Property owners responsible for sidewalk and street vegetation control

Untrimmed vegetation can limit access, create safety hazards

July 06, 2022 - by Amy Cloud, Public Works Department

Seasonal rain and sun have accelerated the growth of neighborhood trees, shrubs and lawns. Adjacent property owners are responsible for trimming their vegetation when it extends onto streets and sidewalks, to maintain full access and remove safety hazards.

“Everyone needs to be able to use our streets and sidewalks to get around and it’s up to all of us to help keep these spaces safe and accessible,” said Todd Baker, interim street supervisor.

“Taking care of vegetation ensures that parents with strollers, kids on bikes, neighbors using wheelchairs and everyone else can safely use our sidewalks,” Baker said. “Keeping vegetation trimmed also helps drivers have better visibility.”

Shrubs, plants, tree limbs and other growth, including dead trees, should not extend into the public right-of-way, blocking user access, limiting sightlines or creating other safety risks. Bellingham Municipal Code (13.40.050) requires adjacent property owners to address safety and “nuisance” issues (BMC 10.28) such as blocking vegetation.

Overgrown vegetation can be more than a nuisance; it can create dangerous situations. If drivers cannot see cross traffic because of bushes at the corner or children are walking in the street because the sidewalk is overgrown, those are safety hazards. The adjacent property owner is responsible to prune back vegetation that restricts access or sightlines. City officials enforce vegetation ordinances by first notifying property owners based on complaints or concerns observed by City street crews.

Residents who notice problem vegetation that is not within their area of responsibility and sidewalk or street damage requiring repairs may report these concerns via SeeClickFix, the City’s online reporting tool. 

Find out more here:

Media Contact

Amy Cloud, Communications and Outreach
City of Bellingham – Public Works

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