Forest Grove residents concerned about falling trees after Octob - KPTV - FOX 12

Forest Grove residents concerned about falling trees after October storm

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Is your home safe from falling trees in the next big windstorm?

It's a question on the minds of many in the town of Forest Grove, after a massive oak tree fell on a home back in the October storm.

The town of Forest Grove was founded in the 1850's and said to be named after a grove of oak trees around Pacific University. 

"Forest Grove, it's a great town, but the thing about the oak trees is that they have a shelf life of 150 years," said resident Jeff Cooper. 

If you do the math that means the big beautiful white oaks are now at the end of their life span. Which means they're coming down. 

"Every other year since I moved up here, something catastrophic has happened with the oak trees," said Cooper. 

Cooper lives in old town where oak trees line the streets.   

Cooper's neighbors who live around the corner had a massive oak tree fall on top of their house during October's windstorm. The tree took out cars and demolished the house. Fortunately, no one was hurt. 

"The trees, they're coming down every time there's a storm I guarantee some tree is going to fall in Forest Grove and it's only a matter of time until something really tragic happens and someone gets hit," said Cooper. 

A lot of the oaks trees, like the one that fell back in October are all planted in the road right of way. That's the green space in between the road and the sidewalk and it's technically city property.   

Because the city owns that space, people like Cooper think the city should be responsible for removing at risk trees before they come down. 

"If an examination was made on the tree around the corner, they would have seen that it was rotten from the very core of the base and something could have been done," said Cooper.

But the city leaders say it's not their responsibility.

"It's an interesting dilemma," said Forest Grove Public Works Director Rob Foster. "The trees are actually in the road right of way, but by ordinance they are the maintenance and responsibility of the adjacent property owner just like sidewalk."

Turns out any cost associated with maintaining a tree in the road right of way is on the homeowner and that's the case for many major cities in the Portland metro area.  

Foster tells FOX 12 the only time they'll step in to take care of a tree in the right of way, is if it falls into the street, or on power lines. 

"If a portion of the tree fell on private property we'll leave it and sometimes that's a surprise to the homeowner, they'll say, 'hey you forgot something,'" said Foster.  

It's a policy that frustrates people like Cooper.

"It costs three to four thousand dollars to have these trees cut down which is beyond many peoples financial means," said Cooper.

He now believes homeowners should get some sort of assistance from the city to care for the town's historic trees.  

"I would like to see maybe the city invoke a partnership, or something before something really bad does happen," said Cooper.

The City of Forest Grove does have a community forestry commission and an arborist on staff that can come out to a home and give free advice about a tree in question, but the city says they won't remove that tree for free.

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