Saturday, June 18, 2011

I feel sick

Remember the other day when I said I loved the trees in my neighbor's yard? I came home two days later to find that she had paid someone to cut the trees branches along our property line. I thought that was strange and made a mental note to tell her that we love the way her douglas fir pokes into our yard and she doesn't need to worry about that kind of thing with us.

I came home from work yesterday and Greg had put down sod where the dog bone had been! I was so happy! Everything was good.

Then everything was bad.

Greg went out in the front yard, called for me, then introduced me to a neighbor from around the corner. She was helping my next-door neighbor, who didn't want to talk to me because we had served her with papers demanding she cut down her doug fir.

Wait, what?

I'm not clear on all the details but my neighbor, who is in her seventies, had been served with papers stating that the tree is a nuisance (I'm guessing here, I haven't seen the papers) and it needs to be removed. She assumed that it was us, I guess because I had asked a while back what kind of tree it was. I'm devastated that someone is coming after her like that and that she could possibly think it was us. She has been a warm, patient, and wonderful neighbor. She's been awesome about how generally shitty my front yard looks all the time, and how neglectful I've been of the roses. I adore her.

I also adore the tree. It is healthy and beautiful and it's all on her property (with the exception of a few branches that poke into our yard THAT WE LIKE). We have a number of much larger, older trees in the neighborhood, on our block even, so I'm not sure why hers is a problem. I left a letter for my neighbor last night, along with some flowers. I explained that we didn't report her, that we love the tree, and that we'll fight to keep the tree for her, should she lack the energy. I'm hoping she'll believe me and that she'll let me see the papers from the city (or county?) so we can see why this is happening.

Anybody have any ideas for plans of action? I contacted a friend who works for the city to see if they can dig into who reported her, or why. I'm going to contact the mayor's office and the city forester. I could nominate it as a Heritage Tree, but she may have it removed before August 31, when they process nominations.

I'm also concerned that someone will report our hemlock (or whatever that huge tree in my yard is) or any of the FOUR trees we are planning on adding to our backyard. I'll never understand why people don't just talk to each other, instead of calling in the city, or law enforcement, or lawyers. They're going to have to use a crane to remove the tree and I'd guess (based on people I know who have done this) that it will cost her $3000-5000 to have it removed. Did I mention she's in her eighties? I'm sure her social security check will cover that.

Did I also mention her deceased husband planted the tree? It was a gift from the forest service, for whom he worked as a writer. It was a six inch seedling when they planted it. There is so much suckage in this I can hardly comprehend it.


  1. Ugh, this is just terrible! I do not understand why people don't just talk to each other, either. (Our next door neighbors, rather than talk to us, called an ordinance officer to complain about our non-lawn front garden after we changed it. Only resulted in the officer getting annoyed at them, as there are no ordinances related to the content of your front yard.) I wish I had some advice. I'd do what you're already doing - try to find out who complained in the first place and bone up on the rules and regulations related to trees in your neck of the woods.

  2. That is so terrible! I don't really have any advice, but let me know if you need any help with anything. When the place kitty-corner to us was developed, the developer cut down two beautiful old trees that didn't fit with their cookie-cutter house plan, and we were unable to save those trees, so I'm always totally pro-tree-saving!

  3. Hopefully you can get a look at the notice. We got one from the city right after we moved in about a tree in the front yard being "an obstruction to traffic" and they gave us multiple options on the citation, including cutting it back to a certain size (down to inches) or cutting it. Perhaps you could go talk to your neighbor directly and form a plan?

  4. I can't even begin to figure out how to respond to this, it is just wrong on so many levels. First of all why in gods name when the city is out there trying to get people to plant trees would they want to ask someone to cut down such a beautiful mature tree as that? We had a lengthy and ugly battle with a developer who wanted to cut down 3 large fir trees behind our property. All of the neighbors got involved and we sort of won (1 tree gone, 2 saved). Our neighborhood assoc was VERY helpful in our battle (we live in the Concordia neighborhood). Maybe you could try contacting yours and see if they have any helpful ideas?
    Good luck!

  5. Loree, that's a great idea. I spoke with our neighbor across the street, in the hope that she would talk to my next-door neighbor and convince her to talk to me. If she wants to fight it I could get the neighborhood association involved.

  6. Currently she won't talk to me, but I'm hoping the letter I left her will convince her that we didn't report the tree. I don't want to lose the good relationship I've enjoyed with her!