Deputies debate neighborhood tree troubles

Chen Huizhi
Suggestions were made during the city's People's Congress on how to chop through the red tape involving problematic trees in residential communities.
Chen Huizhi

Trees which cause problems in residential communities are overly difficult to remove under current regulations, according to two deputies at Shanghai People’s Congress.

Complaints about trees have drawn more and more attention from the public, as the city’s government hotline 12345 received about 5,000 such complaints from September to November last year.

The city’s current regulation on greenery management stipulates that residents living in residential complexes can apply to greenery authorities to have certain trees removed if those trees negatively affect light, air flow and safety for residents or pose a threat to other facilities.

In order to file a complaint, residents have to raise the problem with their residents’ committee first, and the latter upon agreement shall relay the complaint to the company or government institution responsible for the maintenance of green space at the residential complex in question in order to get agreement to fell the trees. But in reality, things are quite complicated.

Li Feikang, a deputy from Huangpu District, said the major problem is that it’s hard to get enough residents to agree on spending the money on tree-felling projects.

While old residential complexes built by the government as housing projects are entitled to government subsidies, in commercial real estate properties, expenditures for tree chopping are footed by all residents, Li said.

If the amount to be spent exceeds certain limits, a residents’ congress must be convened to discuss the issue. In this case, two-thirds of residents have to give their consent.

Cutting down a tree can also be quite expensive. Li said it costs 1,000 (US$145) to 15,000 yuan to remove a tree, and 3,000 yuan to have greenery companies use cranes to cut trees.

“It’s always hard to get enough residents to agree on spending the money, but in some cases it’s really urgent to have those trees felled because they affect the safety not only of people but also pipes and wires underground,” he said.

Li made some suggestions which he believed could help more efficiently solve tree troubles in residential complexes.

He suggested that two-thirds of the residents affected by some trees should be eligible to file a tree removal application to greenery authorities, bypassing the residents’ committee, while government subsidies to such projects should be made to residential complexes.

Also, he proposed that greenery authorities mull detailed standards for tree planting and removal in residential complexes so as to prevent trouble and streamline the procedure of eventual tree removal.

Feng Yan, a deputy from Jiading District, in her suggestion to the government on the same topic suggested that real estate developers should be held responsible for tree troubles and be made to cover the cost of tree removal and landscaping.

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