Cut down a tree that is messing with my sewer line?
February 1, 2011 1:09 PM Subscribe
A mature sidewalk tree is growing through our sewer line and has already caused disgusting explosions of sewage. Yet the city says we can't cut it down. What can we do?
posted by anonymous to Home & Garden (21 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
(Anonymized because friends who know about this situation read AskMeFi.)
We live in San Francisco. About 18 months ago, our plumber repaired a crack in the sewer pipe under our driveway. He emphasized that this was a temporary fix, and that we would have to replace the whole pipe at some point.
The 30-year-old malaleuca has heaved up through the sidewalk. We have applied concrete three times around its base, as recommended by the city, but it keeps cracking and bursting out. I'm worried that someone will fall and sue us.
Four years ago, we had a hearing with the DPW and lost -- they would not let us take out a healthy tree, even though we offered to plant a smaller, native replacement with shallower roots. It costs $300 just to set up a hearing, and seems to be biased in favor of saving the tree.
They rejected our statement from a licensed arborist who said the tree is unsuitable for the sidewalk, as well as photos of other removed trees that had caused less sidewalk upheaval than ours.
The plumber has offered to snake a camera down the pipe to show the tree roots. Would that be valid evidence at another hearing? He also said he would write up an estimate for replacing the pipe. We also unofficially talked to another arborist who suggested poisoning the tree with saltwater (but then what if it falls on our house? I am NOT seriously considering this).
What would happen if we just get the tree removed without getting a permit to do so? At this stage, a fine seems preferable to the ongoing bills, sidewalk chaos, and faecal fug. My husband has jokingly talked about crashing our car into the tree so it has to be cut down.
Can anyone with more arcane knowledge of San Francisco law help us decide what to do next?
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