From Instagram user arboone11.
“A tourist visiting the Bay Area for Fleet Week last year was doing nothing more than reading and napping under a tree in a federal waterfront park in San Francisco when a 16-pound pine cone fell on him and crushed his skull, his lawyer said Monday.” According to the suit, coniferous Araucaria bidwillii trees, “more commonly known as bunya pines or false monkey puzzle trees…are not indigenous to the area” and their “seedpods, or pine cones, can grow to enormous sizes, reaching nearly 16 inches in diameter and weighing up to 40 pounds.” [SFGate] “Living under Bunya Pines is not for the faint hearted,” advises one 2014 account from Australia, where the trees are native. “You get a little bit of warning when they fall, says a farmer who has five old ones near his house. “They clatter through the branches, and you just start running.”
Discontent at a land-use control process perceived as “condescending and obnoxious” helped fuel a surprise voter revolt in affluent Chevy Chase, Md., just across the D.C. border in Montgomery County. [Washington Post] Aside from intensive review of requests to expand a deck or convert a screened-in porch to year-round space, there are the many tree battles:
[Insurgents] cite the regulations surrounding tree removal as especially onerous. Property owners seeking to cut down any tree 24 inches or larger in circumference must have a permit approved by the town arborist and town manager attesting that the tree is dead, dying or hazardous.
If turned down, residents can appeal to a Tree Ordinance Board, which applies a series of nine criteria to its decision, including the overall effect on the town’s tree canopy, the “uniqueness” or “desirability” of the tree in question and the applicant’s willingness to plant replacement trees.
While in a perfect world all risks could be avoided, in the actual world we live in, life comes with risks that may be unavoidable, obvious, or both, Ontario’s highest court has unanimously ruled. It declined to assign liability to the town of Cayuga over a 2001 incident in which a teenager climbed a popular climbing tree in a public park, fell off, and was rendered a paraplegic. He sued, saying the town should have taken measures such as prohibiting climbing or warning of danger.
“Trees, being by their very nature things which can be climbed and therefore fallen from, are potentially harmful,” the court said. “Any danger posed by this tree was an obvious one. If you chose to climb it, you could fall and be injured.”
A lower court judge dismissing the suit in 2013 declined to create a municipal duty to prevent injuries by developing and enforcing a ban on tree climbing in the park. “There has to be a reasonable limit to such prohibitions on human activity,” he said. [Toronto Star; note the pioneering 2003 English case Tomlinson v. Congleton Borough Council discussed here and here]
Great moments in blame-shifting: In Dade City, Fla., an ex-con with cocaine and other drugs in his system tried to outrun the cops in a high speed chase, then veered into a farm neighborhood where he smashed his car into two trees on a one-lane dead-end private road, instantly killing himself and a passenger. Now the estate of his passenger (who was also on drugs) is suing 21 local residents who jointly maintain the private road, saying they should have kept it clear of trees and did not provide adequate signage. “There were no apparent visual roadway obstructions or environmental factors that would have contributed to this crash,” a report from the Florida Highway Patrol stated at the time. [Tampa Bay Times](& Alkon)