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Falling Trees

In our September issue, we chronicled your editor’s bout with Parks and SDOT over a fallen tree; here is Chapter 2 by another homeowner next to the ill-fated undeveloped street: Aldine Place. ~Diane Snell, Editor

In the 19th century, artist and philosopher William Blake wrote, “The tree which moves some to tears of joy is in the eyes of others only a green thing which stands in the way… As a man is, so he sees.”

Well, one woman, me, who is fortunate to live bordered by green space off of E. Alder, appreciates Blake’s joyful sentiments although she has come to discover that a tree that falls brings tears of despair, not joy.

The disillusionment began in February on a still, windless morning when, after a thunderous explosion, I looked up to see the forest moving, quickly, downward toward our front door, a nightmarish vision worthy of Macbeth and one that was followed by the thud of maple titans on our roof. A large maple on Parks green space property had failed and hit two neighboring maples growing on SDOT (Seattle Department of Transportation) land. It was the latter two, which wrapped themselves up, over and around our house.

I phoned in quick succession my husband, Seattle Parks and my home insurance company. As many readers know, once a tree lands on your property it is, typically, now your problem. The two city agencies refused to help. Our insurance company covered (less deductible) the removal of the trees that were on our property, a new roof and the smashed barbecue. Unfortunately, lost garden plants could not be reimbursed. And we were now surrounded by a tangle of remaining limbs that rested on public right of way.

Fast forward to August when the process was repeated: a tree from the same stand came down—this time missing the house but taking a number of branches from other trees with it, blocking our pathway and sole egress to the street. Lost in the green carnage was a 20-foot magnificent rhododendron. Once again, Parks and SDOT refused to help. Parks debris was all over SDOT property but, per city law, property owners bordering an undeveloped roadway are responsible for maintaining the half of the roadway closest to their property. Never mind that I had been maintaining it and that magnificent rhododendron—now smashed to smithereens—was part of that work! Realizing that public resources are limited, I suggested we meet half way and offered that my family would get all the debris from fallen city trees down to the street