Shaggy Shrubs May Lead to an Overgrown Cost

Trim your overgrown trees and sidewalk-blocking shrubbery, say Huntington Beach officials, or the city will do it for you--at $73 an hour.

Daryl Smith, the city's park, tree and landscape superintendent, is urging homeowners to nip the "pedestrian safety" problem before it ends up costing residents money.

Excessive growth of greenery on many Huntington Beach private properties encroaches upon public sidewalks, bike lanes and streets, Smith said, unsafely obstructing the view of drivers, bicyclists and pedestrians.

When a pedestrian is forced to veer into the street to avoid overhanging shrubs, it poses a safety and a liability risk for the individual, the property owner and possibly the city, Smith said.

A city ordinance requires that residents keep the public right of way open and authorizes the Public Works Department to do the job if the homeowner fails to comply with warnings to do so.

In a recent trip to a neighborhood where sidewalk passage is partially or completely blocked by a thorny vine, city official John Van Oeffelen said he saw two boys on bicycles crash after attempting to ride around the vine from opposite directions.

And a three-person trimming crew costs $73 per hour, Van Oeffelen said.

But "98% of the time the homeowner doesn't have us out there after they get a notice; they clean it up by themselves," Van Oeffelen said.

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