Council Roundup: September 26, 2022

Tree Regulations, Affordable Housing Demonstration Program
Posted on 09/29/2022

The City Council held a study session to discuss updated tree regulations and updates to the Affordable Housing Demonstration Program.

Council Supports Significant Updates to Tree Regulations

The Burien City Council placed on the consent agenda of their next regular meeting approval of new tree regulations. If adopted, the regulations won’t go into effect until February 28 11:59 p.m.

The proposed regulations significantly change existing protections for trees on private property and support the City Council’s previously adopted urban forest plan as well as support environmental goals in the Comprehensive Plan and Climate Action Plan.

Key elements of the new regulations:

  • Increase the number of trees that are retained and replanted associated with new development
  • Modify tree retention standards to address different lot sizes and development scenarios to ensure standards are effectively supporting Burien’s urban forest
  • Establish minimum tree credits for all lots in the city, to provide a basis for planting new trees when lots undergo development
  • Establish off-site tree replacement options when planting on-site is not feasible
  • Establish a fee-in-lieu program to support initiatives identified in the Green Burien Partnership Urban Forestry Plan, with a particular focus on tree equity
  • Establish an “Exceptional Tree” definition and allow for code departures to serve as an incentive for the preservation of trees that are native or exceptional by size
  • Prevent the introduction and require the removal of noxious species, which threaten Burien’s urban forest
  • Provide for the gradual implementation of the Des Moines Memorial Drive Corridor Management Plan on private properties

The Green Burien Urban Forest Stewardship Plan, adopted by City Council in 2020, outlines ways to enhance Burien’s tree canopy as well as helping the city implement projects and volunteer programs to care for Burien’s parks and natural areas. The plan sets a goal of reaching 40 percent canopy cover equitably distributed across the city by 2038. 39,000 new trees will need to be planted to reach this goal.

The City is planning an education campaign to inform Burien community members, landscapers, and local arborist companies about the new regulations.

Read more about the proposed tree regulations, and the process followed to update them.

Affordable Housing Demonstration Program Updates Considered

The City Council began discussion on proposed updates to the Affordable Housing Demonstration Program. They directed staff to schedule the topic for a future meeting to continue the discussion.

The proposed amendments extend the program through 2025, reduce distance between projects, and add a review process section to the regulations. The amendments are responsive to feedback from City staff and applicants who have either participated in or considered participating in the program. Two applicants have been approved in the program since its inception.

The Burien City Council approved the creation of an Affordable Housing Demonstration Program in 2019. The program was originally designed to facilitate, for a trial period, the construction of affordable housing by applicants who can demonstrate an ability to finance, manage, and monitor affordable housing units. The program also requires housing to be affordable for 50 years.

Read more about the Affordable Housing Demonstration Program.