Monday, September 14, 2009

Ducking along sidewalks

A certain blogger, let's call him me, took a walk this evening through a couple neighborhoods, let's call them the Old Northside and Cottage Home. Apparently being two of the city's most desirable neighborhoods, each located on the edge of downtown, one might expect to find the best pedestrian environment that the city has to offer. And that might actually be the case. But I have to say that I was surprised at the number of trees hanging over the sidewalk in desperate need of trimming. Sure, I'm over 6' tall, but I'm not like Greg Oden; I'd be a point guard at best in the NBA. So surely the experience of having to duck routinely to walk down the sidewalk without getting poked in the face is not unique to me. I'm accustomed to experiencing this in other neighborhoods of lesser prestige and cachet, if you will, but someone how I though these neighborhoods, where people presumably use the sidewalks and presumably are more civic-minded, engaged, and active in their communities than average, would be different.

I found this city ordinance that obligates property owners to trim trees, shrubs, and other vegetation from overhanging the sidewalk and other portions of the public right-of-way, but I would have to say that this is certainly not being enforced or communicated to the public with any regularity.

Sec. 701-6. Duties of property owner.
(a) The owner of any private property in Marion County which borders or lies adjacent to any public street, alley, right-of-way, place or park and upon which any trees or flora may be standing shall trim or cause such trees or flora to be trimmed, either at the property line, or to a clear height of at least eight (8) feet above the surface of any abutting right-of-way or place, and fourteen (14) feet above any public street or alley. All branches or parts thereof which overhang any portion of a public street, alley, right-of-way, or place, or which obstruct or interfere with the passage of light from any street lighting system, shall be trimmed or cut. No person shall plant or maintain any tree or flora so close to any property line as to obstruct the vision or free passage of pedestrians or motorists along the streets or public right-of-way. The consolidated city or its contractual agent or agents may enter upon private property to do such cutting or trimming as may be necessary to remove any offending and obstructing tree or flora that is prohibited by the provisions hereof.
(b) An owner shall, and the consolidated city may, remove from flora all dead, decayed, broken or dangerous limbs, branches or parts thereof or any that overhang or are close to any public street, alley, right-of-way, or place, and, when any such flora is dead, the owner shall completely remove the same, or after notice to and failure of the owner so to do, the department or its lawful agents may cause such removal and charge the cost thereof to the owner in accordance with the procedures hereinafter provided.


Christopher said...

if you were so inclined, you could report particular streets/properties to code enforcement so they can go communicate that the trees should be trimmed properly.

but, you're right. it does seem that code enforcement never really takes place until a report is made.

Idyllic Indy said...

From my experience, for these issues, it typically doesn't happen even after it's reported.

mheidelberger said...

I live on Alabama Street right between the Old Northside and St. Joseph. The largest tree problem on the Old Northside side is that large, potentially dangerous tree limbs fall on the sidewalks during strong winds. When you get to St. Joseph, that's where you need to brace for a tree whipping. I'm 6' 4", which is taller than average, but my 5'10" dad would also have trouble traversing the trees.