We all like some greenery in our neighbourhoods.
But as I noted in this
rant blog post, one bane of pedestrians is bushes and trees overhanging footpaths.
They’re not really obvious unless you’re walking, but bushes and trees like this are everywhere.
I’m sick of having to duck out of their way. This is especially difficult when it’s dark. You can easily not spot the hazard as you approach.
Local councils have regulations about this. In my area, City of Glen Eira local law says:
Trees must be trimmed to a height of three metres above the ground and, at least, vertically in line with the property boundary. Shrubs must not protrude beyond the fence line or encroach onto the footpath.
If a Council notice is sent requesting that trees or shrubs be trimmed, the work must be completed within 14 days.
Property owners who do not comply with a notice within 14 days will be issued with an official warning notice. This provides a further 10 days to complete the work. If action is still not taken within the required timeframe, a penalty notice of $200 may be issued and a contractor will be engaged by us to undertake the necessary work. The property owner is responsible for the contractor’s fees.
When I checked with the council, they said they don’t do proactive inspections. It’s up to people to report problems.
But how many people know what the rules are, and that you can report them? No wonder it’s such a widespread problem.
What the council does do is when looking at a reported site, they will look at the immediate surrounding area.
They also said that for overhanging branches from trees on the nature strip, the council is ultimately responsible — though it sounds like they’d prefer if property owners kept them under control.
One weekend I went for a walk along some main roads near home, and noted down some particularly problematic locations to report.
I used a stricter criteria than the council. The council standard is 3 metres of clearance. I decided I’d only report it where I had to duck to walk under it (I’m about 1.8 metres tall), or if it was blocking enough of the footpath that a parent with a large pram, or someone with a mobility aid/wheelchair would have to detour onto the grass to avoid it.
On a 6km walk, I found about two dozen problematic locations. About 90% of them were bushes and trees growing from private property. A small number were on the nature strip. And I reported a bunch of them.
On a subsequent walk, I found one far worse:
With most trees and bushes that overhang the footpath, you can brush past. Not this one.
The main branches are so thick that you’d do yourself an injury if you collided with it. It’s right at head height.
Someone had put a bit of hazard tape on it, but one wonders how it was ever allowed it to block the footpath like this.
We’ll see what happens next.
Update 15/5/2018: Sometime in the last 72 hours, the tree in question has been pruned back markedly, such that it is now clear of the footpath.