Potential tree danger to Oakland home and school removed, concern remains

OAKLAND, Calif. (KGO) -- An imminent danger has been removed from an Oakland neighborhood thanks to the persistence of a concerned resident and an assist from 7 On Your Side.

It all started more than a year ago when mother nature gave Oakland resident Arata Goto an unwelcome surprise.

Arata loves nature and turned his backyard into a fertile paradise to grow zucchini, eggplants and lots of tomatoes. When he moved in three years ago, he also loved the tall tree growing behind his home.

But it turned into a love-hate relationship after the branch from that tree came crashing down on his fence more than a year ago.

"We were really overwhelmed because it was all over, like right here," said Arata.

His backyard sits right on the edge of a Childhood Development Center, which is run by the Oakland Unified School District.

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He called the district, but was told the Alameda County Public Works Department is responsible for maintaining the area behind both the school and Arata's home.

The department came to survey the area and promised it would get back to him.

"Nothing happened until July of this year when another branch fell," Arata said.

Just more than a year after the first incident, another fallen branch wiped out part of his fence and knocked down some of his plants.

This time, Public Works told him he needed to contact the school district.

That's when he wrote the district, the school board and 7 On Your Side.

John Sasaki is with the Oakland Unified School District.

"There was a question about whether it was our property or the county's. Once we determined it was ours, we did make the determination we had to take care of any issue," said Sasaki.

The district hired a contractor, who brought in a crane to remove the branches that posed the most imminent danger.

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Arata is grateful for what has been done so far.

"I don't think they would have done it without hearing from you guys," he said.

You can see several of the cuts the workers made to reduce the danger.

Arata, however, is fearful that in a few more years, other branches will grow bigger and pose a threat.

"You have all these kids running around and these trees can fall on top of them," he warned.

"I see no reason that it's going to fall or we have those concerns there's any kind of danger of that happening, countered Sasaki.

The district says it's continuing to assess the health of the tree and vowed something will be done if its determined the tree could fall.

"Our first and foremost concern is human life, especially for our kids."

Arata says he'd like to see the tree removed to eliminate any concerns now or in the future.

Click here for a look at more stories by Michael Finney and 7 On Your Side.
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