to remove the ficus trees in front of his home, and about 17 others on
the north side of Heil Avenue between Graham Street and Clubhouse Drive.
"They really make a difference in defining what the neighborhood is,"
Larson said. "I'd consider moving out of my home if they were removed
because the place wouldn't be the same."
Three years ago, a Heil Avenue resident walked door to door with a
petition asking neighbors to support replacing the trees with smaller
ones. Problems such as root uplift beneath concrete curbs and sidewalk
damage were associated with the trees.
But Larson said the 30-year-old trees provide a number of positives
for the community, including a 20-degree temperature difference when
shade falls on houses and sidewalks, as well as the overall look of the
On Heil Avenue, the 40-foot ficus trees have grown too large for the
parkway in which they're rooted, city officials said. Because of their
shallow root system and the tendency of concrete to retain water, the
trees have pushed under curbs, sidewalks and sewers through the years.
"The city's policy on tree removal requires a consensus from the
neighborhood," said John Van Oeffelen, supervisor of trees, landscape and
pest control for the Public Works Department. "That's our main focus . .
. what the residents want for their neighborhood."
Ultimately, the trees would be replaced with smaller ones more suited
to the size of the parkway, he added.
To petition for tree removal, 75% of the households in a neighborhood
must agree, city officials said. The 1997 petition attained that
consensus, getting support from 13 of the neighborhood's 18 homes. But
since then, two of those residents no longer live in the neighborhood,
including the person who launched the petition, Larson said.
Van Oeffelen added that if there was to be any tree removal, it would
occur about six months from now because of budget concerns.
"So we have a lot of time to contact the residents on the entire
block, between Graham and Springdale streets, and get their opinions on
the trees," he said, adding that 17 more ficus trees between Springdale
Street and Clubhouse Drive are causing the same damage seen on Larson's
City officials said they are in the planning stages of contacting the