We all love the dramatic and rich tree canopies that line the sides and reach over many of St. Augustine streets, however, they can be a problem when those big limbs are a little too low. It’s not noticeable to us as we drive the streets in our cars, but becomes very noticeable when a fire truck, rescue vehicle, school bus, trash truck or street sweeper is unable to pass safely beneath the canopy.
For that reason is it critical that all vehicles be able to pass through every public street quickly and easily, especially in instances where moments matter in saving life or property. That is why the City of St. Augustine (mandated by the Florida Statutes) has an ordinance which sets the minimum height for trees or any other landscaping that reaches over the right-of-way whether along a sidewalk or a street.
The city ordinance states that property owners must clear limbs and branches of trees from the public right-of-way at least eight feet over sidewalks and at least 14 feet over roadways. The complete ordinance may be read by clicking here. (Chapter 25, Article II, Section 25-29.)
In the coming weeks, crews from the city’s Public Works Department will be performing “sweeps” through neighborhoods throughout the city to ensure that there are no encroachments on city right-of-ways that violate city code and thus pose a hazard to vehicles.
If encroachments are located, property owners will be notified by letter that the encroachment exists and will be given an opportunity to correct the violation either by hiring a contractor or performing the work themselves. If the ordinance violation is not corrected within 45 days, the city will clear the right-of way for safe access.
For more information on landscape ordinance, please call Public Works at 825.1040.