Who pays when your property is damaged by a tree

Who is responsible if a tree damages your property: you, or the person who owns the tree?

If a tree falls from your property on to a public area, you may be responsible.

Earlier this week, a large tree branch fell onto a car on 21st Street.

Bakersfield Recreation and Parks District removed the tree that was blocking the roadway.

However, park officials said they receive dozens of phone calls each week from homeowners who think it's the city's responsibility to trim or remove a tree, when in all actuality, that responsibility falls on the homeowner.

Officials said, as a property owner, you are responsible for ensuring the safety of the trees on the property adjacent to the roadway in the same way you are responsible for the trees which are located in your front, side or back yard areas.

Simply put, if you have a sidewalk in front of your house, then an area that has a tree between the sidewalk and street, you are responsible for the maintenance, upkeep and safety of that tree.

If that tree or branch falls and causes damage or injury homeowners may be liable.

Park officials recommend homeowners be aware of the health of their trees, do proper maintenance and take care of any issues before a problem occurs.

Some common issues of concern are dead or dying trees, low hanging branches that could affect sidewalks or the flow of traffic on the street. Also, trees that are leaning or have over hanging branches that could fall because the tree is dying or diseased.

The city maintains about a quarter of a million trees that are in parks, on center medians and streets.

If the city spots a tree on your property within the road-right-of-way that could potentially be a safety issue, they will usually inform the homeowner first. If a homeowner refuses to make safety corrections, the city could do the work and the homeowner would be financially responsible.

If you spot any trees with in the road-right-of-way that you believe are a safety concern, contact the City of Bakersfield Recreation and Parks at 661-326-3866.

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