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Birds, Freezer, Sewer line, Sleep and a Trip Over: What is in Common?

Healthy but troubling..

Confused? Here is a challenge for you to figure out: What is in common between a damaged freezer, nasty bird droppings, a fractured swear line, lost mid-night sleep and a painful trip over?

The short answer – a tree, rather a healthy one.

My Councilmanic fun job took me to this street in my district over the past weekend, when I met half a dozen of neighbors, troubled with a bunch of trees that seem to be giving them more trouble than help.

The City planted these trees in late nineties, with a very good purpose – give shade to these very neighbors. Unfortunately, over the years, as they started growing, they began to give troubles – so much so that these neighbors  now want to get rid of them.

I first came to know about this problem a few weeks ago, when I met one of these neighbors at our local civic association meeting.

I cannot take this anymore.” – he told me with visible signs of frustration on his face.

What happened?” – I asked. He took me out to the parking lot, where he showed me his car parked there. What I saw was not so exciting – Yuk! his car was fully covered with nasty bird droppings.

He said dozens and dozens of birds come to these trees under which he parks his car in front of his house. He told me he spends $8 and 45 minutes almost every day to clean these nasty stuff.

The City did try to discourage these little creatures from making these trees as their resting place – by using a kind of colorful ribbons on the branches. Unfortunately that seem did not work.

In addition to nasty droppings, the neighbor said birds also cause noise in the middle of the night that often breaks his sleep and cause him to come out of his house to break their singing chorus.

Our continued discussion revealed more problems that led me to arrange a meeting over this past weekend on the spot, where I met a few of his neighbors.

One neighbor complained she had to spend $12,000 to fix her broken sewer line caused by the roots from a similar tree in front of her house. Her next door neighbors told me they also had to snake the sewer line to clean it from these obtrusive roots.

One of the neighbors also had trouble with intermittent power surge caused by the tree branches under heavy winds – so much so that the surge damaged her kitchen appliances and overhead light. In total, she had to spend about $5000 to replace her microwave, freezer, stove and electric overhead system.

Then another elderly neighbor came to me and told me how she tripped over on the uneven sidewalk, raised by roots from these trees. This seemed to me a rather serious safety issue, in particular for two very old neighbors, another neighbor who walks on a cane, and another blind neighbor – all live at houses near these trees.

I started to take notes of all of these problems and ended up with at least 5 issues in total.

But we need a solution.

The easiest solution is probably rather a brutal one – take the trees down, but that won’t be so easy, given all the long term environmental impact this might cause. The other compromise solution could be to replace them with less obtrusive and gentle ones. The City often replaces trees when utility companies such as Pepco cut trees that cause safety hazards on their power lines.

We’ll have to look into these options and discuss with our City staff,

In the mean time, if you have any other cool ideas, please let me know.

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