Watch your doorknob – you might be getting a tree

This is a fairly long story involving city crews planting trees and a Seaview resident who says she had no idea one was headed her way until it turned up in her parking strip – here’s her story, plus the city response:

Here’s the entirety of what Deana sent us, for starters:

On April 1st 2008 my husband and I came home and quickly noticed that someone had planted a very large tree on our parking strip without our knowledge. Who could of done this, we thought. We checked our mailbox, the door and the tree itself for any information about how and why this tree was planted with out our permission. There was no trace of who planted this tree or why. Was this some kind of bad April Fools joke?

The next morning about a half a block away we found a small white flag stating that it was the dept of transportation that was at the root of this and a phone number we could call 206-684-TREE (8733).

Further research found the following website and email address of those at fault.


I e-mailed the following:

A tree was planted on my parking strip on April 1st 2008 WITHOUT my permission. I would like the tree removed immediately and the grass replanted. I refuse to care for the tree and do not appreciate it being planted without my knowledge. Please call me as soon as possible and please let me know how soon this will be taken care of.

Thanks in advance.

Here is the response I received:

(start of e-mail) Hi Deana,

The planting strip in front of your home is a right of way easement that the city has the right to use. We are within our full rights to plant the trees. But we are not just going in and planting trees without the neighborhood’s involvement. We put a door hanger on your door a month and a half ago asking for your involvement with the planting. There where 3 tree choices for people to chose if they had a preference. People also called up with their choice of not wanting any trees. Those people who failed to respond at all got a tree type chosen by our department. I apologize if the door hanger did not make it into your possession.

These trees that we are planting are going to be SDOT Urban Forestry maintained trees. We are going to be watering them during their establishment period and pruning them when they need it. If these trees happen to do damage to the sidewalks, with their roots, sometime in the future, our crews will be taking care of the sidewalk. You will not be required to maintain these trees.

We will come and remove the tree and replace the sod if that is what you wish to see happen. Please let me know that this is indeed your final decision and we will try and get this taken care of in the next day or two.

Timothy Griffith Jr.
Seattle Department of Transportation
Urban Forestry (end of city e-mail)

(Deana writes) I responded with the following:

Thank you for your quick response.

* I do not want to responsible for the future care and maintenance of any trees on our parking strip.

* I would like you to remove tree as soon as possible and the sod to be replaced.

* I would also like to remove our address from any future tree planting lists.


* Get the homeowners permission BEFORE planting anything rather than
requiring the homeowner to contact you if they are NOT interested.

* Place some contact information AFTER the tree is planted. I had no idea
who was responsible for planting this tree. It required some detective work
to figure it out.

We e-mailed Rick Sheridan at SDOT to ask how many homes might be getting trees as a default because they didn’t respond. He says he doesn’t have the number, but does have these numbers: “Urban Forestry will plant 800 trees this year as part of Bridging the Gap. A
portion of those trees will be for West Seattle. This work is the continuation of the last year’s work where SDOT planted 681 trees.”

And he reaffirms what Deana was told: “Our process for tree plantings is to emplace small flags that highlight where the trees will be and put door hangers on adjacent properties to solicit constituent input on tree selection. SDOT plants the trees in the planting strip, which is public property held in common trust. If we don’t hear from an adjacent property, we move forward by selecting a tree that will be appropriate for that public space.

70 Replies to "Watch your doorknob - you might be getting a tree"

  • Iridius April 3, 2008 (3:44 pm)

    Wow, I really don’t like Deana’s attitude. You’d think they put in a cell phone tower or something. She doesn’t even have to care for the tree, which she obviously doesn’t get based on her last response. The parking strip doesn’t even belong to her!

  • Paul April 3, 2008 (3:45 pm)

    I am surprised that you did not have notice of the tree plantings. Our neighborhood had flags posted in the ground for a couple months at least, as well as the door hangers. It’s too bad you did not recieve the notice and your opt out option. I think the trees will really be a beautiful and cohesive addition to our street. Of all the things that concern me about city actions, I don’t think planting trees will ever be one of them, especially when they are doing most of the maintanence.

  • Jason April 3, 2008 (3:48 pm)

    Down with trees!! Wait, what?

    Her major complaint seems to be that she doesn’t want to maintain the tree but the email clearly states that she won’t have to. What’s the problem?

  • CMP April 3, 2008 (3:57 pm)

    Maybe she parks on her parking strip and this tree is going to get in the way. I know, we’ve had that discussion here already. Maybe 20 years from now the tree will block her view, if she has one. Or she just doesn’t believe the DOT will actually maintain them.

  • I have seen it all now April 3, 2008 (4:08 pm)

    Wow, Seattle “ice” and complaining about something she doesn’t even own….the parking strip that happens to be in front of her home. Argggh!!!

  • Holly April 3, 2008 (4:10 pm)

    I’ll take her tree. Send it my way, I will even plant it and prune it myself.

  • karen April 3, 2008 (4:12 pm)

    I have always read and believed that the parking strip was public right of way but maintained by the home owner. I also remember being told that any damage to sidewalks was the home owner’s responsibility. In addition, any tree root damage caused to water lines is the home owner’s responsibility if it is before the street. I will admit that I don’t know if these are the laws. However, that’s a lot of good reasons to be wary of having a tree forced upon you.
    Having lived in a home with established parking strip plantings, I will decline to have them put in this time. We had pipes that had to be replaced – without damaging the tree because it was city property!! Also, the city crew that “pruned” our trees came out and flat topped the things so that they grew multiple shoots and were ugly as sin.
    I’m all for trees, but am not interested in the city deciding where or what I have to take care of.

  • SLK April 3, 2008 (4:13 pm)

    Wow! I would love it if SDOT paid for pruning our trees and repairing our sidewalk! But I guess my neighborhood is not part of an Urban Forestry project. Oh well.

  • JM April 3, 2008 (4:17 pm)

    Trees = good
    Planting strip = not your property
    I’m glad the city is planting trees – wish they would send some my way.

  • Iridius April 3, 2008 (4:17 pm)

    Karen: you missed the point just like Deana. SDOT is taking care of the trees and will take care of any problems caused by the roots!

    ” These trees that we are planting are going to be SDOT Urban Forestry maintained trees. We are going to be watering them during their establishment period and pruning them when they need it. If these trees happen to do damage to the sidewalks, with their roots, sometime in the future, our crews will be taking care of the sidewalk. You will not be required to maintain these trees.”

  • JanS April 3, 2008 (4:17 pm)

    Still, this is the Pacific Northwest. Why would anyone complain about a tree that you don’t even have to maintain…that will be good for the environment, that will beautify the area. I would love for the city to replace the trees that are in front of my building, that aren’t maintained very well (I’m assuming that it’s up to the landlord). I suppose a tree does lose leaves in the fall…maybe that’s what Deanna has a problem with.

    Oh…and I suppose there’s an art to listening, in this case, the reading…to understand that they did give you a notice, that they did say they’d be responsible. I know that sometimes those doorknob things are hung on our front door, and sometimes removed without even being read…maybe that’s what happened :) just sayin’…..

  • Jason April 3, 2008 (4:31 pm)

    I think Deana over reacted and was a bit harsh toward the SDOT.

  • JimmyG April 3, 2008 (4:36 pm)

    Deana clearly still doesn’t realize the parking strip isn’t hers and hers alone.

    I’d love a tree in my parking strip and I’m on the edge of the Seaview neighborhood. Only door hangers I ever get is another bloody one from Garlic Jim’s.

    Go hug your new tree Deana, embrace it’s foliage…

  • B April 3, 2008 (4:37 pm)

    Yeah…those tree lined streets are sooo ugly! Seriously? I think she needs to chill out. I wish they would come to our street.

  • Steve April 3, 2008 (4:43 pm)

    Over reacted a bit? Trees and green are the lifeblood of the NW and she doesn’t even own the parking strip.
    She should find something productive to do with all that energy

  • Jenny April 3, 2008 (5:10 pm)

    Sorry, D, but the city doesn’t have to get your “permission” to plant a tree on property you don’t own. They even were being nice by letting you be a part of the process. Get over yourself.

  • Mikev2.0 April 3, 2008 (5:18 pm)

    How the hell do I get a free tree!

  • Keith April 3, 2008 (5:28 pm)

    Some people can’t see the forest for the trees. Deana is clearly one of these people.

  • sam April 3, 2008 (5:29 pm)

    wow- I thought bridging the gap was a transportation initiative- I wouldn’t mind a new tree, but how do trees improve transportation ?
    oh right, it probably makes it makes it nicer to be a pedestrian. especially when you need something to grab onto to avoid the cars speeding down your street.

    man, now I’m really annoyed that my neighborhood doesn’t have sidewalks, when they are spending the money on trees instead.

  • JT April 3, 2008 (5:30 pm)

    Besides a courtesy notification, I don’t understand why the homeowner gets any say. It’s city property. Be thankful they’re making an improvement. Between this and the Alki sidewalk complaints it’s seems there’s an awful lot of entitlement going around.

  • BB April 3, 2008 (5:34 pm)

    I’m bummed… we were turned down for a free tree in our parking strip because we have a large fir tree in the yard that they thought would interfere with its roots. We would have given Deana’s tree a very loving home.

  • cranky cyclist April 3, 2008 (5:38 pm)

    I live in the Seaview area and have been thrilled to see the new street trees. I think that it will really improve the neighborhood. Anywhere that they have planted trees, they have placed small white flags in the parking strip where they will be planted. Deana had to miss both the door hanger and the white flag on her lawn.

  • BB April 3, 2008 (5:48 pm)

    p.s. Just read Deana’s angry message more closely…(as others have pointed out) I love the defiant stance in Deana’s email about “my parking strip”. It isn’t yours Deana! Sorry to pile on but these flags have been planted all around us here in Seaview for several weeks. Not to mention that there have been plantings going on all around us (I believe there was even a WSB post about trees going in on 49th several weeks ago). As JimmyG said “embrace your new foliage”. Having said that, if a free tree in your parking strip warrants this kind of anger from you I definately don’t want to meet you in a dark alley.

  • JanS April 3, 2008 (5:56 pm)

    JT…I totally agree…

  • WSB April 3, 2008 (5:58 pm)

    Just a reminder everyone … we can disagree and criticize and be spirited but I have deleted a couple of comments that were more personal attack than anything. We agreed with Deana when she took the time to send it to us that this was certainly an issue worth discussing … should the default be just to go ahead and plant one? etc.

  • chas redmond April 3, 2008 (6:22 pm)

    Not to mention that trees eat up carbon dioxide – so, if we continue to use cars we should have as many trees as we can. Also, parking on the parking strip is also illegal. I suppose Deana and the Alki threatening-to-sue gang are the small examples of people who are against the commonweal. So be it.

  • JimmyG April 3, 2008 (6:24 pm)

    WSB, I say yes the default should be to plant a tree.

    I’ve tried to think of a valid health or safety reason a homeowner could raise to not have a tree planted on the city’s right of way and I come up with nothing.

    If the city is going to indemnify the homeowner for maintenance and any damage the tree might cause, plus pay for the thing in the 1st place and pay for the water, what could be a valid reason for objecting?

    I’m open to hearing one.

  • chipseal April 3, 2008 (6:38 pm)

    Point of order, people. A number of you misread the statement from the city. The city’s agreement to handle all the watering and maintenance of the tree applies only to the tree’s “establishment period,” which could be less than a year. After that, the maintenance obligations and costs get passed to the adjacent private property.

    Also, though the city generally does provide the affected property owner with advance notice of installation and construction work, I know from experience that the city also routinely lies when it has failed to provide notice. If you call in with a question or complaint about receiving no advance notice, the city’s first response is to calmly reply that it did provide notice. If you disagree, the city will say that your notice was delivered but apparently you misplaced it. If it turns out that you’ve already checked with other neighbors and you know for a fact that NONE of them received notice, the city will then say it’s shocked, shocked, because its “independent contractor” (never the city itself) was paid to distribute notices and apparently never did so.

    I don’t claim to know or judge the parties in the instance discussed. But it seems to me that a lot of the comments here are missing the point that there’s more in play than just whether trees are a good thing in someone else’s planting strip.

  • karen April 3, 2008 (6:40 pm)

    My point is that while the city email says they will take care of the trees and any future problems, there are some serious considerations. Unless I actually got something in writing stating that future problems were going to be dealt with I would be concerned.
    At this time the code says that the property owner MUST maintain the sidewalk. (Seattle Municipal Code, Title 15.72) An email saying that they will take care of it is not good enough. Same with side sewer lines – the property owner is responsible.

    Sure it’s public property – but if you are going to have to pay for damages that are caused by use of that property – you should get some say into that use.

  • Mr. JT April 3, 2008 (6:42 pm)

    Didnt realize the “T” was for “trees” in the BTG.. Nice job SDOT. CREATE a maintenance issue instead of the deferred maintenance that they sold us all on.

  • sam April 3, 2008 (6:53 pm)

    I like trees; we’ve even taken the City up on their free tree give-away. (maybe last year, they we giving away nice trees in the Lincoln Park Parking lot).

    But, I too would be concerned if I was not aware that the city was planning on planting a tree in front of my house. For example- I’d want to steer them away from the side of the yard with the water and sewer connection. Unfortunately, it sounds like Deana did not see the notification and did not get a ‘say’ in the matter.

  • Kayleigh April 3, 2008 (7:03 pm)

    My daddy would say: some people would complain if they got hung with a new rope.

  • WestSeattleMom April 3, 2008 (7:08 pm)

    I think a neighborhood looks more cared for and homey with trees along the street. Trees improve our air and provide shade from the sun. The fallen leaves improve the soil and keep out weeds. Frankly, I’m disappointed that any citizen of West Seattle would be so shortsighted as to remove a tree from “our” streets (remember, we the taxpayers are the “city”).

  • The Velvet Bulldog April 3, 2008 (7:24 pm)

    I’m a big gardener and tree hugger, and yet…I do get where Deana’s coming from. (Full Disclosure: I’m a renter. In my last place, my landlord asked for a couple of parking strip trees saying he’d maintain them. He didn’t. They died.) If you didn’t know it was coming, you probably WOULD be startled by a tree planted anonymously in your yard. And you MIGHT say, (imagine Talking Heads music here…) “HOW did this tree get here? WHAT am I supposed to do with it? THIS is not my beautiful tree. HOW do I care for it?” And depending upon how you were currently utilizing your parking strip, that you are required to care for whether it’s “yours” or not, the tree might ACTUALLY be interfering with something. And yeah, you MIGHT actually have a physical impairment that makes it difficult to rake leaves. And I dunno, maybe your kid communicates with the kid across the street via flashlight and the tree is blocking that – what I’m sayin’ is that Deana’s reaction is not completely out of line. As I recall, some folks got bent because they couldn’t put their cars partway up on the curb/parking strip – kinda feels like your implied rights are being violated, doesn’t it?

  • Erik April 3, 2008 (7:33 pm)

    lol Kayleigh

    Velvet – now I can’t get David Byrne outta my head.

  • Wombat April 3, 2008 (7:35 pm)

    As long as it isn’t a rock thowin, car window breakin, house robbin for no darn reason kinda tree I’m o.k. with it…

  • Shelbi April 3, 2008 (7:40 pm)

    Tree me, tree me! I love the trees, and I don’t care about any maintenance, happy to do it for the service they provide the world. Homes for birds and squirrels, sucking up CO2, and shade from the sun on a hot day! All that just for some pruning and maintenance.. sign me up.

  • The Velvet Bulldog April 3, 2008 (7:52 pm)

    Erik – me neither! :-)

  • eileen April 3, 2008 (8:31 pm)

    The trees that are okayed for the parking strips take nto account such things as maintenance, height, lack of damaging root structure etc.

    Here’s a link to the urban forest management plan.
    I think it’s really cool especially if you get a choice!

  • Mike Dady April 3, 2008 (9:11 pm)

    Here in North Delridge the city has been busy planting lots of tree’s on 25th and 26th Avenues as well as sections of Delridge Way. Good job and keep them coming!

  • digires April 3, 2008 (9:41 pm)

    Deana should read Title 15 of Seattle Municipal Code before reacting so strongly–the city does not need to remove her address from any list, because it is not her property that they planted the tree on. If she had done her homework, she would know that. She had a chance to decline, and missed that chance because she wasn’t paying attention. She should THANK them for complying with her (rather rude) demand to come back and remove it.

    Again, Deana, the city does not need your permission before planting on the strip–you do not have property rights in that strip, it is owned by SDOT. It is not the same as digging up your lawn to plant a tree on your property, it is more akin to the city planting a tree that you don’t like at your favorite place in a city park.

    The sense of entitlement you have conveyed throughout the entire transaction is most disturbing.

  • todd in westwood/s.delridge April 3, 2008 (11:50 pm)

    you mean, I have been spending valuable time mowing my planting strip……..?

  • littlebrowndog April 4, 2008 (7:29 am)

    Hmm, I like trees a lot. I think tree-lined streets are beautiful, although tall evergreens do make me nervous due to their proclivity for blowing over onto houses during big windstorms. But anyhow, I must say that I would opt out of having a tree planted in our planting strip if given the choice. Occasionally I have used it for parking (illegally, I know) in situations where I have no choice. Ours is a narrow street, and parking is only permitted on the opposite side of the street from my house. My driveway is all of 5 feet long. When I had my roof replaced they had to park on the strip in order to access the truck for tossing in the old roof and for the truck with the new roofing materials to park and load them up onto the roof. When I had new siding put on the house they had to park there in order to put the old siding in the truck as they tore it off and deliver the new siding. When I had my furnace and vents cleaned out they had to park on the strip in order to run their hose into the house. It was too short to run it across the street, plus they refused to have cars and buses running over it (understandable). When we had our fence replaced they parked on the strip so they could throw the old fence into the truck and deliver the new materials. I wish they could park in the driveway, but that puts those big trucks not only blocking the sidewalk (illegal also) but also out into the street and blocking traffic there. If I had trees in the parking strip I certainly would be unable to allow this occasional illegal parking, but all my other options are also illegal and blocking the street off is, in my opinion, even worse. I’d love to have other options.

  • ann April 4, 2008 (7:41 am)

    The city is not going to maintain them, rake leaves, mow around them, nor fix sidewalks if they cause problems in the future. The homeowner will.

    While I’m certainly for more and free trees, I’m absolutely certain the SDOT can find better things to spend my tax money on, and while I want a tree, I don’t want one just appearing out of the blue.

  • MsBette April 4, 2008 (7:44 am)

    Our neighborhood got trees from the city several years ago. We had to gather a group of interested citizens and pick out our trees, but then WE had to plant and maintain them. I have loved watching them grow – and look forward every year to the blooming of our Japanese maples all along the street!

  • digires April 4, 2008 (8:35 am)

    @ 7:41

    The Tree did not just appear “out of the blue,” the homeowner had notice via the door tag, and could choose one of three types of tree, or none at all.

    It is understandable that these door tags could be missed, or thought to be junkmail from the local pizzeria, etc. Perhaps stepping up the level of notice would be a good idea (e.g., a door tag AND a mailing, or neighborhood awareness efforts such as announcing the campaign on WSB ;) )

  • LA in the Junction April 4, 2008 (8:46 am)

    Can you share Timothy Griffin or Rick Sheridan’s email addresses so those of us who want parking strip tress can contact them directly? They can put Deana’s tree here no problem! Free trees! Hooray!

  • JenV April 4, 2008 (9:19 am)

    I was so excited to see something on my doorknob this morning and hoped I would be getting a tree. Alas, I am only getting a large pizza for $10.99.

  • Seaview Neighbor April 4, 2008 (9:24 am)

    I cannot imagine how anyone missed the notices. I received a hanger on the door, a letter in the mail, and I had SIX flags in my two parking strips (we are on the corner) explaining what was going on. Not to mention driving down our street looked like a carnival with all the flags waving for about two weeks. If Deana (and her husband)missed ALL of those opportunities to know what was going on and how to decline the tree offer, I’m not sure what to say. Short of the SDOT waiting on her door step to explain her options to her, how else should they have contacted her. We declined the offer, and thats the last I have heard from the tree people.

  • Deana April 4, 2008 (9:51 am)

    Wow. I had no idea so many people felt so strongly about this!

    Let me just clarify a few things.

    First and foremost; I love trees and have absolutely nothing against them.

    This has nothing to do with disliking trees; more with the gray area about who’s future responsibility will it be to care for this tree? What happens when this ‘program’ ends, due to budget cuts or otherwise?

    Few facts:

    I did get the doorknob hanger. I saw the title ‘Street Tree’ and quit reading there
    Because, I knew I wasn’t interested in having a tree planted on the parking strip out front of my home. I never expected that the city would plant there without my express permission. That is where I was apparently wrong!

    I saw a little yellow flag on my parking strip about a week before they planted. That flag simply mentioned that Puget Sound Energy had done some surveying. Nothing else. No mention of a plan to plant a tree in that spot.

    Even after planting the tree the SDOT did not leave behind any information about what was planted, or who had planted it. I had to track down one of the small white flags that had a phone number on it, about a block away from my home.

    Being a homeowner, I know what it takes to care for a yard. I have trees on my property that are loved and very well maintained.

    As many of you know trees can sometimes cause unexpected issues to the property over time. Root damage to sewer lines and sidewalks, braches that grow into power lines and fall over due to wind storms.

    In the fall these trees drop leaves that can potentially clog up the sewer system, if not picked up by the homeowners of the adjacent property. I know from experience that many homeowners fail to rake up these leaves.

    The city requires express permission to plant on the parking strip, yet they don’t need to get mine (the permission who is responsible for maintaining the parking strip).

    The SDOT web site states the following: City Ordinance #90047 Title 15 Street Use Code, it will be the responsibility of the property owner to maintain the tree(s) in perpetuity.

    Should someone decide for them, that they NEED a tree on their property to maintain in perpetuity?

    I do not park any vehicles on this parking strip nor ever plan to ;)

    I think what disturbed me so much is that the program is an ‘OPT OUT’ program. I think it’s great that the city is offering free trees to those that expressly ask for them.

    Did you know that a majority of the trees are planted adjacent to properties that DID NOT respond to the door flyer? (source: Kiro7 News). Are door hangers enough notification?

    Who’s responsible to taking care of the parking strip exactly? This seems to be a very gray area, for homeowners.

    Does anyone familiar with municipal codes know with absolute certainty, where the cities responsibilities end and the home owners responsibilities start?

  • swimcat April 4, 2008 (10:11 am)

    I guess all of the tree-huggers here have never had the unfortunate experience of having their sewer line get blocked by tree roots. You’d think like Deana too if that happened to you. SDOT is only going to maintain the trees for a short period of time (not for the life of the tree); after that it is all the homeowner’s responsibility. I wouldn’t want a tree in our parking strip either; I don’t want the risk of spending tens of thousands of dollars on sidewalk or sewer repairs that I ultimately did not cause.

  • JMAC April 4, 2008 (10:29 am)

    They planted trees in my neighborhood as well, a bit over a year ago. I was happy to have it, but there was no maintenace from teh city…the watering and early care for the tree was in my hands…have yet to see any city worker caring for my tree.

  • Andrea April 4, 2008 (11:11 am)

    I’m with you on this one Deana…I love trees, and love even more the look of a tree lined street…but having had to deal with SDOT on more than one occasion in the past, trying to get them to come and prune the tall evergreen trees that border the back half of my property (its a ‘city owned’ easement with multiple homes powerlines running through it) was a nightmare that took almost 14 months to finally get someone out to take care of…and all they did was lop of the tops and trim one trees sides that had the most power lines running through it…the rest they left for me, along with a large amount of the trimmings still in my yard after they left…3 tree pruners have since turned me down flat after seeing the multiple power lines running through the trees…SDOT may have the best of intentions with these tree plantings, but their long term means to accomplish the task are few and far between, and the trees maintenance WILL fall on the homeowners shoulders no matter how unruly or obstructive the trees become.

  • GenHillGrl April 4, 2008 (1:40 pm)

    Wow – lots of input on this. Bottom line – Deana and husband were notified of this but didn’t read the info in it’s entirety which would have precluded the April Fool’s “surprise”. They also ignored the flags from utility locate (which always precludes a dig) as well as neighbors flags – hmmmm. We live in an area that recently had gas lines replaced and were notified multiple times well in advance by the city (as well as by the prominent locate striping paint and flags). My husband and I were relieved that the excavation was across the street from us since we are avid gardeners and have planted parking strip trees (approved by city), ground covers and a bench for walkers in our parking strip (with access paths for those exiting cars) – but we would have worked with the city to remove/replace if needed. The trees provide a wonderful screen from street traffic and noise, not to mention they are much better for the environment than grass (which most people use power mowers to mow). Our neighbors across the street who had planted parking strips (no trees) lost their plantings temporarily but the subcontractor was pretty good about replacing everything (including sump pump drainage and irrigation) once the work was done. I enjoy seeing street trees on my walks and applaud SDOT for their efforts – remember the trees they plant are from an approved list and are not going to grow too large or too fast (Andrea like the evergreens in the back of your yard, which if they hang over your propery line they are your responsibility), and if they located them correctly they should not be a problem with water lines. Since Deana has a written response from SDOT about maintaining the trees and repairing any sidewalk/sewer problems I’d just keep that if the issue arose in the future (which I doubt it will). With respect to maintenance, once established Mother Nature should take care of all watering. I don’t know if there were choices between deciduous trees versus evergreen in the SDOT proposal, but we have evergreen magnolias which are no problem to maintain (OK I do pick up a few stray leaves here or there but come on). The trees offer screening all year round and are a great place for Xmas lights! I hope this is resolved in an acceptable manner for all but the tree is probably worth $50 -100 so I hope SDOT will be able to reuse it – otherwise what a waste of tax dollars and maybe the homeowners who neglected to read the fine print should share some burden.

  • Ron April 4, 2008 (2:05 pm)

    In Deanna’s last post;
    I did get the doorknob hanger. I saw the title ‘Street Tree’ and quit
    reading there
    Because, I knew I wasn’t interested in having a tree planted on the parking
    strip out front of my home. I never expected that the city would plant there
    without my express permission. That is where I was apparently wrong!
    This is the start of all your problems, you stopped reading! If you would
    simply continued reading on in the door flier, there were instructions about
    the tree planting program. If I remember correctly, all the information
    about the program is stated in the door flier, i.e. email address and
    684-TREE # to follow up and understand the purpose behind the program, and
    on the back it has the 3 tree choices, pictures of the trees, with the
    descriptions of the trees. (Having taking horticulture in college and having
    an understanding of these 3 trees), these trees were most likely chosen
    because they do not require high maintenance, are not destructive to power
    lines where applicable, and roots are not invasive, in other words, low
    impact on any infrastructure.
    It is a city tree, the city is responsible. We have had a beautiful tree
    planted in our planting strip. They water it for the first 3 years and
    maintain it for the rest of it’s life, I have seen a water truck going
    around filling water into the water bags.
    The SDOT Urban Forestry email stated they would remove the tree. If the tree
    is going to be removed or is already gone, then why is this an issue?
    As for the other trees, there are other programs I believe, Seattle City
    Light is responsible for clearing trees away from power lines and that they
    also have a program that plants trees that the property owners are
    responsible to take care of.
    If you had time to go looking for little flags in your neighborhood, you
    certainly had time to read a door flier!

  • Dale Roose April 4, 2008 (2:39 pm)

    Why not have one person, perhaps somebody from WSB, ask the city to issue the same sort of legal agreement for release of future responsibility that the City requires from property owners who make improvements to the City-owned proeprty in front of their house?

  • Jerald April 4, 2008 (3:31 pm)

    It would have been hard to miss the proposed tree locations. I don’t even live in that neighborhood, but I stopped to read the print on the multitude of tiny flags to see what they were.

    I thought they were planning on way too many trees planted too closely together. I like street trees, but I don’t like driving thru a dark tunnel. Also makes it hard to see the houses and addresses.

  • Allie April 4, 2008 (3:53 pm)

    Just a quick fyi – there are multiple free tree programs in the city – there is the Tree Fund via DON – where the City provides the tree but it is the owner’s responsibility to water and maintain that tree. The owner can also plant the tree wherever they want to- planting strip, backyard, side yard – whatever. And there is the new Bridging the Gap funded tree planting campaign where SDOT plants in the public right of way and maintains the trees in perpetuity. It is the BTG goal to add 800 street trees per year.

    If you want free trees from Dept of Neighborhoods that you plant and you maintain call 684-0464.

    If you want to see if your neighborhood can get some of the BTG (SDOT maintained) free trees, call 684-TREE (8733). I know they are still looking for areas where they can plant about 100 trees within (about) a 4 to 5-square block area.

  • BB April 4, 2008 (7:03 pm)

    It’s not like they are planting giant redwoods for goodness sake…

  • WSB April 4, 2008 (7:57 pm)

    FYI FWIW, apparently channel 7 picked up this story from WSB for a tv bit – or so somebody wrote on a blog I found while doing a routine search. It’s not on the channel 7 site right now; did anyone see the story? Just curious if they mentioned harvesting it from here, or not.

  • Shannon April 4, 2008 (8:52 pm)

    I saw it on the news last night (after reading about it here first!). They made no mention of WSB :(

  • WSB April 5, 2008 (12:35 am)

    Thanks. It occurred to me later that she might have contacted them directly … I didn’t include her last name or address in this post and it would have been difficult for them to track her down without that! (Sometimes stories that get picked up from here, like the P-I followup on the Lincoln Park house with the war-toll sign, take the “lots of comments online about this” angle and I was just curious if this one had spun from that standpoint.)

  • Highlandparkneighbor April 5, 2008 (2:32 pm)

    $30,000. That’s what it cost my next door neighbor to replace their broken sewer line both under their driveway and into the street (up to the point it connects with the main). The sewer line and been cracked and broken by, you guessed it – roots from a tree that had been planted many years ago on the median parking strip. The same trees were planted all along the street. The owners inquired with the City about its possible responsibility in the situation. Turns out the City did not plant the trees – the Boy Scouts did! At any rate, tree-lover that I am, this poses serious financial consequences to homeowners in West Seattle since much of the original sewer system is still being used and many of the pipes are made of clay (not uncommon to be disrupted by tree roots).

    We had our own lines inspected immediately as we have a similar tree on our strip and the same clay pipes. (We learned that replacing when trouble in imminent is still expensive but not as much as after it breaks and in an emergency situation). I would very much doubt the City would or could cough up that type of $ years from now in a similar situation. At best, they will only pay for the part that is on city property and only up to your property line.
    If this isn’t a good reason to carefully decide what gets planted in your parking strip as well as your yard in general- I don’t know what it.

    I am very much in favor of the City’s tree planting agenda for all kinds of reasons. At the same time, I can say that Deanna, I completely understand your response when you do not know what happening or why. I am glad the city is willing to work with you and that you have brought the situation to our attention so that we can learn from it and pay more attention to those door handle notices which I generally perceive as useless advertising. I can see where perhaps a letter on city stationary would be more effective.

  • Deana April 7, 2008 (8:23 am)

    Since when has door hanger fliers become required reading material?

    Are door hangers really enough notification to homeowners for an Opt Out program? Don’t you think a proper letter addressed to the registered tax payer of the property would be the responsible thing to do?

    Consider the possibility that there are renters on the property and they fail to tell the homeowner. Or that the homeowner is retired and out of town for part of the year.

    Current municipal code states; that the homeowner is responsible for maintaining the parking strip in perpetuity. Considering this responsibility, don’t you think the homeowner should be properly notified? I do, hence my frustration with the program.

  • baba nulu April 7, 2008 (9:31 am)

    Community outreach, postal mailings, “door hangar fliers”, scheduled, posted and notified public meetings, attended by various paid public servants and officials, maneuvering within political circles and public agencies, shifting policies, enforcements and hegemonies, financial priorities (the city “cannot” afford to maintain its current crop of trees on city properties).

    Would it be possible to skip all of the above and simply allow the property owner buffered by the PLANTING STRIP to remove the offending tree, with the option of donating the tree to someone who wants it. This option could be provided with a tag on the trunk referring those who want to donate to a clearing house of those such as WSBloggers who desire and are committed to a new tree. Tree desirees, once contacted, could come and “rescue” the tree by removal and transplant to appropriate local.

  • MaryT April 7, 2008 (4:20 pm)

    I want a tree! I want a tree!

    I can completely understand Deanna missing a door hanger, however. Geez, we ignore most crap that comes are way, then have a day once every few weeks where we go through all the so-called junk and toss it. I probably would have assumed it was something general and not paid much attention either. : / So I’ll give her a break.

  • A April 7, 2008 (9:21 pm)

    Hey MaryT – she didn’t miss the door hanger! She says so herself. She chose not to read it. Her fault!

  • susieq April 9, 2008 (3:29 pm)

    Just to be clear – trees DO NOT crack or break sewer lines all by themselves. Roots grow where they can get water. Water leaks out of cracked or broken pipes. Pipes crack or break when vehicles are illegally parked on planting strips. Sewer and water lines were never intended to last forever.
    In addition to all the benefits others have noted about trees, scientific studies have found that trees planted next to streets slow down traffic. That’s exactly what many of our neighborhoods need.

  • Watch Your Door Knob, You Might be Getting a Tree :: Knockin on History’s Door July 12, 2008 (2:08 am)

    […] courtesy of West Seattle blog, where a lady named Deana wrote in to let them know about her noteless-kob and tree story. She came home on April Fool’s Day to find a tree had been planted in her nature strip […]

  • me, myself, and I October 6, 2008 (12:56 pm)

    After reading all of the notes and comments, I have to admit that my ‘view’ of West Seattle has changed. Shame on those of you who rush to judge Deana. Earlier in the post ‘Karen’ and ‘chipseal’ point out that usually any damage to the adjacent sidewalk and sewer system before the sewer main are considered the homeowners responsibility. The cost burden of maintenance of the tree, the sidewalk, and Deana’s sewer system would have been on Deana.

    I agree with planting trees and honestly found this post while looking for the tree program to get approximately a dozen or so to plant on my perking strip.

    I personally know the costs that are assosiated with this type of damage from tree roots. As a homeowner I was found responsibile for the damage inflicted by a rather large Beech tree’s roots to the sewer system (the tree came with a newly purchased house). Total costs after everything was told and done exceeded $25,000 – bear this in mind next time you consider planting a tree.

    The point is that there are valid points on both sides of the argument, but we are each entitled to our own opinions and viewpoints.

    I am curious though – how many of the people whom trashed Deana are ACTUALLY homeowners whom are willing to take on that amount of financial burden?

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