Important information about tree service provider registry and property owners’ obligations

Seattle’s tree canopy is important for keeping city temperatures more moderate as well as for helping our efforts to moderate climate change. Seattle Sixth District Councilmember Dan Strauss, whose district includes most of Fremont, has been working on protecting Seattle’s trees, and in his most recent newsletter, he writes:

“My office and the City of Seattle are committed to protecting our urban canopy. Urban trees provide numerous ecological, economic, and social benefits, including wildlife habitat, neighborhood livability, and improved public health outcomes. 

“The City Council recently passed Council Bill 120207, which I cosponsored with Councilmember Alex Pedersen. This bill requires 1) tree service providers to register with the City of Seattle before conducting commercial tree work and consultations on private property and 2) property owners to post a public notice on-site before any tree work beyond routine maintenance. The tree service provider registry will be accessible to the public so that owners, residents, and neighbors can be assured that a registered company, knowledgeable with tree regulations and best practices, is completing work in their neighborhood. 

“The Seattle Department of Construction and Inspection (SDCI) will launch a tree service provider registry on August 26, 2022. The registry will be published on the SDCI Trees & Codes webpage and will contain a directory of tree service providers who are eligible to complete tree work beyond routine maintenance on private property in Seattle, in accordance with the tree code. 

  • Beginning August 26, tree service providers should create an account and register with SDCI on the Seattle Services Portal
  • All tree service providers that conduct removal*, major pruning**, or consulting services for trees in Seattle*** must register by November 10, 2022. 
  • Tree service providers must commit to following the tree protection regulations found in SMC 25.11, Director’s Rule 16-2008, and ANSI A-300 Standards (or subsequent standard). 
  • Failure to register or receiving two violation notices will prevent tree service providers from being eligible to conduct business in Seattle. 
  • Please note that the SDCI tree service provider registry covers work on private property and is different from the SDOT tree service provider registry that regulates work that occurs in the public right-of-way. You must register on each one separately; links to each may be found on the Seattle Services Portal

*Removing any tree over 6 inches in diameter. 
**Major pruning work for any tree on private property. Major pruning is removing any branch or root 2 inches in diameter or greater, or the removal of more than 15% of the tree canopy. You do not need to be registered to complete other routine pruning and maintenance of trees. 
***Conducting tree assessments for an arborist report. “

He adds this information for property owners:

Property Owner Requirements 

  • Starting November 11, you must hire a registered tree service provider to complete most tree work on your property. You will be able to view the list of registered providers on the SDCI Trees & Codes webpage in October. 
  • Starting November 11, property owners are required to post a public notice of major pruning or removal of trees on the property at least three days before a tree service provider starts the work. To create the public notice, you must complete the form that will be available on the Seattle Services Portal in October. 
  • Property owners completing routine pruning and tree maintenance on their property are not required to register or post a notice. 

“A new Director’s Rule to help clarify the new legislation and a new tip line to help applicants navigate the registration and public notice processes will be published in September. 

“To help you better understand the registration requirements, property owner responsibilities, and the Seattle tree codes, SDCI will be hosting an informational webinar in September. 

“If you have questions about the tree service requirements, submit a request via SDCI’s online service. To help your request get to the right spot, please indicate that you need help with “Permits, codes, zones, plans” then select “Land Use” as the type of help you need followed by “Trees” in the description field. 

“To stay informed about tree service provider regulations or upcoming webinars, sign up on our Tree Protection Update listserv

“If you’re a D6 resident and you have questions about how this affects you, you can also sign up for office hours with me by using this link. “

Photo from CM Strauss’s newsletter