Report: Poor planning makes tree trimming costly

Posted10/31/2019 10:07 AM

Chicago is trimming fewer trees at a higher cost because city crews rely on 311 requests, instead of proactively using a grid system to trim trees on a regular basis, Inspector General Joe Ferguson concluded Wednesday.

Ten years ago, a consultant hired by the Department of Streets and Sanitation concluded that switching to a grid system -- already used for garbage collection and graffiti removal -- could reduce travel times by 35 percent, cut costs by 60 percent and increase the daily productivity of tree trimming crews by a whopping 147 percent.


That would reduce a "significant backlog" that has forced parts of the city to wait ten years for tree trimming services.

On Wednesday, Ferguson chided the Department of Streets and Sanitation for ignoring the Monitor Group's "overwhelming findings in favor of a grid-based approach" and continuing to trim trees only in response to 311 requests.

The inspector general called Streets and Sanitation Commissioner John Tully's promise to develop an "inventory of the city's tree canopy" a "step in the right direction."

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