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Trees & Sidewalks Operations Plan Ready for Comments

So you’re out for a stroll in your neighborhood and you come across a sidewalk that’s starting to buckle. As you take a closer look, it’s easy to tell that the roots of the large, beautiful tree next to the sidewalk are the cause of the problem.

Street trees and sidewalks both play vital roles in our public realm, helping to make Seattle more livable and sustain our quality of life. It’s not unusual to find examples of trees and sidewalks in conflict, especially in older neighborhoods with more mature trees.

But what to do? No one wants to lose a tree, but we need our sidewalks to be flat enough and wide enough for people to use. To help answer these tough questions, SDOT has developed a draft Trees & Sidewalks Operations Plan to help us better address common conflicts between trees and sidewalks.Plan Cover

The purpose of the operations plan is to be clear about our responsibilities and processes and to provide guidance on installation, repair, and maintenance of sidewalks and street trees in Seattle. The plan includes the following sections:

  • Best practices research from around the country that can inform the work we do in Seattle;
  • A transparent decision process that explains how we make choices about keeping or removing a tree;
  • A toolkit of solutions that we can use to plant and retain healthy trees and provide accessible sidewalks; and
  • Three case studies that put the decision process and tools to the test.


The operations plan is available for you to review on our website, at All comments are welcome and must be received by Tuesday, January 20, 2015. Please take a minute to look through the plan and share your thoughts with us!