How To Preserve Both Affordable Housing and Urban Trees

Housing and environmental activists are calling on the city to commit to a ‘Trees and’ approach, rejecting the perceived conflict between housing affordability and a healthy urban tree canopy.

2 minute read

April 26, 2022, 8:00 AM PDT

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction

Pioneer Square, Seattle

DeymosHR / Shutterstock

An opinion piece by Joshua Morris and Laura Loe calls on Seattle city leaders to commit to both improving housing affordability and preserving and growing the urban tree canopy, arguing that conservation and affordable housing don’t have to be mutually exclusive. As Morris and Loe write, “Much of the controversy springs from exaggerated narratives that pit trees against development, affordable housing, transit, views, solar access, and utilities.”

The authors urge the city to take a different approach. “As Seattle begins to consider its next comprehensive plan, we ask the development community and urban forest advocacy groups to commit to a ‘Trees and’ approach instead. We must protect more big trees and house more neighbors.”

As the article notes, “The planning process is expected to integrate both climate change adaptation/mitigation and racial/social justice. Urban forestry goals can support both major themes.”

After all, urban trees are amazing stormwater managers and air purifiers, plus they help cool our communities. Density advocates, motivated by concerns over the climate emergency and a desire to reduce transportation modes dependent on fossil fuels, should speak loudly on behalf of strengthening our urban tree canopy.

The authors pose some critical questions to consider as the city begins updating its comprehensive plan: “Whose financial responsibility should it be to maintain street trees and residential trees? Will decisions around tree canopy use a Race and Social Justice analysis? Can we move beyond parking strips and reclaim parking lanes for trees? How do we move away from poisonous, colonial, bourgeois lawns? Might we reforest some of Seattle’s public golf course spaces?”

Friday, April 22, 2022 in The Stranger

Aerial view of homes on beach in Maui, Hawaii

Hawaii Passes First Legislation Regulating Short-Term Rentals Statewide

The new law will give counties the power to limit number or short-term rentals and convert existing short-term rental units back into long-term residential housing.

May 13, 2024 - USA Today

Entrance to a drive-through car wash at night with green 'Enter' sign.

Ohio Towns Move to Ban New Car Washes

City officials in northeast Ohio are putting limits on how many car wash facilities can open in their towns.

May 16, 2024 - News 5 Cleveland

Rail tracks on the left, rustic log-built train station painted reddish brown with a green metal roof and concrete platform on the right, evergreen forest and bright blue sky with fluffy white clouds in the background.

More Passenger Rail Coming to Montana

Planning is underway to restore a 45-year-defunct regional passenger rail line connecting southern Montana to Billings and Amtrak’s east-west Empire Builder line from Seattle to Chicago.

May 14, 2024 - 8KPAX

Apartment For Rent Sign

HUD Proposal Would Soften ‘One-Strike’ Policy

Formerly incarcerated people are often barred from publicly subsidized housing, putting them at higher risk for homelessness and recidivism.

May 20 - Truthout

Water flowing through Glendale Narrows section of Los Angeles River in Glendale, California with a concrete bridge, power lines, and hills in background.

Los Angeles County Making Progress in Stormwater Capture

During this “super year” of storms, L.A. County has successfully captured 96 billion gallons of stormwater which is enough to meet the needs of about 2.4 million people a year.

May 20 - Los Angeles Times

Aerial Texas Hill Country at sunset, with an aerial view of a highway interchange and Interstate 35 in Austin, Texas.

The True Cost of Texas Highways

An explainer of the monetary, environmental, and social costs of exuberant road building.

May 20 - KERA News

News from HUD User

HUD's Office of Policy Development and Research

Call for Speakers

Mpact Transit + Community

New Updates on PD&R Edge

HUD's Office of Policy Development and Research

Urban Design for Planners 1: Software Tools

This six-course series explores essential urban design concepts using open source software and equips planners with the tools they need to participate fully in the urban design process.

Planning for Universal Design

Learn the tools for implementing Universal Design in planning regulations.