A Scottsdale homeowner is facing fines of up to $2500/day for having the
wrong kind of tree in his backyard. The tree at issue could reach 50' in
height and was planted LONG before the homeowner bought his house.
The beef seems to be that the tree is too tall, a non-native species, and
the Tree Abatement Division of the Scottsdale Public Works Department is
Freedom, it's been said the swing of your fist ends at the other
I'm making some progress with my neighbor, big limbs from two of his
trees are going to fall on my property someday and cause damage if we
don't do some major tree surgery.
Please tell me more about this thing called freedom and liberty.
We don't have municipal bylaws like that here in Canada.
Some of the comments to that story, plus the following points are
1) The tree appears to be a willow, of which some species are native to
Arizona, the largest of which is the Goodding's Willow (Salix
gooddingii) which can grow to 45 ft in height.
2) A neighbor must have complained about the tree.
3) Municipal bylaws concerning existing structures are generally not
4) The guy appears to work in the health-care field, so he might have
deep enough pockets to fight this in court.
Most likely, true. But "busybody" towns often send employees around
looking for something to write up.
As a matter of practicality, it doesn't matter whether it was a neighbor
or a town employee.
That's tricky. But, usually true. But a tree isn't a structure. Or,
if you wish to consider it a structure, by growing it's "modifying"
itself. Changes to existing structures often have to meet current
Like it or not, communities have the "police power" to regulate such
things as permitted vegetation. This often comes up when an owner
decides to stop mowing his lawn.
Frankly, that tree hardly looks like any desert tree I have ever seen.
It's clearly "non-native" and likely is thriving because the owner(s)
have been watering the lawn.
But it just doesn't look right for a town built in the desert. (Green
grass golf courses in the desert don't 'look right' either but ...)
I didn't download the video, but from my "Eastern" point of view, 50'
high trees less than, say 40' away from a house are accidents waiting to
happen. Take the damn tree down and for $1k be done with it.
Look at the bright side: in some areas, you need a permit before you
can cut down a tree.
Another possibility was that he was turned in by his insurance
If tree fell on his house it would have cost them a bundle.
I agree that it is dumb to have trees next to your house that are
taller than the house.
Several week ago around here tornado approaching winds went through
nearby development knocking down several large trees, crushing
houses. I saw one afterwards where back of house was caved in and
three car garage containing two Cadillacs was crushed as were cars.
OTOH, I don't believe it is the provence of government to regulate
tree choices or what someone does with his trees.
I just threw that out as a possibility. I've seen home insurance
companies come out to look at what they insure.
Sean Hannity, who lives in Connecticut, often complains that he is not
allowed to cut down one of his own trees if he wants to. Would be
funny to see what local authorities would say if one of these trees
fell on his house after he had complained on his radio show about it.
I've cut down big trees as a potential threat to the house but still
have other big trees but they are not within a 100 feet of the house.
I've also seen a tornado here while it was destroying a school gym.
it also took out houses, treed or not. Fallen trees and branches have
been responsible for about 6 power failures in my house in the last
Neighbor told me when she moved here she was thrilled with all the
trees and deer - now she hates both ;)
I have lots of 75' tall trees close to the house and the garage and I
know what you mean. I like the trees and don't cut them unless they are
dead or dieing. I took down one dead oak on saturday and another dead
oak is coming down as soon as I get up a ladder high enough to get a
rope on it (the area was backfilled over the tree roots). Damn, you
should hear the noise and feel the ground shake when a dead oak that
size hits the ground.
There are lots of trees and other invasive plants that are not native to
the area that take over the natural species that I agree should not be
allowed. Take Kudzu for instance. Wouldn't want your neighbor growing
it along side of your property would you?
No problem with banning people from installing invasive plants. But if
the invasive plant was there before current owner bought place, stupid
and abusive of the PTB to start trying to fine the owner. Work with
them, try to educate them, and maybe cut some sort of deal, like having
the city crew take it down at actual cost, and assist owner with a
socially/scientifically acceptable replacement, of at least sapling (not
seedling) size range.
Do you believe they have the right to regulate water usage? If you've
got something growing on your property that requires an excessive
amount of water to keep it alive, and especially if it would become a
hazard if it were left dry and became unhealthy, a municipality in a
desert region is very likely going to have issues with it. A lot of
communities out west also regulate the type and placement of plantings
on properties, to reduce the risk of fires. It could be this tree was
determined to be a problem due either to excessive water needs, or
that it's a type (such as eucalyptus) that is a fire hazard. In either
case, the tree has an impact on the rest of the community, which is
when it is appropriate for government to step in.
Very good and accurate summary of the "facts". As for that tree,
_every_ willow species is of the 'grow fast, die young' type and are
prone to having branches breaking off. That appears to be one of the
'Weeping Willow" species. I for sure would never have one of those
messy things in my yard.
I can do pretty much as I want with MY property. There are no zoning laws in
That said, we usually take matters into our own hands when a neighbor goes a
little nutty. This mostly involves begging the malefactor to remove the
blocked-up car in his front yard.
Rarely are firearms involved.
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