Trees for Terrace

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Trees are important to Mountlake Terrace, and they provide many benefits to the community such as:

  • Air quality and oxygen production
  • Water quality and flow control
  • Soil health and stabilization
  • Biodiversity and habitat
  • Higher property values
  • Shade and temperature regulation
  • Climate resiliency
  • Increase in visits to local businesses

Learn more about the benefits of trees and see a map of the 100 street trees planted in 2023 by clicking HERE.

Update: Changes to city code regarding trees

At the December 21 meeting, City Council approved an update to Mountlake Terrace's Municipal Code (MTMC). Reference Ordinance no. 2838 (Tree Code Amendment). 

Updates to the code include:

  • Establishing a Heritage Tree Program
  • New Definitions
  • Tree Retention Requirements
  • Tree Protection Standards
  • Replacement of Viable Significant Trees
  • Establishing a Tree Fund
  • Violations, Enforcement, and Penalties

New Tree Code is effective March 27, 2024

For more information about the updates, click through the tabs below.

Who can apply? On private property, only the property owner. On public property, anyone can apply for heritage tree status.

Criteria. The nominated tree must be at least 36 inches diameter at 4.5 feet from surface of the ground and must have another characteristic that makes the tree special and worthy of heritage tree status (distinctive size, shape, species, historical significance, and/or age.)

Arborist report. A report on the tree by a qualified arborist must be submitted with the heritage tree application. The report identifies the tree’s characteristics, current condition, and current/anticipated maintenance needs. The cost for this report is anticipated to range between $200 and $600 per tree. 

How to apply. Application is through the city’s permit portal. Submittal must include contact information, information on how tree meets criteria, a photograph, and a map locating the tree on the property. One heritage tree application may cover more than one tree within one parcel or in one location. The 2024 cost for a heritage tree application is $155, to cover staff review time.

Process. Heritage tree nominations shall be submitted to the city and reviewed for completeness and consistency. Complete applications for public property are referred to the city department director responsible for the property. Private property applications are reviewed by the Community & Economic Development (CED) Department. Next, the Tree Board reviews the application and makes a recommendation to the CED Director to approve or deny the application. The CED Director will make the final determination. Applicants may appeal heritage tree decisions to the Hearing Examiner.

Recording requirements for heritage trees. Snohomish County official documentation tied to the property is required to protect the heritage tree when property ownership changes. The 2024 cost for a recorded document by the Snohomish County Auditor’s Office is $303.50 for a standard recorded document and $1 for each additional page. Document format requirements apply.

Fees for application, arborist report, and recording fees are the responsibility of the applicant.

Heritage tree plaque and mapping. Once the heritage tree review process is complete and the heritage tree has been approved, the city will provide a heritage tree plaque with the tree’s species and a unique identifier, at no cost to the applicant. The city will add the heritage tree to an online map on the city website.

Maintenance. Property owners are responsible for maintaining heritage trees on private property. For public property, heritage tree maintenance will be completed by the city department with responsibility for the property.

Removal of heritage tree designation. Heritage trees may only be removed by meeting one or more criteria listed below, obtaining written approval through the city’s permit portal, and providing notification to the city’s Tree Board. Heritage tree designation may be removed if:

    1. Retention of the tree would make reasonable use of the property allowed under the current zoning impractical;
    2. The tree interferes with the needed location of proposed improvements or structures; or
    3. The tree becomes hazardous and poses a threat to the health, safety, or welfare of the public. (Under this circumstance, emergency tree removal is allowed.)
Tree Code Flow Chart
For more information, please contact:
Laura Reed, Stormwater Program Manager