EDITORIAL | Sneaky tree business

Sometimes trees just need to be taken down - there's no question about that, especially where human safety and property damage are concerned. If a tree is growing too close to someone's home and pressure from the trunk is starting to crack the foundation (as trees often do with sidewalks throughout the city), then you either cut it down or pay thousands in home repair. With those options, the average homeowner is going to take down that tree. A weeping poplar tree near Fremont's Lenin statue has become the center of attention lately. The trunk of the big tree straddles the property lines of Patricia Halsell and Dan Cawdrey. Halsell wants keep the tree; Cawdrey says he likes it but worries it's a safety risk and that the tree will damage his property. Though limbs hang over his property, it's not planted anywhere near his mixed-use building. Nonetheless, just days after a committee of arborists voted to give the tree Heritage Tree status, Cawdrey had some of the tree's limbs cut. Seattle Department of Transportation spokesperson Rick Sheridan said Cawdrey's abrupt act severely damaged the tree and that it would not likely recover fully. Hardcore enviromentalists have put candles, signs and flowers at the base of the still-alive tree. Cawdrey said he loved the tree and hated to have to trim it. He cut it for safety concerns, he said. Halsell said Cawdrey has wanted to lop that tree for years. And if safety was at issue, he would have consulted professional arborists or at least someone from the Seattle Department of Transportation about how and when it should be trimmed. They would have told him only if branches were growing too vertically close to the trunk, causing pressure enough to crack the branch, would there be a real safety concern. That happened in July to an oak tree at 2500 block of 10th Avenue West in Queen Anne. But the Fremont poplar was deemed healthy by a committee of city and private arborists, who awarded it with Heritage Tree status. If the tree dies, Cawdrey should follow up on a promise he made to put two mature trees in the area.In related news, Seattle Public Schools will not chop down a grove of trees near Ingraham High School, but only because a King County Superior Court judge ordered a temporary hold on those plans. The district wants to build a new school wing where the grove now stands. Getting a permit to do so would be easier if there wasn't a grove of trees involved. So the school district wants to cut the trees before submitting a building permit, which is absolutely legal to do. But just because it's legal, doesn't make it right. Other options should be considered.[[In-content Ad]]