Tree troubles in Manoa

Jay Itagaki
Jay Itagaki
Ann Bouslog
Ann Bouslog

By Mari-Ela David - bio | email

MANOA (HawaiiNewsNow) - The tree that crashed down on a University of Hawaii at Manoa student's minivan has renewed concerns about potentially unstable trees in Manoa.

Manoa is known for its lush character and giant trees. But maintaining them enough to keep neighborhoods safe is a constant battle.

"Because the branches are so huge as they grow up, they grow up and out and they get heavier so that's always a problem. When it gets windy I get nervous you know," said Jay Itagaki, a Manoa resident.

Itagaki says it's a common problem throughout the valley.

"The problem as I see it, is because we don't have sidewalks, there's a lot of frontage that belongs to the County," said Itagaki.

In Itagaki's case, the property line goes right through the middle of this tree in his front yard, which brings up liability and maintenance issues.

"So if the tree falls down, am I half liable? And the county half? You know, I don't know how that works," said Itagaki.

"The arborist did tell us they're not allowed to trim in the areas around the wires at all. And they have to get it's either HECO or Hawaiian Tel to do that because it's their wires so that was a little concern to us last time. Those people come maybe once a year and you can't always be assured that you're going to get something trimmed on a timely basis," said Ann Bouslog, a Manoa resident.

Assurance is important to Bouslog. She says her tree is so large, its branches have grown over her neighbor's house.

If any of them snap next door, she would be liable because the entire tree is on her property.

"We've been really careful to have it maintained by a professional arborist because we are concerned and want to make sure that it's safe since it's so large," said Bouslog.

And safety is more so on residents' radar.

Just two days ago, a tree crashed onto a minivan on Oahu Avenue.

Fortunately no one was hurt.

But five years ago, a Punahou 7th grader nearly died while she was asleep, after getting crushed by a pine tree that fell on this Manoa home.

"Unless somebody goes out there drills holes in all the trees to find out which ones are termite damaged and which ones are healthy, there's no way to just look at a tree and tell," said Itagaki.

The tree on Oahu Avenue that fell a couple days ago, is now completely gone.

It's still not known why it snapped.

Calls to the city arborist were not returned today.

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