Thursday, April 11, 2013

Eureka Public Works Not Happy With Street Trees?

I was working just a couple blocks up the street from my house yesterday. That's exactly a block south of where the last street trees were planted a short time ago. A City of Eureka truck pulls over on Huntoon Street. The guy gets out and starts measuring and marking the sidewalk. I figure it must be preparation for more street tree plantings.

I'm livid and make a point of glaring at the guy. I finally get done with my work and the guy happens to come over near my truck. I ask him what he's doing. He says something like "USA", or some such. I didn't understand. I ask him specifically if this was for street trees. He says it is. I almost lose it.

I'm almost shaking as I say "I think this is a bunch of bullshit you guys are doing....blah, blah, blah". I was so pissed off I couldn't even go off on him well. He calmly replies, "Tell me about it. We at Public Works don't like it, either". I'm like "WTF???", for some reason thinking city employees naturally supported it.

We got to talking and he explained they weren't happy doing it. He agreed with most of the objections I brought up. He even pointed out one I'd thought of, but not very much: Liability.

For example; the trees needed to be maintained so they didn't become a hazard but, like me, he suggested most won't maintain the trees. If something happens and damage or injury results, who is liable for damages: The city or the property owner?

I replied I'd like to see the homeowner made liable, but would certainly enjoy seeing the city sued over something like that, as well. I can't help but think since it's a gray area, neither would end up being held responsible in the end. Something I'd normally not want to see more of but, in this case, I'd like to see homeowners held responsible for their poor judgment.

He ended up suggesting I contact the city council as they're the ones letting this go on and it was mostly one guy that had moved up from San Francisco that was pushing it: Ron Kuhnel. Yeah, I know of Ron Kuhnel. I told him I knew the mayor and considered him a friend, but didn't think he'd want to make waves over something like street trees. I suspect the others on the council are the same.

Regardless of that, maybe I should at least send the council a letter about this and point out the legal and financial liabilities they're creating by letting this street tree program continue. Never mind the cost to taxpayers.

I had to thank the guy as we parted company. One more time that I felt I wasn't the loneliest guy in town.

19 Comments:

At 7:40 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What gray area? Property owners are responsible for maintaining the sidewalk adjoining their property. If the sidewalk crumbles and a person gets hurt, the homeowner gets sued. Why wouldn't homeowners also be responsible for maintaining the trees?

The issue is whether the city can legally stick anything it wants there and make property owners responsible for it.

 
At 7:49 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think the trees have improved what our city looks like tremendously. Although, the only drawback would be having to repair sidewalks as the roots grow. Having lived in the city and had the sidewalk crumble in front of my house after a garbage truck tire brushed against it I know that the homeowner is responsible for repair. What confusese is why the city can allow their sidewalks to be crumbling and unlevel but go after homeowners with situations such as this.

 
At 7:52 AM, Blogger Stephen said...

You should form a block group and sue the city for their tree removal policy when trees are soaking up carbon dioxide and releasing oxygen. I tell you in truth that all the residents in our tiny canyon community that was situated next to the Hollywood freeway appreciated how good the air was there and there alone because of all the trees filling the canyon. Drive a quarter mile out and and you could instantly tell the difference.

Trees, mature trees are what make a community, any community feel like a place you'd want to live in. Go back to your childhood communities that were new subdivisions and see the difference grown trees make. We need to arborize all communities and stop these anti-community lawsuit-happy people from causing harm to the rest of us. And it isn't just individuals who are lawsuit happy but you know who that makes their living off lawsuits costing the community when mediation and common sense would save everyone time and trouble and money.

Oh, btw, Eric censored another of my posts on his blog, that one also pointing out how public diversion from real environmental problems by enviro lawsuit orgs and their yahoo grunts on the street, this time in Willits, end up hurting their communities by misdirecting their attention.

 
At 8:00 AM, Blogger Fred Mangels said...

You should form a block group and sue the city for their tree removal policy....

There's no shortage of trees in either Eureka or the county. We have more than enough. We have a shortage of sunlight, not shade (as the both I and the guy I spoke to yesterday agreed upon).

 
At 8:03 AM, Blogger Fred Mangels said...

The issue is whether the city can legally stick anything it wants there and make property owners responsible for it.

To the best of my knowledge, these street trees are only placed with homeowner permission.

In most cases the cost is shared, with the majority of the cost being paid for by the city (plus state and federal grants I was told). The homeowner pays something like $75.00 per tree.

 
At 8:41 AM, Blogger Travis said...

Fred you sound a little sue happy for a true libertarian. If someone wants a tree planted on their own property what business is it of anybody else but I do agree that cities should not be paying for this special with the budget problems we are facing across the country I'm so happy I don't live in town I probably have hundreds of thousands of trees on my property and will hopefully never have to worry about being sued over one of them

 
At 8:42 AM, Blogger Travis said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

 
At 9:04 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Henchman Of Justice" says,

USA = Underground Services Alert --> identifies below grade facilities like water lines, gas lines, electrical, etc....

Points regarding fairness doctrine below:

1)Anonymous, the legal responsibility for the maintenance of sidewalks is an issue that goes back to the early 1900's when in California, State Government made into regulation (code, laws) that "homeowners" be responsible for the "General Public" destroying public sidewalk infrastructure. Now, anyone who supports this within the "private sector" (not a public employee or official) has their head up their ass stupid, not to mention, fraud.

2) Trees often are damaged by mother nature, aside from the general public's uses, meaning that some maintenance is a given, absolutely, no argument here. Yet, if a homeowner is sued for what "mother nature" caused, then wtf? If a homeowner is sued for damage done by the "General Public" (like curb damage by vehicle tires), then wtf?

It all comes down to who caused what, and merely going after homeowners who are innocent of the damage is not justifiable. Another reason or few to live rural as opposed to in a "developed society".

If the city's name is on it, the city endorses it! - HOJ

 
At 9:19 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Fred: As to a shortage of sunlight in an often overcast city, street trees can be more ornamental and less leafy. Having a row of flowering trees lining streets soften the harshness of the landscape. A city without street trees is cold and barren. Eureka needs to continue with and expand its street tree campaign simply because a street lined with trees is more visually stimulating than a street without trees.

 
At 9:36 AM, Blogger Fred Mangels said...

Travis wrote, Fred you sound a little sue happy for a true libertarian.

I don't consider myself sue happy at all. I miswrote that one sentence. I've changed it to: "...something I'd normally not want to see more of but, in this case,....

When people willingly do stupid things, I'd like to see them held accountable when things go wrong.

 
At 9:40 AM, Blogger Fred Mangels said...

Having a row of flowering trees lining streets soften the harshness of the landscape.

Again, we have more than enough trees in town. More trees just make traffic more dangerous.

I brought up the intersection of Huntoon and E Streets (where we were at yesterday) with that Public Works guy pointing out that intersection already has poor visibility, at least from coming from the west on Huntoon. More trees just make it harder to see oncoming traffic.

He replied that he didn't like trees blocking his view. He wanted to see potential hazards while driving. I agree.

 
At 9:45 AM, Blogger Fred Mangels said...

HOJ wrote, "If the city's name is on it, the city endorses it! - HOJ".

Yep, and as that guy said yesterday, if people want to plant trees, let them do it themselves. Keep the city out of it.

If the city plays any role in it, it should be only in setting rules for placement of trees so they don't create hazards or other problems. The exact opposite seems to be happening.

Someone mentioned it earlier here and I took notice of it yesterday while driving down Wabash. Most of those trees planted in the sidewalk along Wabash are already pretty close to the utility lines, at least the lower ones (cable tv?).

The only way to keep the trees from getting mixed up with them would be to top them, which is bad arborculture practice.

And who's going to pay for that when it becomes necessary?

 
At 11:20 AM, Anonymous Anonymous II said...

I'd like to replace Fred with a tree.

 
At 11:42 AM, Anonymous A Guy said...

We've got a couple of these trees planted in front of our place. They're doing okay (except for the one the kids took after with an axe), but now the sidewalk is crumbling: the curb literally fell into the street. Last time a Public Works guy was in the neighborhood, I asked him about it, and he said "not our problem." I get the whole "owner responsible for the sidewalk" thing, but clearly the sidewalk was already in such poor condition from the hundred years it existed before we moved in that they probably shouldn't have made the cut in the first place. I'm no engineer; I relied on the people who know that they're doing public works-wise to make the right choice, but it doesn't look like that happened.

 
At 10:16 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Humboldtz style would be to plant a marijuana plant in the patch and have a homeless guy living under it to take care of it. Less disability payments.

 
At 7:48 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Henchman Of Justice" says,

Some points of interest that others have mentioned:

1) Fred, Public works is too funny in that they make-up rules for "site visibility obstruction" using the "Pythagorean theory of triangulation" to draw a map for view restriction "no no's". Funny thing is Public Works likes to apply anything to its standards even when the standards can't apply because the standards are not being breached. Saying and "proving" are two different concepts. C'mon Fred, you believe everything a government employee tells ya, especially a low rung employee.

2)Anonymous has it right about crappy sidewalks that preceeded damage. Think about how the city inspectors allow shitty-ass public infrastructure work but hammer the private sector workers. As a longtime construction industry opportunist, HOJ has seen shitty public infrastructure projects after another. There is a reason why government takes as little responsibility as possible with sidewalks and pushes it onto the taxpayers (in this case homeowners).

What government is really saying is that homeowners owe society a "cement pathway" across their lands. HOJ agrees that homeowners need to carve a pathway of political death across the faces of bureaucrats who agree with this type of fraud and thievery.

Unless developing land as a subdivision, homeowners should not be made responsible for sidewalks. Sidewalks are a "public infrastructure" used by 99.99% of the public, not private homeowners. What the public uses should be paid for by tax dollars, not private sector wealth.

Alas though, $300,000,000 dollars per day on the two-party system's candidates who like war games! No money, no maintenances, and lots of social issues here at home, go figure that b-s.

Seems whenever "at-home bureaucrats" are screwing the pooch, they quickly deflect the social atmosphere by subjecting it to new waves of foreign land problems, foreign leadership concerns, this over here, that over there babble. So predictable, like the stock market. - HOJ

 
At 12:22 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Henchman Of Justice" says,

Disclaimer: whenever buying a house within city limits or county areas where sidewalks exist, make sure the seller allocates for a whole new sidewalk (or prorated portion) not to be paid for by the purchaser who has yet to accept liability since responsibility is with acting owner and contingent upon escrow success and transfer of title.

Public sidewalk funding should be 100% paid for by taxes that all taxpayers pay into, not the homeowners. Developers should "create" the sidewalk as has been required for years, but that government should be responsible for maintenance and replacement when needed, not homeowners.

Question: Why is it that "The City" is liable for "tripping hazzards" on the right-of-way (sidewalk), but that homeowners are liable for repair or replacement?

Why is it that $300,000,000.00 per day gets spent on Iraq STILL, but that the "poor" county must create "funding mechanisms by homeowners" to fund street maintenances, sidewalks, etc... when other than "property owners" are using the streets and sidewalks and at times, businesses can be the worst offenders of the streets and sidewalks where damage is greatest.

Last, it seems these are partly the "GROWING" minimum requirements to live on land legally:

1) active water account or permitted onsite well water (new not an option if a service provider exists nearby: and, what nearby means is all political mumbo jumbo)(collecting rainwater is not allowed either because it is free)

2) homeowner must pay for and maintain public sidewalk when it exists, or the costs to do so will be added as a lien on tax bill; and, you could lose your primary residence over "forced costs" not necessarily justified.

3) Must have developed onsite sewer or connected to a public sewer, but new is not an option if the land is too small for an onsite sewage disposal system (SDS) and no public connection is possible, especially if a waterway is present or nearby. So, wait for annexation because taking a pee outside or pooping on the lawn is not allowed unless your a pet animal (must be stuff in human food that is bad for the environment because if dog and cat pee and poop are allowed, well something is smelly).

4) Must not create a public nuisance --> usually a property not "paying into the system" is legislated out of conformance standards of society because society needs money and cares less that some land owners/residents can go without conveniences as opposed to needs.

5) Garbage Service

6) Fire Service

7) Public School service

8) Police service

Please add to the list...

See where the hardships of costs are going to for homeowners - a fight between land/home owner and government where government hates people who live off the land as inexpensively as possible!

As much as Fred disfavors street trees no matter how funded, it is fair to agree that homeowners who agree to be "on board" with sidewalk trees being planted in front of their home open themselves up to all costs for repair and replacement by that tree.

Now, if one of the many Scooby Doo type media reporters could link the "city's program" with areas of the city where the sidewalks are the worst, then we got a hot story about dirty politics that plot a plan to dupe homeowners who already have crappy sidewalks to allow the tree to be a catalyst to damage the sidewalk sooner as opposed to later so that the city can invoke its special powers to force "repairs, replacement or else".

Alas though, no conspiarcy proven yet for the dastardly trees, but for the sidewalk maintenances an repairs and replacements, hmmmm. - HOJ

 
At 9:37 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

... the "GROWING" minimum requirements to live on land legally...

Everyone must worship the Beast, or else you can't buy or sell.

 
At 10:49 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Henchman Of Justice" says,

Thanks Anonymous for that "forced economics cause and effect" where those who desire MORE money care less about those who desire LESS money.

It is no coincidence that government raises societal costs with "cost of living adjustments" (COLA's) to ensure that people must work for someone else or produce a saleable product because people who live life for less money, need NOT work to make as much money. Not making as much money lowers taxable income collections, sales tax collections, etc...

When the economy is manipulated and sales go down AND unemployment goes up, government at all levels creates a new direct tax or fee on property (because it can't on goods and services that are not selling!!!!!!!!!!); and, sometimes the levied charges are only that which applies to less than the majority so that not everyone has "skin in the game" and thus, not everyone will bitch, moan, groan, object, oppose, protest and whatever else. Less people against means an easier "process for taxation/fee passage" for the government to thieve from the minority. Yet, another example of what is occuring that will cause America's downfall when "free market economics" is hijacked and turned into "forced market economics".

Now, as for those living citizens in today's reality that continue to preach that "free market bullshit", just know they are liars, naive or just dumb. - HOJ

 

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