One city agency tells you to do something. Then, another city agency gets angry at you for doing that and fines you $16,379.
That’s what the owner of a property on the corner of Bryant and 18th streets claims happened to him. The brick warehouse he owns is occupied by The City’s Department of Parking and Traffic and is used as a traffic sign shop.
He says the city employees at the sign shop had a complaint about the trees that bordered the warehouse – two in front of the building on Bryant and nine that lined the side of the building on 18th. According to the owner, the city employees asked him to remove the trees. He said he did because he knows The City’s contracting process is lengthy and complicated and it would likely take a long time for his tenants to be able to arrange the removal.
Then, a passerby notified the Department of Public Works, which has oversight of all the trees in the public right-of-way, who notified the owner that he’d done something illegal and they were going to fine him $1,489 per tree for the offense – for a total of $16,379.
Last week, the owner appealed the fine arguing the Department of Parking and Traffic should be responsible for paying it, according to city urban arborist Carla Short. But Short said Public Works’ policy is to hold the property owner responsible for any illegal removal on their property.
The owner, whom Short didn’t identify, was not happy with the outcome.
“But legally he’s responsible,” she said.