Eastside Audubon Letter of Support to Sustainable Redmond
Eastside Audubon supports the Sustainable Redmond lawsuit to save the trees at Group Health
Eastside Audubon at-large board member Tim McGruder wrote the following letter on January 25, 2012, to support Sustainable Redmond's lawsuit challenging the City of Redmond decision to allow the removal of all of the trees at the old Group Health hospital site in Overlake.
Eastside Audubon supports Citizens and Neighbors for a Sustainable Redmond in their challenge to the Redmond City Council's decision to allow cutting of all trees on the former Group Health site.
On December 13, 2011, the Redmond City Council approved the Group Health Overlake Village Master Plan and Development Agreement, which includes a clear cut of the nearly 900 significant trees and over 60 landmark trees on the 28 acre site.
The City of Redmond's development regulations acknowledge the importance of urban trees with its requirement to retain 35 percent of significant trees and 100 percent of landmark trees on any given site. It's unclear why Redmond ignored its own regulations in approving this plan.
Like others, Eastside Audubon supports responsible redevelopment in our community. Historically, the City of Redmond has utilized its progressive tree policies consistent with this concept. You can imagine our surprise to find out this was not the case for the Group Health project.
Aside from the obvious aesthetic benefits, trees have value for wildlife habitat, stormwater retention, increased property value, reduced energy consumption, improved air quality and CO2 reduction. Measuring the various values of trees in some of these categories is difficult, but some attempts have been made. Using the National Tree Benefit Calculator, an online tool to estimate the value of trees, just the calculated annual CO2 reduction of the landmark trees alone exceeds 18 tons. The benefit of replacement trees will only provide a small fraction of the benefits of existing mature trees.
[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.
It is our belief that a well-reasoned approach to redevelop the Group Health site would include retention of trees consistent with the City's own policies and procedures.
About Eastside Audubon: The mission of Eastside Audubon is to protect, preserve and enhance natural ecosystems and our communities for the benefit of birds, other wildlife and people.
For more information, contact Tim McGruder, At-large Board Member. (425) 822-8580, firstname.lastname@example.org.