View from the Porch

View from the Porch

Friday, October 12, 2012

To tree, or not to tree; for me, it's not a question

Thank you to all who have commented on my letter.  Especially my daughter who says I am WAY too wordy.  Ok, you've got me there.

The builders probably thought it was verbose, too, but don't know me well enough to say so. Monday, they suggested that I seek the services of an arborist to evaluate the tree, to see if, in fact, our hunch that it needed to come out, was based on any thing solid.

I asked a good friend who had been in the nursery business if she could recommend a registered arborist.  And that she did.

I sent the arborist the pictures I had taken, and her initial assessment was that the north pine was in distress.  We drove up to the site on Wednesday, and she took lots of pictures, her report is below.  I just got it tonight.  

Findings for: Pinus radiata and Platanus acerifolia

1. The Pinus radiata (Monterey pine) in question is located between the
existing Platanus (Sycamore) and the second pine along the Road sidewalk. The tree is approximately 35 feet tall with a DBH of 15 inches. The dripline of the tree extends approximately eight feet beyond the trunk.

The inspection found several defects with the pine.
Photo 1

a. There is root scarring on the southwest side of the tree along Road due to the tree planting to the close proximity of the existing sidewalk.

b. The trunk is absent of root flare and existing roots are girdling the trunk which indicates poor root structure and eventual tree failure.  (See photograph 1)

c. Existing plastic barrier around the trunk and ground, plus concrete walk prevents the tree from adequate irrigation and rain water.  (See photograph 1)

d. An early presence of Ips engraver beetle viewed from existing holes and oozing sap on the west side of the tree. (See photograph 2)

e. The trunk of the tree has a visible bow at the trees mid point. (See photograph 3)

Conclusion: The pine in question at risk for tree failure due to the girdling and damaged root system and recognizing that ips beetle is aggressive will cause certain death to the tree.

Photo 3
Recommendation: It is recommended that the reported Pinus radiata be removed prior to any new construction at the existing site. The existing pine to the south should be protected if targeted by as climb tree. No gaffs are to be used on said tree.

2. The Platanus acerifolia (Sycamore) is located closest to the south entry of the court. The tree is approximately 14 feet tall with a DBH of 6 inches.  The dripline of the tree extends approximately three feet from the trunk.  

The findings indicate that the Sycamore appears to come from sucker 

growth of an existing root system. The tree trunk is weak and shows signs 

of poor development as seen with cracking, sun scald on the west side of 
the trunk. (See photo 4).  The growing conditions and space is undersized for this type of 

tree. The tree will uplift the existing sidewalk and driveway if permitted to 
continue grow in its current condition.

Photo 4
It is recommended that the Sycamore tree be removed due to the poor  quality and existing growing conditions.

Unintended consequences:  I figured the sycamore (which I thought was a liquid amber) was fine, but apparently it is in worse shape than the pine (which is a Monterey, not Scotch).  The Arborist also said she saw signs of potential beetle infestation of the south tree, but it was at the early stages, and was concerned that if she recommended all the trees be removed that would not make a good case.  She believes that once the north tree is down, they'll see the problem with the south tree, and either treat it or remove it.  But that's a job/battle for another day.

I really and truly do not  understand the owners intransigence on this.  Their answers, through their representative, have been a flat "no removal".  No reason given, no explanation for the denial, no nothin'.  The cost of removal, while less than $700, is, in the larger scheme of things, small potatoes relative to maintenance issues in the park.  As I said previously, I have a couple of ideas as to why, but neither make practical sense.

On the one hand, I'm kinda grateful; I probably would not have spent 3 days researching Mobile Home Residency laws and housing codes relative to mobile/manufactured homes, thereby increasing my knowledge, and understanding my rights as a tenant.

Of course, on the other hand it's "cut the damn thing down, already!"

So then, rather than the overly wordy letters I've written in the past, this is what I will be hand delivering on Monday.  I've asked them to respond by 5pm Tuesday.  If their response is to the negative, then I will exercise my rights under the law as stated in the letter.  

For the past six weeks, since I purchased the older home located at XXX I have been attempting to work cooperatively with park staff and builders of the new manufactured home I am putting on the lot space XXX.

I really am looking forward to living at the park and don’t believe that what I am asking for is in any way incongruent or inappropriate for the park in general, or site in particular.  Before I purchased the property, I asked about removing the 35’ Monterey pine trees on the lot, as I believed they had grown so big over the 40 years since planting, that they overwhelmed the site.  I was advised by the manager that, you, the owners were reluctant, if not unwilling, to cut down any trees in the park.  I can understand that, from an environmental and aesthetic perspective.

On September 12, 2012, the first time a preliminary measurement of the lot was taken with park staff and me present, I asked Dick, again, about the removal of the tree.  Your manager's representation to me of the park’s policy was that it would not remove trees, unless there was a problem with them, or posed a safety hazard.

Since that first visit, two contractors have visited the site and have commented on the tree, and yet, the owners of the park have steadfastly refused to remove the tree.

Notwithstanding your manager's representation that the north Monterey piner is healthy, during the many times I have visited the lot over the last month, and looked at the tree close up,  I have become uncomfortable about the shallowness of that tree’s root structure and the way it leaning.  I engaged the services of an arborist to inspect the tree.  The report is attached.

Please accept this letter as:

(a) a formal request to remove both the north Monterey pine and sycamore trees described in the arborist report, pursuant to Section 798.37.5, of the 2012 California Mobile Home Residency Law which states: “With respect to trees on rental spaces in a mobile home park, park management shall be solely responsible for the trimming, pruning, or removal of any tree, and the costs thereof, upon written notice by a homeowner or a determination by park management that the tree poses a specific hazard or health and safety violation.  In the case of a dispute over that assertion, the park management or a homeowner may request an inspection by the Department of Housing and Community Development or a local agency responsible for the enforcement of the Mobile home Parks Act (Part 2.1 (commencing with Section 18200) of Division 3 of the Health and Safety Code) in order to determine whether a violation of that act exists”

(b) notification to you, as owners, that there exists a known hazard, relative to insurance liability issues.

The park staff has been very helpful and the park is well run. Those are two of the many reasons I wish to move there, and have been looking forward to building a small home of my own for the first time.  That will be my home for many years, and I want to feel safe there.

I believe it would be in both our best interest to have the arborist's recommendations followed.  For me, my safety concerns would be alleviated, and for you, it would be easier to remove the damaged trees now, while there is no home on the site, and it would eliminate a potential insurance liability concern.

Please respond to this request in writing (an email will suffice), to me, by 5:00pm, Tuesday, October 16, 2012.

Thank you for your consideration.

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