They can destroy your trees

Million Trees was created to inform the public of the many projects that have destroyed or plan to destroy non-native trees on public lands at every level of government from the federal government to local jurisdictions such as the Alameda County Water District.  However, private properties are not immune from such efforts to destroy non-native trees.  The legal battle to destroy 28 of 45 trees on private property in Larkspur is a case in point.

 We learned of this legal battle from the San Francisco Chronicle .  The property owner, Dr. Anne Wolff, was sued by her neighbors who claimed that her trees are hazardous.  When the judged ruled that her trees must be destroyed, she appealed that decision. 

 We attended the appeal hearing.  It was disturbing to hear the case law cited by the attorney representing the neighbors.  We learned that other property owners had been ordered by the court to destroy their trees for such frivolous reasons as “leaves in the rain gutters” of their neighbors.  One court ruling said that the “sheer size [of the tree] is a menace.”  In other words, neighbors have successfully forced the destruction of their neighbors’ trees without any evidence that the trees were dangerous.  The mere theoretical existence of danger was sufficient for the court to require the destruction of trees.

As we have reported in our post KILLER TREES!!!, arborists are sometimes willing to declare trees as hazardous if they are hired to do so. Therefore we are not convinced by the assessment that Dr. Wolff’s trees are hazardous.  If these trees are in fact hazardous, it is not visually apparent.

Trees on private property in Larkspur

Dr. Wolff told us she has received many calls from other property owners who did not have the financial resources to challenge the legal demands of their neighbors to destroy their trees.  

The California Supreme Court has refused  to hear Dr. Wolff’s appeal.   

Dr. Wolff is now hoping that the Larkspur City Council will invoke the city’s Heritage Tree ordinance to prevent the destruction of the largest trees.  We attended the demonstration on June 13, 2010, organized to appeal to the city council to save the trees.  About 50 people attended and the media reported on the demonstration.

Demonstration in Larkspur, June 13, 2010

If you would like to help Dr. Wolff save her trees, please send an email to the Larkspur City Council, asking them to invoke the city’s Heritage Tree ordinance on behalf of her treeslrifkind@larkspurcityhall.orglchu@larkspurcityhall.org, dhillmer@larkspurcityhall.orgjlundstrom@larkspurcityhall.org, lk_admin@larkspurcityhall.org, khartzell@larkspurcityhall.org