City takes steps to remove messy trees

A while back, someone asked who was responsible for clearing the sidewalks of snow, the property owner or the city. The answer was the property owner. Now, what about the mess from the street trees that city officials say property owners must plant in the park strip? The mess from the berries and fruit that drops off these trees is a health hazard, not only because of fermenting and bird droppings, but also because of how slippery it makes the sidewalk. Shouldn't the city be required to clean up the sidewalks or replace these trees?

— Don D., Medford

Don, the city of Medford is making an effort to remove some of the messy trees lining the streets and replace them with more tidy trees, but in the meantime, watch your head and your step.

"There are certain species of trees that produce more fruit and, historically, have been planted in Medford and do cause problems," said arborist Adam Airoldi.

One of these, the flowering plum tree, was supposed to be ornamental but mysteriously has started producing fruit, Airoldi said. The tree has since been struck from the city's Selected Street Tree List, available on its website (

Trees on that list were chosen because they were the right size, weren't too messy and didn't cause infrastructure damage, Airoldi said.

Medford Municipal Code 3.010 points out that it is the property owners' responsibility to "inspect and maintain all sidewalks abutting their property in a condition safe for use by the public."

However, the city does maintain and prune trees along the right of way of some residential streets with higher volumes of traffic, Airoldi said.

Don, you can call Airoldi at 541-774-2690 to find out whether your street fits this description.

Send questions to "Since You Asked," Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501; by fax to 541-776-4376; or by email to We're sorry, but the volume of questions received prevents us from answering all of them.

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