF); below is the restoration-plan outline, which Graham said on Monday was provided to the city on March 9th. The city stresses that it has NOT approved the plan; we publish it to show you what was proposed before this all came to light:

RESTORATION ACTIVITY OUTLINE
Hire contractor approved by SPRD for following activities:

SITE PREPARATION Spring/Summer 2016
Install erosion control along perimeter of site per SPRD and DPD guidelines
Move cut logs to accommodate work and utilize as erosion control and terraces as possible
Invasive Shrub/Vine Removal following SPRD guidelines within perimeter of exposed canopy
Invasive Tree Removal/Herbicide (if necessary) under SPRD guidelines within perimeter

Broadcast Herbicide (if necessary) under SPRD guidelines within perimeter
Mulch to a depth of no greater than 6” consisting of arborist chips, straw or burlap will be installed across area to suppress weeds, increase moisture retention and limit erosion potential

PLANTING Fall/Winter (2016)
Install trees, shrubs, groundcovers in species and numbers as prescribed by Green Seattle Partnership – SPRD guidelines for similar sites.

Planting will be done in the suggested mosaic for the site with adaptation for existing native plants.
Location and species of trees planted to be determined based on discussion with City staff and owners’ urban forester.

IRRIGATION Winter/Spring (2016)
Installation of a temporary water reservoir and drip irrigation system in the spring is requested. Water will be supplied by adjacent property owner

If system is not approved contractor will be engaged for 3 seasons of watering and continued invasive species control and erosion monitoring

ESTABLISHMENT WEED CONTROL Spring-Summer (2017-2020)
Invasive weed control and plant health monitoring will be contracted for three growing seasons to assure success of plantings and site

Again, that is what the one unidentified homeowner proposed in early February, and it has not been approved by the city. Graham’s Monday statement said he and his clients “offered to provide a detailed restoration plan (complete with tree size, species, placement and ongoing care obligations) from our client’s urban forester when the City was ready to review it.” (Since that apparently has not yet been received by the city, we’re asking Graham if his client would make it public.)

Whether it’s from that plan or not, will the city take any action to start restoring the cut slopes before it’s decided whether those responsible will be prosecuted, and how they will be penalized? We asked the Parks Department that question yesterday and are still awaiting the answer.

Finally, if you haven’t already seen it in our previous story’s comment thread, this online petition is in circulation, asking the City Council to toughen the laws governing incidents like this.

If we get any more new information today, we’ll add it to this story.

ADDED 4:59 PM: Parks spokesperson Christina Hirsch‘s reply to our question about whether any immediate restoration work is planned:

Right now we are working with our own restoration experts and are also consulting with outside advisers to figure out the plan to restore this area. This is a unique situation and restoration will be a challenge, both because of the scope of the damage and because it is such a sensitive and environmentally critical area. Because the situation is so severe, it could take years to get the area back to where it needs to be. Restoring this area is something that we need to do and we are working diligently with our team to put together a plan. We don’t have a complete timeline for restoration, but we do know that restoration in this area will not be something we can complete in one attempt; we will have to work on restoration on an ongoing basis.

123 Replies to "FOLLOWUP: Illegal West Seattle tree-cutting brings assessment investigation, and more"

  • Carole March 30, 2016 (2:43 pm)

    Hmm. Interesting that the attorney’s letter does not contain the customary cc: to his client(s).  Not ready to identify the culprit(s)?

  • smokeycretin9 March 30, 2016 (2:51 pm)

     City official

    “Ohhhh we can assess fines?   Send in the troops!”

    (cut to large group of people wearing hardhats, orange vest and khaki pants running twords West Seattle with burlap bags with “$” logo printed on it)

    • CS March 30, 2016 (5:04 pm)

      If there were a textbook case for levying fines, this is it. Are you actually cynical about it in this case?

      • smokeycretin9 March 30, 2016 (10:08 pm)

        yes, trying to be cynical.  

        I do believe this is a crime and everyone who knew about it should be charged.

    • West Seattle since 1979 March 30, 2016 (5:18 pm)

      And it couldn’t happen to a more deserving bunch of people. 

  • Joe Szilagyi March 30, 2016 (3:01 pm)

    For those who want to see the City of Seattle dramatically tighten the screws on the law for the next time this happens — it keeps happening, where people with expensive view homes get public owned trees chopped down — please consider sharing and signing this petition to the Seattle City Council:

    https://www.change.org/p/council-seattle-gov-change-seattle-s-laws-to-stop-people-clear-cutting-our-forests

    • Yes to Trees! March 30, 2016 (6:01 pm)

      I just read the petition and I love almost all of it. However, the insistence on evergreen trees isn’t the best environmental choice. Don’t get me wrong, get nice tall, wide trees, but broad-leafed species native to the northwest (bigleaf maples grow to 70 ft. and have the widest coverage at 60 ft.) will be better for the environment. Also, strategically place some evergreens among them for year-round view obstruction. Here is a link to a story on the study (which contains a link directly to the study):

      Why planting some trees may make global warming worse

      Again, love the letter. I just think the tree specifications need tweaking.

  • andrewwantcookie March 30, 2016 (3:10 pm)

    If it’s actually possible to replace these trees (huge weeds) with something that accomplishes the same objectives re: erosion and carbon absorbing then I say cut down the entire hillside, replace as described and increase property taxes accordingly.  Might end up being a win/win – provided there are no spotted owls or some other species that will be affected.

    • run_dmc March 30, 2016 (3:42 pm)

      I will just assume you are joking.

    • Mark March 30, 2016 (4:00 pm)

      Honest question…. why do you consider big leaf maple and red alder weeds? They may grow like weeds, but they don’t fit the definition. They are valuable native commercial hardwoods, used extensively by first nations peoples for thousands of years.

    • AA March 30, 2016 (4:57 pm)

      Isn’t there actually a long term plan to do exactly this? Replace the maples in the Duwamish Greenbelt with evergreens? I could swear I read a story on this in the last few months. So why not just start with this property, put in native evergreen trees that will get 100′ tall?

      • WSB March 30, 2016 (5:07 pm)

        AA – Much of the restoration work that’s been under way in West Seattle has been in the *West Duwamish Greenbelt* (which the Times keeps erroneously using in reference to this area, which is part of the *Duwamish Head Greenbelt*) – the Nature Consortium, for example, is focused almost exclusively on the WDG, and plants many conifers. I’m not sure about the DHG restoration plan – the Green Seattle Partnership has done some work, and of course our entire area was originally a conifer forest before the 19th/20th century logging of the peninsula – perhaps we’ll hear clarification from someone directly involved – TR

        • AA March 30, 2016 (5:25 pm)

          Thanks for the info Tracy!

  • SrslyShrn March 30, 2016 (3:23 pm)

    It seems that these homeowners are not the best at what good judgment is. How about not let them control the restoration as their attorney is requesting?

  • no view March 30, 2016 (3:27 pm)

    We need to make them plant at least a few large trees blocking thier view.  This was done in Tacoma in a similar case.   They cant get what they wanted just because they can pay the fine.  Put something up to block the view they  have stolen for themselves.   planting a bunch of small trees that will take many many years to grow back is exactly what they wanted.   They get their view and pay a little fine.   We need big trees.   http://www.robbinsandco.com/tree-replacement/

    • Joe Szilagyi March 30, 2016 (3:54 pm)

      That is absolutely brilliant. So this was the downhill people essentially giving two gigantic middle fingers to the miscreants uphill.

    • David March 30, 2016 (6:18 pm)

      In australia a similar thing happened and they stacked shipping containers in front of the people’s houses on the public land to obscure their view.

      Another place put up huge billboards that said in huge letters that this land was illegally damaged and the billboards are here to stay, and again, it blocked the view.

      Either would be fantastic, along with fines and criminal charges.

    • John March 31, 2016 (8:12 am)

      Wow…thanks for the link.  That must’ve cost a fortune to install those two trees. 

  • John Pit March 30, 2016 (3:28 pm)
    How on earth can we charge the Man In Trees guy and arrest him for almost destroying one public tree but we can’t arrest a conspiracy of rich 1% homeowners who organized to do stuff to 150 public trees AND had their lawyer admit to the city ON THE RECORD that they did it?!

    Where are you Mayor Ed Murray? Did these people contribute to your campaign fund?
  • run_dmc March 30, 2016 (3:30 pm)

    Hmm – would love to hear what experienced forestry professionals, if any on this site, have to say about this plan.  I’m certainly no expert at all, but I can read, and the majority of this plan seems to be to be focused on killing off “invasive trees, shrubs and other species” and shoring up the side of the home that is now almost hanging off the edge of the site.  The planting of new trees seems almost incidental and does not state that the trees will be in like height/species/kind etc as those that were destroyed, only those that exist at “similar sites.”  (And, only watering the trees for 3 seasons – excuse me but even I know that growing trees to the height they were before will take upwards of a decade if not more).

    I don’t mean to get all cynical here, although, these homeowners have certainly asked for cynicism, but this sounds to me like  a plan they had in the works for some time.  Living close to this area, I know how wild and overrun it seems with brush, trees, thornbushes, etc.  That’s nature, invasive species and all.  This plan sounds to me like the homeowners have been wanting to get permission to “herbicide” away all that “ugly and unseemly” brush outside their windows and now are trying to use their criminal act to push the city to give them permission to do what they wanted all along.  Oh, the gall of it.  But, of course, I could be wrong.  I just hope that if this is what’s in the works, that the public and city pressure keeps up on them to not let this happen. 

    • colleen March 30, 2016 (4:26 pm)

      Breathtaking arrogance.

  • Mr E March 30, 2016 (3:34 pm)

    How does one calculate the utter ignorance, greed, and entitlement of the culprits? This illegal clearing of public space: displaced countless fauna; created an erosion and landslide hazard for many of our neighbors in West Seattle; and burdened the taxpayers with having to cover the costs incurred for inspections, assessments, consultants, etc.

    We have yet to address the real costs of rebuilding the afflicted area.

    Shaming the guilty parties won’t bring back the trees and undo the damage done. Our legal system will not adequately address all the ways these responsible parties have ruined public space for the sole purpose of what, not seeing trees outside one’s window?

    The people responsible are ethically bankrupt. I would urge the legal powers that be to mandate the guilty parties roll up their sleeves and get used to whatever amount of physical labor is required to set things right. To say nothing of financial punishment to the point of striking terror.

    I’m just dumbfounded that people could be so short-sighted, so self-absorbed, and utterly devoid of empathy for their community.

  • run_dmc March 30, 2016 (3:39 pm)

    Plus, just in re-reading and thinking about this, why would a restoration plan of the massive damage done involve any focus on so-called “invasive” species at all?  Shouldn’t a restoration plan be about just that only – restoring what was destroyed, not killing off more stuff.  And, having seen the house on the edge of the site, it’s very convenient that this plan wants to use the logs from trees illegally cut down to build erosion control and “terraces” (terraces – huh??) now in that area.  The erosion control actually was the living, standing trees, but I’m sure “terraces” next to their homes will look much nicer . . .

    • Joe Szilagyi March 30, 2016 (4:13 pm)

      Those hills are rotten with English ivy and other similar invasive trash. You don’t want that going wild on newly planted trees. Could kill them.

  • datamuse March 30, 2016 (3:45 pm)

    Huh. In an earlier thread on this story I questioned whether views had any real effect on property taxes (aside from that properties with views tend to go for higher prices on the market). It seems that they do. I stand corrected!

    • Trickycoolj March 30, 2016 (5:14 pm)

      Yep if you look up your parcel and assessment on the KC parcel viewer there’s a box that says view. I love that they’re getting that stuck to em not that it seems like these people will be bothered by a tax increase. 

  • CEA March 30, 2016 (3:46 pm)

    This “restoration plan” strikes me as being remarkably detailed and well-planned. They’ve thought of EVERYTHING! Invasive plant removal, erosion control, shrubs and groundcovers, herbicides, irrigation…it sounds like the kind of comprehensive, long-term plan any landscaping outfit would offer a client who was considering a major landscaping effort. In fact, I think that’s exactly what happened. This plan was prepared far in advance of the illegal tree-cutting and then submitted as part of their equally well-planned mea culpa plea.

    These homeowners should not be allowed to walk away from such an egregious act. It’s an affront not only to public land but to the laudable habitat-restoration efforts that have been going on for decades on our peninsula. It’s an affront to law-abiding citizens. It’s an affront to our community and our safety. This display of greed, entitlement and avarice is unacceptable. I, for one, am happy that this issue has drawn such a powerful and well-deserved response from our community. This is social media at its best. I plan to sign the petition that is circulating that will urge tougher laws for crimes such as this, but in the meantime, I want to see the people involved in this activity held accountable. 

    WSB, thank you for your coverage!

    • Joe Szilagyi March 30, 2016 (4:14 pm)

      It would be interesting for the news and law enforcement to find out exactly when and by whom, and who paid for, the design of that plan. On what date was it commissioned? 

      • WSB March 30, 2016 (4:32 pm)

        Noted in the story, the lawyer’s letter (which is on letterhead, follow the link to see the PDF) is dated 2/5. The restoration plan outline, not on a letterhead nor with anything beyond everything I have cut and pasted (no names, dates, etc.), was provided to the city 3/9, according to the lawyer’s statement in our Monday story. But the 2/5 letter mentions they had already “engaged an experienced urban forester to recommend and assist with the implementation of a restoration plan for the site.” And remember, the City Attorney’s Office told us on Monday that the cutting – or notification of it – first happened in January.

        Meantime, I have something of a reply from the Parks Dept. re: restoration, am adding it in a minute. I also expect replies tomorrow to some followup questions for the Assessor’s Office. – TR

        • colleen March 30, 2016 (5:21 pm)

          Thanks so much for the excellent ongoing reporting. This story is fascinating to watch play out

        • duwamesque March 30, 2016 (6:43 pm)

          So the City has known about this since January, and now—in nearly April—City Hall is scrambling to address the public outrage. I’m afraid if the media firestorm hadn’t happened, the criminals’ sordid scheme would have gone off without a hitch. All I can say is thank you WSB for providing a forum to put pressure on public officials to redress this injustice.

  • aRF March 30, 2016 (4:16 pm)

    Since we are probably looking at a drawn out legal fight with no certainty of a just outcome, I strongly encourage the immediate construction of the “Austarlian View-Blocker” mentioned in the comments of the first WSB post.   I think the city has the grounds to put one up without delay and at minimal cost relative to the legal wrangling and actual remediation work.

  • andrewwantcookie March 30, 2016 (4:22 pm)

    but we can’t arrest a conspiracy of rich 1% homeowners…..”

    And there it is.  This is really about those damn rich people and not about the trees.

    How on earth do you know these homes were not inherited or purchased years ago when you didn’t have to be a “1%-er” to buy one?  For that matter, alders may not have even been there 20, 30, 40 years ago.

    Alder is a weed tree – always has been – if it can be replaced with something less invasive that produces the same results then I say go for it – with proper approval of course!


    • Alan March 30, 2016 (5:01 pm)

      andrewwantcookie,

      You cannot take one person’s statement and hold it against the rest of us. I don’t know that the culprits are 1%ers but I do know that some of those horrified are.

    • Mark March 30, 2016 (5:43 pm)

      How long have you lived in the northwest?

      Red Alder has never been a weed tree. It’s a rapid growing, nitrogen fixing, slope stabilizing, pioneering hardwood.  What other native deciduous hardwoods would you recommend planting? Big leaf maple?

      I find your argument odd.

      • sna March 30, 2016 (6:10 pm)

        FWIW the parks dept killed (by poison) all the red alders in Hamilton Viewpoint back in 2012, so they didn’t think too much of them

    • Sunuva March 30, 2016 (6:10 pm)

      From what I’ve been reading (and agree with), the concern is that the 1%-ers can have an unfair advantage in our legal system, not simply that they are a 1%-er.

  • whalewatcher March 30, 2016 (4:47 pm)

    Just want to remind folks that not all abutters were in on this. I am as outraged as you by the chutzpah of my neighbors who compromised the hillside, violated our privacy (and, by the way, did not enhance my view). Some of your proposed remedies would punish abutters for the acts of our neighbors, simply because of our proximity.

    If people are taxed based on view, the County better utilize clear, consistently applied criteria, beyond simply living on this street.

    • chemist March 30, 2016 (6:10 pm)

      They generally sent someone (I’ve actually seen a team of two roaming the neighborhood before) to the property to physically look around and see if anything’s changed significantly since last assessment.  If they think your view has improved to be rated “excellent” then that will go into an evaluation.  As always, you can contest evaluations for some number of days after the reassessment report is mailed to you.

    • SWR March 30, 2016 (6:25 pm)

      I would be so upset with my neighbors if they pulled this crap.  Just curious, but were you friends with your neighbors before this incident?

    • Kathy March 30, 2016 (7:04 pm)

      If you are affected negatively by the assessment I recommend you get a lawyer and sue your neighbors. They should have to pay for any additional taxes that are levied against you because of their criminal behavior.

  • WsBoB March 30, 2016 (4:52 pm)
    This is a photo from Zillow on the 2nd homes deck that sold in December 2015 for $745K

  • dsa March 30, 2016 (4:53 pm)

    Mark’s pictures are pretty exciting.  They show as much “clearing” as if someone was going to build two or three houses.  This is a big deal, being on public property and all.  I was expecting to see an acre and a half, like like was  reported.

  • JVM March 30, 2016 (4:55 pm)

    I truly hope our city and particularly our West Seattle leaders are paying close attention to this highly visible and passionate outpouring from the WS community.   This is not a lynching mob, but a group of involved and passionate individuals who truly care about the community and hope to regain their faith in the existing legal process.  What an opportunity for our city leaders to do the right thing.  

    • JC March 30, 2016 (6:08 pm)

      I’ve said this elsewhere but I’ll repeat my thoughts here. The only way these homeowners, their lawyers, and future perpetrators will take notice is through extreme fines. Whoever made the decision to do this did so with the expectation of “slap on the wrist” fines. The prosecutor should seek the absolute maximum amount permitted under any and every applicable law so other potential criminals take notice. Do not waiver in settlement.

      If this event evokes any of your emotions, no matter what side of the issue you may be on, the best means for preventing this from happening again is to encourage more public attention. Let current perpetrators and anyone else considering similar acts see the attention such acts will garner. If you want more pressure on our local politicians to send a message, there is no better tool than the media. Put down the pitchforks and make this a national story by sending emails, tweets, or calls to the AP, CNN, BBC, MSNBC, NPR, etc and encouraging them to pick up the story. All these national outlets have ways to suggest stories; just pick a few and forward the excellent coverage from the WSB to them. A national following would not only help communicate the importance of justice to our local leaders but would help other communities avoid the same tragedy.

      • pupsarebest March 30, 2016 (8:32 pm)

        👍🏻

      • Mongo March 31, 2016 (9:43 am)

        <quote>’ve said this elsewhere but I’ll repeat my thoughts here. The only way these homeowners, their lawyers, and future perpetrators will take notice is through extreme fines.</quote>

        Don’t kid yourself.  Clearly, the people who put this plan together are quite savvy, familiar with legal processes, and ready/willing to pour significant financial resources into making the “mess” go away.  Levying of fines, even at a level that most of us would consider massive, is something they’ll be able to manage.  The only way to get their attention – and, more importantly – to send a message to others that they don’t want to use this strategy as a template for copycat action, is to pursue criminal charges.  Trust me, they fear criminal conviction orders of magnitude more than they do financial repercussions.

        • JC March 31, 2016 (4:09 pm)

          Criminal convictions and civil penalties do not have to be mutually exclusive. Also, a 7 figure fine would likely give someone pause in the future before repeating this sort of act.

  • Trickycoolj March 30, 2016 (5:18 pm)

    The perps deserve to be dropped from their homeowners insurance like hot rocks. I hope no other company would consider insuring them in the future either. And for the non involved neighbor’s man I’d be figuring out how to get in on damages because an unstable slope is going to kill your insurance AND fair market value of a previously not teetering on the edge home.

    • sna March 30, 2016 (6:12 pm)

      Most home insurance policies don’t cover against landslides.

  • flimflam March 30, 2016 (5:24 pm)

    it would seem that somebody got paid to do this; it would seem that eventually it would be discovered who was paid and who did the paying.

     

     

  • David Moore March 30, 2016 (5:49 pm)

    Maples will grow back fine as roots live after cutting. Add some conifers next fall. No need to overdue this but FINME the Guilty Parties.

    • chemist March 30, 2016 (6:17 pm)

      I thought maples tend to put out weaker shoots if they’re subjected to “coppicing”.

  • KT March 30, 2016 (6:47 pm)

    …”the King County Assessor has received a “constituent request (to) increase 2016 real-estate tax to reflect View Property status.”…”  Now, color me confused but who made the request?  The person who did the deed and improved their view or just someone not connected to the dirty deed?

    • WSB March 30, 2016 (7:08 pm)

      KT, I don’t know, but as I mentioned somewhere here, I have a couple followup questions out to the Assessor’s Office, replies expected tomorrow, and that’s among them. – TR

  • Kathy March 30, 2016 (7:10 pm)

    It’s great to vent in comment sections but it is even better to take action.  I recommend that people send an email to Pete Holmes, Ed Murray and their City Council Rep. It’s critical that these city officials feel public pressure for appropriate charges to be filed against this group of homeowners.

  • jimmy mac comin' back March 30, 2016 (7:25 pm)

    in case the lot of you aren’t saavy enough to understand the councilmember’s end game in all of this… she has lain the statements which will later justify (in hers and the city’s mind) the teeny-tiny fine which will eventually be levied and perhaps never paid.

    The increase in arbitrary property value assured by the enhanced view is to be offset, now, by ‘on-paper’ decrease in arbitrary property value because of suddenly-greater chance of sliding down the hill.

    All for the sake of the council/city favoring “the money” over what is appropriate and just.

    • JC March 30, 2016 (8:04 pm)

      Council member Lisa Herbold has inserted herself into the issue, which as her constituent, I applaud. As a result, she needs to realize that the size of the fine and final punitive action is now a reflection on her directly. She won against an opponent that was tied too closely to big developers and lobbyist. A small slap on the wrist would show Lisa Herbold is no different, but a significant, message-sending punitive amount will show that voters made the right choice. 

  • Joe Szilagyi March 30, 2016 (8:29 pm)

    Council member Lisa Herbold has inserted herself into the issue, which as her constituent, I applaud. As a result, she needs to realize that the size of the fine and final punitive action is now a reflection on her directly. She won against an opponent that was tied too closely to big developers and lobbyist. A small slap on the wrist would show Lisa Herbold is no different, but a significant, message-sending punitive amount will show that voters made the right choice. 

    That’s not really true, though.
    Councilmember Herbold has nothing  to do legally or politically here with the outcome. None. Zero. Zilch. Nada. All she’s done is help initially publicize the incident and that’s it. 
    1. Deciding to arrest or not arrest the responsible parties for any criminal violations, generating mugshots and criminal police records, is the job and authority of the Seattle Police Department, which means it’s all on Mayor Ed Murray there. He’s in charge of the cops. No arrests = it’s on Mayor Murray.
    2. Deciding to sue and/or prosecute is entirely between the two elected legal figures: City Attorney Pete Holmes and County Prosecutor Dan Satterburg. 
    As an aside, someone told me that one of the houses that would benefit from this the most is a heavy political contributor. It’s true — looks like over $3000 in donations to an active Seattle City Councilmember who was not part of the new class of freshmen members. Some trivial digging in public records turns out that this is true, and several of the houses in that enclave are home to important local business figures. 
    Failing to prosecute after they threw the book at the Man In Tree guy will look very, very, very  bad politically at the next elections for Mayor Murray and everyone else with power to do the right thing here. 
    Councilmember Herbold’s work here is in a sense done beyond pushing for the best outcome for West Seattle: failure to act is now on Mayor Murray, the City Attorney and the County Prosecutor alone. 
    • JC March 30, 2016 (9:19 pm)

      Then we actually agree. If Lisa can effectively use her position to influence her colleagues to a just outcome, she proves to be an effective leader. If not, she proves to just be just another ineffective politician. As someone who voted for her, I’m hoping for the former.

      • cratewasher March 30, 2016 (9:56 pm)

        She only has so much “influence”.

        The law is the law; and the appropriate people and processes must go forward. Lisa can not affect or control that process.

        I prefer to blame you if a heavy enough fine is not levied. That makes about as much sense….

        • run_dmc March 30, 2016 (10:32 pm)

          But the Councilwoman absolutely can make sure the public attention and pressure is kept up until a just resolution is reached and that the public knows about the steps taken along the way.  That is the role of an elected representative in these kinds of situations and we should hold her to keeping faithful to her role as we should all the other public officials party to this situation.

  • Lauren March 30, 2016 (8:59 pm)

    Fines??? This is heinous, premeditated crime worthy of jail time. 

  • JulNJer March 30, 2016 (9:32 pm)

    This appears to qualify as first degree Malicious Mischief, a class B felony, and I believe it’d be an injustice to charge everyone involved with anything less. 


    http://app.leg.wa.gov/rcw/default.aspx?cite=9A.48.070

  • heylady March 30, 2016 (9:35 pm)

     I thought the trees were there to protect my view from the unsightly houses.

  • ChannelingLewisBlack March 30, 2016 (9:40 pm)

    Donald Trump was just quoted as saying he would punish the trees for being cut….

  • Reamus in Fauntlee March 30, 2016 (9:51 pm)

    Until names are publicized (involved home owners and company that did the work), not much is going to happen. My own research gives me a good idea of involvement and as someone else mentioned, these are some well connected folks. Part of why the City was keeping the lid on this until press forced them to begin talking.  It’s all smoke and mirrors now, then we’ll get distracted and mostly forget our outrage. 

  • Frodo March 30, 2016 (10:03 pm)

     I live nearby the scene of the tree execution.  My house’s view did not benefit from the clear cutting.  I wish this attention on our once quiet neighborhood will just go away.  I want everyone to know that there is a diverse mix of people and income levels.  Not every house here is a mansion, and not everyone is in the 1% as many commenters assume.  Most of my neighbors are hardworking people who care about their community.  My company has downsized and its become difficult to provide for my family.  A substantial increase in property taxes could put me and my kids out of a home.  What is the sense in taxing the entire neighborhood over this?  Is it to bow down to political pressure?  Is it an opportunity for the so called masses to stick it to their oppressors? 

    • AMD March 30, 2016 (10:30 pm)

      They’re not taxing the entire neighborhood.  From what I understood of what was written, they’re reassessing.  If nothing has changed about your property, there won’t be a change in your assessment.  If your previously mundane view has suddenly become exceptional, there will be an increase in the assessment to reflect the new value of the house.

      I believe you when you speak of the diversity of your neighborhood.  The law firm chosen by the defendant(s) and their ability to get that representation along with a completely drafted landscape plan within that timeline really narrow which part of the income spectrum the culprit(s) likely came from.    I would argue strongly that the guilty party’s income bracket shouldn’t matter when deciding how to charge them, however past cases have made some folks (myself included) leery of how fair the proceedings will be.  I think were it not for precedent, people wouldn’t be worried so much about someone buying their way out of trouble.

      • chemist March 30, 2016 (11:04 pm)

        As Mr Syzagli points out, some people on that street are connected to real estate and have a long history of max-level donations to seattle candidates.

  • canton March 30, 2016 (10:43 pm)

    So a wittle panking on the rump and they get to outline how the destroyed slope gets to be rebuilt? ” for their own benefit “. Terraced erosion control? So they benefit from New views AND shore up erosion on pubic property?? What about the criminal charges??

    • Kathy March 31, 2016 (12:48 am)

      Yes, only the rich think that they can commit a crime and then dictate the terms of their punishment. Do you think the mentally ill man who climbed a tree downtown and has already had the book thrown at him had such a luxury? The names need to come out. We need  a brave investigative journalist to blow this open.

  • anonyme March 31, 2016 (7:15 am)

    RCW 64.12.030

    Washington is a treble damages state in regard to illegal tree cutting.  The damage is assessed per size and value of tree at the time that it was cut.  “Replacement” value is not the cost of a plug or whip.  (I used to be an arborist and found the info in old testing materials, then verified online.)  The individual value of many of the trees that were cut is in the tens of thousands of dollars.  WA state law allows that the value be tripled, so damages per tree could potentially be six figures.

    One poster had a great idea in making sure that the story goes national, forcing local authorities to do their jobs and prosecute these felons to the full extent of the law.  I would even go further, and contact British or international news agencies.  The British investigators will spare no detail,  and be much more willing to expose political connections than our local reporters.

    • SeattleRainReader April 1, 2016 (8:19 am)

      I am pretty sure the perps knew the fine and weighed it against the value of increased view and went for it.  Spread between that many families, the view enhancement outweighs the fines. 

  • Alan March 31, 2016 (7:38 am)

    I am curious to know if the city has the names of those
    involved yet, or is this still a case of the city knowing someone (their
    attorney) that knows them. There was one mention of a neighbor contacting the
    city, but it was not clear if that was a neighbor involved or just one that was
    reporting it. The rest of the contact was indicated to be made by the attorney.
    The contact shown does not include the names of those involved. This feels less like neighbors wanting to make a mistake
    right and more like a criminal negotiating the terms of coming down to the
    station to turn themselves in.

  • Mark March 31, 2016 (8:00 am)

     I think this is perfect timing.

    The city should consider placing the recently evicted Nickelsville there.

    All of the hard work of clearing trees has completed.

  • Thomas M. March 31, 2016 (8:34 am)

    Calculation of Fine:  “One house each”.  

  • 22Blades March 31, 2016 (10:00 am)

    The names are easy to look up. King County iMap Parcel viewer. Place your cursor over the parcel. Click Assesors Report. Copy & paste the name in a search engine of your choice to see who they are affiliated with. Some are no brainers but some of the adjacent parcels mY not be involved in the crime.

  • MK March 31, 2016 (10:40 am)

    A google search brought up a youtube video of what the area used to look like: 

    ‘West Seattle Drone Flight’

    • SBK March 31, 2016 (10:56 am)

        Thanks for finding that, MK.  Here is a little before and after.

       

       

      • andrewwantcookie March 31, 2016 (1:07 pm)

        I am NOT saying this is OK or should go unpunished but the aerial view really shows how small the footprint is.  At first I thought it was the entire hillside – this is slightly larger than a front or backyard would take up in a typical home.

        • colleen March 31, 2016 (1:24 pm)

          It’s an acre and a half of clear cutting on land that did not belong to the criminal(s). Not a “small footprint” at all.   Why do you have such difficulty acknowledging  that this is a crime?

        • Alan March 31, 2016 (1:56 pm)

          Maybe the size of the houses, or the distance, is confusing you the scale of this. This is a huge footprint with enough clearing for at least four of the homes in view. That is their full yard with house and not just a “front or backyard of a typical home” unless your typical home is on a five-acre lot.

        • Kevin Halverson March 31, 2016 (3:26 pm)

          Agreed. Whether the application of the law will result in fines or whether this act was actually criminal–these are details that West Seattlites can’t be bothered to actually investigate when they want to get all hyped up.

           

  • wetone March 31, 2016 (11:14 am)

     Still want to hear more about who “knew what and when”   from the city’s side.  Something really stinks here….. All I know is I can’t even remove tree city planted in parking strip in front of my house that will have damaging effects to my water and sewer lines in a few years. Costing me 10’s of thousands to fix……..

  • Fauntleroy March 31, 2016 (11:32 am)

    So you all know these people? Because the comments made here make it seem like you personally know them. And you know, first hand, that they’re just trying to pay to make this “mess” go away? And that they’re terrible, awful, greedy self serving people who conspired to create this mess just to improve their view because they can afford to throw some money at the problem after the fact. 

    The comments in this thread are written as truths. And the fact is we don’t know everything. We don’t know what the intentions  are of the folks in question. We don’t know what the city will do. We don’t know the value of the trees in question (but someone stated, as fact, that a single tree could be worth hundreds of thousands.) We don’t know if the houses are teetering on the edge of destruction and will slide down the hill at any moment. We don’t know that the views of the those on the street have improved such that they warrant an increase in property tax. We don’t know that the folks involved are evil 1%-ers. We don’t know if they feel terrible about this — but the assumption here is the only reason they feel bad is because they got caught. We don’t know how long the city would have taken to investigate the site without the one family self reporting (remember, the city didn’t act on the January 15th tip, they didn’t send a crew out until after they received the attorney letter.) 

    We do know that there are multiple households involved. We do know that one of the families has self reported through a reputable attorney. We do know that at least one of the families has put together a restoration plan for the city to consider.  

    Why is it so hard to believe that they are coming from a place of trying to fix this? What is wrong with being savvy? Or hiring a highly reputable lawyer? And I’ll say it, what is wrong with being successful? Does that automatically make someone devoid of values, morals, and the ability to know the difference between right and wrong? Whether or not someone is a 1%er should have no bearing on this. Correction, in this situation, it might help, as they’ve made every indication that they’re willing to make restitution and it won’t be on the tax payer.  At least one of the parties in question has. 

    One of the worst things about the internet and blogs — people don’t have to be civil anymore. We can say anything we want and call it the truth. We can just make stuff up and put it out there. I love the WSB — I wish we could go back to beginning when the blog was a great community builder and the news hub of our little “town.” Through no fault of Tracy and her gang, sometimes the blog comments feel like a virtual Salem Witch Trial. I can only imagine the venom in  comments that aren’t getting approved for posting. 

    • AMD March 31, 2016 (12:14 pm)

      Whether they’re a 1%-er should have no bearing on what punishment they receive for the crime they committed.  The comments related to wealth express concern that they will not receive the same punishment as those with fewer resources.  Those comments specifically are critical of the justice system and those in power.  Just because the homeowners are the ones who started this mess by breaking the law doesn’t mean that 100% of the comments are directed to/about them.

      I’m not basing my assertion that they cut down the trees for a better view on anything but the attorney’s letter saying they intended to cut the trees for a better view.  If their own attorney stated that as fact, I feel comfortable repeating that as fact.  I didn’t read any comments stating as fact that the trees cut down WERE worth hundreds of thousands of dollars each; only someone pointing out that there is a statute that allows punitive damages triple the value of the trees which could reach hundreds of thousands of dollars.  (Not that it matters, but it is possible for a single tree to be worth hundreds of thousands of dollars, by the way.  Google the going rate for burl maple).

      I get that you want to defend these folks, but at least respond to what people are actually saying rather than projecting your own ideas onto what’s being written.

    • Disgusted March 31, 2016 (12:17 pm)

      Fauntleroy,

      I agree with most of what you are saying, and hopefully, with appropriate public attention and concern about this the City will do the right thing; only time and public outrage keeping this in City officials face will tell.  What you do not address is that whoever the individuals involved may be, they illegally hired someone to prune/cut/top trees that were not on their property and, as Google images posted by others have shown, it is not the first time this has happened in the same location.  So they have done it before and have gotten away with it and now, they created a mess that all will have to live with for years.  I would have a great view if my neighbor’s house was a story shorter.  Does that give me the right to hire a contractor to remodel their house while they are on vacation and oops, the whole house was torn down due to a lack of communication with the contractor.  Better hide behind my lawyers now, oh wait, I can’t afford a high priced mouthpiece…..

    • colleen March 31, 2016 (1:41 pm)

      “Why is it so hard to believe that they are coming from a place of trying to fix this?”

      Because their solution only serves to improves their property values at the public’s expense. They wanted a terraced park in front of their houses and this was how they decided to get it. The arrogance of the ‘solution’ is as appalling as the crime.

      WE would like to see a solution that we can point to as an effective  deterrent. We would like a solution that would prevent any other homeowner with this much contempt for public property to think before he or she decides to clearcut land that does not belong to him. Any effective solution should NEVER result in the homeowners responsible being better off financially then they were before destroying public property with such arrogance and contempt.   The land and tress did not and do not belong to them. They are thieves and should be charged accordingly..

  • Maggie March 31, 2016 (11:35 am)

    I think a peaceful demonstration on the site should be organized. The goal is to force the mayor’s office to to show some leadership on this issue. The conservation of our greenways are at the core of what we stand for as a city, yet this issue seems to have been in the process of being handled behind the scenes with city administrators, with the perpetrator and his team of lawyers leading the effort in laying out a plan for restitution. We need the mayor’s office to clearly acknowledge his administration’s role in “managing” this issue, why their negotiations with the self-confessed perpetrator wasn’t made public earlier, and to clearly lay out a plan for restoring the site and determining penalties for those involved. Real leadership is needed to send a clear message to all Seattle residents that trees and greenways are part of our heritage and destroying them will have significant consequence. From the mayor’s silence to date it’s obvious that this issue isn’t a priority. 

    • Christine March 31, 2016 (8:00 pm)

      I support the idea of a peaceful protest. 

  • Doug March 31, 2016 (12:11 pm)

    Since it’s already cleared, lets let the city convert the space into a new solid waste disposal site.  

  • Casey March 31, 2016 (12:11 pm)

    Increase property taxes as a penalty? I believe you mean increase the value of their home to reflect their new view. And the rich get richer. 

  • Fauntleroy March 31, 2016 (12:41 pm)

    Looking at the pics above, about 8 homes would have an interest in an improved view. And who knows when those other infractions occurred. It looks like every single home on the bluff could have done some pruning and cutting at one time or another. Why isn’t some of the venom here directed at the folks that aren’t coming forward? But then again, we don’t know for sure that they haven’t. But there is a lot of anger directed at the one homeowner that has, when it looks like there are more homes involved. 

    • run_dmc March 31, 2016 (1:54 pm)

      Fauntleroy, you’ve been making the same defenses over and over again, but not seemingly listening to or addressing any of the responses to these defenses.  You keep saying we don’t know what happened or is in there hearts.  We actually know quite a bit about what happened and what one homeowner admitted that a group did.  People have been directing their comments pretty clearly at the acknowledgements  of premeditated illegal acts plus some logical assumptions based both on those facts and specific scenes from the site. 

      You now say that we are directing all this anger at the only homeowner that came forward.  No one is directing their outrage at just one homeowner, let alone just the one that came forward.  That homeowner acknowledged that there was a group that decided to illegally cut these trees (topping and pruning IS cutting), so all of us commenters clearly understand there was more than one culprit out there and the opprobrium isn’t limited to only one. 

      Acting as if somehow all of us are to blame (or are “witch hunters”) for wanting to see people held accountable to the full extent of the criminal and civil law for their own actions, rather than the people who started this mess by engaging in activity they knew was illegal (and you have ignored that what they admitted to is illegal, not a “mistake), is not doing your defense of this group any service.

  • 2 Much Whine March 31, 2016 (12:47 pm)

    Doug FTW!

  • Sad_fir_the_Trees March 31, 2016 (1:22 pm)

    Don’t be surprised when 1 or 2 of these properties go on the market this summer. With inventory so low and valuations so high – and now a nice view to bump your asking price a couple hundred thousand – just don’t be surprised. 

  • mike March 31, 2016 (2:20 pm)

    I believe the responsible parties should be fined in addition to paying the full cost of restoration, (including court costs and studies) as decided by the City not the perps themselves.  However the value of their homes and their supposed status as 1%’ers has no bearing aside from the added culpability rightly associated with paying someone else to do your dirty work.    There are plenty of people with nice homes who don’t do this kind of thing,  and there are plenty of poor folks who are complete greed heads.  Bad behavior is bad behavior no matter the income bracket.

    • Kathy March 31, 2016 (2:58 pm)

      Mike,

      As noted above, the reason people keep bringing up the fact that these people are wealthy is that we all know that our justice system favors the wealthy and disproportionately punishes the poor.  

      People are worried that because these homeowners are wealthy AND influential members of the community that they will just get a slap on the wrist.  Many of us hope that if we keep speaking up that city officials will not ignore us and that justice will be served.

  • whalewatcher March 31, 2016 (2:49 pm)

    Actually, we don’t know that there is a “group”, just more than one. 

    Please do not presume to guess which homes are involved. You will not be correct. I occupy one of the adjacent homes. No one asked me about clearing the land next to my home.

    Did my neighbors think I would appreciate their doing this? Do I see an upside in their clearing the land? I don’t.  It was presumptuous, disturbing, inappropriate and illegal.

    I’m going to assume that the City and County won’t tar and feather abutters who were uninvolved. I hope you won’t either.

    • Kathy March 31, 2016 (3:04 pm)

      Whalewatcher,

      I understand you do not want to get swept into this web, and rightly so.  

      I don’t assume all of the abutters are responsible but I do assume it is more than one homeowner. I just find it hard to believe that no one heard or saw anything while 150 trees were being chopped down.  Also, didn’t the letter from the attorney state the homeowner claimed he had hired the tree “pruner” with some of his neighbors? 

    • Alan March 31, 2016 (3:23 pm)

      Whalewatcher,

      I don’t think you should be punished for happening to own property next to this mess. I think that any individuals taking retribution into their own hands would deserve to be arrested and would not receive sympathy here.

      We do know it was a group. The client + “other neighbors” = 3 or more. Include the “landscaper” and you have at least four people involved. It is possible that a couple of those neighbors live in the same house, but it is still a group. From the attorney’s letter:

      I am sharing this statement on behalf of a client who, along with other neighbors, hired a landscaping business to top and prune some trees to improve the view from their respective residences. 

  • RyRy March 31, 2016 (3:16 pm)

    Look how small the cleared area is…  this is a non issue. 

    • Disgusted March 31, 2016 (4:36 pm)

      Ryry are you a troll or just dim witted.  The area is large, on a critical slope and was illegally cut/destroyed endangering people below the slope as well as those above who may or may not have been involved but now, due to the destruction of the hillside their homes may be in jeopardy for potential landslides should the hill get saturated.  I’d say that is a HUGE issue which was being ignored, swept under the carpet by the City because of the privileged individuals involved and their high priced lawyer and dare I suggest financial contributions to local politicians and causes.  Public records will inform you of who lives in proximity to this.  And for the neighbors who have posted saying they were not involved, what actions are you taking to rectify this?  You must have some idea who in the neighborhood was involved, so please share with SPD  and prosecutors office, if not already done.  This is just so wrong on so many levels.

  • Joe Szilagyi March 31, 2016 (3:33 pm)
    Whalewatcher,

    “I occupy one of the adjacent homes. No one asked me about clearing the land next to my home.”

    It could be amusing if every single homeowner who had nothing to do with it came forward on the record, in a letter. The omissions would be interesting…
  • SBK March 31, 2016 (4:02 pm)

     The Seattle PI article states:  According to Holmes’ office, a community member contacted a Seattle Department of Transportation arborist on Jan. 15 to report that trees had been cut in the area. An attorney with one of the city’s most prestigious law firms, Davis Wright Tremaine, sent a letter to the city parks chief on Feb. 5 apologizing for the tree felling on behalf of an unnamed client.

     Per the timeline, one could make the assumption the homeowner came clean after being reported by the community member.  I don’t buy the argument that some have made (including the homeowner’s lawyer) that they came forward because “it was the right thing to do” and was a “mistake”.   If they were such conscientious homeowners with the “utmost respect for the City Parks and its property”, then why did they authorize the work in the first place?  Seems bogus to me and I can see why people are so upset.

  • S March 31, 2016 (10:34 pm)

    Whale watcher,

    Do you know who did this?

    What did you think was going on when you saw the trees coming down? 

    I don’t automatically “tar and feather” uninvolved abutters, but if you have information then you should share it with the authorities, and if you knew trees were being cut down illegally, then you should have reported it.

  • Curate March 31, 2016 (10:46 pm)

    It is so disgusting to me that the names of the individuals involved in defacing PUBLIC land have not yet become PUBLIC. There is literally nowhere to hide — you’ve killed the trees and invited in more sunlight. Now stand in it and make yourselves known. 

    • sheturnedmeintoanewt April 1, 2016 (7:37 pm)

      Well until the city is pretty sure who did what I think they’re wise to hold off on any kind of public announcement.  I’m sure they’re doing due diligence and we’ll find out eventually.  

  • run_dmc March 31, 2016 (10:48 pm)

    Not trying to tell anyone what to do, but if I were one of the homeowners near this site who had nothing to do with the illegal cutting, but was facing having my reputation questioned by association, my taxes raised, an ugly panorama of dead and scattered trees outside my window for who knows how long and potentially being drawn into other suits if the land becomes unstable and damages anyone else, I’d be seeking the advice myself of an attorney against the people responsible, neighbors or no neighbors.

  • JanS March 31, 2016 (11:28 pm)

    so…curious here. Has the “pruner” that they hired been identified, and does he have any more information to share. A contract with names , and what work was to be done, etc? And if he were a legit “pruner/landscaper”, would he have told them that he needed to get permits? And if not…if this was an “under the table job”, isn’t he culpable, too?

    • Kathy April 1, 2016 (3:58 pm)

      No one has been identified yet as there is an on-going police investigation. I assume no names will be released unless the city decides to formally press charges. 

  • Peter April 1, 2016 (8:45 am)

    @Fauntleroy:  You are absolutely right.  We don’t know all the facts, yet.  I think most of us would really like to know what they are.  You’re also right that it’s unfair to paint everyone who’s possibly associated with the same brush.  However, simply stated:  It’s really hard to believe that anyone savvy enough to be successful enough to afford to live in one of the adjacent houses, and savvy and resourceful enough to high top-notch legal assistance, wouldn’t also be savvy enough to: 1) be absolutely positive the trees they were “pruning” were actually on their own property, 2) Wouldn’t be savvy enough to wonder if there were any rules or regulations that might apply to trees on a hillside even if they were on property they owned, and 3) wouldn’t be savvy enough to hire a reputable lanscaper who wouldn’t so completely botch the job.  Although it’s wise to withold judgement until all the facts are known, it sure *looks* like a case of “I want this and don’t really care about the rules or potential impact to others.”  I’ve personally witnessed similar behavior before.  I suspect many of us have.  Hence, the public outrage.   

    @Whalewatcher:  I hear what you’re saying.  Serious question, though:  There appears to be some period of time between when this was done and when it came to light.  Did you or any of the other neighbors who didn’t appreciate the work done on your behalf immediately report it?  And, if so, to whom and what was their reponse? 

  • Ducky April 1, 2016 (9:00 am)

    Let the punishment fit the crime: the perpetrators’ properties look well-situated for a new West Seattle public park, once those pesky buildings are out of the way!

  • Dazedandconfused April 1, 2016 (9:55 am)

    This whole story doesn’t make sense to us.  Who is responsible? One home owner? Two? Multiple?  The tree service hasn’t been named either.  That’s a lot of property to cut.  Was the tree service told the property was private?  Was a contract written up for this service and if so what were the exact specifications and terms?  Who signed the contract?   When did the cutting take place?  Day or night?  How long did it take?  Wow….lots of unanswered questions.

    Also, this should be more than increasing property taxes.  Those responsible should pay for this crime outright.  Tally up what it will cost to restore the hillside whether it takes one year or five and fine the people responsible.  They should also be held responsible for all costs if there is a slide caused by the cutting for the next five years.

    • Kathy April 1, 2016 (4:02 pm)

      I think the police are trying to get answers to those questions. I assume once their investigation is complete they will forward their report to Pete Holmes who will then decide whether or not to recommend that the city press charges.  

  • Concerned Citizen April 1, 2016 (10:33 am)

    This isn’t the first time this has been done….See pictures of previous “Cuts” on another WSB thread at this link:  http://westseattleblog.com/2016/03/followup-where-east-admiral-tree-cutting-investigation-stands-city-attorneys-office-says-could-be-a-felony/ .   The comments/pictures were posted on 3/29 at 1:41 pm.  Looks like it has happened 3 previous times dating back to 2007

  • Kay Cook April 1, 2016 (12:09 pm)

    Several years ago, a property owner at the top of my hillside on Harbor Avenue, poisoned numerous trees. All relevant departments within the City and State documented the fact. It was and is  very obvious which specific property benefited. Without documented proof who committed the act, nothing happened. We erected a large banner that could be seen as far away as downtown Seattle, which stated, “Poisoned for View”. It received National as well as local news attention. That was the only consequence. The second big mistake the individuals presently involved in this current illegal tree cutting is, they admitted it, then hired an attorney who did not tell them to be silent. People will continue to do what they have been doing, topping, chopping and poisoning.  I strongly feel that the only way to prevent these occurrences in the future is for the City to change their policy of NO. It is possible to work with  owners who pay substantial taxes for views that are being blocked. The process  could be as simple as an application, investigation inspection by certified arborist and environmental scientists, and all work supervised. No matter what protection laws are placed on vegetation, unless a person is caught in the act, nothing will happen. (The poisoners have sold and moved) Kaly Cook

  • JVM April 1, 2016 (4:48 pm)

    WSB –  Do you have any news? 

    It has been a week and still no word from the city on how they are going to approach this. Meanwhile those involved have had time to clean off their hard drives, collaborate a “story”, pay people off or whatever else they may come up with to keep themselves from having  criminal records.   

    It doesn’t sound like the legal process as most of us know it.   It is hard not to be cynical.  Can the City Attorney provide an update? 

    • WSB April 1, 2016 (4:56 pm)

      Working on a followup after checking with various parties….

      • JC April 1, 2016 (8:37 pm)

        Thank you for the coverage and updates, WSB.

        • WSB April 1, 2016 (9:21 pm)

          For anyone checking back, I’m writing tonight’s story right now; absent breaking news, hope to be done by 10:30. And of course you can check back any time – I’ll put a link in these comments, and it will be tagged “crime” so you can find the crime archive on the CATEGORIES list on the right sidebar. – TR

  • CFK April 1, 2016 (7:53 pm)

    Thanks, WSB, for your following on this issue. I’m a WS resident who took the time today to drive around that hillside area.  I’m looking forward to hearing more about this egregious incident, so brazen and damaging. I will contact the mayor, city atty, council etc.  I urge others to do that as well. Public interest and scrutiny are the only motivators to move this incident further towards resolution.

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