An Oncor vice president defended the utility’s tree-trimming practices at a meeting with angry Oak Cliff neighbors Monday night. "Safe and reliable service" was Debbie Dennis’s phrase of the day. And trees have to be cut to within 10 feet of power lines to ensure that, she told neighbors during a meeting Monday night, which was organized by City Council member Dave Neumann.
The drama over tree trimming in our neighborhood started after a June 10 storm left 820,000 outages in the Dallas area. In the weeks that followed, Oncor subcontractors began cutting back trees from power lines. Saws started buzzing in the Oak Park Estates and Kiestwood nieghborhoods, and many neighbors were unhappy with the results. They complain that trees have been cut to stumps, mutilated and shocked by pruning in temperatures over 100 degrees. Most disturbing is that the tree trimming has altered how people feel about their biggest investments. Formerly shaded homes now stand naked in the sun.
"It looked like Wonder Woman’s plane came through and cut a huge vee through the tree tops," said Tony Nuncio, president of the Oak Park Estates Homeowners Association.
More after the jump.
Even Oncor vice president Dennis couldn’t deny that the cutting is unfortunate. "I agree," she said. "I don’t like the way the trees look when we prune them. It’s not pretty, and I wish we didn’t have to prune the trees."
Aside from overall damage to trees, neighbors’ biggest complaints were that Oncor neglected their calls and that tree trimmers entered their properties without permission and left homeowners with messes of limbs to clean up.
Oncor wants to get better about customer service regarding tree trimming and become more accessible to ratepayers whose trees must be cut, Dennis said. Oncor’s subcontractors have a right to enter private property to cut trees, but they are supposed to clean people’s yards once they’re finished, she said. She asked neighbors to report subcontractors who don’t pick up limbs so that Oncor can "hold them accountable."
Dennis repeatedly said that Oncor wants to be a good neighbor. That statement created more ire than it did friendship. As one neighbor shouted: "A good neighbor would have done this before they started cutting trees."
The issue of tree trimming has been an extremely emotional one for Oak Cliff neighbors, as this video shows.