At the Bellevue City Council meeting on March 21, the non-profit Trees4Livability offered recommendations on tree canopy preservation as part of the Development Department’s 2022-2023 work plan.
Trees4Livability founder Khaiersta English was the first to speak about the organization, and she spoke about the importance of protecting Bellevue’s tree canopy with continued development. She also presented a slideshow showing the cities Bellevue Tree Codes were compared to in the Tree Code Study, including Lynnwood, Federal Way, Redmond, Sammamish, Kirkland, Renton, Seattle, and Mercer Island, among others.
Rick Chesmore, a 31-year Lake Hills resident and Bellevue architect, then addressed council and shared his perspective on Bellevue’s tree canopy.
“As architects, we consider the landscape, including trees, to be vital to the design. We should be able to develop and preserve at the same time,” Chesmore said. “As a longtime owner and architect of Bellevue, I am deeply concerned about the depletion of our significant tree cover. I have seen properties completely cleared of every tree, every bush and every blade of grass – this type of development must be stopped immediately.
Chesmore presented some well-known benefits of trees, such as air filtration and being a habitat for wildlife, but he also highlighted how trees can relieve stress and create feelings of connectedness with nature. nature. He then asked for more restrictive tree codes to be put in place.
Laeth English, who is a seventh year student at Odle Middle School as well as English’s son, spoke about the importance of Bellevue’s tree canopy for future generations.
“I’m here to talk with you about our future,” Laeth said. “In 2044, when I am an adult, I hope Bellevue will have beautiful trees. As you make planning decisions for Bellevue, please keep my generation in mind – we will be the ones to feel the effects of the actions you take now.
Laeth referenced Redmond’s tree replacement policy for iconic trees and compared Bellevue’s lack of tree replacement codes when it comes to cutting down iconic trees.
Later at the City Council meeting, Mayor Lynne Robinson commented on maintaining and protecting Bellevue’s tree canopy, which creates local character.
“Beyond the environmental impact, [tree codes are] a matter of character for our neighborhoods,” said Mayor Robinson. “I know a lot of people have strong feelings about this, and we hear from a lot of them. I’m interested in addressing this.
The strong feelings of ensuring the protection of trees are felt through the generations.
According to English, Laeth is working to advance the Trees4Livability campaign at her school. Khaiersta recounted how Laeth spoke with the Associated Student Body, who invited him to create a video to show at school. In addition, Laeth worked with the school principal to seek permission to distribute flyers on bulletin boards at school.
Trees4Livability will continue to collect signatures for their tree code petition through the end of March.