Albuquerque homeowner cited for decades-old tree in sidewalk, asks why now?

Local News

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – An Albuquerque woman doesn’t know what to do after the city cited her for having a tree on the sidewalk, a tree that’s been there for decades.

Homeowner Laura Browne-Hanks said she got a letter saying it needed to be removed. “I was very shocked. We’ve owned it for over 30 years and the sidewalk’s always been like that,” said Browne-Hanks.

Browne-Hanks wants to know, why is she getting cited now? “Because it’s always been like that.”

According to Albuquerque’s Planning and Zoning Department, it has received three complaints about the tree in the Ridgecrest Drive neighborhood in the past eight months. “Which was really disappointing because given it’s been that way for so long, it feels like, it feels malicious to me,” Browne-Hanks said.

Neighbors say 13 old trees lifting up the sidewalk is just part of the charm in the 80-year-old neighborhood that’s popular with joggers, dog walkers and parents pushing strollers. “They’re not a nuisance. I know they’re there, I know how to navigate them,” one neighbor said.

“It doesn’t really bother me. I’ve lived in this neighborhood for over 30 years, and so I just kind of ignore it. It’s part of the neighborhood as far as I’m concerned,” said Alan Malott, a neighbor.

Though both neighbors add they do understand it can be difficult for others to get around the disrupted sidewalks. Browne-Hanks said estimates to cut the tree down run as high as $1,500.

“The issue is, I don’t have the money to take the tree down,” she said. She said she’ll go to court before being able to foot the bill to cut the tree down and hopes she just might not have to.

“It’s a great tree. So, it’s unfortunate somebody wants to destroy it,” she said. It is hard to determine whether the tree or sidewalks came first but the house was built in the 1940s when the neighborhood was on the outskirts of the city.

If Browne-Hanks doesn’t cut down the tree she could face up to a $500 fine. The city said it does try to work with homeowners who may not be able to afford cutting trees down.

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