TACOMA, Wash. – Reflecting the City of Tacoma’s ongoing commitment to protect and enhance Tacoma’s urban forest, the updates approved tonight by the City Council modernize Tacoma’s code regarding street trees after nearly 100 years. The updated code includes:
- Updated permit requirements and related regulations for pruning, removal and planting of street trees.
- Updated policies and procedures for discretionary review of requests to prune trees on public property.
- The establishment of a heritage tree program.
- Provision for enforcement and imposition of monetary penalties for violations.
- An updated appeals process to ensure consistency with other areas of the Tacoma Municipal Code.
“As Tacoma embarks on a new chapter of growth and evolution, we recognize the critical role that our urban forest plays in shaping our community’s present and future,” said Mayor Victoria Woodards. “We are fortunate to have a dedicated team of City leadership and Urban Forestry program staff, passionate community partners, and a Council deeply committed to serving the needs of all community members.”
Increasing Tacoma’s tree canopy reduces health disparities by improving air quality and reducing extremes in urban heat for the entire community. Equitable tree distribution ensures everyone benefits and helps Tacoma advance toward its goal of achieving a 30% tree canopy coverage by the year 2030.
“Trees provide shade, improve air quality, reduce flooding, and mitigate the urban heat island effect,” said Deputy Mayor Kristina Walker. “Those living in historically underserved communities stand to benefit the most from these updates. Improvements to Tacoma’s urban forest support the City’s Climate Action Plan by mitigating Tacoma’s carbon footprint and fighting against global warming.”
The updates align with policies the Council has already adopted that require best management practices to be applied in the siting, design, planting, maintenance and removal of trees and vegetation in the public right of way; retention of as many mature trees as practicable and appropriate during the development of City-owned land and public right of way; and the adoption of a heritage tree ordinance.
The updates will be shared with the community through outreach and engagement beginning in early 2024.