[Michigan, August 19, 2021]: Dearborn Heights has a serious public safety problem. The very old trees are like ticking bombs that go off every time that we deal with heavy rain, high winds and harsh weather, hurting people’s property.
This problem is exacerbated by the unusual harsh weather. It is the climate crisis and the climate change that is impacting our city, county, state and the nation. It’s a local, national and global challenge. This is why the city has been having an unusual rate of rain and recurring floods. Scientists can disagree on climate change causes and what to do about the climate. For us citizens we have to deal with facts and reality. We are experiencing harsh weather and we need to deal with it.
The city’s elected officials should pay attention to this matter. This is not a typical challenge, just another usual business item. It’s a fact now that every time we deal with heavy rain, wind or storm, the basement is not only the focus of residents’ attention. Nowadays, we focus on the trees outside, worried that they may fall on our houses, on pedestrians or our cars parked outside.
No doubt that the city’s infrastructure, water and sewage systems are old and outdated. This mandates serious assessment and creative solutions as the weather conditions are expected to worsen. This situation makes the old and very aged trees another factor that can’t be ignored. Both floods and the old hollow trees are the two sides of the public safety coin.
I am one resident who raised the issue with city officials several times to no avail. Few city officials are sympathetic but sympathy would not stop hollow trees from continuing to be a hazard. The typical and generic response the city officials give is: “The city can’t remove healthy trees due to an old city ordinance.” Healthy and the ordinance are an excuse. Residents are paying enough taxes and deserve better. This is a public safety issue that city officials must be held accountable for. The ordinance needs to be changed to deal with this reality.
Hollow trees is not a political issue. Trees don’t discriminate. The residents of the city should insist that the city officials act on this issue. The voters of the city must raise their voices to make sure the government is responsive and accountable.
Imad Hamad, AHRC Executive Director