FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT:
Kimberly Mills, Communications Director
Seattle City Attorney’s Office (206) 684-8602
Holmes’ statement on West Seattle tree cutting
On Jan. 15 this year, a community member emailed SDOT arborist Nolan Rundquist and reported that tree branches had been cut on City property. Before SDOT went to the site to investigate, the Superintendent of the Department of Parks and Recreation received a letter dated Feb. 5 from attorney Clayton Graham of Davis Wright Tremaine notifying the Superintendent that his client and others had been involved with improper tree cutting on City property in West Seattle near the 3200 block of 35th Ave. SW. Graham did not identify his client but stated that the tree cutting was carried out in a manner that did not reflect his client’s respect for the City and that his client wished to rectify any damage. On Feb. 12, SDOT and Parks employees went to the site and found that the tree cutting had been extensive and may have occurred in stages over time. The property is in an environmentally critical area on a steep slope. Approximately 150 trees of varying sizes, including many big-leaf maples and Scouler’s willows, appear to have been felled.
My office was subsequently notified and began coordinating with relevant City departments. We launched an investigation to assess the extent of damage and identify the responsible parties. To that end, we have retained a consulting arborist to assess the damage and prepare a comprehensive restoration plan. Restoration costs are expected to be at least several hundred thousand dollars.
I share in the community’s anger over this loss of critical habitat and am aggressively pursuing this matter. I have requested SPD initiate a criminal investigation and my office is pursuing all civil avenues to restore the site and hold the responsible parties accountable. In the meantime, we ask that everyone refrain from disturbing evidence at the scene and respect the privacy of the nearby residents while the investigation proceeds.
If anyone in the public has information to share, please contact the non-emergency line at SPD, 206-625-5011.