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Tacoma Tree Ordinance Revision Update

Mor Furniture filed an amendment with the City of Tacoma asking to build a Furniture Outlet warehouse in a residential neighborhood where commercial development is not allowed. They want to re-zone the greenbelt open space land between the freeway and nearby school and homes (formerly owned by Tacoma Public Schools) from Residential to Commercial.

In preparation for the Planning Commission hearing, Eric Seibel and other activists canvassed the neighborhood asking people to get involved and defeat the proposal. If TAS can help these people defeat this amendment, they may be interested in passing a tree ordinance that could buy this property and expand tree canopy by planting trees along the freeway.

Urban Forester Mike Carey is working on a new tree plan for property that the city of Tacoma controls, but he has not yet published any plans. Conservation Committee members hope to meet face to face with Mike Carey and build a partnership that would allow our input on the developing plans. On June 14, Carey is scheduled to present his plan to the IPS committee.

Eric Seibel, Patti & Lloyd Fetterly, and Kirk Kirkland met in March to discuss the tree ordinance and a strategy to contact the city council and ask for a commitment to expand the tree canopy goal from 20% to 40%. [Tacoma’s current canopy is the lowest of urban areas in the region.]

They also agreed to use the tree ordinance passed in Lakewood as the benchmark. This would avoid debate over the wording and keep focus on getting the ordinance passed. Lakewood's ordinance was good enough to get an award from the governor for raising the tree canopy goal as a defense against climate change. This award could be used to motivate Tacoma to do as well with their own tree ordinance revision.

On April 11, Eric and Patti met with Georgette Reuter and members of the NE Neighborhood Council to discuss a citizen’s initiative to influence the tree ordinance that will be presented at the June 14th meeting of the infrastructure (IPS) committee.

They decided on goals and actions to begin the process of engaging the city to preserve and enhance Tacoma tree canopy. The strategy for the Conservation Committee tree group is to raise awareness of the need for expanding tree canopy and to encourage citizen participation.

This issue will be framed in terms of social and environmental justice to counter the image of people advocating for trees as somehow elitist. Emphasis will be on the ways in which trees promote local health benefits and sequester climate carbon for everyone.

Eric will spread the message through TAS Facebook page, neighborhood councils, and especially groups in Southern Tacoma. Please contact Eric Seibel if you can help him spread the word.

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