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Independent Voice

City Trims Trees After Acts of God

Dec 27, 2023 02:36PM ● By Debra Dingman

This huge tree branch caused nearly $14,000 worth of damage to Hillary Burley’s new truck. It dropped in perfect weather. Insurance classified it as an ‘Act of God.’ The City of Dixon is responsible for many of the trees in the downtown core. Photo by Hillary Burley

DIXON, CA (MPG) - The accident of a giant tree branch falling on Hillary Burley’s new truck might have been an act of God, but it did call attention for the City of Dixon to trim the trees around the downtown core.

Sadly, it was the second time. The first time she was parked in front of Kula’s when a small branch fell and that time, it even hit a woman’s bicycle that was tethered to the decorative rail there, she explained, but this time it was a huge branch that wound up damaging two trucks.

“There were two trucks covered by one large branch, that’s how large it was,” she said. “I rarely park on the streets to allow incoming clients space and normally park behind the bank but that day there was no parking there. It was September 18 and we had very nice weather and it was about 5 p.m. when my coworker looked out and saw people from First Northern Bank walking around my truck. Someone asked me if that was my truck.”

Hillary Burley First Northern Bank

The large branch covered a utility truck and Hillary Burley’s truck across from First Northern Bank. Photo by Hillary Burley

Burley, who was born and raised in Dixon and who is a stylist for Cynde’s Salon, knew the trees were owned by the City and first called them but it was after 5 p.m. After some time and several calls, one man came out and cut all the branches to free the trucks.

“We’re a small town and we have no resources,” she said. “I was trying not to cry. This was my dream truck. I just purchased it. I had not even had it a year.” She took her truck into Superior Auto Body in Dixon for repair, and they estimated it to be $14,865.

When she contacted the City, she was told to come in or go online to start the paperwork to start a claim against the city which she did within the week. A named City staff person took in the claim.

“She said it was not a problem, that it was a City tree, and that the City would pay for it,” told Burley. That’s why it was a “shock” for her to get a letter from the City October 19 saying it has “no merit.”

“They denied my claim. It was one piece of paper with no reason why. I called and they said they couldn’t tell me, and told me to call their insurance company. I called multiple upon multiple times. Never have I gotten a response back. The voicemail says she’ll be gone in July for a vacation, and it still says that,” Burley lamented.

So, after a $250 deductible, Burley’s own insurance paid the bill. It was considered an “Act of God,” and therefore was correct for Burley to file a comprehensive claim. Her insurance will not go up because it was not her fault.

“I feel like the City is getting away with not taking care of aphid-infested trees,” she said. “I had an arborist come out and look at the tree and he said it was a ‘diseased’ tree. Students are going up and down these streets before and after school. What if it hit a kid?”

She also was upset that some people excused the City, saying, ‘Well, this is a small town.’

“That makes me angry,” she said. “My family has been here since the 30s; my grandfather helped build Monticello Dam and donated tractors to the May Fair; he donated land for Neighborhood Church [now Grace Fellowship]; and helped build Neighborhood Christian School. Don’t tell me how small this town is because my family IS this town. My people don’t leave. We’re still here.” She emphasized the need for the City to be more proactive and maintain the trees regularly.

“I feel like Dixon waits for the worst possible thing to happen instead of just doing maintenance,” she said. “I wanted more people to know so they don’t experience this from the City.” In the future, call your insurance first and let them deal with the City. Or, do not park under downtown trees.

tree trimming downtown Dixon

A tree trimming company was out this past month in downtown Dixon side streets after a huge branch fell on two parked trucks in September. Photo by Debra Dingman