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The Tree Butchers Are Coming

 
 
sozobe
 
Reply Fri 3 Feb, 2012 09:25 am
We live in an area with a lot of old houses and a lot of old trees.

The power company sent a subcontractor out to our area to "trim" trees back from the power lines. They want the trees "trimmed" (the quotes are there for a reason) at least 10 feet from all of the power lines.

That does seem reasonable enough. However, that's not the standard that has been enforced for the past 75+ years, and it's gonna be tree slaughter.

Just in our yard and a neighbors', this is going to mean the death of a currently perfectly healthy century-old elm tree, the decimation of about a dozen smaller trees in our back yard, and a truly barbaric "topping" of a row of pine trees on our neighbor's yard that are now about 70 feet tall -- they'll be chopped in half.

We have had problems with the power lines + trees before. The neighbor's elm that is now on the chopping block has been a particular problem. We went in with them to have it extensively (and responsibly) trimmed a bit ago (more than a year but I forget how long), and there have been no problems since.

We're looking into utility easements (whether the the power company actually has utility easements for all the areas where they want to chop trees), and looking into lots of other possible ways to fight this. For example, many of the trees marked for "trimming" are actually owned by the city, and I know a city council woman and will probably be contacting her to make sure she knows about it and see what our options are.

We're still figuring out a lot of stuff.

We don't know when the butchers will be arriving. We got a thing on our doorway that said "February." That's it.

Any advice, pointers towards further information, similar experiences?

Thanks.
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Type: Question • Score: 5 • Views: 3,196 • Replies: 47
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ossobuco
 
  2  
Reply Fri 3 Feb, 2012 09:55 am
@sozobe,
Yowie.

Me, I always specified trees with future mature growth not at/near the height of power lines, though deeper within a yard I'd specify trees to mask power pole view and to some extent view of the lines. I'm pretty used to power lines, given I've usually lived in old neighborhoods and so have many of my/our design clients. Lines are generally buried here in Abq., and I'm getting used to a clear look at gorgeous skies.

Sometimes trees are already there, and some reasonable pruning, preferably by an arborist or other expert, can still save the form of the tree. Tree butchering, ask me about Los Angeles, can bring tears of rage from moi.

Have you checked your site plan (available at the city if you don't have it) to confirm the right-of-way easement dimensions?
I'll be interested to see how you all deal with this. I guess I'd think about trying to get some sort of stop order until the neighborhood can discuss this with the city. Is there a neighborhood association already in place? I might also go the the area councilman/woman and the local newspaper.


Meantime, in LA, land of thousands of trees chosen for street trees incorrectly in the past, there has been a long impasse on fixing hellacious city sidewalks. Just in the last short time, there's a lawsuit by the key disabled group (I forget the name) that quite possibly will get the city to pay for necessary removals, to the tune of millions. As this problem has gone on and on and on and on, the city has become far less walkable than it was, say, forty years ago.
I remember once making notes re dangerous sidewalk situations when I was on one of my usual walks between my house and the far end of the Marina Peninsula, which is actually part of Venice, which is part of LA. I never did anything about it, both being busy and because those sidewalk troubles were typical in a lot of the city.
ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Fri 3 Feb, 2012 10:01 am
@ossobuco,
I edited that a little bit, re things to possibly do.
I'll add that I'd at least push for an arborist to look at the trees in question and make recommendations for saving the trees' forms.


... also wondering if where the trunks are relative to the easement line matter re what they can do to the tree, re form.
sozobe
 
  1  
Reply Fri 3 Feb, 2012 10:02 am
@ossobuco,
ossobuco wrote:
Have you checked your site plan (available at the city if you don't have it) to confirm the right-of-way easement dimensions?


That's a good tip, thanks. No, we haven't. (Will do so now.)

We don't have a neighborhood association per se but there is a loose coalition of neighbors that coalesced around the stray cat problem. I might send out an email to them just to get that ball rolling.
0 Replies
 
sozobe
 
  1  
Reply Fri 3 Feb, 2012 10:05 am
@ossobuco,
We've done that, yep... we have a very good arborist who we have worked with repeatedly in the past seven years or so. He's the one who extensively cut back the elm to where it is now. It's fine, and safe.

But no branches at all can survive if the power company does in fact cut back 10 feet from the power lines. It will be a 20-foot tall stump. That's it.

We called the arborist about this and he's given us some pointers (the utility easement thing) but said that the subcontractors are butchers (he's had experience with them in the past), they are unlikely to take any direction from us or him, and if he does some of it (and we pay him), they'll still just go in and do the rest of it.
Irishk
 
  1  
Reply Fri 3 Feb, 2012 10:17 am
@sozobe,
Quote:
...and it's gonna be tree slaughter.
Definitely. They swoop in, work fast, make the most godawful noise for what seems like hours and when they're done, you'll want to weep (at both the mess they leave behind and the sight of those poor trees). But, the power lines are safe!!! It's a wee bit traumatizing.
0 Replies
 
rosborne979
 
  1  
Reply Fri 3 Feb, 2012 11:00 am
@sozobe,
People in New England just got done ripping the Power Companies a new ***hole for NOT trimming trees (after the October snow storm that crushed power lines and left people without power for weeks).
sozobe
 
  1  
Reply Fri 3 Feb, 2012 11:03 am
@rosborne979,
Yes, evidently that's part of their new ruthlessness. (The uproar after power outages a couple of years ago.)

We're on top of this though.

Just to add craziness, we have been separately setting something up with the power company and another subcontractor about a large dead branch on one of our big trees that is hanging over the power line. (It was struck by lightning last summer.) It's really hard to reach and our arborist suggested this arrangement.

So my husband asked these guys (the butchers) whether they'd be getting it and they said no, because it's not within 10 feet of the power lines.

Argh.
ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Fri 3 Feb, 2012 11:06 am
@sozobe,
And after posting that, I faced that they wouldn't give a damn where the trunk was.

Sometimes the people at the city who deal with the trees have some brain matter, but I think any who do get overruled.

Anyway, gaaaak.
rosborne979
 
  1  
Reply Fri 3 Feb, 2012 11:06 am
@sozobe,
Unfortunately you're making me feel sorry for the power companies. We beat 'em up if they don't trim and you're ready to beat them up if they do trim.
ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Fri 3 Feb, 2012 11:08 am
@ossobuco,
TV person? Newspaper? (hmmm, where do the tv people live?)
0 Replies
 
sozobe
 
  1  
Reply Fri 3 Feb, 2012 11:08 am
@rosborne979,
Trimming, fine. Butchering, no.

Plus how does it work that they'll ignore the looming threat of a dead branch but cut down an entire, very old, very beautiful tree?

It's just stupid.
ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Fri 3 Feb, 2012 11:09 am
@rosborne979,
There's pruning and then there's trimming, and then there's butchery.
sozobe
 
  1  
Reply Fri 3 Feb, 2012 11:10 am
@ossobuco,
Exactly.

And we've spent a lot of our own money on actual trimming.
rosborne979
 
  1  
Reply Fri 3 Feb, 2012 11:13 am
@sozobe,
sozobe wrote:
Trimming, fine. Butchering, no.
I suspect that's a very difficult distinction to make on the scale that they have to implement (multiple counties).

(By the way, I really hate that you've put me in the position of defending the damn power companies. I'll have to find a way to get you for this.) Wink
Irishk
 
  1  
Reply Fri 3 Feb, 2012 11:14 am
@sozobe,
sozobe wrote:

Trimming, fine. Butchering, no.

Plus how does it work that they'll ignore the looming threat of a dead branch but cut down an entire, very old, very beautiful tree?

It's just stupid.
Because the dead branch isn't a threat to the power lines, which is the only reason they're there. From our experience, none of the 'trimmers' have any knowledge or experience with tree pruning. They were hired to lop off the portion of the tree that threatens to interfere with the power lines. When they're done, each tree will look like it got a flat-top...a very, very bad flat-top.
ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Fri 3 Feb, 2012 11:15 am
@sozobe,
Here's the article about the LA lawsuit; how apropo it is to the powerline situation, I dunno.

http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-sidewalks-20120131,0,2914523.story
0 Replies
 
ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Fri 3 Feb, 2012 11:18 am
@rosborne979,
It could be much less costly to trim than chain saw off a side of a tree...

rosborne979
 
  1  
Reply Fri 3 Feb, 2012 11:28 am
@ossobuco,
ossobuco wrote:
It could be much less costly to trim than chain saw off a side of a tree...
That would require them to have been proactive on long-term maintenance starting years ago. And even though they should have done it, I'm not surprised that they didn't (and probably won't in the future). Hell, regular home owners can't even handle discipline like that when it comes to maintaining their own homes, so it's hard to expect a bureaucracy like the power company to do any better.

(ok, that's the limit of what I can stand on defending the power companies. Please continue with the bashing.)
ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Fri 3 Feb, 2012 11:32 am
@rosborne979,
I can see having a city rule/law that homeowners are responsible to keep the tree trimmed, and that if they don't, matters will progress to the power company trimming.
 

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