Some Oak Cliff neighbors are mourning old trees, felled at the chainsaws of Oncor subcontractors. Others, like Brett Reed and Gary Barber, are standing their ground. The Kiestwood couple strategically parked their cars so that tree trimmers hired by the utility couldn’t get at their old magnolia trees a couple of weeks back. They’re fighting, but they’re braced to lose. "I’m so paranoid," Reed says. "Every time I hear any little noise, I run to the window to see if they’re cutting my trees." Complaints from Reed and Barber and others spurred Oncor and City Council Member Dave Neumann to hold a town hall meeting, which is scheduled for Aug. 31 at the Kiest Park Recreation Center. Neighbors and local politicians wield little or no power over Oncor, which answers to the Public Utility Commission of Texas. "We expect them to tell us what they’re going to do, and we will suggest what we would like for them to do," Kiestwood neighborhood association president Raymond Crawford says.
In the mean time, some neighbors have had success with the lemonade-and-cookies approach. Subcontractors working for Oncor have a job to do, but they’re people, too. If you go out and talk to them and play nice, they might listen when you ask them not to destroy your 50-year-old tree. "The tree-trimmers themselves were really quite easy to work with," Crawford says. "One of our neighbors worked some things out with them, and there was no drama." A little politeness and hospitality could go a long way. At least, it’s worth a try. And, as Crawford says, "no one is chaining themselves to trees yet."