An old horse chestnut tree in West Seattle that raised emotions in the neighborhood was saved Thursday from being chain-sawed by the city.

The push to save it was started by Sara Macko, 31, who found time to organize the protest in between working 60 to 70 hours a week bartending and doing legal office work.

“I won’t stop smiling all day,” she says. Sometimes it all works out, this petitioning stuff, putting up posters, emailing officials.

It’s Seattle. They can’t help being literal tree-huggers

Macko lives in a rental home at Fauntleroy Way Southwest and Southwest Fontanelle Street, near Lincoln Park.

The tree is inside the corner of the home’s lot, and it has sent out roots 2 to 3 inches above the sidewalk. The city’s Department of Transportation was planning to install a curb ramp there, as mandated in a federal settlement to make sidewalks accessible to the disabled.


The city said 21 inches would have to be cut from the chestnut’s roots, and that would kill it.

Macko, who was profiled in a May 16 Seattle Times story, believed there had to be a way to save the tree.

“It stands, healthy and strong … In the spring, it blossoms in endless clusters of flowers that feed our bees and hummingbirds …,” she wrote in an emotional April 16 petition. It got 895 signatures. The property owners backed her.

On Thursday, SDOT issued a statement that “we have heard from many community members” and “we were able to find a solution.”

The fire hydrant at that location would be moved, still providing “the same level of fire protection” but allowing to build a new curb without harming the tree.

Macko says that plan is similar to what she had suggested to the city.


In any case, she has this advice for you would-be tree-huggers in other neighborhoods who get all passionate about a tree destined to come down.

“Tenacity, get everybody involved, get the science to back you with facts,” Macko says. “Put your head down and keep working.”

Oh, and this might shock some, she also was complimentary to SDOT for how it responded: “Kind, receptive.”

It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood.