Way to go, South Central Association of Neighbors (SCAN) -- the neighborhood association that represents the area where Daniel and Richard Gatti knowingly destroyed four valuable street trees by topping them, yet so far haven't been required to pay the full cost of their value, as required by the City of Salem tree ordinance.
Here's the resolution that was passed by SCAN yesterday.
SCAN RESOLUTION OPPOSING FAILURE TO FULLY ENFORCE THE SALEM REVISED CODE CONCERNING STREET TREE REMOVAL
Adopted by the SCAN Board on February 12, 2020
WHEREAS, on or about January 2, 2020, the property owners at 1781 Liberty Street SE in the SCAN neighborhood had an unlicensed contractor remove, without authorization, more than 30% of the crown from four mature City-owned street trees adjacent to their property; and,
WHEREAS, removing 30% or more of the crown of a tree will cause the death of the tree and is thus defined in the Salem Revised Code 86.010 as "tree removal"; and,
WHEREAS, "tree removal" under SRC 86.120(c)(1) carries a civil penalty of a fine "not to exceed $2,000.00 per violation in addition to the value of the tree as calculated in accordance with applicable administrative rules (or in the absence of administrative rules, in accordance with the most current edition of Council of Tree and Landscape Appraisers "Guide for Plant Appraisal”);" and,
WHEREAS, the property owners at 1781 Liberty Street SE were recently assessed a fine of $2,000 by the City in addition to being required to negotiate a "Restoration Agreement" for removal and replacement of the four City-owned trees adjacent to their property; and,
WHEREAS, the property owners at 1781 Liberty Street SE were not required to reimburse the City for the "value of the tree[s]" as required by SRC 86.120(c)(1); and,
WHEREAS, failure of the City to fully enforce the provisions of the Salem Revised Code in the matter of unauthorized City-owned tree removal is unacceptable to SCAN neighbors and will undoubtedly result in similar incidents of this kind happening in the future.
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that the Board of the South Central Neighborhood Association requests of our City staff that they not fail to fully enforce SRC 86.120(c)(1), and that the property owners at 1781 Liberty Street SE be required to reimburse the City for the value of the four City-owned trees that have been removed, following a professional appraisal of the value of the trees.
Hopefully this will spur city officials to do what they should have doing all along: enforce the damn tree ordinance!
It really bothers me, and other tree lovers, that Peter Fernandez, the Public Works Director, has been choosing to not enforce the portion of the ordinance that requires someone who destroys a street tree to reimburse the city for the full value of the tree or trees.
The City Manager and City Council should take a very close look at how Fernandez has been performing his important job. If he isn't enforcing the tree ordinance, how do we know Fernandez isn't also doing favors behind the scenes for other people who are guilty of not complying with the city's rules and regulations?
After all, we know that he made a backroom deal with the U.S. Bank president to remove four healthy, large, beautiful street trees on State Street back in 2013, because I got the public records that prove this. Yet Fernandez still has his job, and he is still failing to protect Salem's trees.