The planting strips alongside city sidewalks are becoming standard in Lathrop as new residential development booms across the city.
But the trees within those planting strips, however, aren’t the responsibility of the city to maintain.
According to the City of Lathrop’s January newsletter, the trees within the planting strips that are planted by developers during construction become the responsibility of the homeowner once the home is sold – meaning that watering and fertilizing, trimming and maintaining, and treating for insects, pests and diseases all falls on the homeowner whose property faces the tree in question.
And, according to the city, the trees cannot be removed without permission – requiring an encroachment permit from the Public Works Department before the tree can be removed, and even then, it must be replaced with a tree that already has city approval.
While there are a number of homeowner’s associations within the new developments that include the landscaped planning strips – prevalent in River Islands, Mossdale, and Central Lathrop – the maintenance requirement can fall on individual homeowners, according to City manager Steve Salvatore.
The planting strips, Salvatore said, became the city standard for new development when new changes to the Americans with Disabilities Act went into effect. If the sidewalk abuts the back of a curb, Salvatore said, the city is forced is ramp down the sidewalk at each and every curb cut.
Separating the walkway, on the other hand, eliminates the need for ramping and “provides a more functional and aesthetically appealing hardscape.”
But the maintenance of said trees could end up extending far beyond simply pruning and watering them.
According to the city, trees that are maintained by homeowners or their designated associations should not interfere with existing underground utilities, overhead utilities, or sidewalk or street overhanging or lifting – when the roots of the tree impede or physically raise the asphalt or concrete, creating a safety hazard.
The lifting of concrete and asphalt by tree roots has became a major project for Manteca along its streets when trees prone to causing said problem were planted instead of trees with more urban friendly root structures. Most of the trees along major streets have since been replaced – as have large sections of concrete along Louise Avenue and Union Road that were raised more than several inches in some instances – and the city has implemented a plan to use trees that don’t have that problem in new developments where landscaping is featured or required.
However, Manteca has a large number of trees such as those along the 200 block of North Maple Avenue that have severely damaged sidewalks by uplifting concrete. In Manteca such damage so far has been addressed on the city’s dime.
To contact reporter Jason Campbell email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 209.249.3544.