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Fallen trees damage homes in Menlo Park and Atherton

Original post made on Dec 8, 2014

The Menlo Park Fire Protection District was busy on Saturday, Dec. 6, dealing with trees that fell on homes in Atherton and Menlo Park.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Monday, December 8, 2014, 11:36 AM

Comments (12)

Posted by Lisa Shumway
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Dec 8, 2014 at 12:46 pm

There is a very large dead Douglas Fir tree located at 845 Harvard Avenue that has been dead for over one year. Neither the occupant nor the City of Menlo Park appears to have any urgency to do anything about it - violating city ordinances that are designed to protect us. The city would prefer to wait until trees fall and disrupt services before they do anything about it. Tragically, this tree will kill people when it falls.

Posted by Lucile Spurlock
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Dec 8, 2014 at 12:59 pm

I'm behind that tree and second Lisa's comment. We have been trying for months to get that tree removed. This next storm may bring it down on our homes.

Posted by Louise68
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Dec 8, 2014 at 2:34 pm

First -- and most important -- I'm glad no one was hurt when those trees fell down, but it is really really sad when one's home gets red-tagged. All one's possessions are lost forever. Sigh.....

Second -- Is the tree in question (at 645 Harvard) on private property? That may be the sticking point: who will pay to take it down? Whatever the case, someone must take action ASAP before someone gets injured or killed. There really needs to be some way to get this paid for ASAP, even if the property owner cannot afford to have it removed now.

Try contacting your local state assemblyperson or state senator for help with this (645 Harvard tree).

Posted by Tunbridge Wells
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Dec 8, 2014 at 3:03 pm

Tunbridge Wells is a registered user.

I just looked at 845 Harvard on Google Maps, and it is quite evident that the tree is very, very large and very, very dead. No wonder the neighbors are anxious.

Posted by Pat
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Dec 8, 2014 at 4:17 pm

I'm curious about the liability issues when a tree falls on a person or another's property. Also, is a person's own property typically covered by home insurance for the damage? My neighbor refuses to prune or care for his trees and I'm just waiting for the storm that brings them down on my home. Yes, I have spoken to the fire department but since it's private property it is not concerned.

Posted by tree info
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Dec 8, 2014 at 5:43 pm

@Mary, I know a lawyer and mediator who specializes in nothing but tree law. The information you are looking for may be on her website, Web Link

Posted by tree info
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Dec 8, 2014 at 5:46 pm

sorry .. I meant @Pat .. wish I could blame that on spell check .. oh well.

Posted by whatever
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Dec 8, 2014 at 6:08 pm

The city can't take care of most of the city trees. The fire dept will help you once the tree falls on your house, not before, and they will move the part of the fallen tree which is on top of your person.

Contact the City of MP arborist (think his name is Brian). I don't believe he can compel the property owner to trim or remove the offending tree but you've now made your concerns and the state of the tree official. "tree info" has the right idea - contact a real estate or environmental attorney.

If and when it falls and causes damage the insurance of the property owner of the damaged party covers removal and repair costs (less ones deductible).

Set up a camera to record any falling limbs or tree movement, that will help your attorney.

Posted by whatever
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Dec 8, 2014 at 6:13 pm

Forgot to mention.

We live in a tree city. The oak is our city symbol. Trees get old, they get sick, they die, and they fall down - just like the rest of us.

Posted by Trees
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Dec 8, 2014 at 9:41 pm

Hi you can report this to the town - Eleonor Hilario
Code Enforcement Officer
I was provided a "notice" for a large dead tree on my property (it was not actually on my property) by the town and required to remove it within weeks or be subject to penalties and fines. Fortunately McClenahans Tree Service cares for our trees and immediately contacted the town arborist and code enforcement officer and pointed them in the right direction - a neighboring property. The tree was promptly removed.

Posted by OnTheCreek
a resident of Menlo Park: Stanford Weekend Acres
on Dec 9, 2014 at 12:36 am

Great information, but does anyone happen to know who to contact to find out who is responsible for certain trees? Specifically, there are trees along the San Francisquito Creek that are directly across from my home. I'm not sure if they are on Stanford property, but I think so. I've never seen anyone ever maintain them, and with the storm coming I fear for my family's safety as well as for our home. Can anyone tell me where I can learn more about what can be done to ensure whoever is responsible for those trees does in fact maintain them and keep them from posing a real threat?
Thank you for your help.

Posted by
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Dec 9, 2014 at 12:27 pm

Please read City ordinance. The City Council can deem this tree a public nuisance.

16.64.050 Violation deemed private nuisance.

Any violation of the provisions of this chapter or of this title as such relates to hedges, shrubs or trees (except as it may relate to "street corners") shall be presumed to be a private nuisance unless the City Council determines that such violation is one which affects at the same time an entire community or neighborhood or any considerable number of persons, in which case the City Council may declare it to be a public nuisance and cause the same to be abated by the persons and in the manner authorized by this code or other ordinances of the city. (Ord. 906 § 1 (part), 2001).

16.64.060 Trimming growth to avoid interference with use of sidewalks and roadways.

Any owner or occupant of a building, lot or premises shall keep trees, hedges and other growth on said premises properly trimmed in such a manner that the same shall not interfere with the free use of sidewalks, sidewalk areas and roadways. (Ord. 906 § 1 (part), 2001).

16.64.070 Unlawful growth - Notice to owner.

Whenever the owner or occupant of a building, lot or premises in the city fails to remove or to trim the trees, growth or hedges as herein before provided, the city manager may give written notice of such failure to comply with the provisions of this chapter to the owner, if known, or to the occupant if there be any or, if the owner is not known and there is no occupant, to post such notice conspicuously on the property. The notice shall briefly describe the work to be done, shall refer to this chapter and shall contain a notification that unless the work shall be done within ten (10) days after the service or posting of the notice, the city manager will cause such work to be done and that the costs and expenses thereof will be charged and made a lien against the property. (Ord. 906 § 1 (part), 2001).

16.64.080 Removal of growth by city.

If the work provided for by Section 16.64.070<Web Link">Web Link is not done within ten (10) days after the services or posting of the notice the city manager shall be authorized to do work and put the property in the condition required by this chapter. (Ord. 906 § 1 (part), 2001).

16.64.090 Cost of removal to be lien against property.

As soon as the work provided for by Sections 16.64.070<Web Link">Web Link and 16.64.080<Web Link is completed, the city manager shall render a statement showing the cost thereof and the property charged and thereafter deliver the same to the tax collector and thereafter the amount shall be a lien against the property, and shall be collected at the same time and in the same manner as other city taxes. (Ord. 906 § 1 (part), 2001).

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