News Old - DO NOT USE - The Coast News Rancho Santa Fe

City holds residents responsible for damage

SOLANA BEACH — If you break it, you fix it. That was the underlying message from council members, who unanimously agreed during the Feb. 24 meeting that residents who plant trees that damage city property are responsible for all maintenance and repair costs.
City Attorney Johanna Canlas said the current law contains two provisions. One requires owners to maintain sidewalks adjacent to their property that are damaged by landscaping installed by the homeowner. This is consistent with California law. Another provision states it is the obligation of the city.
Hoping to clear up that ambiguity, City Council introduced an ordinance to repeal the section of the municipal code that is inconsistent with state law and providing conflicting opinions about who should pay for repairs to sidewalks and other areas damaged by trees.
If the tree damaging city property was planted before a resident bought his or her home, that resident is still responsible to pay for any repairs associated with the tree. Residents who are unsure about who planted a tree can check with city staff. City Manager David Ott said the city has an accurate inventory of all trees it planted.
“I think this is the smart thing to do,” Councilman Dave Roberts said. “We’ve had a couple of issues recently on the east side with potential sidewalk heaves caused by trees on private property and there was this ambiguity. If somebody plants a tree and if affects the sidewalk, it’s their responsibility.”
The new ordinance with the deleted section will go into effect 30 days after the final adoption later this month.