If you haven’t heard already, this week City Attorney Pete Holmes announced a settlement of the case against some of the parties involved in the illegal cutting of trees in the Duwamish Head Greenbelt on City property. I wrote about this late last March and again in June.
As a reminder of the background on this incident, the unpermitted tree cutting occurred in an environmentally critical areas on a steep slope below the defendants’ homes. About 150 trees of varying sizes were cut. Two complaints were filed last fall, seeking relief on grounds including timber trespass, damage to land, trespass, negligence, environmentally critical areas violations, violations of the parks code and violations of the city’s tree and vegetation management in public places code.
According to the settlement, two couples will together pay the City $440,000 regarding one of the decimated areas. The City’s suit regarding the other area is ongoing, and unaffected by this settlement.
Parties in that separate suit were given criminal immunity in exchange for for their full cooperation, including sharing the identities of their neighbors who are alleged to have shared the costs associated with the tree cutting.
The Parks and Recreation Department will use the settlement funds to begin remediation of the property in the next month or two with the majority of the work on the site completed in 2017.
I’m glad that the actions by the defendants have resulted in consequences. I’m hopeful this settlement—60% higher per tree than the 2003 case in Mount Baker—will deter future rogue clearcutting. In Seattle, those with financial means can’t count on small settlements to pave the way towards increased views and property values. Trees in our greenbelts are precious natural resources that maintain soil stability, thus lessening the risk of landslides, and maintain air quality by absorbing carbon. We must protect them.
On a per tree basis, this recovery is significantly higher than the amount recovered in the City v. Farris matter based on 2003 tree cutting. That case involved 120 trees and settled for $500,000, or $4,166 per tree. This case involved 66 trees, and the settlement amounts to $6,667 per tree.
The defendants made a statement as part of this week’s announcement. You can read it here.
On Monday, the Full Council adopted the City’s annual Proclamation recognizing April as Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention month and declaring Wednesday, April 26, 2017, Denim Day. I was honored to present the Proclamation to the Seattle Women’s Commission, recognizing their leadership on this issue.
Both efforts call attention to misconceptions and misinformation about rape and sexual assault, the harmful attitudes that allow these crimes to persist, and educate the community about ways to prevent sexual violence and support survivors.
Sexual Assault Awareness Month was first observed by the United States in April 2001 to draw attention to the fact that rape and sexual assault remain a serious issue in our society, and harmful attitudes about rape and sexual assault allow these crimes to persist.
International “Denim Day” has been observed since April 1999 as a symbol of protest triggered by an Italian Supreme Court ruling in which a rape conviction was overturned because the justices felt that since the victim was wearing tight jeans she must have helped her rapist remove her jeans, thereby implying consent. Enraged by the verdict, women in the Italian Parliament protested the ruling by wearing jeans on the steps of the parliament. As news of the decision spread, so did the protest.
Organizations across the County that support survivors of sexual assault, like King County Sexual Assault Resource Center, are encouraging people to start personal conversations online and in-person to discuss boundary violations, gender stereotypes, or unhealthy relations ideals in movies, TV or music. They are also calling on supporters to believe and listen to survivors by amplifying the voices of sexual assault survivors on people’s lives.
One way we can start a conversation and show are solidarity with survivors is to wear your jeans on Seattle’s Denim Day. Will you join me?
As you might have already seen, Spring Clean 2017 is here. Running from April 1st through May 31st, Spring Clean is Seattle’s annual community clean-up event. Every year hundreds of residents cleaned-up litter and remove graffiti in their local neighborhoods. Seattle Public Utilities helps support these volunteers with FREE bags, gloves, safety vests, and waste disposal. All of the projects are conducted on public property.
If you’re interested in getting involved you can call (206) 684-7647, or register online here.
I will be at the Southwest Neighborhood Service Center (2801 SW Thistle St) Friday May 5th from 12:00pm – 5:00pm. The final meeting of the day will begin at 4:30pm.
These hours are walk-in friendly, but if you would like to let me know you’re coming in advance you can email my scheduler Alex Clardy (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Additionally, here is a list of my tentatively scheduled office hours. These are subject to change.
|Friday, May 26, 2017||Senior Center of West Seattle||4217 SW Oregon St|
|Friday, June 23, 2017||South Park Community Center||8319 8TH Avenue S|
|Friday, July 21, 2017||Southwest Neighborhood Service Center||2801 SW Thistle St|
|Friday, August 18, 2017||Senior Center of West Seattle||4217 SW Oregon St|
|Friday, September 22, 2017||South Park Community Center||8319 8TH Avenue S|
|Friday, October 27, 2017||Southwest Neighborhood Service Center||2801 SW Thistle St|
|Friday, December 15, 2017||South Park Community Center||8319 8TH Avenue S|