Large Ponderosa Pine on 39th Ave SW

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  • This topic has 10 replies, 9 voices, and was last updated 8 years ago by WSB.
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    Catherine Darwin

    The towering, majestic Ponderosa pine on the east side of 39th Ave SW (at 3036 39th Ave SW) is going to be cut down!

    While Seattle needs to support density growth, that should certainly be balanced with ecological concerns. This tree houses an owl, yearly hibernating ladybugs, and eagles circle it searching for crows eggs, just to mention some of the wildlife and habitats involved. It is part of the urban forest which makes Seattle such a green and lovely space to want to live in.

    Moreover, this majestic tree is a legacy we have been given and should pass on to generations to come.

    Numerous studies have shown the importance of trees from reduced pressure on water processing plants, to offsetting the effects of carbon dioxide and reducing greenhouse effect; and trees affect the mood and community pride of residents.

    While city code allows for this tree to be cut down for development, I feel it is a shame to lose this towering tree and all the habitat it provides. Is there anything we neighbors can do?



    Catherine, I am sorry to hear about the potential loss of your neighborhood tree. I did take a quick look at that address on Google Maps/street view and it does look significantly large in diameter. There are restrictions on taking down trees in Seattle. There is a process for this. I have no personal experience, but read about it. Here are some sources for you to look into:

    1) The Tree Protection Code is here on this city website.

    Quote: You cannot remove any exceptional trees. Exceptional trees are trees that are of significant size or have historical, ecological or aesthetic value.

    2) Director’s Rule 16-2008

    This document discusses “Exceptional Trees” and how this is determined. There is a description of size thresholds per the diameter at breast height (4.5 feet above average grade). Also what determines exceptional trees is the species of tree. You need to know what kind of pine this is. The tree has to be listed in the table in this document. There is a table on pages 5 and 6 of this PDF.

    I reread your post and see that you say this is a Ponderosa Pine. It just so happens that this species is in the second table.

    Also if there is a risk assessment done by a qualified professional arborist and it has been determined to be hazardous, it can be brought down despite its being exceptional. Hopefully this is not the case.

    Here’s a link to Trees of Seattle as referenced in the city’s documents:

    Good luck! ~z



    The arborist’s report is on file. This tree is described as exceptional, 42.5 inches in diameter. The comment period for the project remains open a few more days – 6/8 – you can request an extension if you don’t feel you’ve had enough time. Where on the property is this tree? I’m looking at various documents in the file right now (usually a single-family home is below our radar) and aside from the arborist’s report, have not yet come across one specifically dealing with this tree. I do see that at least one public-comment letter in the online file references the tree and includes a photo, but you need something more than “this is a great tree” to have a challenge stick. You should contact the DPD (sorry, DCI) and ask for more information on what process they are going through in order to ostensibly get permission to take down the tree while building on this lot. – Tracy



    I see where this is going. Is “tree guy” for hire?



    Quote WSB: Where on the property is this tree?

    Tracy, if you look at the Street View on Google Maps you can see this tree on the south side of the property between them and the adjoining neighbor. It appears to be off the lot line. It’s nice to know that it already has the Exceptional designation. ~z


    Elaine Ike

    Everyone should also make a comment with the City. It is through the following website, that comments can be made and followed in a way that informs the city about our concerns. Some city employees agree with you that Exceptional Trees Should be Saved as Seattle’s tree canopy is dwindling, just as we are setting higher goals. Send a comment to : for
    Project Number: 3024037
    (Developers also look at this record! The more, the better._



    Thank you for calling this to the community’s attention. I just emailed to express my deep concerns. Let’s do what we can to spread the word!



    I’m confused. If this tree involved in this proposed development project has already been classified as “exceptional” by an arborist, and the required documentation is on file, then how is it still in danger of removal? I thought exceptional trees cannot be cut down unless the health of the tree is in danger.



    Just sent in my commentary. Please take the time to comment on saving our Seattle greenery. New development can happen with lovely trees in place on the lot, adding value both economically and ecologically for the new residents.

    • This reply was modified 8 years ago by montanapup.


    There is an extension for comment period until 6/22-please drive/walk by and comment/email to Sea Departmt Construct & Inspections at and include project #3024037 & address 3036-39th Ave SW. Loosing this tree would be bad enough, but to loose it so a two-story single family two car garage home can be built on this teeny tiny lot seems a bit much! Thanks



    Regarding the circumstances under which an “exceptional tree” can be removed – we asked the city that question and their answer (which I haven’t had time to fully read that) will be in our followup story on this, which we hope to publish tomorrow morning barring breaking news. – TR

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