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(Austin Statesman)   Cutting down dead cedar trees on your own property to prevent wildfires? That'll be a $140,000 fine   (statesman.com) divider line 86
    More: Asinine, West Lake Hills, Central Texas, wildfires, hair removal, fire hazard, Charles Attal  
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13061 clicks; posted to Main » on 08 Dec 2012 at 12:47 PM (1 year ago)   |  Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



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2012-12-08 02:12:06 PM

Beanlet: Oo pretty! We don't need more wind break, but ty for the suggestion. Those are great looking trees!


that's the thing though I thought they were trees too, but they fall into the hedge/bush category. If you get the dwarf ones, I believe the maximum height is between 4-5 feet and the spread is about 6 feet. When they bloom out, they do attract the birds and bees. Another good one (if you are willing to invest the time in preparing for it)

Link

are these. They climb so don't plant next to a power pole unless you want to have a nice conversation with your local utility lol. When these things bloom out you get not only the bees but you get hummingbirds as well. really pretty and lots of different colors. and while it is classified as a vine I have had to remove some from power poles that the trunk was almost as thick as the pole itself. pruners didn't do the trick had to use a bow saw.
 
2012-12-08 02:13:39 PM

Weaver95: And remember - this is in Texas, a place considered to be a conservative/libertarian wild frontier that's free of government interference.


No, that's not "Texas" - it's Austin - where liberals live and want more trees to hug... be they dead or alive. Westlake is where all the rich folks live. See how well they are creating jobs?
 
2012-12-08 02:14:27 PM
Moron cuts down trees without necessary permits. Moron, by way of defense, claims that they were dead. Moron doesn't realize that doesn't matter. City smacks moron with fines for breaking the law. Moron throws a self-entitled fit.

Where's the problem? Pursue a lawsuit, press criminal charges.
 
2012-12-08 02:19:14 PM

FormlessOne: Moron cuts down trees without necessary permits. Moron, by way of defense, claims that they were dead. Moron doesn't realize that doesn't matter. City smacks moron with fines for breaking the law. Moron throws a self-entitled fit.

Where's the problem? Pursue a lawsuit, press criminal charges.


This.

If the trees are the flaming tiki torches of death that they apparently are, then getting the proper permit to remove them shouldn't be difficult. In theory, anyway.
 
2012-12-08 02:24:27 PM

megalynn44: I love trees & have no problem with these types They take significant time investment and provide great environmental & aesthetic benefits. They also save money on cooling your home. My neighbor just chopped down over half the trees on his lot a few months ago. I glared at those contractors all day. Pissed me off to no end.


we're blessed with neighbors on both side who do not tree maintenance whatsoever. one side, home for sale, row of trees some 7 or 10 feet from out house all the way up the property. every year of growth is just a bigger threat to both our houses, the guy is selling the empty house so he doesn't give a damn, probably thinks the row of doom looks nice. other side huge growth of trees on large lot, never once maintained, who knows who owns it. the third time their trees damaged our house it was so bad we had to call the insurance people - first time ever calling them, been here what 18 years. they screwed us royally, cheaped out bad, then raised our rates through the roof. i'm not so happy with the tree situation around my house.
 
2012-12-08 02:25:32 PM

LordJiro: City officials said it is illegal to remove a tree in the city limits, living or dead, without a permit.

...Why?


It's Austin a bunch of liberal control freaks.
 
2012-12-08 02:29:13 PM

RKTeuthis: dopekitty74: Juniper and cedar are not the same thing. Juniper has needles and berries, the cedar's green bits are flat and sort of spatulated and they bear small brown soft cones, not berries.

/plus if i'm not mistaken, juniper berries were the basis for gin

Using common names alone is a shiatty practice. Every Tom, Dick and Attal can use a different name for the same species.

Tell me the damned scientific name!

Juniperus virginiana

aka Eastern Red-Cedar. It's a juniper, not a true cedar, and has the little bluish fruits that look like berries, rather than cones. I'm don't think gin is flavored with this particular species, but the fruits smell very juniper-y (i.e. gin-y)
 
2012-12-08 02:33:32 PM
Mowing grass is essentially cruel and unusual punishment to our plant friends but government is all too happy to fine you if you let your friends grow to their full potential.
 
2012-12-08 02:38:48 PM

LordJiro: City officials said it is illegal to remove a tree in the city limits, living or dead, without a permit.

...Why?


Probably to prevent "but it was dead" claims.

Oznog: Cedar trees do this weird thing when they grow big enough or in high density, all the lower branches die off under a dense crown. In sections of Walnut Creek Park here, there's sections of "spooky dead forest" where it's dark because of the forest crown but the place is a dense, impenetrable bramble of dead lower limbs. There's no green in sight. Just dry, white branches obscuring and blocking everything off the trail.

Yeah, it's pretty flammable, and they do LOOK like they're dead, but they're not


Since the city is saying they were alive this might be what happened.
 
2012-12-08 02:52:06 PM
I once started to push down some dead trees in the variable waterline region on a dammed lakefront property.

When the first tree was starting to fall down some flying squirrels jumped out. I stopped because I didn't want to evict those and other species who had built their homes in the dead trees.
 
2012-12-08 02:52:44 PM

Loren: LordJiro: City officials said it is illegal to remove a tree in the city limits, living or dead, without a permit.

...Why?

Probably to prevent "but it was dead" claims.

Oznog: Cedar trees do this weird thing when they grow big enough or in high density, all the lower branches die off under a dense crown. In sections of Walnut Creek Park here, there's sections of "spooky dead forest" where it's dark because of the forest crown but the place is a dense, impenetrable bramble of dead lower limbs. There's no green in sight. Just dry, white branches obscuring and blocking everything off the trail.

Yeah, it's pretty flammable, and they do LOOK like they're dead, but they're not

Since the city is saying they were alive this might be what happened.


I don't think that it matters if they were dead or alive. It seems that the statute in question states he needed a permit in either event. I would imagine that the homeowner, not being aware of the idiotic law, offered up "but they weren't dead!" as a rebuttal, only to be shot down with "it doesn't matter". Idiocy all around in either event.

/didn't know about the flammability of cedar/junipers
//will avoid planting those
 
2012-12-08 02:55:18 PM

Mister Peejay: FormlessOne: Moron cuts down trees without necessary permits. Moron, by way of defense, claims that they were dead. Moron doesn't realize that doesn't matter. City smacks moron with fines for breaking the law. Moron throws a self-entitled fit.

Where's the problem? Pursue a lawsuit, press criminal charges.

This.

If the trees are the flaming tiki torches of death that they apparently are, then getting the proper permit to remove them shouldn't be difficult. In theory, anyway.



Because who in their right mind would think a permit would be needed to remove a fire hazard from one's property.
 
2012-12-08 02:59:31 PM

dopekitty74: Juniper and cedar are not the same thing. Juniper has needles and berries, the cedar's green bits are flat and sort of spatulated and they bear small brown soft cones, not berries.

/plus if i'm not mistaken, juniper berries were the basis for gin


Junipers are coniferous plants in the genus Juniperus of the cypress family Cupressaceae, and the berries are the basis for gin.
 
2012-12-08 03:06:47 PM

kendelrio: Came expecting a HOA dispute, surprised it was a city.

/still hate HOAs.


West Lake might as well be one giant HOA.
 
2012-12-08 03:15:18 PM

Anastacya: /didn't know about the flammability of cedar/junipers
//will avoid planting those


can't find any links to videos of it but as I said turn on the tv during wildfire season in Oklahoma and usually one of the locals has their chopper in the air and they will catch more than a few of them exploding. Sadly, the last one I remember watching the debris got flung over onto some homes and then they went up as well.
 
2012-12-08 03:29:59 PM

jimmyjackfunk: ElLoco: cousin-merle: FTFA: "Attal, a well-known concert promoter, said that he cut down the dead junipers, also referred to as cedars, along busy Westlake Drive because he was afraid stray sparks or a discarded cigarette could ignite a wildfire."

Yeah, right.

Cedar trees biodegrade into gunpowder and jet fuel when they die. I agree with him.

Turn on the news in Oklahoma or Texas during the time when rain tapers off and wildfires start up. From a distance pretty amazing to see the damn things explode but seeing a whole stand of them go up is something straight out of an artist's rendition of Hell. Eastern Red Cedars aren't even native to Oklahoma yet years ago they were brought here (I believe as part of a W.P.A. project to ward off erosion from the dustbowl effects) Talk to any farmer or rancher most if they have the money, will gladly pay you to remove them. The amount of water that one tree uses is staggering. There are other trees out there that don't use as much water and can be attractive to the eye as well as being a shelter belt for erosion.


Having fought numerous brush fires in the TX Hill County, all I can say is:

THIS^2

Even the greenest juniper will go up in a flash on a hot day.

Then youve got all the idiots who clear cut acreage, pile all the junipers up, and then wait a week to burn them without a proper firebreak around them. Douse the pile in gas, light it, and they have a small nova on their hands. Then the big trunks which are still full of water and sap start exploding, throwing incendiary bombs everywhere.
 
2012-12-08 03:36:21 PM

Mister Peejay: FormlessOne: Moron cuts down trees without necessary permits. Moron, by way of defense, claims that they were dead. Moron doesn't realize that doesn't matter. City smacks moron with fines for breaking the law. Moron throws a self-entitled fit.

Where's the problem? Pursue a lawsuit, press criminal charges.

This.

If the trees are the flaming tiki torches of death that they apparently are, then getting the proper permit to remove them shouldn't be difficult. In theory, anyway.


So why does he need a permit to remove trees from his property?
 
2012-12-08 03:44:15 PM

whither_apophis: Larch joke... "brought forth juniper berries"... larch... juniper... argh


I wonder if Vilod is still making that mead with juniper berries mixed in?
 
2012-12-08 03:50:26 PM
He should chop down his house to prevent a house fire
 
2012-12-08 04:02:50 PM
Jeeze. Even more reasons to dislike Westlake Hills. Good thing I live in Austin. Think I'll go cut down a couple of oak trees on my property just because I can. Well, not really because I can, more because they are dead from the drought and need to be cut down. Then I need to cut them way down and use the wood in my smoker.

mmmmm, brisket.
 
2012-12-08 04:51:08 PM

LordJiro: City officials said it is illegal to remove a tree in the city limits, living or dead, without a permit.

...Why?


Good que$tion. I can't think of a $ound rea$on for $uch a deci$ion.
 
2012-12-08 04:53:09 PM

ElLoco: cousin-merle: FTFA: "Attal, a well-known concert promoter, said that he cut down the dead junipers, also referred to as cedars, along busy Westlake Drive because he was afraid stray sparks or a discarded cigarette could ignite a wildfire."

Yeah, right.

Cedar trees biodegrade into gunpowder and jet fuel when they die. I agree with him.


Having thrown a number of red dead dried cedar branches onto fires to witness the immediate giant fireball and FOOMPH! noise it makes, I would say they are pretty farking scary. Goddamn explosive.
 
2012-12-08 04:54:41 PM
smitty04 (farkied: s/sm/sh/): LordJiro: City officials said it is illegal to remove a tree in the city limits, living or dead, without a permit.

...Why?

It's Austin a bunch of liberal control freaks.


Know how I can tell you not only DNRTFA but also DNRTFThread?
 
2012-12-08 04:56:03 PM

Weaver95: And remember - this is in Texas, a place considered to be a conservative/libertarian wild frontier that's free of government interference.


Actually this is Westlake Hills which means the city of 3,000 is incorporated basically to have a very good high school where 74% of the students take the AP tests.  Where do you dump the professors at the University of Texas so their kids can get a good public high school education?  And where are kids going to get that ticket to Harvard, Yale, Columbia, Standford -- all those schools which aren't in Texas?
 
2012-12-08 05:01:56 PM

jimmyjackfunk: Beanlet: Oo pretty! We don't need more wind break, but ty for the suggestion. Those are great looking trees!

that's the thing though I thought they were trees too, but they fall into the hedge/bush category. If you get the dwarf ones, I believe the maximum height is between 4-5 feet and the spread is about 6 feet. When they bloom out, they do attract the birds and bees. Another good one (if you are willing to invest the time in preparing for it)

Link

are these. They climb so don't plant next to a power pole unless you want to have a nice conversation with your local utility lol. When these things bloom out you get not only the bees but you get hummingbirds as well. really pretty and lots of different colors. and while it is classified as a vine I have had to remove some from power poles that the trunk was almost as thick as the pole itself. pruners didn't do the trick had to use a bow saw.


Thanks again for the links. We have two of the second link in small planters under our deck. The flowers are very vibrant colors and add a lot of beauty to the patio. In our area, they might not do well in the full sun, it gets extremely hot and dry here. One day of not watering these guys and they are falling all over themselves, wilting.

I think the first link, as bushes, would do well if they don't need a lot of water after getting esbtalished. I will definitely be looking into them before we get rid of the sticks. Right now, they are doing a decent job of holding some christmas lights, so they have to stay until after the new year arrives.
 
2012-12-08 05:18:56 PM
Permits are simply a way for a city to generate revenue.

It's really a tax, but sneakily not called a tax that fools the Tea Party and stupid Republians.
 
2012-12-08 05:42:09 PM
NOT removing fuel like dead cedar should be a fine, permit or not this guy deserves no punishment. Cedar isn't native to Texas is it? Wouldn't you have to use massive amounts of water to keep it alive? Wouldn't planting Ponderosa (yellow) pine make more sense being a fire resistant, self-pruning, drought-resistant species? Puzzled, I am. Why would you punish some one for doing something that is sane forest management? Do they want all the houses to burn down?

I like cedars.

imageshack.us 

15 min. from my house.

imageshack.us
 
2012-12-08 05:44:15 PM

New Age Redneck: Cedar isn't native to Texas is it?


what? you never heard of cedar choppers?
 
2012-12-08 06:02:24 PM

New Age Redneck: NOT removing fuel like dead cedar should be a fine, permit or not this guy deserves no punishment. Cedar isn't native to Texas is it? Wouldn't you have to use massive amounts of water to keep it alive? Wouldn't planting Ponderosa (yellow) pine make more sense being a fire resistant, self-pruning, drought-resistant species? Puzzled, I am. Why would you punish some one for doing something that is sane forest management? Do they want all the houses to burn down?

I like cedars.

[imageshack.us image 640x480] 

15 min. from my house.

[imageshack.us image 640x480]



In TX, it is fairly invasive. And the cause of allergies. I would not miss cedar.

West Lake Hills must have a short memory of the wildfires in the area last summer. Much of that area is just 1 lightning strike away from a lot of homeless millionaires.
 
2012-12-08 06:35:07 PM

kendelrio: Came expecting a HOA dispute, surprised it was a city.

/still hate HOAs.


Ditto.

Also FTA: "The city based its figures on the number of stumps, said City Administrator Robert Wood. And the city has evidence that the trees were alive, he said." - I guess the arborist said they had "a viable core."

/ scratched it with his thumbnail??
 
2012-12-08 06:45:13 PM

kertus: LordJiro: City officials said it is illegal to remove a tree in the city limits, living or dead, without a permit.

...Why?

Because. That's all YOU need to know Citizen!


Yeah, forget that pesky Takings Clause in the constitution. The town can't assume part ownership of this guy's property (the dead trees) without compensation. Charlotte NC has the same over-reaching POV regarding property rights.
 
2012-12-08 08:39:14 PM
The arborist laws of CT state that if there is to be trimming to improve the health of a tree, that individual, private or business, MUST obtain a license. Of course there are all kinds of schooling and certifications that must be proven before you can apply.

If a tree is to be "felled". Anyone can do it without any license or certifications.

So if your tree gets sick, don't try to save it, cut it down. Don't try to save it and you'll stay within the law. Yup.
 
2012-12-08 11:36:17 PM
It's a pretty messed up world when we have penalties more severe for cutting down one's own trees than for drunk driving.
 
2012-12-09 01:36:44 AM
Gotta love all the Austin people going "It's not Austin! It's West Lake Hills! They're completely different!" Yep, just like Jacinto City, South Houston, Spring, and Cypress aren't Houston.
 
2012-12-09 02:17:25 AM
The comments with the article are very telling. There are only 27. They're good to the end.
 
2012-12-09 03:43:41 AM
As somebody who was once red tagged for cutting trees w/o a permit and then threatened with tens of thousands of dollars of fines, I'm getting a kick out of this.

Every muni is different and they're constantly updating their land and building codes, so always call before you move into action. It doesn't hurt to verify the permit requirements for any job a contractor plans on doing. I speak from experience, contractors are not always right. And remember to get it in writing.

You might be able to stay under the radar of your local code enforcement department if you are on fantastic terms with ALL of your neighbors. All it takes is for one busybody or disgruntled neighbor to call the enforcement officer. Then your balls are in a vise.

If you have any steep slopes or water running through your property, always call. In my case, sensitive land use restrictions were passed after the house was built, and the enforcement officer pulled an arbitrary line out of his arse as to where the sensitive area started. Of course, my tree cuts were within his "defined area". Four months, one boundary survey, one arborist survey, one geo-tech report and $10,000 later, I had a piece of paper that said he was off by 150' and I was fine (the start of the sensitive area was within feet of where I thought it would start).

I've noticed that smallish towns ( < 35K people ) in affluent or semi-affluent areas seem to be the worse when it comes to coming up with new reasons for a permit and the hassle of getting one or the fallout of failing to get one. Larger cities seem to be more laid back. It isn't until you get to the largest cities that the issues come around again. It is like an inverse bell curve of population versus suck of dealing with a building department.
 
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