Tree City USA: Lacey amends tree-cutting regulations

Only 3 residential removals within 5 years


The Lacey City Council approved a new permit process on tree removal within the city yesterday.

Councilmember Michael Steadman pushed for amending the existing threshold of five tree removals within three years to only three tree removals within five years on residential properties.

"It's okay to go a step further," said Steadman. "It's okay to be bold in leadership."

Councilmember Robin Vasquez seconded Steadman's motion. It was then supported by Deputy Mayor Malcolm Miller and Councilmember Carolyn Cox.

Lacey Mayor Andy Ryder opposed the proposal, saying there is a need for more discussion on such decisions. Councilmember Ed Kunkel also opposed the motion.

The council voted four to two in favor of the motion.

More specific permit process 

Residents still need to apply for permits for all residential tree removals, adhering to a more specific permit process. 

According to the existing regulations on the Lacey Municipal Code, the tree removal permit might be approved or denied solely based on the recommendation of the city’s arborist. 

The amendments, which also apply to tree removals in tree tracts, open spaces and commercial properties, now have specific criteria for the approval, which are:

  • Documented history of property damage
  • Typical maintenance and pruning are impractical or infeasible
  • A tree does not meet the criteria for a "specimen tree"

Amendments also include various standards to ensure trees' proper replanting and maintenance.

Lacey Planning Manager Ryan Andrews said the amendments would remove the conflict between permit threshold and regulations. Andrews explained that the permit threshold became the de-facto regulation because there were no specific standards or criteria before.

In a statement sent to The JOLT, Lynn Fitz-Hugh, a representative of the volunteer group Friends of Trees, applauded the council's decision on the amendments.

"This was a good vote. It means that more stormwater will be managed by the trees. It means homes will be cooled in the summer and warmed in the winter by the shelter of nearby trees. It means more pollutants will be taken out of the air,” wrote Fitz-Hugh.

“Most importantly that each saved tree will keep drawing down carbon and storing it every year! It reflects the will of the voters.".


4 comments on this item Please log in to comment by clicking here

  • GinnyAnn

    Congratulations! It's about time Lacey reduced the amount of tree cutting permitted. Now we need to reduce the wholesale cutting of woodlands for warehouses and giant subdivisions. Replacing trees and woodlands with concrete and asphalt is not only ugly and ruinous for Lacey's aesthetic appeal. Without the woodlands or prairie cover, the rain pours onto oily, impervious surfaces and drains chemicals directly into the wastewater storm pipes. Without trees, we have no carbon cycle, habitat, photosynthesis, soil enrichment, or any of the other benefits that trees and shrubs give to our environment for free. Lacey has been notorious for allowing contractors and landowners to cut trees and clear land whenever and however they desire, resulting in the commercial and traffic mess we have in Lacey now. Lacey has no "downtown" appeal or sense of community because Lacey was built willy-nilly at the whim of contractors, with no central planning or sense of serving the citizens' needs first. Why do we need more and more warehouses while we keep losing woodlands? This Council permit change is the first step in the right direction.

    Saturday, June 18, 2022 Report this

  • Panagringo

    The will of 4 voters!

    Monday, June 20, 2022 Report this

  • garyaritchie

    Any specific exceptions for hazard trees?

    Tuesday, June 21, 2022 Report this

  • burkemeister

    Ditto to Ginny Ann!

    Friday, June 24, 2022 Report this