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Tree Talk Among Neighbors
Linda Rock | Zapo Street

Graphic Art Olson

Our Zapo St. neighborhood meets regularly to coordinate tree trimming to enhance everybody’s views. Almost 20 years ago, about a dozen families got together to negotiate which views they would like opened up, along with privacy, aesthetics and other concerns. Some people had trees in their view corridor they wanted thinned, others had trees that affected other peoples’ views, some had both. We all agreed on who benefitted from each tree thinned and shared the cost accordingly.

Initially people were cautious. Andy McCracken has done most of the work and has done a wonderful job of building trust by understanding everyone’s concerns and cutting only what he says he will cut. Gradually, everyone has become more comfortable with the process. It is a process built on goodwill and is imperfect at best. Some of those whose trees are being thinned don’t benefit directly and have to deal with inconvenience and a tendency to feel something is being taken away from them. They agree, mostly out of consideration for their neighbors. It’s also possible for people to benefit without sharing the cost although it becomes clear to the group who is doing their fair share. Some people are exceptionally willing to accommodate their neighbors, even if it means putting up with some inconvenience or compromising their tree’s aesthetics. Rarely does a neighbor refuse to participate at all. A neighbor may resist allowing their trees trimmed even while demanding a grand view from their downhill neighbors. Overall our experience has been good and, as a result, many of us enjoy improved views and have been able to share the cost.

For those of you who are watching your views erode with each passing year, I would encourage you to initiate a discussion with your neighbors. Go carefully and don’t be demanding. Allow a group dynamic to evolve and model compromise. Don’t make anyone feel criticized. As you get a core group of “givers” they will provide an example to others. After the tree trimming, if you get a slightly better view be grateful to the people below even if your view could have been better. Remember this is a process. The more times you do it, the easier it will get, and the more people will give as they realize that trees grow back and there is a value in maintaining the goodwill of your neighbors.

 

 
 

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