TREES & VIEWS: Two tales from Admiral

Two short stories about trees and views in Admiral – only related in that both involve Seattle Parks land:

ILLEGAL TREE-CUTTING, AGAIN: A reader tip led us to that freshly cut slope along Ferry SW in North Admiral, uphill from Harbor SW, on Monday. There we found a Parks employee who confirmed that they had filed a police report because it was unauthorized tree-cutting on public land. This morning, we followed up with Parks spokesperson Rachel Schulkin, who says the department knows which tree-cutting company was responsible and that the company told Parks it was hired by homeowners to improve their views. The case, she said, will be referred to the City Attorney’s Office. Schulkin didn’t have specifics on how many trees or how much area was affected.

We had a second reason to talk with her – a late-night discovery related to this:

(WSB photo from last month)

ADMIRAL WAY VIEWPOINT CHANGE OF HEART: Last month, after multiple reader questions, we inquired with Parks about whether there were plans to restore the view at Admiral Way Viewpoint. As reported in this story, we were told at the time that Parks was re-assessing its policies first. Then late last night we noticed “no parking” signs at the viewpoint – technically part of Belvedere Park – and while the signs said only that “construction” would be happening Thursday and Friday, the contact number was for an arborist at Parks. The arborist pointed us to Schulkin, who said that Parks has had a change of heart and will be trimming the viewpoint trees. But first, the work for which the signage is in place – set to start Thursday – will involve mowing the blackberries and other shrubbery so Parks staff can get a closer look and make a trimming plan.

53 Replies to "TREES & VIEWS: Two tales from Admiral"

  • Joan June 26, 2018 (11:26 am)

    Sock it to the landowner who illegally cut trees! Did they learn nothing from the other case???Kudos to the Parks Dept. for (legally!) reopening our view from the viewpoint! Yea!

    • KM June 26, 2018 (1:03 pm)

      If they were considering the other case, perhaps they have enough cash or access to debt to pay the amount they perceive their fine would be, based on the other case.

  • B June 26, 2018 (11:52 am)

    What happens to these tree-cutting companies? They sound extremely shady – all the reputable arborists I know wouldn’t dare cut trees on public land without permits and permission. 

  • KBear June 26, 2018 (11:59 am)

    Let’s hope this results in a very expensive lesson for greedy homeowners and fly-by-night tree cutting companies. I’d like to know who did this, so I can avoid hiring them.

  • coffeedude June 26, 2018 (12:20 pm)

    I would think its pretty easy to figure out which idiot hired the company based on the house location to the cut trees.  And now everyone will know how much of a dumb dumb they are.

  • Daniel June 26, 2018 (12:35 pm)

    Sounds like it was multiple homeowners who maybe agreed to split the cost of cutting the trees. And they should file class action against both the owners and the company that did the work without seeking permits.

  • Um, No! June 26, 2018 (12:53 pm)

    Let’s not make assumptions that the home owner directed this.  They might have directed the company to prune trees legally on their property and the company employees got a little carried away?  No one knows for sure at this point.  Before we start calling for heads,  let’s wait and see what the “actual facts” are?  

    • DRG June 26, 2018 (1:17 pm)

      Considering how many times this has happened before, it’d be utterly shocking if it WASN’T a homeowner in the area.So tired of this happening again and again.

      • M June 26, 2018 (10:24 pm)

        Why does it bother you and everone so much? The trees will survive.  You probably would not have seen the tree before this was published.  Just sick of all the volatile hate here.  Focus on somthing more important.  BTW I would never trim a tree on someone elses property including the city.

        • 22bkades June 27, 2018 (7:01 am)

          “Why does it bother you and everone so much?““BTW I would never trim a tree on someone elses property including the city.”That’s the point. An importatant one for many of us. That’s why….

        • KM June 27, 2018 (7:42 am)

          I’m always happy to see defense of our environment from its human residents, especially after destructive behavior by a few. Protection of our environment should be one of the most important topics on our minds. 

        • DRG June 27, 2018 (7:45 am)

          For me, there are  a number of reasons: 1. We have a lot of slide-prone hillsides. Cut down trees, and the risk for slides goes up. (I suppose if the culprit is in the immediate vicinity they’re potentially hurting themselves, but if they’re further away, that makes it even worse because then they’re potentially harming others.) 2) Based on the blog’s reporting over the years, illegal tree cutting keeps happening. It’s a situation where those with enough income can just decide it’s worth it to them to break the law and pay whatever fine they may or may not be slapped with, because they can afford to do so. 3) As someone who’s lived in West Seattle my entire life but is feeling pushed out due to rising costs, seeing the wealthier flouting the laws again and again and AGAIN is super disheartening and aggravating.

        • RayWest June 27, 2018 (7:52 am)

          M–This is not a minor, unimportant issue. First, this happened on “public” land. Private citizens cannot just go in and make any modification for their personal use. Left unchecked, this type of behavior would become rampant with people doing anything and everything they want. Also, this is a safety issue. Cutting trees on slopes can and does lead to landslides that can threaten human lives. The tree roots stabilizes the soil and the leaf litter prevents too much rainfall from saturating the ground, which can cause slope failure. It is highly unlikely that this is a case of a homeowner who only wanted the trees on his own property trimmed a little.  This happens again and again where a selfish owner illegally  improves his view.

        • SuperAwesome June 27, 2018 (8:08 am)

          It’s important because it can lead to erosion of the hillside. Which could be dangerous for a lot of people and could impact travel to and from West Seattle.  And it’s just wrong.  

        • Rick June 27, 2018 (6:41 pm)

          Pretty hypocritical.

    • Anon0625 June 26, 2018 (5:49 pm)

      I spoke with the officer who was taking photos of the damage… the Parks Dept. employee caught the tree cutters in the act- they readily admitted that they were hired by the homeowner. 

      • Um, No! June 27, 2018 (7:29 am)

        Again,   this does not always establish fault or intent on the home owner.   The home owner could have been very specific in their directions and the tree cutters went to far and took some liberties. They could just be covering their own legal butts now.  No one knows for sure so before we start convicting them in the “Court of WSB” and go full on “Outrage Mode”,   maybe we should wait and get “ALL” the facts?    

        • AMD June 27, 2018 (7:12 pm)

          If you know of a contractor that goes “above and beyond” without any conversation with the homeowner guaranteeing payment for that work, I’d really like their number.  Most of the time you’re lucky if you can get them to do everything in the original scope without a reminder.  Having worked with many (mostly great, tbh) contractors over the years, I absolutely cannot FATHOM one taking on the time and expense of extra work outside the scope of the contract without at least a discussion of compensation.

  • gh June 26, 2018 (1:16 pm)

    If you were a homeowner who had a view for decades, wouldn’t you want to keep it?  The problem with trees is they grow; the problem with public lands is the only time the government maintains them is when enough people complain about the lack of maintenance.  They are the worst neighbors you could have…

    • Sixbuck June 26, 2018 (1:41 pm)

      Quit making sense, GH!

      • CAM June 26, 2018 (2:26 pm)

        I’m sorry, what about that makes sense? For example, if I get a new neighbor who keeps a loud dog in their yard and it bothers me but they won’t do anything about it I don’t have the right to walk into their yard and put a muzzle on their dog. Nobody has the right to alter property they don’t own, whether it’s public property and no matter it’s condition. Quit making excuses for people’s entitled and antisocial behavior. 

      • What? June 26, 2018 (3:16 pm)

        This doesn’t make any more sense than buying a house with a view located behind an old 1 story home. Once someone sells that home and knocks it down to build their 3 story home your view is lost. No recourse, nothing illegal, easy to see it coming. Same for these homeowners. They purchased homes abutting public land. They don’t get to decide the policies for public land, we all do. Just because their views get blocked does not mean the city is neglecting the land. The plan is to let those trees grow to help stabilize the hillsides and create more of a natural environment. They don’t have a right to those views. I understand they love that view but they can’t cut down trees or hire someone to do it, it is illegal. 

    • Ktrapp June 26, 2018 (2:09 pm)

      Sure, I’d like to keep the view.  But if a neighbor’s tree grew up to block my view, I wouldn’t hire someone to go chop limbs off it while they were away.  I do believe that would be a crime.Trees grow.  So yeah, you may not always have the same view.  They could have asked the city to cut them.  Barring that, they could have them demanded a reassessment of their property due to the lost view, and thus reduced their taxes.

      • wsn00b June 28, 2018 (12:59 pm)

        I don’t know if Seattle does this, but if I were a wealthy homeowner dependent on the city’s maintenance of public land for my views, I’d look to buy air rights that legally obligated the city to maintain the view. The cost of the air rights would allow for the view maintenance.

    • Ethan June 26, 2018 (2:26 pm)

      I think I found the spot in Google Maps, which seems to capture a maintenance crew in action.  If this spot is correct, it’s pretty clear which house benefits (especially if confirmed by the company that did the work).  If any laws were broken the City should be able to handle it via the recent experience they have in these matters.

      • WSB June 26, 2018 (2:58 pm)

        Hi – a caution that I also noted in previous coverage of other tree-cutting situations: Living on a hillside in a spot where many trees ARE the view, I can say that you can’t assume who would get an improved view if a certain tree or certain section of slope was trimmed. Through a gap in trees, I can see treetops in Lincoln Park – relatively distant – that are now covering what would have been a water view from this little old bungalow many decades ago. Just the way it goes. P.S. Thanks again to the tipster on this. We’ve been getting a lot of notes about trees lately – mostly people noting that a site is being cleared for construction, often of a bigger-than-what-exists-now house, and are sad to see the trees go … this is the first situation of this type in a while. – TR

      • Nick June 27, 2018 (10:44 am)

        Ethan: The cutting happened down the hill (SE) of that address? On parcel 9275700125 it looks like? 

    • Mike June 27, 2018 (6:33 am)

      GH, views are not protected by law.  I can buy a lot in front of those people and build a house to block their view.  If they want to keep the view, they’d need to buy all property that might then have anything ever blocking their view, current and future.

    • lookingforlogic June 28, 2018 (5:02 pm)

      What if I prune trees on their property?

  • wscommuter June 26, 2018 (3:31 pm)

    @GH … Unless one has an easement, a homeowner doesn’t “own” the view … if your view depends on someone else trimming trees or not building to block your view, you are always at the mercy of losing that view.  And if your “solution” to trees growing up to block your view is surreptitious cutting instead of complying with the law (you know, asking permission, getting a permit … stuff like that), then pretty much you already know you’re doing something illegal and unethical.  

  • anonyme June 26, 2018 (3:37 pm)

    I don’t think any licensed arborist would do this, especially as they would know that they are responsible for obtaining a permit and are legally liable for damages.  Nor would any arborist perform a hack job like the one pictured.  That said, there are a lot of so-called “tree trimmers” out there, who not only have no idea what the hell they’re doing but don’t care, either.A few weeks ago, there were a bunch of men and women going door-to-door soliciting landscaping jobs in Arbor Heights.  They got a few near me, and I spoke to the guy in charge.  He told me they would cut any tree they were told to cut (using gas hedge trimmers, which says a lot) and knew nothing about permits when asked.  I would be very surprised if they had any kind of license, including a business license.If you see anyone cutting a tree on public property (including the planting strip) I would ask if they have a permit.  Most arborists approved by the City to prune street trees will have a licensed business and clearly marked equipment.

  • Woody June 26, 2018 (3:45 pm)

      Aren’t property taxes higher if you have a view? If so an easy solution would be a law change that people with views of trees pay the same as people with views of the city, or water. Wouldn’t it lesson the desire to keep a view? I’m sure those of you that love trees would be HAPPY to pay more!!

  • flimflam June 26, 2018 (4:07 pm)

    again with this selfish, short sighted, entitled behavior? terrible.i agree with whoever wondered about the tree company – wouldn’t they be pretty cautious of property lines, private vs public, etc?

  • Mark Schletty June 26, 2018 (5:35 pm)

    The legal punishment for the last, well covered, illegal West Seattle tree cutting was way too light. It just encouraged this one and others in the future. The only way to stop this is severe punishment including jail time so wealthy people won’t just choose to pay a fine for defiling public property to get their view.

  • ScubaFrog June 26, 2018 (5:54 pm)

    Unless the city’s going to fine these people hundreds of thousands of dollars each, they’ll keep uprooting hillsides and making their properties skyrocket.  The city doesn’t want to punish its richest political donors.  It’s completely fiscally viable to keep doing this.  Meanwhile watch out for hillslides this fall.Per the city not maintaining its viewpoints, just another example of rotten leadership.  The fish rots at the head.  

  • MJ June 26, 2018 (6:09 pm)

    The City needs to enforce all laws consistently.  Aggressively penalizing people illegally cutting trees is great, but do not stop with only this illegal activity.  The City’s selective enforcement of laws needs to be fixed to consistent enforcement of all laws equally across the board

    • Rick June 27, 2018 (7:57 am)

      Selective law enforcement is Seattle’s specialty.

      • Jon Wright June 27, 2018 (10:19 am)

        I think you mean “nonexistent law enforcement.”

  • AbsolutelyEntitled June 26, 2018 (6:50 pm)

    If you let trees or shurbs overgrow city property as a home owner, you will be fined in Seattle. If random, unsupervised children climb the tree in the parking strip in front of your home and are injured, if the tree is found diseased or called an attractive nuisance -you will be liable and get to pay for a 10 year old broken arm. If you shovel snow from your lot and fail to do so thoroughly and a stranger slips and falls, you are responsible. It is not unthinkable that if you pay taxes for ‘view’ property, you expect a view. And Seattle is not going to remediate that while increasing the tax rate 50% – just because armchair warriors on the WSB think it is so.  It is not always obvious. The city of Seattle does not play fairly. And I have never used an aborist that ask for a permit. 

    • Ethan June 26, 2018 (9:15 pm)

      I’m not sure I follow.  Because kids might climb a diseased tree that a home owner doesn’t take care of, and snow that doesn’t fall in Seattle, and taxes, it’s OK to ignore laws one doesn’t like?   If someone disagrees with the laws, that’s why we have courts and elections.  We reserve anarchy for May 1.

    • S June 26, 2018 (10:25 pm)

      Absolutelyentitled: Nope, that’s not how it works. Paying taxes doesn’t entitle you to perpetual views. But if your view goes away, you can petition the city for reduced taxes based on your reduced property value.

  • Erithan June 26, 2018 (10:10 pm)

    Besides the loss of the greenery, always makes me worried about mudslides, is a view worth the risk? *sigh*

  • TreeHouse June 26, 2018 (10:21 pm)

    We need to update our city laws to penalize both the homeowner and the contracted arborist. The city should set an example of these people to prevent others from doing this in the future. The previous penalties were way too light. 

  • Beth Wojick June 26, 2018 (10:42 pm)

    Hey, so we watch the neighborhood from our boat.  So many views have been lost to trees!  I am sure the City has their reasons for protecting trees, but it is rediculous!   Allow home owners to plant less evasive trees that don’t effect views.

    • Mike June 27, 2018 (6:31 am)

      You do realize the reason proper trimming is needed is that when done the wrong way can kill vegetation and cause land slides, right?  You feel those views are more important at any cost than those that live at the bottom of the hill?  You literally are talking about taking the lives of humans to provide a view for somebody living above.  The city needs to get professionals to come in and trim accordingly.  Those that cut these illegally and those that payed for them to be cut, need to be held accountable.

  • anonyme June 27, 2018 (6:44 am)

    Permits are only required for arborists who are working on street trees or potentially significant specimens.  As a homeowner, you would not be aware if they had “asked” for a permit or not, unless you had requested that information specifically.  The City also maintains a list of arborists approved for work on street trees.I do think that views at designated viewpoints should be preserved.  That’s reasonable.  It’s not reasonable for private homeowners to take it upon themselves to create or maintain a certain view from their property, and such actions should carry very serious consequences.Beth, the trees being cut in these cases have not been planted by homeowners.  One could also argue that too many trees have been lost to views – and of what?  In several of these cases, the view that was opened up was a pretty ugly one.  Again, trees ARE a view.  If only these trees had been more “evasive” this whole thing could have been avoided (sorry, couldn’t resist).

  • Elizabeth June 27, 2018 (8:06 am)

    First world problems.

  • Native June 27, 2018 (8:38 am)

    It will be wonderful to restore the view at Admiral… thanks WSB

  • WiseWoman June 27, 2018 (9:14 am)

    One can only hope that when the rains come, the homeowner who cut the trees has only their house slide down the hill, I’m sure if the Insurance company knows bout the illegal cutting they wouldnt payout on a claim. And I believe, not 100% sure, that is info in the public info appraising files with the county.I agree, too light of penalties to prevent reoccurances. If rich people were punished equally in this city, we wouldn’t need to have an anarchist day on May 1st.

  • Yepper June 27, 2018 (2:55 pm)

    Tree cutting is very easy on your property. My parents live on Genesee Hill. They live on a steep slope that the city deems a slide risk. They did hire an arborist and went through the permitting process-28 pages. After paying the fee’s and waiting 2 weeks they got their permits-no question asked.  

  • Yepper June 27, 2018 (3:05 pm)

    A note for “tree lovers”. Act the part. My in-laws who live in North Admiral related this funny story a few months ago. After spending years tending to a tree on their property they cut it down. A couple of their neighbors confronted them with their displeasure. When asked why they never offered to help trim or clean up around the tree…no answer. When asked why they didn’t help repair the sidewalk that had answer. Oh, they did say the homeowner is responsible for care and upkeep but got huffy when it was pointed out that the homeowner had the right then to cut it down. Guess they believe in “selective” rights.

    • ScubaFrog June 27, 2018 (5:54 pm)

      Are you insinuating that someone’s foliage is another’s responsibility to care for?  How lazy and irresponsible are your in-laws?  They should have been sued by the city for damage to city property, and by your neighbors for not hiring hiring professionals to come top/prune the tree.Then your in-laws (and you) have the audacity to blame everyone but the owner of the tree.  Must be Alabamans.

  • proudpapa June 27, 2018 (9:10 pm)

    Recalling the previous tree trimming on public lands by some homes on 36th Ave SW, I searched and came across the listing for one of the homes that has an improved view. It has been on for 10 days with an asking price of $1.95M. Not too shabby.

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