Thursday, January 10, 2013

Tree Branches

Everybody likes trees in their yards. Trees provide good shade and they green up one's property. If a property owner decides to plant trees on their property, shouldn't they be expected to keep the trees trimmed? It doesn't take a rocket scientist to know when a tree needs to be trimmed. If you mow your lawn and you have to duck in order to not get bonked on the head and whiplashed in the face, you need to trim the dang tree. If it impedes the sidewalk or the street, it needs to be trimmed.

When did we become such a lazy society? Councilor Anderson got a complaint from some constituent and now is asking for a review of the city's Parks and Recreation  Project T.R.I.M. program. City ordinance requires trees to have a 10 foot clearance over sidewalks and a minimum 12 foot clearance over the street. For arterial and collector streets, there must be a 16 foot clearance over the street.

The Parks Department has an inspection program whereby they inspect the city in quadrants. If they find trees that are not in compliance with the ordinance, they send a notice to the property owner. If the property owner does not comply, they get a second notice with more detailed information on which tree needs trimming. If the property owner still doesn't comply, they go out and trim the tree(s) and charge the property owner $150 per hour for the service. 3% of property owners don't comply. 97% do comply.

Councilor Anderson doesn't think the Parks Department is giving the homeowner enough information on which trees need trimming. He also threw out the idea that maybe the city should take over trimming trees. Director Kearney says that is is just too expensive. Darn right it is too expensive and I, for one, am not interested in having my taxes increased because someone can't trim their own trees on their property. First we can't shovel our own driveways, and now we can't seem to trim our own trees.

The City Council Public Services Committee asked Parks and Recreation officials to come before them to justify their program. Clearly, this is a program that is working. Maybe Councilor Anderson should have responded to the complaining constiuent with detailed information about the sucess of the program and remind the property owner of their duty as a property owner.

This is much ado about nothing but then making mountains out of mole hills is what politicians seem to do. Just because somebody complains doesn't mean whole programs need changing.  It would be different if Parks and Recreation didn't have a plan and weren't be responsible in managing it, but they are. They should be commended for running a program with a 97% compliance rate.

Move on, Public Services Committee.


  1. Glad to see you back commenting on the good, the bad, and the utter ridiculous coming out of Sioux Falls City government. Your well written blogs have been missed.

  2. This city council needs to remember that they are policy makers and do not have operational responsibilities. If they want an administration program changed then talk to the mayor about it. Otherwise, change the ordinance itself. They need to quit micro-managing.

  3. Come on Sioux Falls....trim your own darn trees and quit whining and expecting your government to take care of all your needs.

  4. Jen, the state legislature is the only governing body that can increase the 1st penny operational tax. The city council and mayor do not have that power, and you know it. It is a matter of budgeting the 1st penny to trim trees. I would have never imagined you would have taken the mayor's talking points.

  5. When I purchased my first home over 3 years ago, we had a branch issue. There was a large limb hanging down quite high in the tree, probably caused by a storm. I talked to my neighbors and they said to call the city (the tree was in the boulevard.) The city came and took down the branch no questions asked, I was impressed.

    Last summer I got a notice about low hanging branches on my two boulevard trees. I didn't question the notice, they were my trees, my responsibility. I spent a great amount of hard work taking care of it myself.

    Afterwards, I questioned what the difference was between these two situations?