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City settles second West Seattle tree-cutting case

The first suit was settled last year

Courtesy of the Seattle City Attorney’s office

The City of Seattle has officially settled two lawsuits against West Seattle homeowners allegedly responsible for cutting down 153 trees in the city-owned Duwamish Head Greenbelt.

For those just catching up: The city started investigating the missing trees, which occupy an environmentally critical area at risk for landslides, in early 2016 after a tip to a city arborist. After an investigation, the city alleged several households overlooking the area were responsible.

The City Attorney’s office announced Monday they’d settled the second and final lawsuit against five households for $360,000. An earlier suit, that one targeting two households allegedly involved in a second distinct tree-cutting area, settled last April for $440,000.

Total damages paid to the city, $800,000, are half of the $1.6 million in damages originally sought.

“The City always prefers to settle cases, given the expenses of trial,” City Attorney spokesperson Kimberly Mills told Curbed Seattle over email. “The $800,000 is more than enough to repair the damage at the site from the two, separate tree-cuttings.”

City Councilor Lisa Herbold, who represents West Seattle’s district, said in a statement that the settlement demonstrates “clear consequences” for the tree-cutting that “will make someone think twice before considering arboricide in the future.”

The city started repairing the damage in July. As Herbold notes, the greenbelt is still recovering: “Saplings now adorn a hillside where the trees once stood, though it will be decades before our West Seattle greenbelt is truly restored.”