“Flower Houses” tree tussle: Trimmed today

Got a tip that the tree-trimming had finally commenced at the Alki “Flower Houses” (original coverage here). Got there just moments after the trimmers left. Owner Randie Stone was there but declined to comment, citing legal advice. Photo momentarily. 1:25 PM UPDATE: Here’s one of the angles we shot today – we don’t have an exact comparison in the “before” photos:


Here’s another photo from today, followed by one of the two we received at the time of the original report. On getting a report of tree-trimming in action, we rushed out so fast there wasn’t time to revisit the original story so that we’d be sure to shoot the EXACT same angle, but we’re hoping to be back out that way a little later today.


(that’s another WSB photo taken today)


(that’s a July photo from Alma Taylor-Smyth, who lives in one of the “flower houses”)

21 Replies to ""Flower Houses" tree tussle: Trimmed today"

  • Michael August 20, 2008 (1:00 pm)

    Can you get multiple angles on the tree this time? The Times kind of ate your lunch (journalistically speaking :)) on the original issue.

  • WSB August 20, 2008 (1:09 pm)

    I would disagree with that assessment, but we did request at that time to shoot from inside the actual apartments affected, and the apartment residents came back with “oh, we already talked to KING 5 and we don’t want anybody else in here.” Used to happen to us in “old media” too, she who gets there first gets the shot – unfortunately, handling this volume of content, without any actual staff but us, we were not able to go stake out in person, compared to a tv crew or newspaper reporter that had no other assignment to handle that day. Often happens that way; we tell you first, somebody else elaborates; we stake our position on “first.” Anyway, we have a couple angles on this, that Patrick just brought back, and I am reviewing them in comparison to the reader-provided photos we had previously.

  • Michael August 20, 2008 (1:33 pm)

    I guess the point is that sometimes “first” is not optimal.
    This story started out as a “citizen e-mail” – basically a complaint, escalated to you as a means of trying to gain an advantage. As I see it, it’s your job to take that e-mail, see if there’s really a story, and then let us know what the story really is.
    The “first” thing would be to simply reprint the e-mail and call for other opinions – exactly what the e-mailer is looking for, and what you often do. The “best” thing would be to go and talk to both sides AND a neutral observer (in this case, maybe an arborist), and refusing to print the e-mail at all in favor of your own research.
    I don’t want to downplay how great it is to have WSB, and I thank you for this complementary resource, but at times it seems either haphazard, or more cynically, designed to “engender discussion” (i.e., clicks).

  • Michael August 20, 2008 (1:36 pm)

    And I might add that if in loosening your “first-ness,” you sometimes have to point to another outlet’s article instead of posting your own, I for one would not read WSB any less – provided the articles you point to are good ones. :)

  • WSB August 20, 2008 (1:44 pm)

    We go through a lot of back-and-forth via phone and e-mail before posting. This one, we actually held onto for DAYS (which in retrospect I would not do again) before finally concluding we would get no reaction from the property mgmt company, who we really wanted to talk with before posting it. Once we posted and then more members of the “old media” (the Seattle Times was already onto the story) started barking down the tree, so to speak, then of course everyone started talking. Some of our stuff is indepth and some of it is indeed “we just got this” – in which case, it’s we post, you decide. And there’s a fair amount of stuff you never see because it’s on the cutting room floor and it’s a question we were able to answer for the reader (I probably do enough e-mail work each day to keep four people employed) without calling it to the attention of the community. Meantime, re: other articles, we do post to them often if they’re available at the time we report (usually they aren’t) and if they had info we didn’t, particularly if it’s time-sensitive info, like the Federal Way murder suspect arrested in WS the other day, about which we had NO access to independent info, so all we could do was tell everyone that citywide media had reported x, x, and x. One last datapoint before I quit rambling – one of the quotes on our “About” page is “news is a process, not a product.” In many cases, with ongoing issues, we have multiple posts, each with different developments. That in our view is vital rather than waiting till a 360-degree view of everything is available and withholding everything till then. Same as in this story – first report was “here’s what the flower house people say, we’ve tried to get comment from the management company and nobody called us back.” Next post – here’s what the homeowners association had to say (which actually surfaced as a comment on the original post – another great reason to post the beginnings of a story, opening the gates for more information to come in, a hallmark of this style of news coverage). Then the whole thing went on ice (although we did send out an unanswered followup inquiry at one point in the ensuing weeks), and we have driven by the houses at least a dozen times since then, including just yesterday, to see if anything had changed. Today, a tip came in, we went out, here we are. A process, not a product. Thanks for caring enough to critique! Keeps us thinking.

  • B August 20, 2008 (1:47 pm)

    That is a pretty good compromise IMO. It actually makes the tree looks better! They could have cut straight across the property line if they wanted. Alma kind of milked this one. Wonder if it hurt her business?

  • WSB August 20, 2008 (1:48 pm)

    To clarify who’s who, Alma is a tenant. Randie owns the houses.

  • B August 20, 2008 (1:49 pm)

    I just realized that after I posted, thanks for catching that!

  • Meghan August 20, 2008 (2:30 pm)

    Considering the tree still hangs well over the property line, I think the condo owners were more than fair. What wasn’t fair is the way they were maligned in the local “media”, or the way Ms. Stone carried on. But that seems to be the way of things today. I would certainly never use her as an agent after this.

  • Steph August 20, 2008 (2:37 pm)

    I would use Randi as an agent. Sounds like she’s a smart lady that would remind you to take everything in to consideration when purchasing a new home. Randi?
    Sometimes if you don’t make the public aware of an issue it will get handled the wrong way. It looks like the condo owner made a compromise, therefore gaining the respect of his/her community, or me anyways. I like business owners that can realize that they live in a community full of people.

  • Cami August 20, 2008 (3:28 pm)

    Tracy, I’ll be taking my camera on walks with me from now on! Great job on this story.

  • WSMom August 20, 2008 (3:34 pm)


    Considering what happened with this Heritage Tree in Fremond, I think Randi was pretty smart to get the media involved in saving her tree. Looks like everyone found a win-win in this situation, unlike that poor dieing Heritage tree.

  • WSB August 20, 2008 (3:39 pm)

    Cami – we learned that one the hard way – if we ever so much as dare to leave the house without still/video cameras in tow, that’s when news breaks out (the night of the Alki duplex fire, for example, although we were VERY lucky that in that case, our house was between where we were when first word came in – the Fauntleroy schoolhouse – and the breaking news situation, aka Alki). Thanks!

  • thriftwaygirl August 20, 2008 (4:13 pm)

    Luckily, it dosen’t look like the trimming was too dramatic, like some of the other “trimmings” I’ve seen….it just looks more “manicured”.

  • CB August 20, 2008 (4:30 pm)

    All this banter for a tree trimming? Get a life folks.

    What’s next?… an expose on the dangers of running water? We better shut off the tap before someone gets wet!

  • 4thGenWestSider August 20, 2008 (5:12 pm)

    It looks better than it did before. I think Randie took this opportunity to gain more media exposure for herself, and not the tree.. I mean, really. It is just a tree as CB points out.

  • baba nulu August 20, 2008 (7:33 pm)

    The telling moment will be when Ms. Stone sells her rental or tears it down and rebuilds to maximize her investment. Should we expect her to protect “her” tree then?

  • Mike Dady August 20, 2008 (8:05 pm)

    To me the moral of the story seems to be that when a professional Arborist is brought in, then a tree can be opened up a bit to allow views to take place but without butchering the tree or removing it entirely. One sees way way to many jack jobs from purported ‘landscapers’ or homeowners out of control:-)

    The International Society of Arboriculture or the local group Plant Amnesty are very good resources when it comes to proper tree pruning and care.

    IMO views are more beautiful when framed by branches and such. Think of it is a picture on a wall with a frame versus one without the frame.

  • baba nulu August 21, 2008 (12:47 am)

    Yes. But live by those credos and over time, you begin to think of it as a picture on a wall with a frame that is continually growing over the picture, eventually completely covering the picture, as well as blocking out the wall itself.

  • Westside Guru August 21, 2008 (10:36 am)

    Thus, becoming it’s own picture. And it’s own wall. The circle of life, right baba nulu?

  • Rick August 21, 2008 (5:10 pm)

    So why spend a mil or so for a pic?

Sorry, comment time is over.