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Calif. homeowner pays thousands to remedy damage to sewer line caused by tree on city-owned land

A large tree is causing a headache for a Sacramento, California, homeowner now that its roots are strangling his sewer line. (AGrigorjeva/Getty Images)

A Sacramento, California, homeowner faces a hefty bill from the city over a tree root that is crushing his sewer line and causing a stinking mess, KOVR-TV reported.

What is going on?

At issue are the deep roots of a 100-year-old tree that are strangling and damaging the sewer pipes on the homeowner's property.

“It’s growing into the pipe basically and causing the damage,” said Ryan Aplanalp, who lives in Midtown, told the TV station. “Everything started backing up from the shower to the toilet, to the laundry room.”|

Aplanalp said he hired a plumber, but the problem was just too big.

What he initially thought would cost a few hundred dollars is become a tangled and costly project.

“The tree has been there longer than I have,” said Aplanalp.

But the question remains: Who is responsible for it?

Aplanalp doesn’t believe he should pay for the repairs but neither does the city, the report states. The city codes states that it only maintains trees on public property. It doesn't claim ownership.

“I can’t even trim the tree, yet it’s now my responsibility when it’s crushing the sewer pipe?” Aplanalp said.

What is involved?

He also needs a permit to work on the tree due to its position on city property. And that takes into account “encroachment costs, utility review, and traffic control,” the report states.

“Traffic control plan review for I don’t know what traffic,” he told the TV station.

The grand total to dig up the root and fix the pipes is $3,500. The permit alone costs $1,010.

The large tree that provides much-appreciated shade for his property has turned into a monster headache.

“It’s been here longer than I have and the city maintains it, but I guess they don’t maintain the roots,” Aplanalp said.

Interestingly, the report says the same applies to sidewalks in Sacramento. If a tree’s roots causes cracks, the property owner must pay for the repairs.

One last thing…
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