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Tree Regulations Update Process

City Council Passes Tree Regulations

After nearly two years of hard work by the Tree Board, Planning Commission, City Council, City Staff, and, of course, the community, the Lake Forest Park City Council passed Ordinance 1152 on March 9, 2017, officially adopting new tree regulations for the City of Lake Forest Park.

View the new Tree Regulations

These regulations go into effect on Thursday, March 23th and involve a number of changes from the existing regulations:

--Three permit types - Major, Minor, and Proactive. Minor replaces the Administrative Permit and Major replaces Arborist Consult, Arborist Review, and Sensitive Area Tree Removal Permits. The Proactive Permit is a long-term permit that encourages forest health and responsible urban forestry practices.
--The threshold for "Landmark Tree" has been lowered from 28" to 24".

--Invasive trees may be removed on a Minor Permit, regardless of number.

--Permit conditions must be recorded with King County anytime tree removal causes a property to fall below the canopy coverage goal.

--Additional protections for replacement trees.

--Tree tract required for subdivision and short plat changed from 5% of total plat area to 15% of total plat area.

--Properties undergoing Major Development (new construction, subdivision or short plat, or adding 1,000 square feet or more of impervious surface) must plant trees to bring the property to the canopy coverage goal.

--Viable Trees (good health, low risk, windfirm, etc.) may not be removed for five years after major development has taken place.

Questions? Contact the Lake Forest Park Planning Department at 206-368-5440.

SEPA Determination of Non-Significance
Updates to the Municipal Code require review under the State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA). The City has found that the tree regulations update will not have a significant impact on the environment, and thus has issued a Determination of Non-Significance (DNS). View documents related to the DNS on the Public Notices Webpage.

Planning Commission Passes Resolution Recommending Tree Regulations to City Council

On October 19, 2016, The Lake Forest Park Planning Commission passed resolution 16-02, recommending new tree regulations to City Council. Since being officially asked by the Council on February 11, 2016 to work on the update of the City’s tree regulations, the Commission has reviewed and considered changes to the regulations at 10 regular meetings that were open to the public. The Commission also benefited from the Council’s guidance during the joint session on April 25, 2016 and from citizens’ comments provided by the Tree Board’s community outreach as well as the comments and ideas received at the July 26, 2016 public open house hosted by the Planning Commission. As a result of citizen feedback, the Planning Commission is recommending stronger regulations regarding tree replacement and retention for development and more flexibility for single family properties in managing the tree canopy. You can view the documents here:

New to the Tree Regulations Update? Read here!

In spring 2015, The Lake Forest Park Tree Board led a community engagement process to consider updates to the current tree code, Lake Forest Park Municipal Code 16.14, which is based on the foundational document, the Community Forest Management Plan. As a result of this process, the Tree Board transmitted this memo with citizen comments appendix to city council, with recommended updates to the tree regulations. Council relayed these recommendations to the Planning Commission, which is then drafted new regulations based on these recommendations and other community feedback. The Planning Commission's proposed regulations are currently in review by City Council.

How can I get involved in the Tree Regulations
update process?

Consider signing up for notifications of progress and for opportunities to participate on the Notify Me page. If you've attended past meetings and signed in, then your information has been processed and we hope you've received a notification of such. Please sign-up if you attended a meeting and somehow we haven't recorded correct information.

Past Public Events

City Council Continued Public Hearing on Tree Regulations

Lake Forest Park City Council will hold a  continued public hearing on the proposed tree regulations on Thursday, March 9th at 7pm in Lake Forest Park City Hall. See agenda and documents below.

Please note that Amendment Sheets 1-5 were added to the Public Hearing documents prior to Monday night's Committee of the Whole meeting (03/06/17 CoW). For any conflicts between the two sets of amendments, the amendment sheets 6-7 supersede the former.

Agenda Cover Sheet

Amendment Sheets 1-5
Full Draft (Does not include changes from amendment sheets 6-7)

Amendment Sheets 6-7 (reflecting discussion at the 3/6/2017 special CoW)

Tree Talk: a Discussion on Urban Forest Management 
On November 6, 2016, the Lake Forest Park Stewardship Foundation and Councilmember John Resha held an event to discuss responsible urban forest management. You can view the three presentations below.

--Trees in Cities - Raymond J Larson, Curator UW Botanic Gardens
--The Hydrologic Value of Trees - Robert Turner PhD, UW Bothell
--Stormwater Control and Tree Retention - Bill Lider, principle of Lider Engineering PLLC

Planning Commission Open House
On July 26, 2016, the Planning Commission held an open house to gather feedback on the draft. The open house was attended by over 85 community members who gave feedback on the proposals.

Watch and Read the Presentations

Video - Powerpoint Presentations
  • 00:00 Introduction
  • 04:16 Presentation on Recent and Proposed Tree Removals
  • 27:47 Presentation on Planning Commission Draft Recommendations for Tree Regulations Update
PDF - Presentation on Recent and Proposed Tree Removals
PDF - Presentation on Planning Commission Draft Recommendations for Tree Regulations Update

Read Public Comments Gathered During and After the Open House

PDF - All Public Comments

View Draft Documents - At a Glance

View Draft Documents - Take a Deeper Dive
See the public meeting flyer


The Tree Board/Environmental Quality Commission held its regularly scheduled meeting on Monday, October 26th, 2015 from 7-9pm in the Forest Room of Lake Forest Park City Hall. During the meeting the board approved the final version of its memo to city council on recommended updates to the tree ordinance. Council will likely review this memo in the first quarter of 2016.

The Tree Board/Environmental Quality Commission held its regularly scheduled meeting on Monday, September 28th 2015 from 7-9pm in the Forest Room of Lake Forest Park City Hall. During the meeting the board further refined its memo of recommendations to council on changes to the tree ordinance.

The tree board held a special work session on Monday, September 21st  2015 from 7-9pm in the EOC room of Lake Forest Park City Hall. The board worked on drafting its recommendations to City Council and the Planning Commission regarding the tree ordinance update. Public comments were heard between 7 and 7:15pm.

The tree board met on Monday, August 31st, 2015 to discuss lessons learned from reviewing other cities' tree ordinances. These cities include Bellevue, Kirkland, Lacey, Longview, Mercer Island, Redmond, Seattle, Spokane, and Vancouver, WA.

Tree Board members  asking the following questions when reviewing these documents:

What do they do with:
    • Tree in a sensitive area
    • Tree more than 6" and less than 28" (or other size threshold)
    • Tree larger than 28" (or other size threshold)
Additional Questions:
    • Are there different regulations for different kinds of trees?
    • What mechanism do they have for replacement requirements?
    • Is it obvious that this City is prepared to decline a tree removal request? If so, in what circumstances?
    • Are there good examples of targeted flexibility within the language of this code?
    • Difference between ROW trees and private property?
    • What do they do about non-compliance?

Panel Discussion: The Tree Board hosted a panel discussion on Monday, June 29th, in the Council Chambers at City Hall. The discussion was led by a variety of stakeholders, including a Department of Natural Resources representative, arborists, developers, a representative of the LFP Stewardship Foundation. In addition to pre-prepared questions, the public had an opportunity to ask questions of the panelists. 

Watch the Tree Board panel discussion 
Read a summary of the discussion

The Tree Board held a public work-session on Monday, June 1, 7:00 - 9:30 pm. The Board discussed recent phone surveys and worked to organize all 167 ideas raised at the prior Visioning Workshop. A list of questions for the panel discussion began to take form, and a few questions for their ordinance research were listed as well.

The Tree Board reviewed those responsibilities assigned to a Tree Risk Assessor in comparison with responsibilities given to a Tree Risk Manager. Many of the new ideas that came out of the Visioning Workshop would require the City to begin taking on more of the Tree Risk Management role. With the current Tree Ordinance, the homeowner assumes all responsibility and liability associated with being the Tree Risk Manager.

Tree Risk Assessor (City Arborist role)
  • Identifies tree and site conditions to inspect
  • Evaluates and classifies the likelihood of failure
  • Estimates the consequences of tree hitting a target
  • Determines options for treatment or mitigation

Tree Risk Manager (Homeowner role)

  • Duty of care responsibility
  • Defines tree risk policies
  • Establishes budget
  • Determines priority
  • Decides the level of acceptable risk
  • Chooses among mitigation options

Nearly 80 dedicated residents joined the Tree Board during a Tree Ordinance Update Visioning Workshop in the Council Chambers of City Hall on Saturday, April 25th, 10:00 am - noon. After a short introduction, the group was split into 4 smaller working groups and everyone had an opportunity to build on the first 55 new ideas brought forth during the April 15th meeting. Afterwards, dots were used to represent priority, red for high priority. Everyone was given 5 red dots and 12 blue dots. Here is a link to the full list of prioritized suggestions and comments, as recorded by the volunteers that make up the Tree Board. 

Prior to the Visioning Workshop, a group of concerned residents attended a public meeting on April 15, 2015 to discuss recent tree removal activity on 26th Ave NE. In total, 36 trees were removed from 5 different properties, most of which were Douglas Fir trees. More than half of the trees were removed due to bark beetle infestation detection, but the overall effect of the combined tree removals has significantly impacted canopy for neighbors in that area. A report of the April 15th meeting includes 55 ideas which were carried forward to the following public meeting.