Concord residents say dangerous trees need to be trimmed but can't afford the cost

What looks like a disaster zone is really the front yard of Maria Vishnevetskaya's Concord home. When the wind whipped up Tuesday, seven giant eucalyptus trees in the yard toppled.

Shelley Mack, one of the tenants who live in the back of the house, rushed to find her landlord.

Mack and her landlord weren't hurt.

But looking at the demolished gazebo, storage shed, and two vehicles under the branches, it was hard for them to feel lucky.

"That's my car that I just got out of the car shop Thursday for a little small scratch," said Mack, looking at the giant tree trunk that feel on the vehicle.

Vishnevetskaya says she and Mack are worried that the other trees planted by the former homeowner might also fall down in next week's storm. In total, about 30 eucalyptus trees, known for toppling, surround the house.

"I had an arborist come out because I was worried. He certified they're all healthy, they're not diseased, but they need maintenance," said Vishnevetskaya.

Those estimated maintenance costs were as sky-high as the eucalyptus trees' branches.

"$70,000 is just to trim them and to make them livable," said Vishnevetskaya. 

She says one estimate was $7,500 to remove each tree. With 30 trees, that would total $225,000. That's money she says they don't have.

Mack says after a storm in January they reached out to get help.

MORE: Bay Area storm kills at least 5, knocks out power, brings traffic to a stop

"The city managers, the council members, FEMA declined us twice, Red Cross declined us. Everybody declined us," said Mack.

"We've gotten a lot of phone calls with downed fences, downed trees," said Tim McGallian, a Concord insurance agent and former mayor. 

He says insurance companies will usually pay, but only after a tree falls and if you have comprehensive coverage.

"Especially if it's on your car, if it's on your house, most insurance companies will pay for that type of damage to remove the tree and then of course fix the home," said McGallian.

He says, however, there is often little priority put on prevention.

"It becomes a little bit of an issue for all involved, especially the city because it's a private property issue. It's really you maintaining your trees on your property that you're responsible for," said McGallian.

Many local jurisdictions, he says, simply do not have the emergency funds to cover all the costs for homeowners who can't afford to trim trees.

Jana Katsuyama is a reporter for KTVU.  Email Jana at and follow her on Twitter @JanaKTVU or Facebook @NewsJana or