Man fined for cutting limbs off city oak near home, citing safety concerns as reason

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MOBILE, Ala. (WKRG) — Mario Yow’s Reddy Street home has a lot of sentimental value to him. His grandmother left it to him before she passed.

He’s been working on renovating it, but says the oak tree in the city’s right-of-way out front is causing a myriad of problems for him – including damaging his roof and limbs falling in the yard; one of them, he says, destroyed his pool recently.

“At this point, I asked what the fee is to cut it down. Because I’d rather pay the fine than have to keep rebuilding,” he said.

And that’s exactly what he did Wednesday, after he said the city couldn’t do anything.

City Arborist Peter Toler says the tree has been inspected multiple times and serviced in the past when the tree got too close to power lines. But as of now, according to professional foresters following the city ordinance on trees, the tree is considered low risk and does not meet the criteria for the city to have to intervene and trim it. The code states if it is a city-owned tree, residents cannot alter it without a permit.

“The tree on Reddy Street based on a site inspection determined no city services were obstructed,” Toler said, meaning first responders and garbage trucks could still get down the street. “There are no visual signs of risk of failure, the tree based on visual inspection was high enough from the roof.”

He says the penalty for tampering with a city tree without a permit is a base fine of $722, then potential restitution on top of that based on the value of the tree.

Toler says the best thing to do if a city tree is causing issues for your personal property is to address the Mobile Tree Commission and see if you can get approved for a permit to take it down.

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