As city tree damages sidewalk, homeowner stuck with repair bill

As city tree damages sidewalk, homeowner stuck with repair bill

EUGENE, Ore. - A West Eugene homeowner is upset over a tree the city planted in the park strip adjacent to his home 9 years ago.

Keith Miller said he never wanted it - and now the city says it may cost him money.

While mowing his lawn he noticed the curb had lifted about an inch and suspected the tree roots were the cause. Miller contacted the city, and they told him if the roots continue to grow and lift the sidewalk he is responsible. 

"The city forced me to put it in, the city maintains the tree, supposedly. They own the tree. It's in their right-of-way," Miller said, "but if their tree causes damage then I have to pay for it,."

Mark Snyder with Eugene Parks and Open Space said they don't force homeowners to accept their free trees. Snyder confirmed that city code states homeowners are responsible for the sidewalks adjacent to their property - even if it was the city's tree that cased the damage. 

"Tree root sidewalk conflicts are the bane of my professional existence and it is always going to be that way, especially out here on clay soil," Snyder said. 

Snyder said the soil causes the roots to grow shallow instead of deap. Over time they can push open sidewalks and curbs, but they try to work with homeowners to make the repairs easy. 

"City crews do it or they can hire private contractors to do it. Sometimes it's a couple hundred dollars and sometimes it is a little bit more depending on the length of sidewalk," Snyder said.

Miller wanted the tree removed so the damage won't occur but the city says they only remove dead or diseased trees. He was told he would have to get a permit and pay to remove the tree himself.