Nov. 8, 2022
The Lakewood City Council took unanimous action Monday adopting an ordinance that protects some of the city’s oldest and most significant trees.
“This ordinance strikes a balance and moves the needle forward on tree preservation in the city. This is a significant step in our continued efforts to protect trees, increase canopy and address climate change at the local level,” said Lakewood Mayor Jason Whalen.
With its action Council:
- Stepped up protections for significant trees, including priority Oregon White Oak and woodlands, and establishment of a Heritage Tree Program.
- Directed the establishment of an Urban Forestry Program.
- Established incentives to encourage tree preservation across the city.
- Required tree removal permits for properties 10,000 square feet or larger (previously properties smaller than 17,000 square feet were exempt).
Increasing the city’s tree canopy aligns with Council’s recent adoption of a new chapter in the city’s Comprehensive Plan focused on energy and climate change. An urban tree canopy assessment in 2019 showed 26% of the city is covered by tree canopy, an increase of 0.5% from the last assessment in 2011.
In 2023, Council will add a goal to the city’s Comprehensive Plan to increase overall tree canopy to 40% by 2050.
“We understand the need for an equally distributed urban tree canopy across all neighborhoods so every resident, business and visitor to Lakewood can benefit from a healthy and vibrant urban forest,” Whalen said.
“I want to thank all members of the volunteer ad hoc committee and the city’s Planning Commission for the in-depth reviews and time spent to bring forward well thought out recommendations for Council action,” Whalen continued. “Council also appreciates the constructive comments and input by the many residents who value tree preservation and Lakewood’s unique environment here in the South Sound.”
Implementation of the tree code changes will roll out with a public education campaign so that property owners know when a permit is required to remove trees, what trees are protected, and how they can help the city achieve its tree canopy goal.