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Posted on: November 13, 2018

New Tree Regulations to Begin December 3

City staff is hosting a public meeting on Monday, Nov. 19 to update the community on new tree regulations that begin December 3. 

In an effort to preserve trees, the City Council approved new tree retention and tree removal permit regulations at the City Council business meeting (see item 8.G) on October 23. The changes come out of a multi-year review of tree and landscaping regulations recommended by the Tree & Low Impact Development Ad Hoc Committee.  

The significant changes to the tree regulations fall into two categories: the mechanics of the City's clearing permit process and new tree retention requirements for residential properties in the R-2.9, R-3.5 or R-4.3 zones.

1. Changes to clearing permits (BIMC Chapter 16.18): 

  • Permit renamed to Tree Removal/Vegetation Maintenance Permit.
  • For properties one acre or less in size: A tree removal permit will be needed to remove four or more significant trees (previously, a permit was required to remove seven or more significant trees). 
  • Increasing the time period from 12 months to 36 months related to the removal of significant trees without a permit. For most properties, if the property is more than an acre in size, the owner can only remove up to six significant trees without a permit every three years.
  • At this time, a clearing permit (Tree Removal/Vegetation Maintenance Permit) is free. 

2. New tree retention requirements for all single family residential properties in the  R-2.9, R-3.5 or R-4.3 zones; the new retention requirement is 30 tree units per acre (see BIMC Section 18.15.010.G.4.iii). Property owners in these zones should check with City staff prior to removing any trees on their property to ensure that they remain in compliance with the new regulations. If trees are removed, replanting may be required.

The ordinance becomes effective on Monday, December 3.  A public meeting to explain and answer questions about the new regulations is scheduled for 3 p.m. Monday, November 19 at City Hall. 

Planning & Community Development staff will also be doing new tree regulations outreach during the ferry commute on the afternoon of Tuesday, November 27. They will be departing Bainbridge Island on the 2:55 ferry. 

If you have any questions about the new ordinance, please contact Senior Planner Jennifer Sutton at 206-780-3772 or email  


New Tree Regulations Project Page:

Tree & Low Impact Development Ad Hoc Committee:

Zoning Map (R-2.9, R-3.5, R-4.3):

Significant Tree (BIMC Chapter 18.36 Definitions):!/BainbridgeIsland18/BainbridgeIsland1836.html#18.36

BIMC Development Standards & Guidelines; Section 18.15.010.G.4.iii (tree unit requirement):!/BainbridgeIsland18/BainbridgeIsland1815.html#18.15.010

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