Investigate a Removal

See If a Tree Near You is At Risk
July 9, 2024

Thank you for caring about Seattle’s forest. Please use this guide to see if this tree is under threat of illegal removal and what to do next.

If you are experiencing a tree removal or major pruning right now, scroll down to “A Removal is Happening Right Now.” Otherwise, skip to “A Tree is At Risk of Being Removed.”

A Removal is Happening Right Now

If a removal is happening right now, please call the following:

  • Tree is on Private Property: Call (206) 615-0808 to reach the Seattle Department of Construction & Inspections (SDCI) complaint line. Available M, Th, F: 8:00 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. and T, W: 10:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.
  • Tree is in the right-of-way (like a sidewalk): Call (206) 684-TREE (8733) to reach the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) tree line.

If you see a hazardous work environment for tree workers (e.g., no safety gear):

  • Call  (800) 321-OSHA (6742) to reach the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) emergency complaint line.
  • Call (800) 423-7233 to reach the WA State Labor & Industries worker safety line to report what you see.

Document everything with video and photos.

Note: A notice of tree work is not the same as a permit. Notices are print-at-home documents that don’t mean anyone has verified the information or legality of the removal. Some notices are for tree work that is unpermitted. These instructions will show you how to tell the difference.

A Tree Is At Risk of Being Removed

Step 1: Determine the Address

If you already know the address associated with the tree, or a tree is located in the right-of-way, please skip this steps step. Trees in the right-of-way are managed by Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT), whereas trees on private property are managed by Seattle Department of Constructions and Inspections (SDCI).

For trees on private property, first find it’s address so you can find the appropriate documents. To find the address:

1. Go to the King County Parcel Viewer.

2. Click on the Basemaps button at the top right of the map. Change it to the latest available aerial map to see the aerial imagery on the map.

3. Type in a street address you know is near your tree in the text box to the leftmost on the same menu as Basemaps.

4. Look for your tree in the satellite data and make a note of its official address.

Step 2: Find Land Use Protections.

Some addresses have a higher level of SDCI protection, most notably if they are in Environmentally Critical Areas (ECAs). ECAs are discussed in detail in the FAQ at the bottom of this page.

You can check if the address is in an ECA in order to know if the removal or tree work will need additional permits or a Vegetation Restoration Plan.

  1. Open the City of Seattle’s ECA map.
  2. Type your address in the text box in the upper left corner. Sometimes trees span more than one lot so you may need to try adjacent addresses too.
  3. The Layer list on the right sidebar has two sections: “Layer list” and “Environmentally Critical Areas (ECAs)”. Choose any of the ECA layers available in the latter section to see if your address belongs to any of such ECAs.

Note: you can remove the “Zoning” tick in the “Layer List” section if that helps you see the map better.

Step 3: For Private Property Trees, Find Tree-Related Permits with SDCI

If your tree is on private property, you will now search the SDCI website to find relevant permits, if any exist. Your goal is to locate all relevant documentation that makes the tree removal “legal” in the eyes of the city. If any documents are missing, this is our best chance to  delay or prevent the tree removal.

1. Go to the SDCI permit site.

2. Enter the address you found above, or search with a specific document ID if you have it, and click Go. Don’t leave the page until the search is finished. Sometimes trees span more than one lot so you may need to try adjacent addresses too.

3. Sort by descending date by clicking on the Date column header until it shows a down arrow.

4. Now you’ll have to dig into the documents. Information related to tree work can be in any document with the following “Record Type” (found in the last column of the table):

  • SDCI Tree Public Notice
  • Construction Permit
  • Demolition Permit
  • Master Use Permit
  • Arborist Report
  • Treecycle Letter
  • Code Compliance Complaint

Step 4: For Right-of-Way Trees, Find Related Permits with SDOT

If the tree is on the street or in a Right-of-Way, any document about tree work will be in the general City of Seattle Records Search page.

1. Go to the City of Seattle Records Search portal.

2. Enter the address in the text box, click Search.

3. Sort the documents in reverse chronological order by clicking on the Date column header.

4. Look for any SDOT permit and requests for major pruning or removal.

I Have Documentation. What’s Next?

Now that you have all relevant documentation, it’s time to check for any errors, deceptions, or falsehoods.

We have experienced developers intentionally providing an incorrect (much smaller) measurement of a tree’s diameter, hiding arborists’ reports, or saying a tree is sick when it’s healthy in order to get a permit to remove it.

To save trees, it’s important to dig into these records and fact-check them with your own photos, measurements, or aerial data from the King County Parcel Viewer.

Make a Complaint to SDCI or SDOT

If you notice any errors, violations, or suspicious changes to the documentation you’ve researched, submit a complaint to SDCI or SDOT so the issue is on their radar.

Submit an Online Complaint to SDCI

  1. Go to the Make a Property or Building Complaint page on the SDCI website.
  1. Select “Make a Complaint” and fill out address details (from Step 1). Select “Continue.”
  2. Add all complaint details.
    1. Under “Tree Service Provider Information,” check any Tree Public Notices or SDCI records for a company listed to do tree work. (A Tree Service Provider (TSP) must be registered with SDCI to do tree work.)
    2. Find the Registration Number of your TSP by searching the Tree Service Provider Directory on the SDCI website.
  3. Under the “Documents” section, add any records as attachments to the complaint for reference.
  4. Review information, and then hit continue to submit.

Email a Complaint to SDOT

  1. Address an email to
  2. Make sure to include the following:
    • Address of tree
    • Photos of site, including of the tree, workers pruning/removing the tree and license plate of work truck as possible
    • Any documentation from the SDOT records pull.

I Have More Questions and I’m Still Concerned About This Tree.

Send us an email to, and we’ll do our best to help.

You’ll get an email that you can reply to directly and that one of the humans volunteering at Tree Action Seattle will read. Please attach any documents you’ve already found and any pictures you have to your follow up email.

Thank you for your stewardship of Seattle’s majestic urban forest.

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