When John and his wife bought their Hollywood home it came with a big Seagrape tree. A massive Seagrape tree that splits into four big trunks.

John Schmidt: “It’s a beautiful tree, it’s a gorgeous tree, except…”

Except over the past 50 years, the tree has grown too large for John’s yard.

John Schmidt: “It’s risky and it’s too big for the area that it has grown into.”

The roots from the Seagrape have already buckled the sidewalk in front of his home. John and the City of Hollywood split the cost of the new sidewalk. Now the roots are going the other way and rising up under John’s house.

John Schmidt: “And this thing is working its way over here. And its cracked this concrete wall here where the planter box is. And it’s working its way into the base of the house.”

Even more dangerous, the tree can’t be cut back anymore. The branches hang over his house. And when the wind blows, the four tree trunks start moving.

John Schmidt: “And those trunks just move five to six inches in the wind and they just creak and crack. Meaning that the tree could come down in a hurricane.”

John talked to an arborist who told him in his opinion the tree was a danger to his house.

John Schmidt: “My arborist said he would recommend taking the tree down.”

John is willing to pay the $2,200 to cut the tree down and a $1,000 or so to replace it with four palm trees as the city would require. So he asked Hollywood for a permit and their arborist reviewed it, then he waited.

John Schmidt: “Finally I called back up again, couldn’t talk to the arborist. But the person at the desk said the arborist said the tree can’t come down.”

John says forget the experts, just use common sense.

John Schmidt: “If common sense looks at it, and you say the tree is too big for the yard that it’s in, and the proximity to the house and it’s too close, then the tree needs to come down.”

And John is convinced, if the city won’t let him take the tree down quietly the next hurricane will do it.

John Schmidt: “If this tree comes over, those 18 inch branches are going to come into my house. They are going to take the house down.”

Well Howard, John’s arborist says ‘Yes, the tree should come down,’ the city’s arborist says, ‘No, it should not.’ What can a homeowner do?

Howard Finkelstein: “First of all, get your arborist to write a report giving their professional opinion why tree is damaged and according to the city’s rules, why it can and should be removed. If the city refuses to accept that, you can appeal it to the department of planning and development services, and if they don’t let you take it down, take them to court and let a judge decide.”

I contacted the City of Hollywood, a spokesperson told me they try to save as many trees as possible, but if John hired a certified arborist who was convinced the tree needs to come down, they would reconsider his request.

John hired him and the arborist agreed that the Seagrape tree had several large decay columns, that there is significant damage around the tree, and there were structural defects.

The City of Hollywood got the report, then gave John the permit to remove the tree. It didn’t take the tree cutters long to remove the Seagrape tree. No one wanted to see it taken down, but John didn’t want to risk seeing it tumble over on top of his house.

And I am of the firm belief that without Channel 7 getting involved and Patrick getting involved. I would have never been allowed to get the tree down, ever.

Patrick Fraser: John is irritated that the city didn’t tell him a written report from his arborist might change their mind. We know about things like that cause we do this all the time, so if you hit a roadblock at a government agency, ask them if there is anything that you can do to convince them to change their minds. If that person says no, go speak to a supervisor. The city manager, the mayor, anyone you can find.

Got a problem that is uprooting your life? Want to see if a solution grows on you. Contact us. We don’t have a trunk full of solutions.

But we can branch out and embark on a path to find an answer. With this Help Me Howard, I’m Patrick Fraser, 7News.


E-mail: helpmeHoward@wsvn.com (please include your contact phone number when e-mailing)

Reporter: Patrick Fraser at pfraser@wsvn.com

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