Who’s Responsible for Trees Between Sidewalks and Streets?

Who’s responsible for trees between sidewalks and streets? In Cincinnati, the maintenance responsibility falls on the owner of the adjacent property, even though the area between the street and the sidewalk is public land.

In addition to their responsibility for general tree care and maintenance, the adjacent property owner is responsible if these trees become hazardous or otherwise threaten the public. Additionally, failure to address the issue can result in citations and fines.

In this article, we’ll explore a tree owner’s responsibilities and Cincinnati’s tree rules related to:

  • Tree Pruning
  • Dead Tree Remediation
  • Fallen Tree Removal

NOTE: Though this article specifically addresses trees growing between sidewalks and streets adjacent to private property as described above, however, the Cincinnati tree codes apply equally to trees on private property that obstruct or encroach sidewalks and streets.

A Cincinnati Property Owner’s Responsibilities for Sidewalk Adjacent Trees – Key Takeaways

  1. Any tree on private or public property that obstructs a street or sidewalk or suffers from an infectious disease or insect infestation is considered a public nuisance.
  2. The city of Cincinnati has the authority to send a notice to the property owner specifying the corrective work needed to eliminate the nuisance.
  3. If the ordered correction is not made within 14 days, the director can prune, treat, or remove the tree at the owner’s expense.
  4. The city of Cincinnati can also order any person responsible for a violation to correct it or make compensatory payments. If the violation is not remedied within 14 days, the city can make the correction and collect the expenses from the responsible person.

The Lefke team uses a red grabber to lift debris from a tree-line street adjacent tree removal while another Lefke grabber works to remove portions of a standing tree. This is what it's like removing trees between sidewalks and streets.

What Does Cincinnati Law Say About Maintaining Trees Between Sidewalks and Streets?

Trees that obstruct sidewalks cause issues related to public safety, and maintaining privately owned trees is the sole responsibility of the property owner. Section Sec. 721-148 of Cincinnati city ordinance No. 9-1995 describes a property owner’s responsibility for trees between sidewalks and streets as follows:

“Where land abuts a street, the owner or owners or persons in control of such land shall be jointly and severally responsible for causing the area between the curb, or presumable curb, and the property line to be kept in good order, free from nuisance, weeds, and litter…”

The city code goes on to say that a property owner must:

  1. Keep the line of sight to all traffic signals open and visible to the operators of vehicles for a minimum distance of 150 feet; maintain a clear line of sight of street name signs, traffic control signs, and devices.
  2. Maintain a minimum pedestrian overhead clearance of eight feet over the sidewalk space.
  3. Maintain a minimum vehicular overhead clearance of 14 feet above the adjacent roadway.
  4. Keep privately owned trees, shrubs, bushes, and plants from substantially interfering with the normal use of the sidewalk.

Cincinnati makes the tree owner’s responsibilities clear for trees growing on private property and for trees growing between sidewalks and streets. The tree code further states that any property owner who violates the city code is guilty of a fourth-degree misdemeanor.

Did you know that Cincinnati’s urban forestry department receives hundreds of complaints regarding trees obstructing public sidewalks each year? This statistic highlights the importance of properly maintaining your trees to ensure the safety and well-being of the public.

Responsibility for Pruning Trees That Obstruct Sidewalks and Streets

To avoid violations, you should prune your sidewalk obstructing trees in Cincinnati. It’s your responsibility as the property owner to ensure that your tree does not interfere with the free passage of pedestrians or motorist visibility.

Failure to do so may result in the city taking action to eliminate the public nuisance and collecting the expenses from you as the property owner.

Responsibility for Dead or Damaged Trees Near Sidewalks and Streets

You are responsible for removing any diseased or damaged trees growing between sidewalks and streets in Cincinnati. As the property owner, you must ensure the safety and well-being of the public.

If a tree on your property suffers from an infectious disease, insect infestation, or it threatens public welfare or the health of public trees, it is considered a public nuisance. The city of Cincinnati may send you a notice specifying the corrective work needed to eliminate the nuisance.

As with the pruning notification, if you fail to make the necessary corrections within 14 days of receiving the notice, the city has the authority to treat or remove the tree at your expense.

Responsibility for Fallen Tree Removal on Sidewalks and Streets

When privately owned trees fall on public sidewalks in Cincinnati, the responsibility for their removal falls on the property owner. It is crucial for property owners to promptly address fallen trees to ensure the safety and accessibility of public spaces.

This rule falls under the same code cited for general sidewalk obstruction by a privately owned tree.

With regard to dealing with and avoiding fallen tree scenarios, here are a few points to consider:

  • Quick action: Property owners should immediately remove fallen trees from public sidewalks to prevent obstruction and potential hazards.
  • Safety concerns: Fallen trees can pose risks to pedestrians, cyclists, and drivers. Timely removal is essential to maintain the safety of the community.
  • Property maintenance: Regular inspection and maintenance of trees on private property can help prevent them from falling and causing damage to public sidewalks.
  • Legal obligations: Property owners are legally responsible for the upkeep of trees on their land, including removing fallen trees from public sidewalks.
  • Collaboration with authorities: It is advisable to inform the relevant authorities about fallen trees and seek guidance or assistance if necessary.

With proactive action and acceptance of their responsibilities concerning their trees, property owners will contribute to the overall well-being and functionality of public spaces in Cincinnati.

Need Help with a Tree Obstructing a Sidewalk, Street, or Other Public Space?

Don’t wait for a notice from the urban forestry department; act now and eliminate the nuisance.

Call Lefke Tree Experts at 513-325-1783. We’ll handle your tree removal or tree pruning project quickly, efficiently, and professionally. Find out why we’re the Cincinnati area’s most trusted tree service!

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About Lefke Tree Experts

Our professional tree services include tree removal, tree pruning and trimming, clearing, and stump grinding for the greater Cincinnati metro area. We are a fully insured company with the training, equipment, and expertise needed to get the job done right. If there’s a tree in your yard that needs to be trimmed or removed, call us today!

You can always reach us at 513-325-1783.