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Jason Rantz

Rantz: Relax, they’re just trees, West Seattle

Jason Rantz believes some angry West Seattle neighbors are "wealth shaming" rather than being tree activists. (Emilio Kuffer, Flickr)

I hate to be the guy to take this position because the area’s natural beauty is part of what makes the Pacific Northwest shine so brightly even in the dreary weather, but the trees cut down in West Seattle are just that: trees. No one was killed, no one was injured and no war crimes were committed.

Related: Seattle mulls criminal charges over illegal tree-cutting

Trees were cut down to make room for a better view. This isn’t shocking; it’s a normal desire. We want nice views when we look out our windows. Why are we pretending like these West Seattle neighbors committed a hate crime worthy of felony charges that can land them in prison?

The over-the-top condemnation by many screams of “wealth-shaming” as activists seem angrier that these homeowners are wealthy and thought they could cut down trees for their own sinister desires of a better view (assuming this wasn’t done on accident). Yes, one could rightfully point out the danger in what cutting these trees means for mudslides. But the loudest response to this action has to do with putting up billboards to block the views that they now have. These activists pretend to care about nature here when their main goal seems to be shaming people with money they don’t have. And it screams of hypocrisy.

Seattle is in the midst of a housing crisis causing the high rents, and yet neighborhood activists shriek when a developer might want to build housing that’s so big it ruins views or isn’t up to their aesthetic standards.

An 11-story planned complex in Pioneer Square was put on hold because it’s “out of scale,” too bulky and has different aesthetics than the rest of the neighborhood. Affordable micro-housing units have been shunned in neighborhoods like Eastlake because some homes “won’t get sun anymore” due to the development’s height. On Capitol Hill, neighbors don’t like an “out of scale” apartment building that might block the sun (and ruin a spot where cats hang out with raccoons — I’m not kidding, that’s an excuse they’re using).

So a presumably wealthy family should be shunned for wanting a view, but neighborhood housing activists should be celebrated for not wanting to ruin their views or change the neighborhood aesthetics, even if these developments help bring down rent?

How about we punish anyone who broke the law with a reasonable fine, have the party responsible pay to correct the problem, and be more consistent when we feign outrage? Or, of course, just be honest and say your ire is fueled by their wealth.

Jason Rantz on KIRO Radio 97.3 FM

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About the Author

Jason Rantz

Assistant Program Director of both KIRO-FM and KTTH-AM. Prior to this position, he worked in the programming departments of Talk Radio Network, Greenstone Media, and KFI-AM and KLSX-FM, both in Los Angeles. He's also done some writing on the side, appearing in Green Living Magazine, Reader's Digest Canada, Radar Online, and SPIN. Jason is a resident of Seattle's Queen Anne neighborhood.


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