Fallen trees in Denver: Here’s what to do about them

That’s right: Even if the city’s trees fall onto the city’s street, the nearest property owner has to pay.

(Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

staff photo

Fierce winds knocked around trees, traffic poles, furniture and more on Tuesday afternoon. That means homeowners will have some cleaning up to do. Let’s review the rules for Denver residents.

 If branches fall near your house:

Let’s say a branch falls from a tree near the sidewalk. It may not be in your yard,  but you’re expected to deal with it. If it’s not blocking the sidewalk or street, you have 24 hours. Here’s a list of tree services companies that are licensed with the city.

If branches fall onto the road:

If branches fall onto the road, you should call 311. The city will deal with clearing the tree, but they’ll still charge you for the work. That’s right: Even if the city’s trees fall onto the city’s street, the nearest property owner has to pay.

What is the right of way, exactly?
An explanation of the right-of-way in Denver. (City of Denver)

An explanation of the right-of-way in Denver. (City of Denver)

If you have general questions about a right-of-way tree, email forestry@denvergov.org.

Here’s how to get rid of branches.

You can leave ten bundles of fallen wood for city trucks to pick up during the “extra trash collection” service. The branches can’t be more than 4 inches in diameter and no more than 4 feet long. You have to bundle and tie them; each bundle can be up to 50 pounds. Check the city’s calendar to see when the extra service runs.

You can also drop trees and branches off at the Cherry Creek Recycling Drop-off center. (And 9News has an extensive list of other drop-offs in the metro.)

More information is available at the city’s website.

But why me?

Cyndi Karvaski, spokeswoman for Denver Parks and Recreation, said that the you-pay-for-everything system dates back a century to Mayor Robert Speer’s administration.

“It was decided that it would be not just the city’s responsibility,” she said, “but the residents’ responsibility as well.”

Speer was a proponent of the “City Beautiful” movement, which resulted in large civil works, such as Civic Center Park, as well as the planting of thousands of trees. Thanks for nothing, Robert.