The Seattle School District can't cut down 100 trees on Ingraham High School campus until it obtains a building permit from the city, a King County Superior Court judge ruled this afternoon.

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The Seattle School District can’t cut down 100 trees on the Ingraham High School campus until it obtains a master-use permit from the city, a King County Superior Court judge ruled this afternoon.

Judge John Erlick said the district “was trying to put the proverbial cart before the horse” in moving to have the trees removed before obtaining the permit for a renovation project at the school. The decision delays any action on removing the trees until at least February.

A group calling itself Save The Trees filed a lawsuit earlier this month to block the district from cutting down 100 trees as part of a $24 million renovation project. Keith Sculley, attorney for Save The Trees, argued that the grove constitutes an urban forest and a migration corridor for birds and other animals, as well as a buffer between neighbors and the school.

Shannon McMinimee, the district’s attorney, said that school wanted to remove the trees before school starts Sept .3 The school already completed all the required environmental review, McMinimee argued.

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A hearing in the lawsuit was set for Sept. 2, but the district still planned to remove the trees Aug. 15 and 16 before students returned to class next week. Erlick imposed a temporary restraining order, blocking the district until today’s hearing. Save The Trees had to pay a $7,500 bond to offset the district’s costs for delaying renovations.

The district plans to cut down nearly 70 trees from a stand of 133. It also plans to cut down 30 more trees deemed diseased, remove portable classrooms and build an addition to the school.

Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels has been among those who’ve expressed disappointment at the district’s plan to cut the trees, but a spokesman for the mayor said it appeared there was nothing Nickels could do to stop it.

Noelene Clark: 206-464-2321 or

Information from Seattle Times archives is included in this report.

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