How to request a tree box maintenance citation or warning?

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Topic: How to request a tree box maintenance citation or warning?

Governement and Politics June 5, 2012 at 2:00 pm

How to request a tree box maintenance citation or warning?


There is a mid-size apartment building down the block from where I live, and the tree boxes in front of it are planted with shrubs that have grown too large for the space. (The main problem is that they block the view of oncoming traffic if you’re in a car pulling out of the street that runs next to the building.)
I know tree box maintenance is the responsibility of the property owner, not the city, so I can’t go to DPW and ask them to come cut back the shrubs. (For kicks, I tried it anyway via the online 311 system, and the response I got was essentially that – “not our responsibility.”)
But I don’t think the property owner is going to do anything about these shrubs without at least some prodding from the city in the form of a warning or a citation for lack of maintenance. Anyone know what department issues those and how I might nudge them into action?

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If it’s the tree box between the curb and the sidewalk, it’s DDOT’s Urban Forestry Administration: I’m surprised that you were turned away from 3-1-1 (even if it was misdirected to DPW instead of DDOT). If it’s a tree box on the property of the apartment, I would ask the property managers to see if they can trim them. They may not realize it’s a problem.


Thanks, Brooke. I misspoke – it actually was DDOT to which I submitted the request. My understanding from their response is that the TREES in the tree box are maintained by DDOT (including planting and pruning), but any other plants put into the tree box (flowers, shrubs, etc.) are the responsibility of the property owner. As for trying to contact the property management folks directly, I guess I’m just not sure if me taping a note to the front door of the building is going to be a sufficient step. I suppose I shouldn’t dismiss it till I try it, but I was hoping there was some more official channel to go through.

I’m actually curious about this too, both for my building and a building down the street.  I live in a small building and our tree boxes have gotten pretty overgrown – not to the degree that it’s a hazard or anything, just full of weeds.  The management company takes care of the landscaping on the property, but I’m not sure who would be responsible for the tree boxes (between the curb and sidewalk).  There’s also a house (probably divided into 2-3 units) a few blocks down that’s been leaving really gross trash in the tree boxes.  I’m not sure if that part of the street has their trash picked up on the curb, but there have been bags of trash thrown into the netting around the tree and loose trash in the tree box.  It’s a total eyesore.


This appears to be the city law that applies to “tree spaces,” as they’re called here. “Beautification” is apparently the term for planting things other than the tree itself in the space.
The space that I’m concerned with definitely violates Sec. 109.11, which says the plantings can’t be taller than 18 inches. But I still don’t really understand what agency is responsible for ENFORCING that.

If you’re uncomfortable speaking to the bulding manager, try mailing a letter maybe?  I don’t know, it doesn’t seem like taping a note to the front of an apartment building is an effective way to communicate, and neither does just going and trying to get them a citation.
DCRA’s Housing Regulation Administration deals with residential housing code inspections and violations (Trash and Debris, Routine Maintenance, Vacant Property)
But, really, at least give them a heads up and give them a reasonable amount of time before calling the city to complain.

Self-help: just cut them down in the middle of the night. They’re on public property in violation of the law.  

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