Shoreline is not really in the city of Seattle but it’s a little further north so it follows its own rules and it has its own regulations when it comes to tree removal.
If we’re talking about private property any tree of significant size will need a permit before you remove it. If the tree is near a stream, wetland or steep slope, it may be considered in a critical area or buffer and the city will need to review where the tree is in order to give approval for removal. You will need a clearing and grading permit if it can be removed or pruned in a critical area. If it is a hazardous tree in this area it must be determined by a qualified arborist in order to have it removed. Hazardous trees that can be an active threat, meaning they’re about to fall over on somebody’s property or structure, can be removed under the different exemptions.

So what’s considered a significantly sized tree?

Size really does matter in this case. The city street regulations on private properties except in critical areas include conifer trees 8 inches or more and deciduous trees 12 inches or more in diameter hundred 4.5 feet from the ground or called breast height as well. So, if your tree is this big you will need to discuss with the city before getting a permit to have it removed.

What type of trees are exempt?

Nonsignificant sized trees. Obviously, those that are smaller than the aforementioned ones. Unless they are in a critical area and its buffer or the area exceeds 1500 ft.² a clearing. Trees can also be removed on property zoned commercial business, mixed business, neighborhood business or town centers unless the existing trees were included as required landscaping within the previous three years.

Other exemptions include up to six significant trees, which may be removed during a three-year period based on the parcel size. Check this link for exact parcel sizes and the number of trees that can be removed.

If you plan on just pruning the tree, pruning less than 25% of the canopy is allowed without a permit. It does not include topping or damaging the health of the tree. Don’t get me started on tree topping, we’ve already discussed how dangerous that is.

If you are clearing or grading and the trees are not listed under the exemptions a tree removal permit is required. Call us to clarify all this and we can tell you if you need a permit.