Tempers flare over Talus tree removal

April 29, 2014

By Peter Clark

The city of Issaquah stopped the removal of Talus neighborhood trees April 27 after residents cried foul.

Work began in the beginning of April to take out some tall trees blocking the view of residents. While the Talus Residential Association remains confident it took all necessary steps to remove the trees, some homeowners remain unconvinced.

“People have been pretty adamant about clearing those trees to have a better view of the lake,” said Talus resident Chad Fletcher said, who is angry about the removal. “Those particular trees were there and always were there.”

Sandi MacCalla, vice president of large scale communities with The Management Trust CDC, represents the Talus Residential Association and works to manage the property. She said they had taken a long, correct and public process to provide views to residents who paid for them.

“We’ve been working on this for seven months,” MacCalla said. “There are people taxed for a view and there are people not getting it.”

The city approved the removal of 18 trees to be replaced with vine maples, flowering crab apple and flowering cherry trees. MacCalla said no evergreen trees would be taken down and that the management group was committed to replacing lost trees to preserve a green Cougar Mountain.

“We feel badly that all that work has gotten misunderstood,” MacCalla said about residents’ concerns. “We are just trying to make the best choice for all considerations possible.”

However, after residents claimed Northwest Landscape Services marked more trees than approved for removal, the city filed a cease work order to stop all tree cutting April 27.

“We heard it from a lot of residents that a lot more than 18 trees were marked,” City Communications Manager Autumn Monahan said. “We went up there and it was definitely more than 18.”

The city has had an ongoing role in the management group’s decision to cut down the trees.

“We were aware of it,” City Project Oversight Manager Christopher Wright said. “The Talus Residential Association was working with us.”

He said the decision to cut down the trees came from within the Talus Residential Association. The neighborhood is exempt from the tree protection ordinance that blankets the rest of the city, but Issaquah still had to approve the action.

“There was a plan and we were made aware of it,” Wright said. “They volunteered to replace them with three for every one they cut down. We’re certainly not paying for it.”

Despite assurances from the residential association and the city that all actions were made appropriately, residents like Fletcher still believe the tree removal is an affront to the environment in which they wish to live.

“There’s a number of reasons,” Fletcher said about wanting to preserve the trees and retain the green space. “They act as a natural buffer. It really is a privacy issue.”

He said he was not alone in wanted to preserve the mountainside’s lush character.

“I’ve got neighbors up and down who are all up in arms about this,” Fletcher said. Monahan said no timeline currently exists for the city’s review of the plan, but The Management Trust was trying to set up a town hall meeting for later this week. Get updates on the meeting at www.issaquahpress.com and @issaquahpress on Twitter.



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7 Responses to “Tempers flare over Talus tree removal”

  1. Anonymous on April 30th, 2014 6:42 am

    There is more to the story. Just two weeks ago the City stopped tree cutting work along Shangri-La on the south end of Talus. In this case more than 100 Alders were removed before residents went out and demanded work stop before the buffer was totally stripped of trees. We now have headlights blaring in our windows thanks to clear cutting of the buffer. The HOA Board’s lack of sensitivity and concern for other peoples privacy is totally unacceptable.

    Based on the news clip I saw it appears that large evergreens were removed last week. Note that the recent tree cutting improves the Board Presidents personal view significantly.

  2. bryan weinstein on April 30th, 2014 7:09 am

    welcome to tree city, u.s.a.

  3. Ex-Talus on April 30th, 2014 3:18 pm

    Interesting – the HOA president lives in a house whose view is being impeded by trees. Trees that were there before the house. Now they are being cut down, in a process that appears by reports here, to be somewhat dubious.

    Conflict of interest anyone ?

  4. Anonymous on May 1st, 2014 1:54 pm

    Sad that in the wake of devastating landslides caused by improper “forest management” and poor planning, short-sighted greedy local residents try to cheat to get their “lake view”. A view of a beautiful forest outshines looking at slobs floating in lake Sam on the smoggy weekends during the Summer.

  5. Mark on May 1st, 2014 3:08 pm

    I have been living on Talus for 11 years…the way the forest and creek has been treated is absolutely criminal…old growth forest that had a ton of wildlife is bulldozed right into the creek…the builders have zero concern for the environment!…NONE!….there is no quiet here….we have cars being broken into weekly…cars flying by kids at the bus stop….great plan Talus!!!!…let the developers have free will…and now they want to build 300+ more homes?…AND the builders give each other fake awards for “green building”…with these hilarious drawings always being shown of the way it will look…because if these used real photographs people would throw up…

  6. Lora on May 1st, 2014 9:57 pm

    fraud, maybe, but this situation easily satisfies the threshold definition for breach of fiduciary duty.

    HOA managers and presidents have a fiduciary relationship with the home owners. when they commit a breach in their fiduciary duty, they can be sued, not only for damages (loss in property value etc) but also returning to all members in the HOA the salary paid during the period that the breach was committed EVEN if the claimants did not suffer actual loss. there is strong case law for this, and frankly, a class action seems very useful in this situation.

    the value in our development is in the wilderness and trees: we live in an alpine community that has been stripped of its trees for what amounts to personal gain for the HOA president. legally enforcing fiduciary accountability before a judge is a means to deter deforestation in the future. furthermore, monies awarded from this could be directly used to reforest the area with native plantings and to reduce erosion.

  7. Ex-Talus on May 2nd, 2014 1:18 pm

    quote: ‘MacCalla said. “There are people taxed for a view and there are people not getting it.”’

    Doesn’t the other side hold true too. i.e There are folks downhill of the trees being removed whose property tax is assessed on the value that is enhanced by the privacy afforded by the trees ?. Cutting the trees down would therefore reduce that enhancement.

    As far as I am aware, there are no view covenants in Talus. If property values are being reduced by the reduction in view, then take it up with the King County Assessor .

    The trees were there before the Burnstead McMansions on Timber Creek Dr NW. Trees grow. Learn to love them and live with them !

    Or move.

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