Richmond homeowners keep voicing concerns over unsafe city trees, but feel ignored: 'It's not fair'

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Posted at 6:15 PM, Sep 25, 2023
and last updated 2023-09-26 16:08:57-04

RICHMOND, Va. -- Residents on Richmond's Southside said they're frustrated with what they believe to be a lack of maintenance and response from the city regarding trees that appear to be potentially unsafe on city property.

Pamela Briggs has lived next to a city alleyway for the past two decades on Frank Street. She said she's been raising concerns about limbs, branches, and full trees that have toppled into her yard over the years.

In fact, one downed tree nearly missed her shed just a couple of weeks ago.

“I don’t know how long it’s going to be before any of these other trees fall," Briggs said. “I’ve been complaining about it for a long time before the storm.”

The biggest concerns arise whenever it storms, she said, like over the weekend when Tropical Storm Ophelia blew through the area.

“I’ve been filing, for the last two years with 311, with my complaints concerning the issues," Briggs said.

However, Briggs claimed her complaints have led to limited action from the city to clean up the alley.

“To me, [it's] like a smack in the face, like there's just no concern whatsoever," Briggs said. “And I just feel like it’s not fair. It's not fair to me or any of us who lives down here in this area.”

Just a block down the road on the same street, Mary Wilson, who talked to CBS 6 over the phone, said a tree located on a public sidewalk fell over onto her fence and damaged her property.

She claimed she had been warning the city about the tree for years.

"It's the city. They're not doing their jobs," said Richmond City Councilmember Reva Trammell, who represents Briggs' and Wilson's district.

Trammell said she believed the Public Works Department is in need of more manpower.

“Should we hire some outside help? This is not the first incident. Mike Road, Frank Road, Ruffin Road, Broadrock, Ironbridge Road, near Boushall School," Trammell said. "Some of the trees, I've seen them uprooted from the ground on top of people's houses."

Near Boushall Middle School, Trammell said she had reported a tree that appeared to be dangerous a few weeks ago, and then it was knocked over during Tropical Storm Ophelia.

A homeowner on Ruffin Road told CBS 6 she had reported a tree on a public sidewalk next to her house for years, and then branches fell down onto her property, damaging her fence. She said more attention needed to be brought to the issue.

Earlier this month, a Richmond City Public Works employee was killed while removing a fallen tree during storm cleanup, but residents in that area said they were concerned about the tree long before it toppled.

Additionally, a certified arborist who inspected the tree told CBS 6 that the tree had "many defects" and would have been a "prime candidate" for removal.

Trammell said she wanted the city to be more responsive to citizens when they speak out about trees that appear to be possibly unsafe.

"And make sure their voices are heard. It has to be. Because if not, what happens?" Trammell said. “They're taxpayers. They deserve an answer. They deserve city services.”

Residents in the area agreed with Trammell, and two residents said they feel forgotten about on the Southside.

“My biggest concern is the city taking care of their property, just like I have to take care of my property,” Briggs said. “So I just feel like Southside has been neglected more than any other side of town.”

CBS 6 reached out to the city with questions and for a response to residents' concerns and is still awaiting a response.

Information about the criteria for tree removal in the City of Richmond can be found, here.

Depend on CBS 6 News and for in-depth coverage of this important local story. Anyone with more information can email to send a tip.

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