Mobile failing in maintenance responsibilities, some residents say

Published: Sep. 9, 2022 at 5:48 PM CDT
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MOBILE, Ala. (WALA) - Some residents complain that the city is failing to keep tress trimmed, fix broken drainage ditches and perform other routine maintenance – to the point where at least one homeowners association is spending thousands of dollars in its own money.

The Regency subdivision, with about 320 houses, has had problems with vehicles scraping against low-hanging branches. Anything that hangs into the right of way is the city’s responsibility.

But the homeowners association president, Stephen Breland, told FOX10 News that he has given up hope that the city’s Urban Forestry Department will get to it. He said the association spent $3,000 last year trimming the canopy along Regents Way and is spending another $4,000 this year on tree work along Westbury Drive.

“We could reach out to the city, but it will be years before they would get out here and do it. At least, you know, based on our previous experiences, that’s what it would take,” he said. “So we don’t have years to wait. We have trucks getting, you know, hitting tree limbs every day now.”

Breland said his concerns go beyond aesthetics. He noted that the insurance on a U-Haul rental doesn’t cover the roof.

“So if we have a new neighbor come in here and a limb tears up the roof of their U-Haul, they’re on the hook for that,” he said. “And so, there’s a liability issue to it, you know, as well.”

City officials acknowledge that they have a backlog on rights-of-way maintenance projects. Chief of Staff James Barber told city council members last week that the administration is transferring money from savings to pay for such projects.

In addition, Mayor Sandy Stimpson’s proposed budget for the coming fiscal year includes an additional $500,000 to hire outside contractors to trim tree canopy, remove stumps and take care of other forestry needs on public property.

“I think that will help,” said city spokesman Jason Johnson, adding that manpower in the city’s Urban Forestry Department is a critical need.

District 6 City Councilman Scott Jones said he has received numerous complaints from constituents.

“It does lay out a problem I’ve been talking about for months. … I’m getting the same calls over and over again,” he told FOX10 News.

Mobile resident Jeff Shore said he complained for years about dying ornamental cherry trees in front of his house in the Heritage Woods subdivision. He said the city finally cut them down after a garbage truck sustained damage from contact with one of the threes and then knocked down his mailbox.

But more than three years later, Shore said, the city still has not removed the stumps. He said the stumps have damaged his lawnmower equipment and the sidewalk.

“They’re just a nuisance. They are unsightly.” he said. “Also, the roots on two of the stumps had grown up under the sidewalk and have it unlevel. People have fallen on the unlevel sidewalk and come to my door threatening to sue.”

It not just trees, Breland tells said. He said the city is slow in addressing drainage issues. He said a drainage inlet on Knights Court at Regents Drive East that Breland collapsed earlier this year from the weight of large trucks. He said he opened a ticket through the city’s 311 system on Feb. 1. But as of Friday, nothing had been done.

Given the fact that the city took years to fix another broken drainage ditch, Breland said, he is not optimistic.

“They have said they’re gonna replace it,” he said. “But Lord only knows how long that’ll take.”


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