Skip to main content

Taking Responsibility for a Shared Tree

What Happened

Mr. E has a Norway maple in front of his home, more than half of which is on City property. In April 2009, a storm broke a limb on the tree and it was hanging dangerously. In the past, the City has pruned the tree under the boundary line street tree policy, so Mr. E phoned the City for assistance. He was told, however, that the tree was privately owned and therefore his responsibility. Confused by the change, Mr. E left a message to speak to a supervisor that Friday morning. He did not hear from the supervisor that day and, not knowing when he would hear back, he hired a contractor to remove the branch. On Monday, the supervisor called to tell Mr. E that he could request an inspection from the City as the tree was on the property boundary line. When informed Mr. E had taken matters into his own hands, the supervisor refused to reimburse him retroactively for the private contractor. Mr. E contacted our office for assistance.

What We Did

We contacted the supervisor who confirmed that the staff member who took Mr. E’s first call gave him incorrect information, but that they did not have the authority to reimburse Mr. E. We wrote to the General Manager on the behalf of Mr. E for reimbursement, and stressed that, if City staff had given Mr. E the correct information when he first phoned, he would have asked the City to remove the broken branch and not have paid a contractor.

The Result

The General Manager agreed to reimburse Mr. E because he had been given incorrect information by the City.