FOLLOWUP: Fauntleroy/Fontanelle tree gets root exam as advocates watch

As announced, a city crew showed up at Fauntleroy and Fontanelle this morning to examine the roots of a big chestnut tree that residents fear will be lost in a curb-ramp project. (Our previous coverage is here and here.) Indeed, city arborist Nolan Rundquist told them, the root system is too extensive to proceed with the standard ramp design – he spoke with the handful of people who looked on as the roots were examined, including Sara Macko, who lives in the house with the yard that’s home to the tree:

Another complicating factor in redesigning the corner would be the hydrant, the city crew noted.

But as planned, they’re going to take what they learned back downtown to talk about it. The tree’s roots, meantime, will be protected with burlap. The tree’s advocates, meantime, are hoping to learn more about what a redesign would cost so that they could do crowdfunding if needed.

24 Replies to "FOLLOWUP: Fauntleroy/Fontanelle tree gets root exam as advocates watch"

  • Julia April 25, 2022 (12:50 pm)

    I’m in favor of saving the tree — I’ve collected nuts there myself. What I keep thinking of, though, is all the effort in this spot for a ramp while Arbor Heights and other neighborhoods don’t even have sidewalks. Don’t we care about wheelchair access there?

  • Kersti Elisabeth Muul April 25, 2022 (1:00 pm)

    They would need to dig 18″ down which would remove an extensive amount of the root system thereby destabilizing the tree. It would eventually die anyway from the root loss. The exposed fine roots are drying out already so the burlap is very important.

  • Morgan April 25, 2022 (2:05 pm)

    They’ll have to go unconventional and move the crossing space and ramp by taking out on street parking….at least I think they would have to. Hope they do.

  • anonyme April 25, 2022 (2:13 pm)

    Julia makes an excellent point.  There are many neighborhoods, notably Arbor Heights, that do not have sidewalks or ramps.  As a matter of fact, I have a neighbor in a wheelchair living on one of those streets.  He wheels all over the neighborhood, so clearly ramps are preferable – but not essential.   As Kersti pointed out, that burlap is essential and should be kept moist as well.  I’d prefer to see some wood chips on top of it.  And please tell me those signs are not nailed to the tree.  I still can’t tell from the photos what kind of chestnut this is.

    • KBear April 25, 2022 (4:02 pm)

      Just because people with disabilities can and do (sometimes) get around without curb ramps doesn’t make them “not essential,” and I’d be willing to bet your neighbor in the wheelchair would disagree with you, too. The city is required by federal law to install a curb ramp here.  The only thing at issue is whether they can or will do it in a way that preserves this tree.

      • anonyme April 25, 2022 (5:44 pm)

        I guess we disagree on the meaning of the word “essential”, which I would define as something one cannot live without.  I could not find any law, federal or state, that specifically defines why a ramp would be “required” at this location.  Obviously, elderly and disabled people live everywhere, with or without
        sidewalks or curb ramps.  State law even suggests accommodation along
        ‘pedestrian pathways’, whatever that is.  Let me emphasize that I am not arguing against this or any other ramp; I just don’t understand why there are such vast discrepancies from one block and one neighborhood to another. 

        • Lagartija Nick April 25, 2022 (7:45 pm)

          The ADA or Americans with Disability Act was passed around 40 yrs ago and requires curb ramps in all public sidewalks. Indeed, the city has been woefully negligent installing them here, Arbor Heights, and elsewhere around the city. That doesn’t mean they aren’t essential.

        • KBear April 25, 2022 (9:19 pm)

          Anonyme, is your car “essential”? Is electricity or internet service “essential”? You can live without those things, you know. And you can live with one less non-native tree, if that’s what it comes down to. But the law is on the side of curb ramps. If you care that much about trees, there are plenty of other ways to help them without disadvantaging the mobility-impaired. 

          • one tree April 26, 2022 (5:58 am)

            We need trees literally to breathe, so yes, they are more essential than our cars or internet service.  Can we live without one tree, yes, but we aren’t the only ones who need trees, wildlife, and the planet at large does.  It is also perfectly okay to value a specific tree in your neighborhod and to try to find a solution which protects it while also meeting the need which might uproot it. Just because you don’t care about something doesn’t mean it’s not okay or important even for others to. Why would you begrudge others for valueing something and wanting to protect it? Does it negatively impact you if this tree remains?  Trees are being dessimated accross our planet, the issues of trees are bigger than most of us are even aware. Look up toilet paper and deforestation. It’s beyond out of control. Then there is the destruction every year from all of the wildfires… Calling attention to trees, even one at a time, is very worthwhile, in my view.

          • KBear April 26, 2022 (8:34 am)

            I didn’t say trees weren’t essential, or that this tree shouldn’t be protected, or that people were wrong for trying to protect it. Just trying to remind people that disability accommodations are essential, and required by law. If they can find a way to build a ramp while preserving the tree, wonderful. But if something has to give here, it should be the tree. 

          • anonyme April 26, 2022 (6:46 am)

            Actually, KBear, my car is absolutely non-essential as I’ve never owned one.  Internet service is not essential, either.  Desirable, difficult to live without – but not essential.  You’re projecting your own value system onto a stranger.  Some form of heating is essential if one is to avoid freezing to death.  And as many others have pointed out (including myself, which you repeatedly ignore) it’s not an either/or issue, tree vs. ramp.  Lose your binary bias.  I have never said I’m against a ramp.  Got it? 

  • Plf April 25, 2022 (4:39 pm)

    If the homeowner is able perhaps hiring your own arborist to come and review the tree, root system and see what other options might be available like anything a second opinion is a good idea and ideally someone who is receiving a paycheck from the same group who is not pushing for the tree to be removed&nbsp

    • Kersti Elisabeth Muul April 26, 2022 (7:12 am)

      I happen to know some of the SDOT arborists. Two of them I have known since the 90s. They are extremely competent and experienced and have the trees’ best interest, always and are fighting for Seattle’s trees to remain.As a former consulting utility specialist/Forester/capital projects manager, I say this with high confidence. The arborists aren’t the enemy here, in fact we are lucky to have them in the roles that they are in

  • MICRO April 25, 2022 (4:43 pm)

    Only in West Seattle.

    • SlimJim April 25, 2022 (5:36 pm)

      No, this could easily happen in East Seattle too. And just because it might not happen in other communities doesn’t make it wrong that it happens here.

  • Mj April 25, 2022 (5:59 pm)

    I’m curious as to how much all this added process is costing?

    • Mark47n April 26, 2022 (4:37 am)

      The tree is on private property and is private property and, therefore cannot simply be seized by the state anymore that the state can seize your house for public improvement without due process.  The rub is that the root system extends into public right-of-way and that, by trimming out the roots the tree is structurally compromised and will likely die. That makes this a question of what the tree is worth and I suspect a mature tree that produces food (despite whether or not you like chestnuts) is worth a bit more than my crappy dogwoods that the city wouldn’t let me remove from my parking strip.If the owners wanted to push it this could end up in court and this sort of project could run afoul the cities policy of protecting mature trees…or they could modify the project and preserve the tree…which may be less expensive.I’m just glad that we a local Lorax who speaks for the trees…they’re pretty important, really.

    • Micro April 26, 2022 (8:31 am)

      Adding to the cost of this PROCESS is the one on our earth.  All of the carbon footprint involved in the public manipulation of our “Seattle Process” to the benefit of what?  The Chestnut is known for its columnar trunk.  This tree is not.  Its multi trunks may appear healthy, but have long suffered.

  • ICutTreesYouDriveCars April 25, 2022 (7:31 pm)

    Looks like the city had a better turn out. Nolan is a straight-shooter with an excellent reputation in the industry. I guess it comes down to: City removes tree to make sidewalk ADA compliant -or- tenant destroys tree with treehouse. 

  • marcus April 26, 2022 (9:36 am)

    I love that tree and also collected the nuts in my youth.  Be disappointed to see it go however it is very old and may not even survive long.  A storm could indeed shear many limbs off and then the tree might be a gonner.  There is pleaty of property across the street in the tennis park area for a replanting, lots of room along the sidewalk area to the east of Fauntleroy.  Still would really miss that tree and my history with it, old trees in the forest do eventually fall-but no one hears them.

    • one tree April 26, 2022 (3:37 pm)

      ‘old trees in the forest do eventually fall-but no one hears them’

      Big old trees falling in the forest don’t go down quietly and are definitely heard, maybe not by people, but by other closer spirits certainly. 

      • marcus April 27, 2022 (7:31 am)

        Very true!  Many spirits mourn the loss of such a grandpa or grandma.  There was a company a few years back that took the old ones destine for renewal and offered slabs and such for tables and furniture.  If the tree needs to go then maybe the city can process it into slabs for which the public can come and bring home for backyard or garage projects.  A nice table would honor the memory.  I do not want to see this tree go but sometimes there is a need.  Replant across the street 10 fold.

        • one tree April 27, 2022 (4:49 pm)

          Hoping this tree may remain and survive, but if it is taken down, how about building a bench for the neighborhood, and planting another chestnut tree, with room for its roots to grow, near to it.

  • Historic Seattle April 26, 2022 (1:15 pm)

    Can you also ask the city about a very similar situation, a beautiful big leaf maple had a sign on it at 62nd Ave SW and SW admiral way – for a curb cutting project. I’m similarly interested if there are alternative curb locations that can help save this tree.

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