Due Friday, 30 July: public comments about another Woodbrook warehouse

Application LU-21-00080 for grocery warehouse in Woodbrook neighborhood
Applicant: James Guerrero, architect on Lakewood's Planning Commission

Deadline for public comments: this Friday, 30 July, 5 p.m. — be sure to get a receipt and send in well before 5 p.m.

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Screenshot from 2021-07-26 00-01-25.png

The architect who sits on Lakewood's Planning Commission has submitted an application involving oak destruction to make yet another warehouse (this time a warehouse for a grocery store) in the devastated Woodbrook neighborhood — as if it hasn't been destroyed enough already. There is also a wetland involved.

There are at least 10 Garry oaks on this property. Some of these oaks are 28" diameter at breast height — which means that they are probably over 250 years old. One measuring 28" diameter at breast height is marked on the site map as slated to be "removed" and "replaced". Almost all the trees are over 20" diameter at breast height.

These Garry oaks, members of a special species, with critically imperiled habitat, with special status in Lakewood's own Municipal Code, traditionally protected in this jurisdiction, as old time residents will be quick to point out — must be protected.

Please write a letter to oppose any further destruction of Garry oaks in Lakewood, including for this grocery store warehouse.

Relevant documents:

Los Guerreros warehouse - SEPA Checklist
Los Guerreros warehouse - Tree Survey
Los Guerreros warehouse - Site Map

Sample letter:

Send to:
Ramon Rodriguez, [email protected]
Courtney Brunell, [email protected]

Re: LU-21-00080 Los Guerreros warehouse

30 July 2021

To Whom It May Concern,

Thank you for the opportunity to comment on application LU-21-00080 – SEPA Review, which relates to the proposed Los Guerreros Warehouse planned for the parcel at 7005 150th Street SW in Lakewood. Please include me as a party of record.

I am a resident of _____. HERE MENTION IF YOU LIVE NEAR THE SITE ON 150th AND ANY OTHER BACKGROUND INFO.

I strongly oppose the construction of a warehouse on this property, which would mean the destruction of Garry oak trees and their habitat, and have an undoubtedly negative impact on the wetland that is located on this property.

On its own website, the City of Lakewood says in its mission statement: "The City of Lakewood enhances the quality of life of our residents by [...] preserving our natural environment."

The current warehouse proposal is yet another example of the City's on-going hypocrisy. What it says publicly about its attitude towards the environment stands in stark contrast to its destruction of entire neighborhoods and their habitats, some of which are critical habitats of Garry oak woodland. The negative impacts of these developments affect the people and environment of the entire city and beyond.

The SEPA checklist failed to mention the Garry oak habitat on this property, which is part of a larger Garry oak habitat, wildlife corridor and Garry oak canopy that is located throughout Lakewood and on the adjacent Joint Base Lewis McChord. Ironically, on that federal property, the Garry oaks are treated with special care and their associated threatened and endangered species are protected and encouraged to thrive. Across the fence in Lakewood, Garry oaks and their habitat are routinely destroyed, a destruction that is sanctioned by the City.

What about the SEPA requirement to consider whether and/or how the proposed action might serve as precedent for future destructive actions? The impacts of that precedent must also be examined and considered. That has not been done.

Garry oak savannas have been called "a national treasure" (by the Institute for Applied Ecology, for example), but Lakewood has yet to realize that they are destroying something unique and precious — even on a continental scale.

None of these ten Garry oaks must be damaged or destroyed.

The proposal says the project will for example "remove and replace" a 28" diameter at breast height Garry oak tree for a driveway, for example.

We need to ask here: “Replace with what?” How exactly do you replace the functions and values of a tree hundreds of years old, which is an integral part of an extended habitat system and corridor? Much less ten such trees?

If the "replacement" is a warehouse, then none of the tree’s functions and values have been replaced. The more appropriate language would be “remove and obliterate” - and that obliteration needs to be evaluated in a SEPA review. Measuring the canopy coverage of individual trees does not constitute review of the functions and values of the system proposed to be impacted, diminished or partially destroyed.

Even if one does plant a handful of seedlings, this can never "replace" the 250 year old tree. If one seedling does happen to survive to maturity in 150 years, there still will remain a period of 150 years when there will be a gaping hole in the habitat and eco-system. There is no way on Earth to compensate for that loss. We do not have 150 years to wait.

Measuring 28", 14"+20", 20", 18", 14", 18", 22", 26", 24", 28" diameter at breast height, these Garry oaks are all far larger than the 6" DBH officially required to qualify as a "significant tree" in Lakewood, and as such must be preserved. Such oaks are in the prime of their lives, and could continue to thrive for hundreds of years.

It is incomprehensible that such trees would be destroyed for a warehouse, parking lot or driveway. If no other option exists that would not involve the destruction of Garry oaks, then the property is not suitable for such a development.

Trees — especially Garry oak trees — are not simply "garbage" that needs to be "removed".

Such developments should be located where the land has already been paved over and destroyed — there are plenty of such sites at developers' disposal in Lakewood.

Look at all of Lakewood's many derelict shopping centers and other sites with vast parking lots that could be repurposed for a warehouse. Only previously destroyed areas should be considered for warehouses and similar developments — never those containing natural areas and Garry oak habitat, for example. This should be obvious to anyone.

Furthermore, the application's SEPA checklist is plainly in error. When asked whether the site is on any migratory routes, the applicant says:

"c. Is the site part of a migration route? If so, explain."
"No, not that we know of"

Surely the fact that Lakewood is in fact on an enormous migratory route should not come as a surprise for someone not completing such an application the first time. Even if it were the first time, it would not be difficult to find out the answer to this question. All one has to do is type "migration routes" into Google, and you find the answer right away: Lakewood sits right on a major migratory route, the Pacific Flyway.

Some of the millions of birds using the Pacific Flyway, along with local birds and wildlife, use the Garry oak trees in Woodbrook and environs as a wildlife corridor, moving from tree to tree. The property is only a few hundred feet from JBLM, where endangered and threatened species associated with Garry oak habitat are known to live, and are given special protection.

Moreover, the warehouse will cover the area in yet more impermeable surfaces, which inevitably damage the delicate ecosystem of the wetland there — but the damage will not only be limited to that single site. Now, the canopy of old trees such as the Garry oaks on this property serve to intercept rainwater, with their enormous root systems creating space for infiltration. Without them, this critical natural process of infiltration would be destroyed. As should be well known to the city by now, the cumulative impact of impermeable surfaces leads to increased volumes of stormwater, increased transport of pollutants, which in turn result in dead fish and orcas, increased threat of flooding, and a host of other negative environmental impacts.

The city itself has sponsored "stormwater" calendar competitions for children, who were asked to illustrate ways of properly washing cars on lawns and picking up dog feces in order to prevent pollution from going into the stormwater and into Puget Sound. This would appear to be mere window-dressing, if the City of Lakewood has decided it is advisable to cover vast areas of the city in warehouses — the best way to produce as much stormwater run-off as possible.

The time has come to implement strict protections for Garry oaks and all trees in Lakewood. Lakewood's wonderful tree canopy must be protected and expanded, not destroyed at an ever accelerating pace. During our time of climate crisis, devastating heat events and global warming, we need as many mature oaks and other trees as possible to mitigate the heat, as well as sequester the carbon. As scientists have shown, carbon is sequestered best by old trees, such as these oaks. Their canopy, so extensive, is already in place to do the crucial job of sequestration and heat mitigation.

Do not allow these trees to be damaged. If you do — you will be condemned by history as the destroyers of these truly irreplaceable trees. We do not have 150 years to wait for their "replacements" — for that is how long it takes for a Garry oak to reach maturity. We need to save these mature trees now for all the reasons outlined above, and more.

In summary, the application to build a warehouse at 7005 150th Street SW, Lakewood, should be rejected. Strict protections for these oaks and their habitat should be implemented immediately across the board in Lakewood, in all areas, regardless of zoning type.

Sincerely,
[YOUR SIGNATURE HERE]
[YOUR NAME]; [YOUR ADDRESS AND CONTACT INFORMATION]


Sunday, July 25, 2021 at 11:55:43 PM