FOLLOWUP: Rally planned Monday to urge city to save threatened tree

(WSB photo, earlier this month: The tree & the sidewalk, NE corner of Fauntleroy/Fontanelle)

We’ve been reporting on the possibility that a curb-ramp project just north of Solstice Park could lead to the removal of a big old chestnut tree. It’s on private property, but close enough to the sidewalk that its roots have spread out over time. As noted here last week, the city promises to assess it and try to save it, but Sara, who lives on the property that’s home to the tree, wants witnesses, and is organizing a rally:

The city is breaking ground at the foot of our ancient Horse Chestnut Tree in the morning of Monday, April 25th. We want to create a presence for the arborist, onsite workers, and city officials in order to show the community’s outcry for the tree’s preservation of life.

Sara adds:

We are gathering to advocate for the health of our environment! The removal of legacy trees such as this is severely reducing our city’s canopy tree cover, creating what are called “heat islands.” These heat islands are devastating to native plants and wildlife. Last summer, Seattle experienced a mass bird death in result of record-breaking temperature spikes due to climate change. One of the best actions we can take to help our habitat is preserve the lives of our ancient trees that provide shade, food, and refuge as our world grows hotter.

We are also here to express our support of the ramp! We want our friends on wheels to have ease of access to our lovely parks, and of course our lovely tree. We are here to emphasize that accessibility and sustainability are NOT mutually exclusive! Both accessibility and the preservation of wildlife and plant life are vital to our community’s health! Come join us!

Seating will be provided for those who cannot stand for long periods of time. [We have approximately 6 or 7 chairs.]

The gathering is planned to start at 10 am Monday on the lawn on the SW Fontanelle side of the Solstice Park tennis courts.

33 Replies to "FOLLOWUP: Rally planned Monday to urge city to save threatened tree"

  • lowmanbeachdrive April 24, 2022 (1:29 pm)

    Keep on keeping on, friends of the environment. 

  • Morgan April 24, 2022 (1:56 pm)

    I see on street parking each side of the street. Maybe there’s right of way to spare for ramping if SDOT can get a transportation engineer engaged and get creative for sake of trees. I like th approach here of avoiding message of a false choice.if There’s sufficient will there will be way.

  • Kevin on Delridge April 24, 2022 (2:30 pm)

    The levels of grandstanding here are just astounding. We should be increasingly concerned by the number of individuals willing to use larger systemic issues to justify irrational beliefs and actions. Saving this single tree will not reverse climate change and will have no meaningful impact for wildlife or native plants.

    We can (and should) be concerned about these larger systemic issues while applying reasonable principles to isolated incidents such as this one. The principles being applied are completely reasonable.

    1. Ensuring that our public spaces are accessible to all by installing a curb ramp.
    2. In this case a unique challenge is presented in the form of a tree.
    3. Assess the situation to determine next steps. (We are here)

    This demonstration is not reasonable.

    Allow the city to do its work for the people of Seattle. If this tree has to be removed, plant new trees for future generations.

    And just to combat the implicit misinformation here. Seattle has been increasing the canopy (now near 30%), ahead of schedule I might add, since 2007

    • StopCuttingDownTrees April 24, 2022 (9:37 pm)

      Your publicly shaming people in our community who care about the environment and West Seattle’s rapidly-vanishing tree canopy says more about you than it does about them. This sidewalk and curb has been there without ADA access for 9 or 10 decades and you’re just now getting upset about it?

      • Kersti Elisabeth Muul April 25, 2022 (7:08 am)

        Lots of mistakes in the comment as well that I will shed light on. Seattle is losing canopy ar a rapid rate

      • Kevin on Delridge April 25, 2022 (8:59 am)

        It is clear you have no interest in actually discussing this issue. You didn’t engage with anything I said, instead resorting to moral grandstanding.

        • Disagreement is public shaming.
        • You must know the status of every curb in the city and be “upset” at the appropriate time otherwise you will be dismissed.

        Think about how silly this sounds.

        • StopCuttingDownTrees April 25, 2022 (6:17 pm)

          Seattle’s tree canopy IS rapidly decreasing. The City Council a few years ago actually made it easier for developers and homeowners to eliminate healthy trees from properties. If anyone is “moral grandstanding” on here it’s you.

      • ICutTreesYouDriveCars April 25, 2022 (6:42 pm)

        Your use of “your” is commendable, but you’re incorrect.

    • free speech April 24, 2022 (10:11 pm)

      I think we should be encouraged by an individual willing to stand up for something they care about (and they’re not trying to stop a ramp).   The demonstration is certainly reasonable (and covered by the first amendment).   Also, we’ve been allowing the city to “do its work” for the people of Seattle for some time,  and it doesn’t seem to have gotten us very far (anywhere good, at least).   It’s been disgraceful.

      • Kevin on Delridge April 25, 2022 (9:18 am)

        I would be encouraged by someone standing up for something that is real and something that actually matters.

        This tree is not going to stop climate change. Our canopy has been increasing. Using the veneer of activism for important issues as cover for what is a selfish action should not be celebrated.

        It is telling you bring in free speech and the 1st amendment. No where did I say the demonstration shouldn’t be allowed. Just as they have the freedom to demonstrate, I have the freedom to make my opinion on the matter known. But I know what you were trying to do, thanks for making your dishonesty so apparent.

        As far as Seattle and its disgrace, I think you and many others here should take a look in the mirror. What is needed in this city (and country for that matter) aren’t even options. We’ve continued to elect individuals that cater to businesses and the wealthy – it isn’t at all surprising that we haven’t made it very far.

        I am interested to know what is wrong with the process regarding this tree however. You seem to be against it but give no reasoning. Could it be that you are incapable of distinguishing between good and bad because of your preconceived notions about the city and its government? Without that ability how can we make progress?

    • Kersti Elisabeth Muul April 25, 2022 (7:20 am)

      Here is how to actually correctly interpret that data:canopy cover on single-family lots decreased by nearly 3% between 2007 and 2015. That’s a loss of about 870 acres of tree canopy.Also we are waiting for the updated canopy study which is a year overdue, and will show more loss

      • Kevin on Delridge April 25, 2022 (1:22 pm)

        The report states no conclusions should be drawn due to inadequate measurement methods.

        I will correct my previous statement saying the canopy has been increasing.

        My main goal was to correct the implication that there is no plan for the canopy or that progress hasn’t been made (such as establishing a sustainable method of measurement).

        “The differences in the 2015 approach and the 2016 LiDAR makes the studies’ results not directly comparable to one another. Prior estimates of tree
        canopy should not be used to draw conclusions with respect to
        changes in tree canopy over time.”

        An argument can be made that more can be done (I would agree), but that wouldn’t necessarily change the situation for this tree. Nor has anyone explained what should be done differently in this circumstance.

    • WS Resident April 25, 2022 (7:41 am)

      I agree with this. We don’t solve anything by saving a single tree. We solve things by having coherent and consistently applied policies. If you don’t like the way the city handles our urban canopy, then rally around changing those policies, rather than harassing city workers and delaying long-overdue accessibility improvements. 

    • WS Res April 25, 2022 (1:58 pm)

      Well put, Kevin. 

    • Lana April 25, 2022 (6:41 pm)

      Preach, Kevin!

  • Firlove April 24, 2022 (3:12 pm)

    Sara does no one a favor by making such outrageous falsities as  this,  “The removal of legacy trees such as this is severely reducing our city’s canopy tree cover, creating what are called “heat islands.”Seattle has long been gathering data to support this conclusion.  It does not exist.  The data show the tree canopy of Seattle has not significantly changed in decades.  People who want to help our environment could volunteer for much needed restoration and tree planting in our public lands and homeowners reduce grass, replacing it with trees and foliage. I would like to hear from an arborist regarding the “threatened tree” in question, how it has been maintained and anything to address its health before the sidewalk work. 

  • lowmanbeachdrive April 24, 2022 (4:02 pm)

    how long will the rally be? if folks can’t make it 10am

  • RickB April 24, 2022 (7:32 pm)

    So what this sounds like to me is that you’re hoping to harass and intimidate the arborist and other people just doing their jobs so you can get your way. How about just letting then work and accept their assessment? A lot of “entitlement” vibes here.

    • ICutTreesYouDriveCars April 24, 2022 (8:08 pm)

      Hey RickB, we should be friends 

    • lowmanbeachdrive April 25, 2022 (12:47 am)

      It’s called peaceful resistance.  You know, like MLK?

      • James No. 2 April 25, 2022 (5:44 am)

        Comparing the protest of a tree being removed with the civil rights movements is not the take you think it is.

      • DC April 25, 2022 (9:05 am)

        Fighting for the rights of Black people and fighting selfishly to save one tree you like making it more difficult for people with disabilities to get around… these two are the same? Really proving RICKB and KEVIN ON DELRIDGE’s point.

  • ICutTreesYouDriveCars April 24, 2022 (7:50 pm)

    It should be noted that the person who organized this rally is a tenant and has no actual ownership over the property or tree. Building a treehouse in said tree would also damage the cambium and result in higher susceptibility to disease. This tree has “outgrown its space,” as is true with the many ornamental and non-native species we plant in our yards. Once a tree impacts infrastructure, it will be removed. The solution is to replant. Blaming the urban heat island effect on tree canopy cover (or lack thereof) when we, the humans, logged, cleared lots, and built fortresses of concrete and steel is fairly negligent. There are plenty of other environmental issues that would benefit from a rally than a tree impacting a sidewalk and prohibiting folks in wheelchairs from commerce.

    • WS Resident April 24, 2022 (11:11 pm)

      Thank you for your logic. 

      • Kersti Elisabeth Muul April 25, 2022 (7:09 am)

        It’s incorrect, not logic

        • ICutTreesYouDriveCars April 25, 2022 (6:39 pm)

          As an arborist with a degree in Urban Environmental Studies, I disagree. We all bear the responsibility for urban heat islands. Live in a house or apartment? How many trees were removed to make way for your residence? How many trees were harvested to supply lumber for your home? Do you drive a car?  As is the irony in my “blog name,” we often pick and chose battles. The removal of one tree to make public space accessible for all, is not going to adversely impact tree cover in Seattle. Reforestation is the only solution.

    • Lana April 25, 2022 (6:41 pm)


  • Ivan Weiss April 25, 2022 (8:10 am)

    I repeat the question I asked in an earlier thread, which no one has seen fit to answer: Why can’t the ramp be moved a few feet? Or here’s another idea: Why can’t two ramps be built, one on each side of the tree, so that wheelchair users can choose either direction, and the tree can be saved? People are posing this as strictly an either/or proposition, which is dishonest. It’s no such thing. A both/and solution is quite doable, and both “sides” can get what they want. Access for wheelchair users, which is necessary and desirable, need not necessarily come at the expense of the tree, and those who seek to preserve it.

  • Gatewoop April 25, 2022 (11:45 am)

    Why would anyone want to cut down this big beautiful tree? It doesn’t appear to be pushing up the sidewalk and it provides a beautiful micro-climate for the corner, cool and moist. I sincerely hope the city reconsiders. The neighborhoods that have no big trees left in them are just depressing, ho hum. Only cut it down if it’s badly diseased or dangerous, it doesn’t appear to be either of those things. I’ve also noticed that the residents drop witches from it on halloween and it provides endless amusement to the kids that live there. There are so many community benefits to these grand old trees, to the animals and the humans that cohabitate underneath them. Save the trees. 

  • the giving tree April 25, 2022 (12:16 pm)

    Is there a decent sidewalk on the other side of the road, and a safe crossing at this intersection? Trees such as this provide so much to it’s surroundings, such as respite for wildlife, shade for people and other plants, beauty for enjoyment, etc. As people argue here, can we keep in mind the young activist involved here. What are we teaching with our repsonses? Isn’t it a possibility to find a solution that both protects this tree and that addresses mobility and access issues in the neighborhood? As others have said, it doesn’t have to be an either/or thing, humans have the creativity and reasoning capacities to solve for problems such as this.

    • WS Res April 25, 2022 (2:02 pm)

      We’re teaching “the young activist” that disabled people are human beings with rights that we have to adapt our built environment to accommodate when we find ways that we have dis-abled them with our thoughtlessness. An important lesson, courtesy of the Disability Rights Movement, and one that is still fought on a daily basis, inch by inch and location by location in our public spaces.

      • Ivan Weiss April 25, 2022 (3:25 pm)

        You’re making this either/or, and it’s no such thing. Put a ramp on each side of the tree, so that the root system is not compromised, and wheelchair users will be able to choose either ramp. That way they are served, as they should be, and the tree can be saved, as it should be. We shouldn’t have to sacrifice the tree so that wheelchair users can be served, and we shouldn’t have to hinder wheelchair access to save the tree.

        • WS Res April 25, 2022 (5:11 pm)

          Perhaps that’s a viable solution; perhaps it isn’t.  Unlike many commenters here, I can freely acknowledge that I am not 1) an arborist, 2) a civil engineer, or 3) a disability access compliance specialist.  I’m simply pointing out that the “save the tree” focus is not the only option here for a lesson in activism. Nor is the focus on individuals’ preferences at the expense of the just cause of disability access comparable to the Civil Rights movement, as folks have tried to suggest above.

Sorry, comment time is over.