(WSVN) - This could be you. A tree, near the sidewalk in front of your home, lifting the sidewalk up, making it dangerous for anyone walking by. Now, who has to pay to repair the sidewalk and determine what to do with the tree? It depends on where you live — and it’s why one South Florida homeowner needed help from Help Me Howard with Patrick Fraser.
When Rafael Sosa moved into his house 34 years ago, he was a little younger. So was the tree in front of the home.
Rafael Sosa, tree vs sidewalk: “Yeah, my friend, the tree has been here for 30-something years, so I see the tree growing from this circumference to this tree.”
As the black olive tree has grown, so has his appreciation for it.
Rafael Sosa: “I like the tree, the shadow it brings, bird, and I do enjoy that.”
Rafael Sosa: “But when it gets to the roots, the tree is a killer.”
Rafael says he thinks the tree was planted in the swale in the ’80s by Miami-Dade County to provide shade and beauty for the neighborhood. Now its roots are creating headaches.
Rafael Sosa: “The problem is the roots. The roots are bringing out the sidewalk, they’re bringing out the street.”
The roots have lifted the sidewalk several inches over the years. The county has come out to patch the damage, but each year, it gets worse and worse.
Rafael Sosa: “It is dangerous. The sidewalk is cut, is lifted about four inches or more from the normal level.”
Well, Howard, who has to repair the sidewalk and determine what to do with the tree causing the problem?
Howard Finkelstein, 7News legal expert: “Some cities and counties make the homeowner pay to repair the sidewalk, but unincorporated Miami-Dade does the repairs to the sidewalk. As for the tree, since it’s in the swale, legally, Rafael has to maintain it. But he is lucky, because if the tree impacts the sidewalk or the road, Miami-Dade County will step in to do what they decide needs to be done to that tree.”
Miami-Dade County says they don’t have any record of ever planting the tree back in the ’80s.
But they were great at resolving the problem. They repaired the sidewalk, and the red marks show the section they are going to completely replace in a few weeks.
The county will also send out an arborist who will determine if the roots can be trimmed beneath the sidewalk without damaging the tree.
If that won’t work, they will remove the tree.
Howard Finkelstein: “Whether it’s the homeowner or the city or county that is responsible, they need to maintain it. Because if the roots lift the sidewalk and someone is hurt, the homeowner or government agency could be liable for any expenses if someone trips and falls.”
One way or the other, Rafael’s tree issue will be soon be resolved. Just what he wanted.
Rafael Sosa: “I am glad I called you, because at least we got an immediate response, and that’s good.”
Glad it’s all working out for Rafael.
Now as Howard said, Miami-Dade County pays to repair sidewalks, but some cities and other counties make the homeowner pay. To determine who is responsible for the tree and sidewalk in front of your property, contact them or read your local ordinance.
Someone planted a obstacle that’s grown into a real headache for you? Ready to cut back on the stress? Branch out and contact us. So we can uproot your problem to shade you from any more trouble.
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