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Thursday, June 23, 2011

City Lowers Fine 36% On Park Avenue Tree Cutter

City Lowers Fine On Tree Cutter, Cites Compelling Ignorance

In a daring, possibly precedent setting move Tuesday night, Emeryville's city council reduced a fine of a man caught illegally cutting city owned trees by some 36%.  The man, Rick Gerow of Gerow Properties, a Lafayette California based real estate firm said in his defence he was unaware that Emeryville has a tree ordinance and that of the three trees he cut, one was dead, one was injured and one had damaged the sidewalk in front of his Park Avenue property.

Rick Gerow
The city originally fined Mr Gerow $14,100 for the infraction, an amount mandated by the city's tree ordinance based on professional tree valuation, replanting costs, administrative costs and penalty but the council used it's option provided by the ordinance to lower the amount to $9000, a reduction of $5100 or about 36%.  The city did not indicate if its out-of-pocket costs would be fully recovered by the $9000 figure.

Mr Gerow noted that because the trees in question were originally planted by him as a condition of approval for a 1990's remodel construction project at the Park Avenue address, he was simply maintaining the trees when he cut them and had every intention of replanting.
Cities, it should be noted, commonly make applicant tree planting a condition of approval for construction projects however the city becomes the rightful owner of any street trees in the public right of way as is the case here with these three street trees.


  1. While the city own trees in the public right-of-way, in many cities it is the property owner's responsibility to maintain the trees. I've never understood that.

  2. many years ago it came up for discussion to have property owners maintain trees planted between the sidewalk and the street but i'm not aware that an ordinance was enacted. i'll check my outdated municipal code. but i'll tell you one thing: i'm not maintaining the liquid amber tree that hank van dyke planted in front of my house. in an act of defiance, someone backed into the tree knocking it plumb against my gate, forcing me to become a hostage in my own home. i never could figure out how it happened. the driver had to be driving perpendicular to the road.

  3. Mr. Gerow is a fine American. How dare you attack him. Shame on you!

  4. SO this guy is FORCED to plant trees in 1990 and his excuse that he shouldn't have to pay is because one of them was dead? If he had maintained the tree in the first place...what a jerk. His fine should be DOUBLED.
    If you have money in Emeryville, the doors open for you...but ordinary citizens get the shaft.

  5. Perhaps Mr Gerow would like to donate the difference to the Emeryville Child Development Center through the friends of ECDC, the non-profit arm of the center. The center is in much need of funds and this would be appreciated by all who care about young children and families. In fact, any one who would like to donate to the center should contact the program for donation information to the friends of ECDC.

    R Major

  6. 18 trees were just cut down this week at the Emeryville Civic Center. (8 still stand, at the moment.) This is just a few feet away from the trees in question. No wonder the fines were reduced.