This year’s above-average moisture is a welcome change compared with last summer, but it has caused city vegetation to go crazy. Whose responsibility is it to trim bushes and trees encroaching on sidewalks around town? I’ve seen city workers do it in the past, but maybe it’s private property owners who are supposed to keep sidewalks passable. – Sign me, Ped S. Trian
The city’s sidewalks pose a conundrum for “The Durango Lifestyle.”
Everyone knows what constitutes “The Durango Lifestyle.”
Or maybe not.
It isn’t mentioned in any land-use code, deed or legal description.
But apparently, the only way to achieve “The Durango Lifestyle” is to buy obscenely expensive real estate.
For half of us locals, “The Durango Lifestyle” is about finding the perfect work-life balance, which consists of never having the time to spend the money we don’t make.
For others, “The Durango Lifestyle” involves frequent strolls in the untamed Great Outdoors.
Thing is, you can’t take a walk on the wild side in neighborhoods – because Durango itself blocks this key element to living “The Durango Lifestyle.”
Municipal regulations say nature must be kept at bay with clippers, shears, pruners – at least for plants plying plantigrade places.
Here’s the dirt on Chapter 26 of the City Code, titled “Vegetation.”
Seriously. The chapter is 3,634 words long and “leaves” nothing to chance.
That includes the delightfully named section “Hedges and Shrubbery Adjacent to Sidewalks.”
For Action Line and doubtless other fans of comedy, the phrase “shrubbery” invokes but one thing – “Monty Python and the Holy Grail.”
Recall the scene in which the preposterous Knights Who Say “Ni!” demand King Arthur provide them with a shrubbery, after which the knights demand another shrubbery.
“Then, when you have found the shrubbery, you must place it here, beside this shrubbery, only slightly higher, so we get the two-level effect with a little path running down the middle,” insists the snarky head knight.
He informs the grail-seekers that his men are now the Knights Who Say “Ekke Ekke Ekke Ekke Ptang Zoo Boing!” and furthermore requires Arthur to cut down the mightiest tree with a herring.
Which has nothing to do local sidewalks other than the word “shrubbery.”
The city doesn’t beat around the bush:
“Any owner or occupant of any real property shall maintain all hedges and shrubbery adjacent to public sidewalks so that no part of such hedges or shrubbery shall extend over any part of a public sidewalk of the city.”
A separate part of the code goes out on a limb regarding encroaching tree branches.
“Any tree growing over a public alley, street or highway or so located as to extend its branches over a public alley, street or highway, shall be trimmed by the owner of the property,” the code reads.
A clearance of 14 or more feet is required for streets and 8 feet or more above sidewalks, lest they become “a menace to travelers.”
Pruning and property maintenance might not be your thing, so you can hire an arborist to arbitrate.
That way, you will be free to bushwhack in the forest while your bushes are whacked in the city.
And that will keep your Durango Lifestyle from getting out of whack.
Email questions to firstname.lastname@example.org or mail them to Action Line, The Durango Herald, 1275 Main Ave., Durango, CO 80301. You can request anonymity if your mother was a hamster and your father smelt of elderberries. (Ask a Monty Python fan if you are confused.)