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City Orders Residents To Cut Trees Down After One Person Filed 261 Complaints

Over the years, I can recall a lot of times where it seemed downright impossible for my neighbors to mind their own business.

Although I rarely concerned myself with what they were doing, there was always some quibble they had about how our hedges weren't trimmed closely enough for their liking or how they wanted us to use a different kind of paint.

But while this obviously made interactions with them annoying, I could at least say I knew who I was dealing with and that the zoning laws weren't on their side.

However, that wasn't the case for residents of one community in Hawaii who will likely never know who brought the ire of their city government down on them.

Recently, at least 40 residents of the Pacific Palisades community of Pearl City, Hawaii received notices from the city.

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As Hawaii News Now reported, these notices ordered them to cut down trees standing on the sidewalks in front of their houses.

According to a neighborhood board member named Charmaine Doran, many of these trees were planted decades ago by previous owners.

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Nonetheless, those unlucky enough to have these trees on their property are now finding themselves having to remove them at their own expense.

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Doran said that one of her neighbors had to spend $500 to remove four trees, which is apparently not an unusual price tag for others facing the same problem.

Their only other option would be to seek a variance, which Cornell Law School defines as "an officially granted exception to a zoning ordinance" that is handled on a case-by-case basis and requires a persuasive reason to go through.

But since these variances can also be costly and time consuming to secure, it didn't seem like much of an alternative in this case.

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Although Doran accused the city of singling out the Pacific Palisades community, the Department of Planning and Permitting maintained that these notices were sent in response to a citizen's complaints.

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And according to Hawaii News Now, they did in fact mean one citizen. Specifically, one who was concerned enough about unauthorized trees on neighborhood sidewalks to file 261 different complaints about them in the span of two days.

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And that resident wasn't singling out this specific community either as their complaints also affected other towns in Honolulu County such as Halawa, Aiea, and Waipahu.

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As the representative from the DPP said, "There are so many complaints that our inspectors have not yet gone through the entire list. We are performing about 10 inspections every two weeks.

Our inspectors have other responsibilities, such as investigating illegal vacation rentals."

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In addition to causing headaches for residents throughout the county, this unidentified person's complaints will also serve as a setback for a multi-year initiative for Honolulu.

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As Hawaii News Now reported, the city is seeking to plant 100,000 new trees by the year 2025 with the ultimate goal of creating a canopy of trees that blankets 35% of the state's Oahu Island by 2035.

It won't be clear how far this array of complaints will set these efforts back until they're all dealt with but they definitely came at an ironic time.

h/t: Hawaii News Now

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