Up Sucker Creek

Up Sucker Creek
Photo Courtesy of the Lake Oswego Library

Friday, July 8, 2016

Assessing the "need to know"

Your Property

  • Is there an expectation of privacy* in one's private* property? 
  • Are there laws that protect a homeowner's (or renter) rights of privacy and protect against unwarranted trespass?
  • What information is necessary for the city to know?
This is about a citizen's right to private property and privacy, but the subject centers around the Tree Code.

privacy (n.) Look up privacy at Dictionary.com
1590s, "a private matter, a secret;" c. 1600 as "seclusion," from private (adj.) + -cy. Meaning "state of freedom from intrusion" is from 1814. Earlier was privatie (late 14c. as "secret, mystery;" c. 1400 as "a secret, secret deed; solitude, privacy"), from Old French privauté

There is perhaps no other code in the city that controls a homeowner, their property, and their financial and personal well-being more so than the Tree Code.  It is no surprise that the Tree Code is code citizens hate most.  One person I talked to about how to get rid of a (invasive) holly tree called the city a dictatorship.  She is not alone.  People within earshot agreed - some wanted to move based on the unnatural interest in their property, and the over-reaching regulatory environment they get from the city - especially the tree code.

Question: Is the information the city is asking for "reasonably required" to get a tree removal permit?  (NO!)  Does the information cross the line to invade our privacy?  (YES!)  Can the city use the information in any way to help search for violations of the tree code or somehow collect data on your trees or property?  (MAYBE)

All Tree Permit Applications require a site plan of your property.  The applicant draws the footprint of the house and other buildings on the lot, writes the address, and shows the right of way, streams and wetlands, lake, etc.  The applicant must then identity: "Location, Diameter, Size and Type of Trees";  then: Mark trees to be removed with a dark "X";  lastly, give information on proposed replacement trees.  See LO's example of a site plan below.

The wording of the directions is unclear about which trees are to be identified, located and labeled.  It just says "trees", not "all trees", or "all trees over 6" DBH".  One might assume the wording includes just the trees to be removed, but the example site plan shows multiple trees on it with only 2 marked with an "X".  In drafting, pictures count as legal documents just as words do.  What is the intent of this directive?  How much information is reasonably necessary?

I asked a planner who deals with tree permits why all trees on a lot needed to be identified.  She said, "Oh, no one does that!"  Great!   If some people aren't doing it, and their permits are approved, this should be good enough for everyone else.  Why string the rest of us along with a bogus or badly written application?  

The Application diagram and wording need to clarify that only trees identified in the tree permit should be on the site plan.  
  The Application Form has not changed, so here we are.  Why would the city like to know what trees are in your yard?  Just curious, or what?   There is NO need to locate and label every tree, and lots of people don't, so it's time to change the Application for Tree Removal: Combine both of the tree  labling requirements into a single directive for trees being cut only.  (This counts as Change #2; Change #1 is dropping the waiver.) 

No comments:

Post a Comment