Action Alert: Save the Trees at Group Health
Eastside Audubon opposes the plan to cut down 1,100 trees at Group Health in Redmond. Take action to help save this valuable bird habitat.
Update May 16, 2012: Since publication in February of the article that follows, Sustainable Redmond, the City of Redmond, and Group Health participated in a nine-hour mediation session that failed to resolve the controversy over the proposed clear cut at the Group Health site. Sustainable Redmond's suit will proceed in county court in June. The group is working to raise $10,000 to support legal expenses. Information about how to contribute appears below.
Eastside Audubon is supporting Citizens and Neighbors for a Sustainable Redmond (Sustainable Redmond) and other groups in a legal challenge to a City of Redmond decision allowing Group Health to clear cut 1,100 trees in Overlake.
All of the trees on the 28-acre site of the old Group Health hospital would be removed for a project combining offices, housing, retail, and a hotel-conference center. The plan would eliminate 65 "landmark" trees, those measuring 30 to 50 inches in diameter, and 985 "significant" trees, as trees are classified by Redmond city policy.
The land use petition appeal filed in King County Superior Court by Sustainable Redmond and others contends that the Group Health plan does not meet requirements for an exemption from the Redmond tree code, which prescribes that 35 percent of existing trees and 100 percent of landmark trees be left standing when a site is developed. The appeal also asserts that the public was not adequately informed in advance of the exemption decision.
Group Health has said that all of the trees must be removed in order to allow the site to be redeveloped safely, but an arborist hired by the citizens group believes otherwise.
Cindy Jayne, a member of Sustainable Redmond, emphasized that the citizens group does not oppose redevelopment of the Group Health site, but the wholesale removal of the trees. Noting that the multi-use plan ties into regional transit strategy, she said, "We are very supportive of transit-oriented development. We think it can be done here in a way that retains groves of trees and meets the city's tree protection standard."
In a letter of support to Sustainable Redmond, EAS at-large board member Tim McGruder wrote:
"[Eastside] Audubon is very careful to avoid actions that are purely an emotional response to a desire to simply save trees. But our support of this appeal is born out of a systematic failure of the City of Redmond to apply their own long-standing, well-established guidelines, created through years of community involvement and support, and codified in the City's Comprehensive Plan. With others, we are concerned what precedent would be set if this project moves forward as currently planned."
The chapter has not provided any funds to support the legal challenge.
What you can do
Sustainable Redmond is in need of financial support for legal expenses resulting from the appeal process. Checks (payable to Citizens and Neighbors for a Sustainable Redmond) may be mailed to:
Sustainable Redmond, PO Box 2194, Redmond, WA 98073
While the legal process is pending, citizens can try to persuade Group Health to change its plans by writing or emailing letters to the company and copying the City of Redmond. Addresses and letter-writing help.
You are welcome to download and post this flyer.
For more information