Visibility

Since I know the Texas A&M Urban Forester for far-out west Texas and the City of El Paso arborist, plus I’m now connected to ex-Mayor Cook on LinkedIn, perhaps I should bring this up to them after I post on it?

It is all in their purview, since it’s public right-of-way. This is the visibility issue that affects anyone exiting the barber shop I go to, as well as more than one driver.

What issues do you see in this photo?

unpruned trees, poor tree-sign placement, unsafe visibilities / sightlines
unpruned trees, poor tree-sign placement, unsafe visibilities / sightlines

This issue happens often in many towns, and it takes some serious staffing and time / money to simply enforce such spaces from being problems.

Though there are city codes governing site visibility and the placement of such plantings, no codes or enforcement actions seem to exist that regulate their proper maintenance.

Since these trees shade and benefit an arid city, and are quite xeric, their care will only benefit all…including public safety for all nearby.

In El Paso and many other cities, the property owner is required to maintain plants in the public right-of-way, including for safety / visibility and the flow of traffic. And the City’s traffic engineering tends to take responsibility for signs in the same rights-of-way. Maybe there can be a meeting of the minds to remedy and avoid such situations?

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2 Replies to “Visibility”

  1. On some level I apparently have impulses towards urban planning. Situations like this always fire/inspire my imagination.

    I’m guessing some property owners are “absentee” and their property managers – if they are used – are not trained on the responsibilities with regards to plant management. More likely owners and managers alike contract out to landscapers – where again – the teams on site may not be trained to understand much less uphold city regulations.

    Ease of access to information in combination with encouraged voluntary compliance and publicly offered approval is often the least expensive first course of action.

    I propose a free/low cost “CityProud” seminar/training opportunity for owners/property managers and landscapers alike to inform them about code requirements. The seminar would include information (from the area’s Master Gardeners group and/or the City arborist?) on approved xeric plants, upkeep information and line of sight ordinances.

    Participation in presenting or attending the training should confer some potentially advertisable benefit – a citywide list of “approved” vendors, or perhaps a licensure advantage. Conference presenters could be certified as city “landscape compliance consultants” for those wanting site specific advice.

    After a period of time passes to allow for the proper seasonal timing of pruning for trees/plantings, if there remain a high number of properties whose issues are unaddressed, then a citywide program of inspections and recommendations for improvements could be implemented.

    Your ideas are really good, in fact, you may have done my work for me! The one, “landscape compliance consultants”, sounds like another term in my profile.

    Today, I inspected the installation on a development streetscape I designed, after the final trees were planted. I noticed signs not on my plans, more than one with a tree in front of it…and no room elsewhere for trees…sigh.

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    1. That would be hard for me to accept – to craft a design and have parts of it ignored. How do you refrain from going in after dark and reworking things?

      If only I could have known. But most of the install is fine and the signs / planting spaces required, so it’s all OK!

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