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Green Code Provisions Code Draft Needs Your Review, ASAP!

August 26, 2012
Honeybee on Manzanita

Manzanita grows great here & feeds all sorts of pollinators, but it’s a California native plant. Will this new policy make it illegal in some applications?

If you garden (at home or professionally) in Seattle or other areas of Washington state, you need to read the draft Green Code Provision for Healthy Landscapes, which is now open for comment.

But, you need to read it right now, spread the word, and comment fast.

The comment period closes tomorrow, August, 27, 2012. (Sorry, we learned about the draft recently ourselves.)

If passed  as written, these proposals have the potential to significantly limit what anyone can plant anywhere at any time in our area. It may also limit overall use of landscape space. Although the intent is noble, in my opinion, this draft is unrealistic and a potential job killer.

Do you need lawn?

Do you want to grow vegetables?

Do you need to do construction that will require re-landscaping?

Do you want a new patio, deck or play structure?

Do you want to add space for dogs, goats or chickens?

Do you want to create habitat and forage for honeybees and other wildlife?

Do you want more choice in plant diversity?

Do you grow plants and sell them?

If you have answered yes to any of these questions (and I could ask more), this drafted policy change may affect you. The draft code change is available here. It is very short, so read it, please.

And, my own 2012-August Green Code Provision Feedback model letter is available for download and review in Word document format here. (If you wish to review it and cannot read this format, leave us a comment with a way to reach you, and we’ll see what we can do.)

You are welcome to download my letter and use it as a model for your own response or to just read it to understand our position. (My letter is much longer than the draft, so get a glass of tea in hand before you dig in.) As stated in the letter, I welcome any input to our own response, and look forward to continuing to educate and develop healthy, functional landscapes together.

-Robin Haglund, Founder & President Garden Mentors inc.


  1. Bravo! Thanks for getting the word out Robin!

  2. Thanks Janet. Ditto on the thanks for getting the word out!

  3. Excellent points Robin, and thank you for bringing this to our attention. Sylvia

  4. Wish we’d all learned of this sooner. Still, I’m glad to know so many are getting their letters written and sent in on the hurry-up. Thanks for spreading the word Sylvia (and everyone else)!

  5. […] post on this, and anyway, it all happened pretty suddenly. So I will totally flake out here and refer you to GardenHelp.org for the full story in their words. Actually, they sum it up better than I probably could […]

  6. Thank You Robin, great job on getting the word out, and excellent points in your letter. This code revision is just in the draft stage so I assume they were expecting a bushel full of comments/push back, and they are getting them. So we all just need to stay vigilant and keep on letting them know that those of us in this industry are a great resource that they should have consulted directly first.

  7. Megan, you’re absolutely right! Thanks for chiming in and, as always, being a fantastic advocate for all of us in the hort industry!

  8. Jess says:

    Thought I’d share a response:

    To Whom it May Concern,

    The “Invasive Species & Native Vegetation” portion of the code provisions
    has me extremely concerned. Requiring 75% natives seems absolutely extreme.
    In fact, requiring natives at all seems like a pretty big pinch of the
    liberty of a property owner to surround themselves with the plants they

    Follow this for a moment. In 2010 Seattle Declared the “Year of Urban
    Agriculture.” Did the city’s stance on encouraging food production cease at
    the end of 2010? By requiring 75% natives this new code would prevent many
    people from entering urban agriculture (especially as right livelihood
    endeavor). How many native species fall into the realm of urban agriculture?
    Did you eat salal berries for breakfast this morning? How about camas?

    One step further, if we create little nodes of native species within the
    urban and suburban matrix we are doing a good thing by providing refuge for
    lots of local native wildlife and insects. However, these critters will
    always be refugees in the urban matrix. More meaningful value for wildlife
    is in larger, contiguous blocks of forested landscape without the leaf
    blowers, yapping chihuahuas, and fast-moving vehicles. What if instead of
    requiring 75% natives, you required 75% edible plants? What if we all
    started producing quantities of food in our yards to help offset the carbon
    foot print of having produce transported to us from across the country (or
    the globe)? What if increasing our local food production meant that less
    land needed to be farmed by “big ag”? What if that land was able to return
    to large blocks of contiguous habitat and wild ecology? That’s where it’s
    really at for supporting native ecologies and wildlife.

    I can’t stand behind any code, green or not, that discourages people from
    providing for their own food needs at home. Furthermore, this new code
    proposal seems to stand in direct conflict to the existing “Living Building
    Challenge” standard that the city has also made accommodations to support
    (See LBC 2.0 Urban Agriculture Section).

    Finally, as the economic belt keeps tightening, it seems that places for
    economically disadvantaged people to grow food become critical. We can have
    these folks providing for their food needs in their gardens, or we can have
    them maintaining a nice crop of Oregon grape while waiting in the food bank
    line. Which one makes sense to you? Also, what would these code requirements
    do the the P-Patch program (many of which are currently undergoing master
    planning processes that will likely lead to permitting)?

    That’s my two cents. Please rethink the Native vegetation piece so we aren’t
    all hungry someday.

  9. Thanks for sharing Jessi. Again, another intelligent commenter who taught me something new. (Oh, and I have eaten a Salal berry, and would prefer not to eat them again thank you.)

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