This week's problem came from Anna Castaneda, who called to complain about a tree that fell on her home last January during the winter storms and damaged her roof.
The tree was located on the sidewalk, and she said that it was unhealthy and infested with termites, which contributed to its collapsing on her home.
Castaneda said she tried to get the city to pay for the damages, but her claim was denied. The city stated that it wasn't responsible and that the damage was the result of a winter storm.
Castaneda hasn't found a resolution to her issue, but she did wonder why the city keeps planting trees if it isn't going to care for the ones it has and check to see if they're healthy.
As we enter the winter months, this problem seemed especially relevant, so I called Mike Conway, the city's spokesman, to find the solution.
Conway said that if the trees belong to the city, then it's the city's responsibility for removing them if they fall in a storm.
"Last year we had a lot of trees that came down in the storm," he said. "Our first priority is to remove trees in the road. When it's a storm we ask, is it a hazard? The first thing is public safety."
If homes are damaged by trees people can file a claims report with the city.
Deneen Proctor, director of support services, said people can request a government claim form from the city insurance department.
Once residents submit that form to the city, the city contacts Public Works and asks for a tree report about the tree in question.
After that, it's sent to a third-party claims examiner who conducts an investigation and informs the city if it should accept or reject the claim, she said.
A rejected claim would depend on the situation, she said.
"In a weather situation it would depend on the type of weather we had at the time," she said. "These are forces that are beyond the city's control. Then the homeowner would be responsible. With trees, things can happen."
Overall, the benefits of having a city tree program are numerous, Conway said, despite the occasional costly accident they can cause.
"In cities like ours, the greater the tree canopy, the shadier and cooler it is," he said. "They have a definite health benefit by adding more oxygen, and they have a benefit of making it an aesthetically pleasing community."
The city does survey trees on a regular basis to assess their health, and it has regular trimming cycle for trees, he added.
"It goes back to public safety," Conway said. "We want it to be a healthy urban forest for the community to enjoy."
What's wrong: Trees planted by the city can damage homes, be it weather or a diseased tree.
Who's responsible: It could be the homeowner or it could be the city's fault. It depends on the situation.
If you see a tree that might be diseased or fallen, call Public Works at (209) 385-6800.
If you see something broken or in need of repair in your neighborhood, call the Sun-Star Tip List reporter, Jamie Oppenheim, with your tips at (209) 385-2407 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.