Seattle homeowners accused of felling 150 trees on public land for a better view
The destruction of an acre and a half of trees along a public greenbelt has drawn condemnation and sparked civil lawsuits
Settling into homes with gold-plated views is the goal for many who come to West Seattle. And so headlines blared when residents learned that some neighbors, seeking a better view than they already had, had hacked down more nearly an acre and a half of trees along a public greenbelt.
The unpermitted choppings on the city-owned West Duwamish Greenbelt which is prone to landslides and relies on trees to stabilize the soil destroyed more than 150 big-leaf maple trees and Scouler willows. As fall begins, a riot of rotting log carcasses and gnarly moss-draped limbs are still strewn about the site. There are deep pockmarks, too, and gashes left by the wholesale clear-cut.
The discovery in March by a team of city investigators sparked outrage. One anonymous commenter, reported The Stranger, suggested the city chop the [culprit] to pieces and see how it feels.
Now, Seattle city attorney Pete Holmes has filed civil suits against several couples who police say were involved in the tree-cutting caper, seeking an unprecedented $1.6m in damages and fines.
The two suits filed in King County superior court on 20 September, the culmination of a seven-month long (and still ongoing) police investigation, lists six defendants by name, and also includes 26 Jane and John Does as witnesses.
The first suit alleges that Kostas and Linda Kyrimis cut down 72 trees to improve their views, while the second alleges that Stanley and Mary Harrelson and Marty and Karrie Reimer hired freelance tree-cutters to fell 55 maples. The city believer other homeowners are responsible for cutting down the rest of the trees.
Holmes told the Guardian last week: It looked like a tornado hit it. It was like they just said, Lets just whack it all down.
He is almost certain the damage occurred in January, but that it didnt come to the citys attention until a nervous neighbor contacted the parks department. He later identified that person as Stanley Harrelson, saying: I think he wanted to clear his conscience or limit his liability or both. No one has come forward yet with the full story of what happened and why.