Saturday, June 27, was a sad day for Cindy Funkhouser. It was the day she was to host a memorial service for her grandmother at her South Park residence, near the corner of 32nd Street and Elm.
The day started early, at about 7 a.m. and not because Funkhouser wanted it to start early, but because she was awakened by the sounds of diesel truck engines, chainsaws, and stump grinders.
“I ran out to see what was going on, and company workers with the logo 'WCA' on their shirts and trucks were cutting palm fronds throughout the area,” wrote Funkhouser in a June 29 complaint to city arborist Drew Potocki.
“[The] memorial in our home, at 10 a.m., for the passing of our grandmother, was ruined,” added Funkhouser. “We endured the invasion of huge trucks and machinery and the loud whining of gas-powered cutters throughout the gathering.”
Yet, when the complaint reached the desk of Potocki, though apologetic, he wasn’t sure why crews were out trimming palm trees on a Saturday morning. First of all, city contractors don’t typically work on weekends; secondly, the city hasn’t issued any permits for trimming palm trees for the past 12 months.
So, Funkhouser, a vocal opponent of the Greater Golden Hill maintenance assessment district, did a little more research. She found out that the Greater Golden Hill Community Development Corporation hired West Coast Arborists to trim the neighborhood palms, even though the city hadn’t issued a permit for that work to be done. Also, Funkhouser voiced concerns that the city might duplicate the tree trimming when projects are restarted, thus doubling up the payment from Greater Golden Hill residents.
“You are correct,” responded Potocki. “A trimming permit was not issued to complete the palm tree trimming. I have directed the contractor to stop until appropriate permit is obtained. If any damage due to improper trimming is observed the contractor and [the Greater Golden Hill Community Development Corporation] would be held legally responsible for repair of damage or replacement of tree that dies.”
Still unsatisfied, Funkhouser wrote to the city attorney’s office. The next day, Beth Murray, deputy director for the city’s economic development division, responded to Funkhouser’s complaint.
“The [Greater Golden Hill Community Development Corporation] is in fact in compliance with their agreement with the City. Additionally, [they] took immediate corrective action once they were made aware of the issue and pulled the required/necessary permits for trimming the palm trees.”
To which Funkhouser wrote; “How is one in compliance when corrective action is required to be in compliance? Please provide a legal explanation of just how that works.”