Project T.R.I.M.

Here we go again, questioning Project T.R.I.M., or as I like to call it, forcing property owners to pay private contractors to trim city owned trees. I have touched on this TOPIC many times in the past, and my conclusion has always been to have the city work in cooperation with residents on the project;

Councilors have received calls and complaints from residents about how it’s difficult to know which tree in their yard or boulevard needs to be trimmed. Councilor Dean Karsky asked why crews don’t trim the trees during the inspection.

“It seems like a terrible waste of city time and equipment and people,” he said. “They just tell me I need to do it, when they were there, saw it, could have just done it themselves.”

This has often been my contention. In the time it takes them to inspect and generate letters they could just be trimming the branches themselves. This is where the cooperation could come in. If it is minor trimming the city could just do it during inspection, if anything major has to take place they could work with the property owner to get it done at a minimal cost to the property owner. This isn’t rocket science but of course MacErpenbach doesn’t think anything is broken;

Councilor Michelle Erpenbach said if the issue is communication between public works and parks and recreation, the City Council can’t fix it. She thinks Project T.R.I.M. works well and has made Sioux Falls look better.

“Right now, this is the way we’re doing it,” she said. “The cost involving (with Sioux Falls taking over) is an amazing amount of money … the system works. It’s not broken.”

She is right, the city’s point of view is that it is working just fine, because they are saving themselves $700,000 a year by pushing the cost off on the homeowner. But the city thinks a lot of things are working just fine, just ask the IT department about SIRE and web streaming of the council meetings, it seemed to work just fine to until I ripped them a new one for 45 minutes and suddenly it was ‘broken’. Sorry Michelle, but if we are paying forestry people to inspect trees, we might as well be paying them to trim the treems that are not in compliance. The system is broken, and has been for years. But of course all powerful and all knowing Lady MacErpenbach will reassure the public that we just are not educated enough on Project T.R.I.M. to understand it. Oh, we understand it Michelle. The city is screwing us.


#1 GregN on 01.02.13 at 4:29 pm

That public services meeting was a nice microcosm of this council. Citizen concerns about the inefficiency of Project TRIM was summarily dismissed and Council Erpenbach said there was no problem, nothing to see here/move along, and added in the usual atta-boy to city employees. I find myself frustrated but not surprised at the same time, which is kind of weird. I should be used to this by now.

#2 Testor15 on 01.02.13 at 6:20 pm

“She thinks Project T.R.I.M. works well and has made Sioux Falls look better.” Isn’t the purpose safety?

#3 Big Guy on 01.02.13 at 7:15 pm

I always trim trees when necessary. did receive a letter few years ago and it didn’t state which tree(s), I went out and trimmed extra. A couple months later, got another letter and that was when I said ‘F*** it’, trimmed them up twice their minimum height… Have not heard back from them since. Needless to say, most of my trees are nearly bare and it is not exactly making Sioux Falls look any better. It actually did cause one of my tree to be dying and will need to be replaced soon.

I support the idea of the city taking responsible for any trees that are on boulevards since they are in their ‘right-of-way’ but looks like it’s not gonna happen. What’s the point of paying taxes to the city other than just for their pet projects?

#4 LJL on 01.02.13 at 8:35 pm

Well I own to the middle of the street like all the other home owners. So I assume I must take care of any of the trees on my property. I have owned my home for 10 years now and have never asked the city to plant a tree in the boulevard. If I wanted one I would need to pay for it, plant it and maintain it.
The city has rules for proper clearance. Homeowners need to be aware of the rules. If they are unclear of the rules than hire a professional. The city needs to stop the practice of “city trees” or “homeowner trees” and make them all the property of the homeowner. If you don’t want the responsibility of the “city tree” in your boulevard the city should cut it down.
The city should not be in the business of trimming your trees. If the city trims the trees then the small business tree trimmer is unemployed. It’s called free market and your “government does it” is called socialism.
Much like the snow gates… If you don’t want the responsibility or the hassle or the cost of maintaining your property than apartment living is suited for you.
Just because mommy cut the crusts off your bread doesn’t mean the government has to do it for you now that you’ve moved out.

#5 cr on 01.02.13 at 9:31 pm

LJL says…. I own to the midddle of the street like all the other homeowners………

Actually LJL, you may want to check on where your property lines really are.

The property line for most Sioux Falls homes ends where the sidewalk begins.

#6 l3wis on 01.02.13 at 10:20 pm

cr is right.

“If the city trims the trees then the small business tree trimmer is unemployed.”

And that is my problem why? Capitalism is based on the business that gives the best service for the best price survives, not how government can force property owners to subsidize you, that is called ‘corporate welfare’. I pay taxes for services. If the city doesn’t want to provide those services, why should I pay taxes?

#7 LJL on 01.03.13 at 12:06 am

CR is wrong…. Everyone pays taxes to the middle of the street. If you have a plot of your property you will see, what you are taxed for.

l3wis… Your statement above is why we are so fucked. You believe in all of your rants that government is here to provide for you… we pay taxes for societal services, such as streets, sewer, police, defense. THINGS THAT BETTER THE SOCIETY. It’s your “just do it for me” mentality that is making our taxes skyrocket and our debts crush us. READ your blather about corporate taxes above and think how badly you have that screwed up. When we pay more taxes for Dunham TIF that’s corporate welfare and when we pay more in taxes for your shit that called welfare.
Let’s use this mentality on something you need. I pay restaurants for a service of cooking. I paid $30 for this meal so fuck the guy bringing it to me, the labor should be in the price. NO.. I give you a tip because the restaurant pays you little to hold down the cost of the meal. The society pays you for the service you provide. YOUR THE TREETRIMMER. Now in comes the kid you gives you a shitty tip. HES THE ASSHOLE BITCHING ABOUT HAVING TO PAY FOR TREETRIMMERS.

I pay $200 a month in property taxes already. How bout you burn off some of that entitlement mentality by shoveling.

#8 anominous on 01.03.13 at 12:39 am


It all makes sense now.

Thank you,

#9 Detroit Lewis on 01.03.13 at 9:21 am

The difference is you can eat at home, you have that choice, If you don’t want to pay for service. As for trimming the city’s trees we are forced to do it by ordinance. I don’t see much of a difference between snow removal, tree trimming and sewer and water services. Trimming trees and providing proper snow removal is a public safety issue. Maybe we should have to start paying for police and fire thru monthly billings? You teabaggers really need to get a grip, America has been a socialistic democracy from the beginning, the difference nowadays is that the corporations are receiving the socialism and the middle class is getting shafted.

#10 Angry Guy on 01.03.13 at 9:54 am

LJL is obviously right.. I mean.. He’s owned his house for a WHOLE TEN YEARS! Wow!
Get a site survey and look where the PROPERTY LINE is. That area between those markers, that is the property that you actually OWN. All that other “to the middle of the street” stuff that you THINK you own is just you being uninformed. Before you fly off the handle in the future, maybe you should get your shit straight.

Until then, kindly STFU.

#11 pathloss on 01.03.13 at 10:14 am

When it comes to city directives, ignore them. Per code 2-66, they can’t collect fines or force action because they deny appeals into court (yours or THEIRS). They’re all talk and no action. Also, per city code language, they regard all trees on public or private property theirs. You have no control over any trees on your property. Their language makes them responsible (maintenance, replacement, liability) for ALL trees inside city limits. Seems the city attorney skipped legalese classes but still graduated.

#12 pathloss on 01.03.13 at 10:23 am

There’s nothing in ordinances about pissing on flowers or pouring red dye into the fountain at the Hilton Garden Inn.

#13 Detroit Lewis on 01.03.13 at 10:38 am

AG is right, the area you are talking about is called ‘Public Right Away’. Public Works Director, Mark Cotter did a fine explanation of it one time during a public meeting when Staggers was questioning fixing the city’s sidewalks.

#14 Craig on 01.03.13 at 11:04 am

Is it legal to plant a tree in the boulevard without city permission?

Is it legal to cut down a tree in the boulevard without city permission?

#15 rufusx on 01.03.13 at 12:43 pm

Craig – no and no.

Re: “your” property. The underlying title to ALL property is the alodial title – also known as the “sovereign title”. It belongs to the state. Thye “fee simple” title that almost all (99.999%) of “private” property owners hold is really nothing more to a lease agreement. It only gives you “rights” so long as you pay the “rent fee” (property taxes). It gives you the right to occupy and use the property, to pass the right to occupy and use the property on to heirs or to sell that right.

In short – you don’t own the land – you own the title (piece of paper describing the land).

Before you begiunto understand how government works – you first need to understand this.

#16 Craig on 01.03.13 at 1:51 pm

Guess I’ve broken both of those laws then… and next year I’m going to break one of them again.

#17 Detroit Lewis on 01.03.13 at 2:30 pm

Craig, don’t you think you are being ‘unprofessional’? 🙂

#18 LJL on 01.03.13 at 3:32 pm

I am amazed how little people know when they blog and your proof. I just called the equilization office to confirm what I already knew. 367-4228… The frontage of your home determines how much you will pay in taxes to the city for street maintence, curb/ gutter maintance and drainage. It also helps equilization determine how much the land that your home is on is worth for taxes. I guess by your response you have owned property for longer and you knew very little about where that money went. HMMM must be a libby.

So when we go back to the topic of maintence of the citys boulevard, then we will need to use the frontage or the amount of street in front of (and beside if a corner lot) to determine how much maintence tax you pay for. BTW the mill levy is what sets the tax to evaluation of your property and over %70 of that tax goes to education. Very little to street maintence.
Futher more I have owned 3 homes over 22 years and this last ten have been in this city.
So now that you know the facts feel free to make an ass out of yourself through your keyboard some more.

#19 Craig on 01.03.13 at 4:11 pm

Heck no… I consider it in the interest of the city that I not bother them with trivial details such as getting approval to remove a dead, diseased tree because by the time I figure out the maze of city government, the tree could blow down and slam into someone’s parked car or worse – on top of their head.

Just trying to look out for my fellow citizens right?

#20 Craig on 01.03.13 at 4:31 pm

LJL: I am amazed how little people know when they blog and your proof.

I sincerely hope you can find the irony in that statement. You’re welcome.

(Lighten up LJL… just having some fun here)

Now as to the core message of your latest comment, I’m a bit confused. You started off by stating the following:

LJL: Well I own to the middle of the street like all the other home owners.

AG countered by saying you only own the property between the site markers.

Now you are talking about what you learned when you called the equalization office:

LJL: The frontage of your home determines how much you will pay in taxes to the city for street maintence [sic], curb/ gutter maintance [sic] and drainage.

So by all means please explain to me the connection between who owns that property vs. the taxes or assessments charged to the property? Maybe I’m misunderstanding you here, but the two items aren’t linked.

The city can still tax you on the frontage without you “owning” the strip of land in the boulevard correct? I just happen to know where the corner pins on my lot are which relate to my plat map, and in my case they are both in the sidewalk, so in theory it suggests the land I own ends at that point, and the other 3/4 of the sidewalk resides upon city land correct?

I could be wrong, but that is where the pins are and that is where the surveyer flagged my property when I bought the home. If there were additional pins near the curb I would suspect they would be shown on the map, but alas they are not. I’m just not sure why they would indicate the corner of “my land” stops at that point if I owned all the way to the center of the street as you suggest.

I don’t dispute that I pay an assessment based upon the frontage of my property, but that frontage of my actual land is the same as the curb in front of it, so it really doesn’t matter much.

Sorry to confuse matters, but it just appears you are talking about two different things, and what you confirmed via the equalization office does’t relate to what you originally claimed. I’m not a city engineer or a surveyor so I’m not claiming I know, but I just see a bit if a conflict in your two statements.

#21 Detroit Lewis on 01.03.13 at 4:32 pm

LJL – But you still don’t own it. That is the point we are trying to make, you are changing the topic.

#22 LJL on 01.03.13 at 6:32 pm

I Own It is a figure of speech, just like I pay taxes on that public building. We the people own the street or the infrastructure and we do that by paying taxes on our property and sales tax. You cant build a deck on it or plant flower but you do pay taxes on the property that extend to the middle of the street and that is based on frontage or amount of boulevard. It’s built into the assessment figure. Land and property are taxed based on value, we all know that. So they (county department of equalization) assess the land based on measurements and use the tax formula (mill levy) to value the land. This keeps the taxes on land fair. We all know that assessments of structures are left to interpenetration.
The city uses that “frontage” distance to determine it’s cut of your city taxes towards the infrastructure cost.
When you buy a parcel from a developer to build on (as I did 10 years ago for this house) the cost of the infrastructure to build is in the price of the lot. Corner lots are more because of the increased “frontage”. So in the easiest way to put this is- if you increase the maintenance cost of the city to your “frontage” we will all have to pay more for taxes to that “frontage”.
If you owned a empty lot you would have to pay taxes on that lot. Part of the tax you pay is for maintenance of the access to that parcel of land.

The frontage rule works the best because it doesn’t matter if there is a 8 lane 57th street in front of your house the tax per foot is the same for all of us. AND it accounts for every foot of the city streets that have been developed.

And as I said before the vast portion of that tax is for education. Hence the point there is very little of your property taxes to trim trees with.

Now I have work to do because I am building a toll gate on the street in front of my house that I proverbially own.

#23 Detroit Lewis on 01.03.13 at 10:34 pm


#24 Craig on 01.04.13 at 8:38 am

LJL – l3wis is right… that is a hellofa stretch. Is it that hard to admit that AG was right? You don’t actually own the land outside of your property markers.

Oh sure you can argue semantics by saying as a taxpayer you own the street just as you own the police station, the courthouse, and the Washington Pavilion… but for all intents and purposes that doesn’t pass the smell test and you know it.

#25 rufusx on 01.04.13 at 1:09 pm

So – LJL – who “owns” the interstection(s)?
They don’t “front” on anyone’s property.
Hint – it’s a “corporate” entity.

#26 Detroit Lewis on 01.04.13 at 1:18 pm


#27 LJL on 01.04.13 at 2:31 pm

Yes, shame on me pointing out how little maintence money is derived from propety tax…. Facts be damned in this 3rd grade think tank. No one has ever used an overreaching heberbaly to piont out how shit really is in this world on this liberal blog.

Rufusx has clearly used logic to point out that intersections don’t have 4 property owners in his world. Even after I pointed out how corner property owners have paid more, you dified that fact with some of your own wisdom. You really got me on that geometry problem Rufusx. OUCH

I’ll close the door on this hyperbolic chamber of wisdom, and you can go on bitching about who should mow the lawn on your boulevards.

#28 Craig on 01.04.13 at 9:55 pm

LJL… that sounds a lot like the phrase “I’m taking my ball and going home!”.

Come on – you were misleading and or misinformed and you have a hard time admitting it. We have all been there, but there is no reason to start getting upset.

By the way – corner property owners are only assessed on one side of the frontage… not both.

#29 Detroit Lewis on 01.05.13 at 11:54 am

LJL – Liberal Blog? You hert my fheelings . . . you need to apologize.

#30 anominous on 01.05.13 at 1:40 pm