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Sequoias Cut at Shorecrest: School District Responds

Removal part of school's modernization project

Editor's note: The following statement from the Shoreline School District was submitted by Craig Degginger, public information officer for the school district. 

The recent removal of evergreen trees at Shorecrest High School was planned as part of the school’s modernization project. The removal of these trees was clearly marked on the plans submitted to and approved by the City of Shoreline as part of the permitting process for the Shorecrest construction project. The District will be retaining 42 percent of the existing significant trees on the Shorecrest site, more than double what is required by the City. A significant number of replacement trees (Western Red Cedars, vine maples and cherries), as well as additional new landscaping are planned for the Shorecrest site prior to completion.

The Shorecrest plans call for retention of the remainder of the evergreen trees along the five existing tennis courts. Some of the courts themselves have been damaged by tree roots to the extent they are no longer safe for play. The courts will be used for parking and staging during construction. The School Board has approved a feasibility study to determine the future location for the six new Shorecrest tennis courts. 

Janet Way January 04, 2012 at 02:03 AM
So it seems to me that a reasonable person might ask Mr Degginger why couldn't the tennis courts be designed AROUND these magnificent, 40 yr old trees? Why couldn't the access ways which were amended from the original plan for the theater be designed around these existing trees to preserve them? Why is it that the trees always have to make way for developments and such amenities as tennis courts and parking lots? Also, a reasonable person might ask these questions: • why is it that the "experts" hired by the SSD mis-identified these trees as "cedars" instead of Giant Sequoias? • why was the plan amended? The original plans are clearly marked showing the trees remaining. • this concern about tree retention, was one of the few requests by citizens with regard to SEPA and permitting processes on the Shorecrest remodeling plans. Why couldn't this one simple request to retain the big trees be honored? • why can't the Shoreline School District truly honor the environment and history with its expensive school remodeling plans? Why does it always have to be style over substance and bait and switch over a true public process that actually honors the taxpayers and voters wishes? Reasonable citizens want to know.
Richard Ellison January 04, 2012 at 07:46 AM
If I had an ounce of backbone, I would protest in front of the school board demanding an apology for their extreme lack of concern for our big, old trees coupled with an abysmal level of awareness about what constitutes public involvement.
Ruth Williams January 04, 2012 at 08:44 AM
What the heck is going on here? I was so pleased Shoreline was working on joining Tree City USA, but this looks like business as usual.
Pro-Dem January 04, 2012 at 08:56 AM
It's also significant that the PR person for the school district avoids describing the trees as Sequoias. Instead, he refers to them several time as "evergreens." Admitting that they were Sequoias would tug at people's hearts, I suppose, so it was more "PC" to call them "evergreens." Very clever framing indeed. As a teacher, I am very sad that the school district places a higher value on buildings than on living trees. This is not a good lesson for our young people. Vine maples and such cannot replace Sequoias. It's a sickening situation.
Tony Dondero (Editor) January 04, 2012 at 09:45 AM
Need a soundtrack? http://www.myspace.com/screamingtrees
Briarcrest Neighbor January 04, 2012 at 03:03 PM
Lets be clear about a few things here: 1)The school, the trees, the soil, the shrubs, and even the dandelions belong to the members of the community. District Staff DO NOT own these resources, and in many cases are only guests in OUR community who leave and go back to their communities at the end of the day.
Briarcrest Neighbor January 04, 2012 at 03:03 PM
2)The trees that were unnecessarily cut belong to me and members of my community.
Briarcrest Neighbor January 04, 2012 at 03:03 PM
3) It is the developers responsibility to know and follow codes and policies of the City. Regardless of if City Staff approved the removal of the trees, it is up to the developer to "do the right thing". Replanting the removal of a significant Sequoia with Vine Maple and Cherry is not something to be proud of. Under a Minesterial Permit action (construction permit), City Staff are only allowed to determine if a project meets essential Development Code requirements. City Staff are not given the power to tell a developer how to modify development plans, they are only givien authority to tell a developer what requirements need to be met and if they are being met. It is the responsibility of a developer to create a quality development proposal consistent with the community vision (Comprehensive Plan).
Briarcrest Neighbor January 04, 2012 at 03:03 PM
4)If District Staff cared enough to read and follow the policies of the City's Comprehensive Plan ( http://cityofshoreline.com/Modules/ShowDocument.aspx?documentid=10009 ), tree retention would have registered as a higher priority over their plans for a "built environment" that focuses on a vision of a hardened facility with a manipulated landscape. One place I might suggest you (DISTRICT STAFF) start is the community 2029 vision statement.
Briarcrest Neighbor January 04, 2012 at 03:04 PM
5) Yes, this is the COMMUNITIES vision statement. It is the COMMUNITIES school, and the COMMUNITIES trees, so the VISION STATEMENT applies.
Briarcrest Neighbor January 04, 2012 at 03:06 PM
The Vision Statement starts with this quote: "People are first drawn here by the city’s beautiful natural setting and abundant trees" School District Staff, you should be ashamed of what you have done.
Briarcrest Neighbor January 04, 2012 at 03:14 PM
I guess what I just cant get past is the fact that this site has SO MUCH OPEN SPACE without trees, was it really neccessary to cut down these? Was it so hard to find another way or was your Architect just too lazy and uninspired to find a creative alternative/sollution? Really?
Pro-Dem January 04, 2012 at 07:43 PM
Actually, city staffers in development departments DO have the right to advise developers on more desirable, more environmentally responsible ways to implement plans. Both the school district and the City of Shoreline share responsibility for this heinous act. City Council should get an earful at their next meeting, as should the Board of the school district. This is a teachable moment for Shoreline students if there ever was one -- for ALL ages -- K through 12.
Briarcrest Neighbor January 04, 2012 at 09:39 PM
City staff does have a right to advise what a better outcome is, but do not have authority to require a change in pans if what is proposed meets the essential code requirements.
John C January 05, 2012 at 12:26 AM
This is a worst case example of people in charge of implementing a construction plan of having tunnel vision and a who cares attitude about the trees on a site. Leaving these trees alone was part of the original plan and overview and shouldn't have been cavalierly thrown aside. What a SAD event. What can possibly be done now and in the future?
Nancy Morris January 05, 2012 at 01:07 AM
"On the last day of the world I would plant a tree." W.S. Merwin It is very unfortunate that the people in charge of the Sequoias chose to destroy them, not seeming to realize that this decision affects many for decades to come. Perhaps people don't realize that every action we take to help restore our biosphere is vitally important and should take precedence over short sighted decision making.
Christine Southwick January 05, 2012 at 03:51 PM
Trees are the lungs of the earth! Large trees, such as these Sequoias that were cut, can obsorb/process much more CO2 than the small replacement trees being recommended. These trees were good roosting spots for Band-tailed Pigeons, Sharp-shinned, Cooper's and Red-tailed hawks--probably Merlin too. Other wildlife, and other birds also depended upon these trees. Loss of habitat is the number one killer of birds. Development and expansion plans need to be made to keep large trees, not conveniently dismissed on a drawing plan. And people approving these plans need to go out and look at the sites--then it would have been obvious that those four cedars on the application were really tall Sequoias, and not the more common Cedars (which have much needed flood-determent value). Shoreline is known for its trees, but for how long? Christine Southwick, Briarcrest resident
Janet Way January 05, 2012 at 04:23 PM
What a remarkably wise batch of comments this "answer" from SSD has generated. The wisdom of the public and taxpayers to the Shoreline School District is very impressive, especially on environmental matters. The almost immediate gut reaction, to the shortsighted decision to cut these four stand-out Sequoias, is understandable and should be a wake up call to the District and City of Shoreline. One question to Shoreline School District: how does this shortsighted decision to cut four iconic conifers, that were obviously the pride of this neighborhood, jive with its committment to build "green" or to reduce its carbon footprint? It just doesn't fit the District's self image. But it does fit the image that is becoming clearer every year of this District. Arrogance!
Fran January 05, 2012 at 08:16 PM
The statement that Mr Degginger asserts that the playing surface of the tennis court have been damaged by the trees is untrue. A simple walk on the courts confirms no damage at all on any of the playing surface. There is one slightly raised area with a crack by the gate to the courts.
Janet Way January 05, 2012 at 08:29 PM
As we frequently have experienced first hand, statements made by the Shoreline School District should be taken with a grain of salt at minimum. They also claimed they were going to honor history by evicting the museum and gutting the Ronald School. It's similar to the Bush Administration's phraseology..... "No Child Left Behind" and "Clear Skies Initiative". The Shoreline School District's philosophy seems to be more like "No Tree Left Behind"!
Jamie January 06, 2012 at 10:04 PM
So much for respecting the members of the School Board. When did you become so blaise' about our environment and what draws people to our neighborhood? Ever hear of the "ripple effect"? May you be around long enough to see what all of you have done in your carelessness.
Carol Seslar January 16, 2012 at 06:41 PM
I am sending love and forgiveness to the people who made this decision. Perhaps they could commision some art be made from the wood that was once these beautiful Sequoias. Maybe something beautiful could be made from this. My heart is aching from the loss of beauty in our neighborhood.

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