Home & Garden

Who’s responsible when a tree is a problem

As trees grow and as they become injured or deteriorate, they can pose problems that need to be addressed, either by the city or a property owner.

• Street trees that are planted in the public right-of-way, between the sidewalk and the street, are maintained by the city and are its obligation. If one of these trees is posing a problem to drivers or pedestrians, call the Park and Recreation Department at 316-268-4361.

• If a property owner has trees or bushes on private property that interfere with walking down the sidewalk or driving down the street, it is the property owner’s responsibility to take care of the problem by cutting back the growth and making sure that there is at least 8 feet clearance between the sidewalk and tree limbs, said Joe Pajor, deputy director of the city’s Department of Public Works & Utilities. The city does not patrol for such problems. If you see one, you can file a complaint by calling 316-268-4501. The city will send out an inspector and, if warranted, send a letter to the owner asking that the problem be corrected in 20 days. If the problem is not corrected, the city will have the work done and send the owner a bill (typically for $100). If the owner doesn’t pay the bill at that point, it will be spread out over five years on the owner’s property taxes.

• Property owners are liable for trees on their property that pose a danger, such as if a limb falls and injures someone.

• If a tree is dead on private property, call the Metropolitan Area Building and Construction Department, 316-268-4481.

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