Call Christina helps viewer cut tree code violations cost

Homeowner being told to cut tree she never planted

6am CVA Call Christina Tree Trim
6am CVA Call Christina Tree Trim

LAUDERHILL, Fla. – When a Local 10 viewer decided to Call Christina after she received a code violation for an overgrown tree she thought was on city property, Local 10 News investigative reporter Christina Vazquez started asking questions and found some help for her. 

"They want all these limbs here that are hanging over the street," Lauderhill resident Monty Jones said.

Jones, 86, was surprised when the city of Lauderhill sent her a code violation for a tree located on the swale the city said needed to be trimmed.

"They want all these cut all of those low hanging limbs," Jones said, pointing to her mature black olive tree.

The black olive tree was planted years ago by Broward County, after some public utility renovations before it was incorporated into the City of Lauderhill.

"I knew they didn't belong to me and no one ever asked me to cut them. Until now," Jones said.

Lauderhill operations manager Leslie Johnson said it is a city ordinance.

"In the city of Lauderhill, a homeowner is responsible for their property, but they are also responsible for maintaining what is in their swale," Johnson said.

That means Jones has to pick up the tab to trim the tree. 

"In this case we have to trim the tree back because it could land on anybody or anybody's car at any time," Johnson said.

Johnson said it's not about the fines. 

"We just want you to come into compliance," Johnson said. "So, for us, it's about understanding and educating you first."

The city is offering Monty financial help through the State Housing Initiatives Partnership, known as SHIP.

For those who qualify, the program offers up to $20,000 in a 10-year zero-percent interest loan. Ten percent of the load is forgiven yearly and no payments are required until the property is sold, transferred or the home is no longer the primary residence. That means if a person stays in his or her home for 10 years, that person essentially won't owe a dime.

"It's for such code violations such as roof repair, fence, paint, sod issues," Johnson said.

When told about the program, Jones said she was "just leery."

"We work with you if you need a little bit of extra time," Johnson said.

Jones opted to pay out of pocket to trim the tree. The SHIP program was designed to serve low to moderate income families. Regardless of where a person lives, if he or she receives a code violation, contact the issuing agency. In most cases they will work with the individual to come into compliance.

Follow Christina Vazquez on Twitter @CallChristinaTV

Follow Local 10 News on Twitter @WPLGLocal10