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Tree Trimming Issue:   2003   2004  2006

Parks Committee Mission Statement

Cherrywood Green Mowing Brigade
Over the last few years of the Cherrywood Green initiative, many of our neighbors have donated time, sweat, and encouragement to make the Green an ongoing reality. Yet, it never fails that I receive calls or emails from people who want to participate in some way, but for whatever reason (scheduling, family, or work conflicts) have not been able.

Last year the Friends of Cherrywood Green initiated a "mowing brigade" in an effort to expand opportunities for involvement on your own schedule. It turned out to be a great success and we're continuing the brigade this year. To volunteer just pick a month, then contact me with your name, phone, email, and your month of choice:
           Brent Hay; 236-8721 (home); 219-4784 (work); <pacohay[at]>

Months when your help is needed: June, August, September, October
Responsibility of each volunteer: Mow the Green twice during your month. Just mowing is needed, not edging, weeding, or watering.
You supply : Your lawnmower, gas, and time.
I will: Give you a friendly reminder as your month approaches. . Ask that you inform me if you are unable to fulfill your commitment, so somebody else can have the opportunity to participate. . Send an email to this listserv recognizing and thanking the participants as soon as things are arranged. Recognize and thank the Mowing Brigade in the Flea towards the end of the season.

If several people request the same month, I'll contact the individuals and we'll work something out. Compromise is the name of the game. As always, thanks for helping to keep this neighborhood a great place to live,

- Brent Hay -


Attending: Isabelle Headrick, Mark Smolen, Brent Hay, Jimmy Harper, Leigh Gorman, Anita Prewett, and Priscilla Boston

I. Announcements

II. Projects 
A. Anything needed to discuss re: PG and trails 
Mark proposed that we formulate a formal request to the City to start the design process for a comprehensive trail system in PP. Since we need to spend the UBC money in the next year ($7500 from the Neighborhood Planning) we discussed and decided to ask the City to use it to offset the cost of the "Access Walk" (the trail from Wilshire Blvd snaking up to the playground) and any erosion control that that walk might necessitate. Mark will talk to Marty and the guy with the City's ADA program to determine if they (being ADA) are in fact interested in our Access Walk and if so, how much money they would contribute. Isabelle and Mark will draft the formal request the to City. 
B. What to do with APF money?
Isabelle will talk to Ted Siff of APF to discuss our $1250 grant and whether that could be similarly used to offset the cost of the Access Walk. 
C. Discussion of skatepark with Anita Prewett 
Anita Prewett led the discussion of exploring putting a skatepark at Patterson. (This is an idea that was raised by Marshall Bruni at the fist FoPP meeting.) She spent the summer hanging out with her ten-year-old son at skateparks in Seattle and Vancouver and observed the opportunities that these provided for the youth to get involved, to exhibit self-policing and responsible behavior, and become involved in the maintenance of the skateparks. Also, the skateparks provided a positive physical activity. Austin currently does not have an official skatepark. There is a group advocating for a public skatepark called the Austin Public Skatepark Committee. Like FoPP they have a relationship with APF. Seth Johnson, of that group, is interested in sharing his expertise with us. So far APSC has raised $8,000 and is seeking to raise $150,000. In addition, the City has committed $150K toward the construction of a skatepark. There is information out there about conducting campaigns to get these built; these provide an opportunity for kids to get involved. Anita observed that Patterson is a multi-generational park. The skateparks she saw targeted kids from age 7 to the early 20s. Moms came with kids of different ages: some would use the skatepark, others would play on the playground and the moms could hang out in between. Generally the kids who use the skateparks don't drive-they use public transportation, walk or bike-so the skatepark doesn't require additional parking. They cost about $12-25 per square foot, and the literature on skatepark projects recommends using a professional design team. They can be very compact or more spread out (the one in Seattle occupied the space of about 4 tennis courts). As for liability issues: state code absolves municipalities of liability at skateparks. 
Priscilla suggested that we invite Seth Johnson to FoPP's next meeting. 
D. Establishing priorities for coming year
We didn't spend time talking about this, although the general feeling was that the skatepark, while less of priority for many of us than the trails and erosion control, was very compatible with our shared vision for the park. To date, no opposition has been expressed against it. All of us at the meeting felt that it would be best located near Airport Blvd between the basketball and volleyball courts. We decided to get more information from Seth Johnson and eventually hold a public forum on the topic. 

III. Wrap-up 
A . Tentative agenda for next meeting 
Speak with Seth Johnson about skatepark issues. 
Review formal request letter to City regarding trail design which Mark and Isabelle will prepare on Feb. 3. 
B . Future meeting time & place.

The Austin Entrepreneurs Foundation and Applied Materials have expressed interest in sponsoring a workday at Patterson Park that might involve building a stroller/wheelchair accessible path from Wilshire Blvd to the playground or site preparation for a new playscape. This would probably occur some Saturday in the fall . September 13 is one date being considered. They are interested in knowing how many members of the community would show up to participate, either in doing the labor, giving out drinks, etc. If you or a family member could join in this effort, would you please let me know? (
Thanks to all who showed up for the park workday at 34th and Cherrywood, it was a great success.

Our accomplishments included
mowing the entire lot
Cleaning up the creek, removing about 10 bags of garbage
Creating a temporary sign annoucing the project "New Park Coming    Get Involved!    Info  708-9407"

Katharine Beisner
Joe Ahlquist
Brent Hay
Mike Damel
Eva Riquelme
Christopher Buitron
Micheal McClendon
Paul Andrews
Dave Westenburger
Amanda Braziel
Jason Howell
Rebecca and her mother (sorry I didn't get your names)

It was a beautiful day and we got a lot done.  Highlights included finding cash register drawers and calling in the police to investigate!!  The lot already looks better.  We're off to a great start.

Coming soon, a week night meeting to finalize the site plan and determine next steps.

Thanks again, it was really fun working with you.


    The following announcement comes from the Austin Parks Foundation
      < >
via the Austin Neighborhoods Council.  Of the projects they supported last 
year (their inaugural grant cycle), the closest to us is Bartholomew Park 
(details on their Web site under [Portfolio])....   /g

o - - - - - - - - - - - - APF Grants info - - - - - - - - - - - - o

   Jonathan Neumann
   < >
   DEADLINE June 15

O - - - - - - - - - - - - APF Grants info- - - - - - - - - - - - O

>Austin Parks Foundation Announces Neighborhood Park Grants Program
>With the belief that inviting, safe, and active parks play a vital role in
>community life, the Austin Parks Foundation (APF) announces the second cycle
>of its Neighborhood Park Grants Program.  APF will provide matching grants
>to neighborhood and community groups in Austin who are interested in
>enhancing and revitalizing their public park or green space.  The grants
>offered will range from $300 to $2,500 and are available for park
>beautification projects, new and enhanced programs, and community events
>that bring neighborhood parks to life.
>Through the Neighborhood Park Grants Program, APF promotes creative projects
>and programs that build community support for parks while enabling
>neighborhood residents to make positive changes in their community.
>Deadline for applications is June 15, 2001 with award notification in early
>August.  For more information including guidelines and an application,
>please contact Jonathan Neumann at 477-1566 or by email at

 The Austin Parks Foundation will provide matching grants to neighborhood and community groups interested in enhancing and revitalizing public parks and green space. The grants offered range from $300 to $2,500 and are available for park beautification projects, new and enhanced programs, and community events that bring neighborhood parks to life.The deadline for applications is June 15. For more information, call Jonathan Neumann at 477-1566. Jim & Scheleen Walker <> 
Girard <> writes: We were well represented today at the Parks Series of the Neighborhood Academy at ACC, Eastview Campus.  One Sponsor/presenter/facilitator was Jonathan Neumann, Outreach Coordinator for the Austin Parks Foundation (Jonathan lives on Breeze Terrace).  Also present were Gail Greenleaf, Jules Vieau and me. 

Councilmember Beverly Griffith, who talked about Traditional Neighborhoods and the Parkland Dedication Ordinance (which she says is currently "under siege" and needs not only protecting but strengthening), was a spokesperson at the morning session).  She urges activism in the areas of: 

  • Fight to get the best National Parks purchased (I may have this wrong- she didn't speak much about it) 
  • Get a Citizens' Bond Oversight Committee started now. 
  • Parks Operations and Maintenance needs a LOT more money.  Since O&M are not covered in bond programs, this is simply a budget issue, and sexier stuff like transportation and human services have noisier advocates.  Neighborhoods need to lobby for better operation services and better maintenance of their parks. 
  • Save and Strengthen the Parkland Dedication Ordinance.  Not only can we not let it be repealed as some would try to do, we need to have it expanded to include, at the minimum, new apartment projects.  It should be triggered not only by the Subdivision process, but also by any significant Land-use change or expansion of any residential project. 
  • Ex-Councilmember Bill Spellman spoke at Lesson 2 (afternoon session) about the process of getting things throughout the City processes (focusing on parks and parks projects)- he did an excellent job of demystifying the process. 

    Overall, it was a good experience.  Jules and I are planning to attend next Saturday, but I have a conflict the following Saturday (10 March) and I am trying to find someone to go in my place. 

    ~~~~ Claudia writes ~~~~
       It sounds good but again a dose of reality.  Few if any folks are going to pull up weeds by hand and certainly I am not going to get anywhere near poison ivy most folks are very allergic to it.  Most people don't have the time or energy after putting in a long days at work to go out and pull up weeds.  I know it is all i can do to muster enough energy to mow my own grass.  I do what I can by picking up trash and sometimes mowing areas by my house when I can't take the overgrowth any more. I still believe the vast majority of folks just want it mowed before it gets knee high.

        ~~~~ Girard writes ~~~~ 
       Gale, thanks very much for following up and providing so much useful information.  I personally agree with all the advice that Mr. Leyday has provided, and with your suggestion about the users each doing a little over a period of time to deal with the unwanted plants.  It is important, of course that everyone know for sure what they are pulling up, but perhaps you know most of the folks well enough that a tutorial isn't necessary.  Just let me know if you think the Parks Committee can do something officially, or if I personally can do anything to help.  I would be glad, for instance, to participate in a follow up treatment of the remaining poisen ivy as it comes back out if Mr. Leyday and his crew can't get to it at the right point. 
       ...I realize it is easy for someone who does not regularly walk there to suggest this, and I really am willing to participate in a planned respraying of the ivy and then, after it is pretty well under control, I would be glad to participate (and to encourage the entire Parks committee to join us) in a planned weed pull.  I thought that Gale's idea was good, because it certainly doesn't hurt anything to pull a few weeds on one's daily stroll, and with everyone that wants to doing that regularly, over a year or so I'll bet the unwanted grass would be at least significantly diminished.  The point of this is that the mowing of the johnson grass also gets the good stuff, unless and until we can get them to mow it up at 10 inches or so, so that the desired plants can go to seed.  I think that Claudia is right to remind us that our solutions have to be realistic, but in the long run the solutions also have to be sustainable, and relying solely on mowing will encourage only a  monoculture of grass and very specialized plants (such as poison ivy) that can propagate under the 4" ceiling that the current mowers provide.  Sustainablility in a park requires plant diversity unless we are willing to spend an awfully lot of resources continually maintaining the grounds.
       My thought is that pulling the grass, either with gloves or at times and places where there is no poison ivy, by people who want to do it should be encouraged.  But we should regard that as one small part of a larger strategy that includes mowing short where we want to play croquet or put out a blanket to sun or have a picnic, and along the shoulders of defined paths, taller mowing where we want wild flowers, and continual pruning of unwanted species and addition of desired ones.  There are plenty of folks using that greenway who, with carefully timed and closely monitored mowing and large debris removal by City or City contracted services, can make that green space be just about everything that everyone wants it to be.

    ~~~~ Katy writes ~~~~ 
    Claudia, (and all):   You are probably right that many people will not bother to pull weeds as they walk along, but many of us are actually avid zerascapers and know that the only way to manage wildflower meadows is to pull up weeds, because mowing pretty much throws out the baby with the bathwater. 
       I am dreadfully allergic to poison ivy, and each time I get a case of it, it is worse than the last.  So you won't see me pulling that stuff up.  But I wouldn't mind pulling the other weeds, if that'll help you guys that live by the creek feel okay about what the Parks Committee is trying to do there! 
       By the way, Gale tells me that during the summer, it is better not to even try to pull up the johnson grass, even if it does rain (fat chance!) but that if we want to help control the johnson grass, we could "top" it, take off the seed pod before the seeds mature and propagate.  I bet you can't easily break them off, so this task may fall to those who think to carry a tool with them on their walks, or those who are the "pocket knife types."  Anyway, with a tool, this little task is a very easy way to be a part of the project...that darn stuff is so high, you don't even have to bend over to cut the tops! 

    ~~~~ Gale Greenleaf <> writes ~~~~
       Mike Leyday is Watershed's plant expert and an enthusiastic supporter of native plants, flowers, and less mowing - he says mowing only encourages poison ivy and mowing when the johnson grass has gone to seed only helps disseminate the seeds. He called me today to let us know that he and a crew went out yesterday to do what they could with the poison ivy on Willowbrook greenbelt.

       They used herbicide on the ivy that is on the ground, and they cut back the vines growing on the trees at the east end of the 'belt. However, he was afraid to use too much herbicide there, because it might harm the trees. He did use some. So if you are walking there in the next couple of days try to avoid going near any of it so you and your dogs won't come in contact with the poison.

       It's up to us now, folks. When and if we notice the vines starting to encroach on the trees, we ought to contact the CNA parks committee and maybe have a work day to cut the vines back or even dig them up. That is really the best way to control it. I say control because in such a big space it is next to impossible to eradicate it. Try walking on Barton Creek greenbelt - poison ivy is everywhere!

       Mike also thought we could get a significant reduction in beggar's ticks and johnson grass if each of us every time we walk pulls up a few plants in the late winter or early spring, when the ground is wet and they are easy to pull up. He had to the same thing with that nasty sticker grass some horses introduced onto his property. It sounds silly to weed a whole greenbelt, but with the volume of people who walk there every day, I'm sure we could have an impact more significant than mowing. (Both of those plants are only temporarily discouraged by mowing.) Maybe if I'm not bugging everybody too much I'll send out a reminder in January and we can give it a try! 

    Saturday morning, May 13, the Parks and Greenspace Committee revived and:

       -Came close to finishing its vision, goals, and objectives for all Cherrywood greenspaces - Patterson Park, the Willowbrook greenway, Reed Park (at 34th & Cherrywood), the Little Boggy creek bed, and roadside and street-side easements...

       -Discussed how to best manage relations with the various City entities that have a hand in greenspace maintenance - Parks & Rec, Watershed Protection, Forestry, etc.

       -Discussed the value of discovering the histories of our flagship greenspaces - hope was expressed that O.N.C.E. would continue the interesting work it has done for Reed...

       -Clarified different interests people have in the Willowbrook greenway, and how best to accommodate them all - having that area be safe, walkable, and aesthetic - controlling Johnson grass and ragweed overgrowth - protecting wildflower and various wild critters' habitat - and thinking about some Parks Committee initiatives that could further improve it...

    ~~~~ Girard adds ~~~~
    I think that it is very, very unlikely that these are Cotton Mouths. I have handled these snakes all my life, and almost always when someone refers to "Moccasins", they are the harmless water snakes that look very much like the poisonous ones, but aren't. If, indeed they are poisonous, I personally would be for capturing them and relocating them, because cotton mouth water moccasins are really not compatible with urban areas. 

    Mother cottonmouths are almost always aggressive, and they are very poisonous- I have seen them swim across a creek to bite if they think their young are in danger. But I have never in my life seen a cottonmouth in an urban creek, while I have seen hundreds of the harmless look-alikes. Cotton mouth water moccasins are almost never in the water. They hang out mainly in low hanging branches and around the roots of water trees, and are often seen sunning themselves covered with mud. They are usually, but not always very thick [in the body] in comparison with the impostors, and they have more of the recognizable diamond head of the pit viper. They are also usually blacker than their copycat water snakes.; Except for the example of the mother protecting young, cotton mouths are usually not aggressive at all- unlike their copiers which are pretty aggressive, and their bites hurt even though they aren't poisonous.

    ~~~~ Gale adds ~~~~
    Girard suggested Charles Tischler might be able to identify them, so I talked to him tonight. He also thought it highly unlikely that they are cottonmouths and says he has seen only three in Austin in his whole life. He says they are very fat in the middle, not long and skinny, and have a noticeably rattler-looking head. He suggested that we have a park ranger come to a meeting to talk to us about snakes and other critters. In the meantime, the strong likelihood is that these are harmless and even beneficial water snakes that eat rats and such.

    A few summers ago I and an 11 year old neighborhood boy walked the creek twice a day with my dog for the whole summer. When I say walked it, I mean IN it - bare feet and all. We only rarely saw a snake, and they made themselves scarce. (Broken glass and other mad-made hazards were of more concern to us.)  So whatever they are, I think they are far more scared of humans than we need to be of them.

    Also, when it's really hot, you might try a creek walk yourself: it is fed not just by runoff but by wonderfully cool underground springs. There are dozens of places where you can feel the cold water coming up under your feet. (Do wash well after.)

    ~~~~ Gale Greenleaf writes ~~~~ The water moccasins are attracted to the water, and probably the rocks that the city put in for them, not the grass. They have been in the creek for at least the 16 years I've lived near it. I have never heard of anyone being bitten by one. It's true the grass gives them some cover, but they can hide in six-inch-tall grass just as easily.    Snakes are one of the things people always bring up when they want the city to mow. (One of the others is rats.) Yes, they are poisonous snakes, but as everybody knows, even poisonous snakes are beneficial and have a place in the ecosystem. If you had a choice between the city cutting the banks of the creek to four inches, thereby greatly increasing the rate of erosion of the banks because of lack of vegetation to hold them, and just being observant when you walk the inner path, which would you choose? If you had children, couldn't you use the snakes to explain nature to them, to tell them that they do need to be observant and careful when in wild or semi-wild places? Beyond the issue of whether the snakes are good or bad, the city has told us repeatedly - and I do mean repeatedly - that they will not mow more than four or five times a year, even if it means violationg their own ordinance or rule about grass being 18" high. (I think that rule actually may only apply to "weed lots" or vacant property.) That in turn means that in the spring the grass is going to get tall, period.  The immediate issue probably is, when they are going to finish mowing the area: it'll be on or about May 11. They stopped because they were apparently unable to follow their own map of what was to be cut in mid April and what was to be left alone. The creek banks were to have been cut to 12",  and the debris cleared out of the creek, but they didn't even touch the creek. But they will soon.

    ~~~~ Girard writes ~~~~
    Before everyone goes after these snakes, someone who can identify them needs to do so.  There are many snakes that are extremely similar to Cotton Mouth Water Moccasins but which are not poisonous and are beneficial to the environment.  I can identify them, but I won't be immediately available.  Naturalist Charles Tischler would probably do it, and I know a herpetologist named Bill Montgomery who would also probably be glad to help.

    ~~~~ Jim Sander writes ~~~~ It's refreshing to hear that there exists at least some semblance of wildlife anymore.  I remember  seeing turtles in the creek as recent as a couple of years ago.  Alas, he's gone, about the only  thing that survives in the brown runoff-runthrough are mosquitoes. 

    ~~~~ Gale writes again ~~~~ The turtle lives! S/he is huge. I most recently saw it just a week or so ago. Also, the great blue heron is around, and so are the night herons - with the klunky-looking yellow legs - and their prehistoric-sounding squawks. In the morning there are raccoon tracks in the mud. The toad tadpoles will appear soon. The mulberries are about finished.    My hope is that people can use what's wild about this area to learn/teach about nature, and can use nearby Patterson Park to run, swing, play tennis, have picnics, play ball, swim, etc. 

    ~~~~ from Claudia Chaffin, 3808 Sycamore (memo of phone call) ~~~~>
       People walking near the creek in the greenway between Sycamore and E.40th/Willowbrook need to be aware of water moccasins (our only poisonous water snake) in the vicinity of the big rocks and deep water near the swings...

       The tall grass around there attracts them - it really should be mowed more often - the wildflowers are nice - but I hope the grass can be kept under control - doesn't City ordinance forbid more than 18" high? 

    Contacts    Top Links    Top More...   Top
    An excellent reference paperback is available to help sort out which plants are poison ivy and which aren't:  Brother Daniel Lynch's Native and Naturalized Plants of the Austin Area .  It is probably most available at the St. Edward's U. bookstore, but others in town should also have it.  Inexpensive and covers a lot of our native trees, shrubs, and vines in the Austin area.  Native and Naturalized Woody Plants of Austin and the Hill Country by Daniel Lynch and Deirdre Shauna Lynch (St. Edwards Univ., 1981) shows up on for $12.  One reader comments, "This will not replace Trees, Shrubs, and Woody Vines of the Southwest (UT Press, 1960) by Robert Vines , but is certainly easier to carry."
    EXCESSIVE SHADE TREE TRIMMING (Summer 2003)  (December 2004)  (2006) Top
    = "If the City Wants to Trim or Remove Your Tree," Flea ( July 2003 , p. 5)
    - Austin Chronicle, " Surgery or Slaughter "
    - CNA LETTER (to be drafted by E.T.)
    - CITY CODE §25-8-602
    - CITY "Green Building" TREES PAGE
    - EXCERPTS FROM NeighborNet
    1. You Have a Say 
        One neighbor who lost a tree to this process writes, "If you get a notice that the City is coming to 'trim' one of your trees, I recommend that you ask for a consultation first with the City  Arborist. You should be able to request that only branches directly around the lines be trimmed." 
        Another with experience agrees, "The City has repeatedly wanted to cut down a pecan tree in my yard next to the power pole. However, I always refuse. I think you have to sign off on the Arborist plan before they can make any cuts. The key is to be persistent, and to make sure that you have made your request in writing." 
    Contact :  City Arborist, 974-1876, < jim. rhoades@ ci. austin. tx. us >
    (03May6, referring to 3319 Cherrywood, 78722) 
       "Our neighbor at 3319 Cherrywood is being brow beaten (literally) into letting those tree butchers the city hires to trim trees cut down her magnificent, mature, beautiful pecan tree. She is very upset and needs help with this.... "They will be here tomorrow to cut it down if we cant get some help with this. The tree is over 77 inches around. Isn't there an ordinance against this? The tree is set way back in her front yard and is not even near the wires. 
       "This would be a very sad thing, take away a beautiful, mature tree, and goes against the city's own "shade tree" program." // Iumi-1 
    03May6, also referring to 3319 Cherrywood, 78722
       "... a trimming of the upper branches would suffice if Austin Energy thinks there is any danger to the wires. It would directly contradict the Neighborwoods Program and the Heat Island 
    Program to cut it down and makes absolutely no sense. It is a beautiful, mature, well adapted pecan tree which shades a vast area from noon to sundown. 
       "I quote the Austin Energy 'Take the Heat Off' Web page: '... shade trees can reduce indoor home temperatures by up to 20 degrees and summer cooling costs by up to 40%. Also tree-shaded neighborhoods stay up to 3 to 6 degrees cooler than tree-less neighborhoods. '  "The City-contracted Asplundh people who want to cut this tree down are in direct opposition to the City's own energy policies. The owners do not want the tree cut down....
       "The owner is M. Stark, 477-3955. I can be reached at 482-0374". // Iumi-2
    03May7, referring to the 3300 block of Cherrywood, 78722 
       "The City came and did a hack job on the beautiful pecan tree in my front yard. I wish I had known I had an option to get a consultation with a city arborist. I had called the number provided when they left notification that this tree would be cut, and the woman who answered the phone said that only the limbs near the highest power lines would be cut. She said the trimming would be minimal. So I regrettably gave them permission. I was home when they came to trim the tree yesterday. The first branch they cut is one that provided us with a lot of late afternoon shade. I pleaded with the workers and told them that this branch was no where near the electrical lines and to please minimize the amount of cutting the did as we depend on this tree for shade. They continued cutting and I am very upset with the result...". // Kathy Jones 
    03May7, referring to the 3500 block of Werner 
        "About the city-contracted tree people: they are terrible and really don't make an effort to save trees at all. I have had to deal with them several times before, and in order to not have your tree 
    cut down AND receive compensation for any major work they do, you should absolutely: 
       "1. Have the city arborist come out and negotiate every cut. Ask about clearance distances. They vary by the voltage being transmitted; if you are next to a regular distribution line, the optimal clearance is minimal. You can also bring out your own arborist to meet with the city arborist. I recommend Guy Leblanc of Arbor Vitae; he has negotiated on behalf of my mother several times, and has done excellent work for her and at my house for the past 10 years. 
       "2. Get everything in writing--every single cut--so no extra work is performed. You can also demand that you be present at the time of the work. 
       "3. Get compensation if any major work is done. The city doesn't advertise this, but they can give (at least) 10 gallon trees (and shrubs) of your choosing as compensation for work they do. Even if the tree is not removed, pruning away from power lines can detract from the natural appearance, decrease shade protection, and decrease the value added to property by a full-grown tree." 
        "Definitely call the city. I've got them to put things in writing, give me a number of trees, and even guarantee in writing that if the work done affects the health of the tree in the future, that they will pay for restoration, additional pruning, removal, replacement, etc. The people that I have spoken to at the city have been much more willing to work with me that the contractors, 
    too, who are paid to get a certain amount of work done in a certain amount of time." 
        "Also, since the contractors are butchering neighborhood trees everywhere, maybe we as a neighborhood could push for alternatives to pruning. After all, they prune on cycles of 3-5 years. Even if you end up thinking you've won this battle, you'll just have to go through it again in the future. I think there was talk of burying certain transmission lines at some point in the city council? Furthermore, when the city council approved the renewal contract with Asplundh last time around, much mention was made of the butchering they did in the past, so council members emphasized that attention be given to maintaining trees in terms of appearance and added value, and not just hacking them away from the power lines. If Asplundh is pressuring people to let them do crappy work, it could help to raise the concern with the council.
        "I am sorry I can't think of the name of the person I spoke with last time that was so helpful. I might be able to look it up.  // Emily Teykl 
    From:  < >
        A little more advice if you know Asplundh is working on your street...
        They carry forms with them that they are supposed to get the homeowner to
    sign. If they make a "reasonable" attempt to get in touch with the homeowner and can't, then they can proceed with the work without a signature.
        Of course, Asplundh does not go out of their way to get in touch with homeowners.
        If I see them on my street, I'll be leaving a note on my door or in the window to the effect of, "Tree work NOT AUTHORIZED without signed consent form" along with contact info. I might even call the city and leave that message with the right person. They are really supposed to get a signature, and that is the least I will demand.
        The only reason they are in a hurry is that it costs them extra to come back when a house is off their working route. Asplundh is truly shameless about their questionable practices, and I wish the city had the cojones and resources to deal more stearnly with them. (Pardon my Spanish.)
    I absolutely volunteer to write the letters to Asplundh, the City Council and Austin Energy on behalf of CNA. I also volunteer to write a column for the next newsletter so all homeowners have info and resources about tree trimming. If anyone on the list is the appropriate CNA contact person for submitting the letter for review/input, could you please contact me?  //Emily
    (03May17, from )
        "One of the problems I had with the tree trimmers last go around is that I was  unable to talk to the cutters. Previously I had told the surveyor  (arborist??) that I wanted to be around when the cutters came to my property.  But that served little purpose because of language. Fortunately there were  no major cuts to my trees.   I remember the "trimming" done along the railroad and road right of way. It  look as if the trees had been hit by a tornado the cuts were so messy  dorothy."  //Iumi-3
    (03May17, from )
        "In addition to the list of demands below, could we add that we will pursue legal action if they are not met? I would guess there are enough people in Austin upset about this that we could be a significant voice.  It seems so ridiculous that one arm of the city is trying to plant trees for shade and another one is cutting down big shade trees."  //Pam
    (03May17, from )
        "I noticed three large trees red taped on Cherrywood, so went down to see if the owners were aware of possible options other than removal.
        "I found only one of them home, an elderly woman who said she didn't want her tree cut down if it was possible to trim it. She had told the City workers that, but went ahead and signed the release when she thought she had no choice.
        "She did not know she could request an arborist to be there at the time of trimming. She did not know that the City would replace a tree that has been removed.
        "I gave her the number of the City tree arborist that Girard sent out and she was going to call him ASAP. She was very excited that she might be able to save her tree.
        "She also knew one of the other owners and said she would tell them they have options, since they were also concerned about their tree.
        "I was not able to find the third owner at home.
        "The woman I spoke to said that a large tree a few doors up had already been removed. 
        "There is also a beautiful mesquite tree which is green tagged for 'rimming.'  It would be a shame if the Asplundh butchers get at it the way they did Kathy and Bill Jones' tree, but I could not find anyone home there to talk with.
        "Another great tree on Cherrywood, an oak, has been similarly deformed.
        "It seems that our letter to the City might include the following:
        "That any communication from the City to owners concerning trees and power lines include:
      1) a clear message that the owner has the right to request an arborist be on hand for the cutting 2) a clear message that the owner had the right to strongly resist the removal of a mature tree and request other options 3) A clear message that the owner has veto power on cuts 4) A clear message that replacement trees are available if the tree absolutely cannot be saved (last resort).  The City should also have the biggest potted trees available if the removed tree is a large, mature tree. The tree that the City left for the owner of the original pecan tree which we have saved was a puny, half-dead nothing, which is why we want to include this item.
        "In addition, in the case of the elderly, we should request that if the tree cannot be saved, the City should provide a crew to plant the replacement tree. This woman absolutely could not plant a tree at her age."  //Iumi-4
    (03May17, from )
        "One of the problems I had with the tree trimmers last go around is that I was unable to talk to the cutters. Previously I had told the surveyor (arborist??) that I wanted to be around when the cutters came to my property. But that served little purpose because of language. Fortunately there were no major cuts to my trees. 
        I remember the "trimming" done along the railroad and road right of way. It look as if the trees had been hit by a tornado the cuts were so messy."  //Dorothy
    Useful Contacts 
      - Asplundh Tree Expert Co. (401-9116) 
      - Austin Energy , Tree branches on electric lines (494-9400, ) 
    Web page   < > 
    Tree planting efforts
      - City Arborist (974-1876, 
      - City Switchboard (974-2000) to reach any City employee 
      - Tree Folks (443-5323, ) 
    Home page   < > 

    DECEMBER 2004 (10 messages)    Top
    o - - - - - o
    GB NOTE: This issue first arose in Summer 2003. Here we are again December 2004.

    Asplundh (national) site: < >
    o - - - - - o

    == Please reply to Teresa Noll <> ==


    Friday I came home to find a yellow plastic tag on a tree in my backyard. What does this mean? Is Asplundi doing tree trimming in the neighborhood for the city right now? There are power lines near the tree. Is there some way to find out if the city is doing this?

    Thank you -

    Your nervous neighbor

    ==Please reply to "eteykl" <> ==

    I have a draft of a letter and am wondering who in the neighborhood association might be the appropriate person to review it. Just email me and I'll send you the draft to look over. I volunteered to write this letter a while back and then had a personal situation come up that didn't leave me any time to deal with anything else for a the neighborhood association still interested in pursuing this? If so, what is our position? What is important to include in the letter?

    Maybe it's something that can be dealt with in the monthly meeting.

    Let me know what you think.


    == Please reply to "eteykl" <> ==

    I'd go ahead and start making calls, if I were you. The first person to try is Jim Rhoades, the city arborist, at 974-1876. There is also an answering machine for the Utility Forest Division at 322-6771. They say calls will be returned in the order received. I just left a message to find out if Asplundh is working in our neighborhood.

    Did you find any sort of notice explaining the tags? Asplundh is supposed to draw up a vegetation work plan and have it signed by the homeowner. But, of course, Asplundh isn't known for doing the right thing all the time.

    In the meantime you might consider leaving a notice on your tree or gate or wherever to the effect that you want to be contacted before anything is done.

    Good luck. Let us know how it goes.


    == Please reply to "Elias Haslanger" <> ==

    I just had a meeting with Jarrid from Asplundh regarding the trimming they WILL do in about "5 or 6 weeks". Every few years, the city contracts Asplundh to trim the trees away from the power lines. The first time it happened on my property, I received no notice and came home to see the hack job Asplundh carried out on my post oaks. I was mortified with the result.

    This time, I did receive a notice and I wanted to know exactly what was going on so I called Jarrid Hohensee (401-9116) and set up a meeting for today. If you have any questions, I recommend you do the same.


    == Please reply to <> ==

    You can even tell them that you have to be present when they do the work. A supervisor will come out and go over what they propose to do and mark the trees and then he will set an appointment for the work crew to come out and he leave his cell # so that you can call him when the crew is there is case things get wacky with the tree trimming.

    I saved several of my trees by insisting on this. They were even going to completely cut down a big sycamore and instead they just butchered it, but it is still there.

    Jennifer Walker
    Lone Star Chapter, Sierra Club
    512/477-8526 (fax)
    < >

    == Please reply to Girard Kinney <> ==

    All; a few years ago after some big storms there was a major tree trimming in our neighborhood and lots of trees got overtrimmed and removed because we didn't do what Ms Walker has suggested.

    There are also some other steps I recommend. First, request that you be present IN WRITING and CC the City Manager (that way they know the request is residing in a file at the City and can't be conveniently lost or forgotten. Then, when they arrive, have a camera and let them see you photograph the tree as it is prior to the trimming. Have some landscapers spray paint or some surveyor's tape handy and mark (or have them mark) all the branches that are to be cut before cutting them. Photograph them doing this, and to document what is to be cut.

    Also, Jim Rhoades, the former City Arborist now semi-retired, has often been available to come out an render an opinion about what should and should not be trimmed or removed. Sometimes he has even been able to be there when they do the cutting. All of these steps can help.

    Girard Kinney

    == Please reply to "eteykl" <> ==

    Hello Neighbors,

    I just spoke with Michelle McAfee at the Austin Energy Urban Forestry Department. If you have any questions, you can call her at 322-6932.

    Right now Austin Energy is getting ready to perform circuit maintenance on our neighborhood, aka the Fiesta Circuit. They will be surveying the entire area and targeting trees for trimming and
    removal. The process is as follows:

    -Trees identified for removal will be tagged with a pink marker.
    -Trees identified for trimming will be tagged with a flourescent green marker. (Teresa, I think this is what you have.)
    -Notices will be left on homeowner's doors and they will be contacted on the phone if no response is received.
    -If no contact is made with the homeowner, a certified letter is sent.
    -Work will be begin mid-February to early March (unless there is any sort of major storm--then branches will be cleared as needed).

    Trimming standards somewhat depend on the type of tree, but in general: -Primary lines (higher up, higher voltage, uninsulated wires) will be cleared by 7-9 feet for slower growing trees, and by 11 feet for faster growing trees. If a main tree trunk falls within this clearance requirement or is growing towards the line, it may be removed. -Secondary lines (lower on the pole, lower voltage) have clearances that are usually met when trimming for the primary lines occur.

    -Trees under utility lines are targeted for removal
    -Street light wires and wires that go to houses are only affected if a tree branch is putting direct pressure on the line.

    I suggest we have a representative come out and speak at an upcoming neighborhood association meeting. Who do I contact to add this to the agenda?

    Also, on the letter, I just sent a personal letter to the City Council. You can email all the city council members at this link:
    < >..

    For a neighborhood letter, which I would still like to do, maybe we can compile anecdotes from neighborhood residents who have worked with Asplundh as a part of our correspondence. Does anyone have any other ideas? Is anyone interested in a neighborhood letter?


    == Please reply to "Ross and Iumi Richard-Crow" <> ==

    Gordon gave a link for some past action on this issue. It is important for people to know that they can usually save their trees. Case in point, 2 very large old pecan trees that were targeted to be removed at 3319 Cherrywood. After numerous calls and emails from the 'hood, the trees were not removed. This happened at least twice more on Cherrywood. We went to anyone's home that we saw a red tape on their trees and let them know that they had recourse and support. Several more trees on Cherrywood were saved due to this.

    Not everyone is on this list, so if you see a neighbor's tree with a red death ribbon, it might be nice to at least see if they want to save the tree.

    Unfortunately, the pecan trees on 3319 Cherrywood were butchered, but they are still standing, and the owners are thankful for that.


    == Please reply to <> ==

    Gentle neighbors - We were reminded companies other than Asplundh contracted by Austin Energy handle non holiday tree trimming.

    Passing by Asbury Methodist 8 am today, we observed a man looking at the oak trees (with yellow ribbons) anchoring the sw corner of 38.5 St & Cherrywood.

    We stopped to speak with him, remembering ours & others gasp producing reactions in response to resulting "dinosaur munch-sized" bites left atop the crown of these longstanding Cherrywood pillars by the last trimmers.

    Alex Redmond, of the Davey company, said he was reviewing trees , so he could file recs for future action. He said a letter would be left for Asbury & that he would work with the minister,
    George Holcombe.

    So when writing missives about tree trimmers, perhaps these companies should be identified as "those businesses hired by Austin Energy, including, but not limited to Asplundh, Davey" Of course, specific language would be better handled by one of our hood's illustrious lawyers.

    My earlier notes show Ray Henning (no relation to Ray Hennig of South Lamar's music equipment store),was serving as City of Austin/Austin Energy's Line Clearance Superintendent (301 West Avenue, Austin ~ 322.6930) He was employing 6 different cos & was known for his aggressive trimming philosophy. He originally worked in Ohio utilities for 25 years.

    Anyone wishing to help protect our "Elmer" (50+ yr old elm tree planted by original house owners) who gracefully monitors speeding traffic on 38.5 St., can sign up for good ol' fashioned
    tree sitting by e:mailing me.

    Many thanks to all working to keep Cherrywood beautiful.

    Happy holidays,

    == Please reply to <> ==

    I have had pretty good succeoss in saving our Pecan tree that someone long ago let grow right next to the utility pole on the corner of our yard. This tree is tagged for removal almost every time they come through to do tree trimming. It was also tagged for removal when they were replacing the utility pole last year.

    I always request to meet with the arborist and/or supervisor in order to document the cuts that will be made by the crew. I get those in writing on a diagram signed by the City. The Pecan tree has been trimmed at least three three or four times in the 8 years I have lived in the house. I understand the need for trimming around the lines and try to accommodate the need for the trimming while also trying to maintain the integrity of thetree itself. I would rather they come trim a little every year or two as necessary than a whole lot every three to five years.

    I always make sure that I am notified when they are going to trim and make sure that I am present when the work is being done. I like to go over the cuts with the crew that is on site prior to their work. I also leave a diagram of the cuts attached to the tree in very visible site with a notefor the crew in case I am not available and also in case the instructions were not relayed to the crew.

    Saving this tree when the pole was being replace took quite a bit of effort. The city was insistent that the tree be removed. I eventually convinced them to move the utility pole back a foot or two and over a couple of feet so that it was not right against the tree. I took a lot of pictures before, during, and after the work. I also make sure that the crews see me taking pictures while the work is being done.


    *11.* (March 2005)
    == Please reply to "Jane Walton" <> ==

    Just got off the phone with Ray King, the sender of the city letter that came yesterday (registered, no less) about trimming trees for truck clearance. Here are the salient points of our conversation:

    1. The 10 day deadline for getting trees trimmed was thought up by the city's lawyers, not him. He is not going to enforce any sort of deadline, but he does suggest if you intend to do any trimming, there is a brush trash day coming up that would be convenient.

    2. The 14 foot height is suggested by the legal truck height limit, which is 13 feet 6 inches. When I pointed out that 13'6" is pretty darn high, he agreed.

    3. He gets his complaints not just from the garbage trucks, that have to have clearance to raise that mechanical arm with a trash can in it, but commercial trucks as well. When he gets a complaint on one house, he generally works the entire neighborhood at once. That is what has happened to us.

    4. He, in fact, has no enforcement capabilities. He is not going to send anyone to trim the trees, or insist that we trim the trees. So doing nothing is a possible response.

    5. He does point out, however, that two bad things can happen from doing nothing. First, if a truck is damaged by your trees, the truck owner can insist you pay for the damages. Second, if a truck damages your trees (the more likely outcome), you don't have any recourse against the truck owner, and it might lead to disease, etc.

    You can feel free to call him yourself. I told him he might get 300 phone calls from this neighborhood, and explained to him that he was coming on the heels of the "Asplundh wars." He is a very nice fellow, and will probably listen to us rant all day!

    Jane Walton
    Clarity Decisions LLC
    1606 Wilshire Blvd

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