SCOTTSDALE, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) - A couple in Scottsdale can’t get over the unsightly tree stump left in their backyard.

"I don't know how long palm trees take to grow, but that thing had to be out here for years," Blake Yennie and his fiancé, Lauren Padilla, loved the palm tree that used to stand in their backyard.

WATCH VIDEO: Palm tree removed is missed by homeowners

But to understand why they're upset over a stump, you have to go back 5 months ago when they initially bought their Scottsdale home.

“My fiancé really wanted a palm tree as part of our house selection," Padilla said. In fact, the palm tree in the couple's back yard is one of the reasons they bought the home. "Yeah, me and my realtor were walking around and we looked up and said ‘Wow, that's a very nice palm tree.’"


So, exactly what happened to that very nice palm tree? Well, pictures pretty much tell the story. Padilla says she took cell phone pics of workers from SRP in her backyard.

Padilla claims they had jumped into her backyard without permission and started trimming the palm tree. Within minutes, the workers went ahead and just lopped off the entire top of the tree, leaving the 30 foot skinny trunk standing.

Padilla, who was the only one home at the time says she was mortified. "So, you're inside your house and you have guys that jumped over your wall and into your backyard?” 3 On Your Side’s Gary Harper asked. "Yes,” she replied “And, they're cutting your tree down?” he asked. “Yes. With no warning. No warning!” she said. “Not even a door bell ring."

An SRP employee at the scene told Padilla that the tree was too close to their power lines, essentially giving them the right to trim the tree for safety reasons. At this point, Padilla started recording her conversation with her cell phone. "So, the whole tree has to come down and not just the branches?" she asked in disbelief. "Look, the palm tree is dead now. We've already cut the head off on top of it," the employee told her.

And with that, SRP went ahead and cut down the entire palm tree leaving that stump for the couple to remember the event. "I know if I had jumped someone's wall and cut their tree down, I'd be held responsible for that," Yennie said.

SRP told them that it had sent several warnings to their home last year indicating the tree needed to be trimmed because it was too close to power lines. But those warnings apparently went to the home's old owner, who never passed on that information to them when they bought the home just 5 months ago.

"We had no warning,” Padilla reiterated. “Our first contact (from SRP) was the tree coming down that day. That was our very first contact."

In an attempt pacify the couple, SRP offered them 2 five gallon bucket trees to plant themselves, along with a $500 credit to their electric bill.

So the couple contacted 3 On Your Side and we got a hold of SRP which maintains it did nothing wrong. In an email, an SRP spokesperson told us, "It’s unfortunate timing that the property changed ownership without our knowledge..."

As for entering the couple's backyard without reportedly asking, the spokesperson denied it, "The crew asked for permission to enter the yard." But Padilla says that's not true.

Regardless, after 3 On Your Side's involvement, the couple says SRP told them it would resolve the issue by issuing them a check for $3,900 for the misunderstanding and give them a $500 credit on their electric bill. In addition, the couple says SRP will also pay to have the stump removed.

Padilla and Yennie say they'll accept the offer. It’s an offer that they say only happened after 3 On Your Side got involved. "It just makes me wonder if this happens elsewhere,” Blake said.

SRP released the following statement to Arizona's Family: 

The job was permitted last July at which time crews left a door hanger with information about the removal. SRP called and left a message with the homeowner in September and left a second door hanger in February. It’s unfortunate timing that the property changed ownership without our knowledge, and that the previous owner didn’t disclose the tree encroachment issue to the new owners.

The SRP contractor’s opinion notwithstanding, a Utility Forester and Certified Arborist had earlier determined that the tree needed to be removed to ensure safety and reliability. Because the tree was within three feet of a primary power line, it represented a fire hazard to the residents of house and jeopardized the reliability of our system for other customers in the neighborhood.

Regarding entry to the customers’ back yard, the contractors were stationed in the alley when the homeowner came outside and spoke to them. The crew asked for permission to enter the yard to move a glass table, and she gave them permission. At this point, the worker entered the yard over the block wall from the alley.

We were surprised to hear the customer didn’t let you know about SRP’s full offer.  Blake reached out to SRP’s Consumer Affairs office after the incident and an Ombudsman was actively working with the couple to resolve the issue.  A reasonable monetary offer to facilitate their planting a mature tree in their yard away from the power line was made a little over a week ago.  Blake seemed to be in favor of the offer and was checking with his fiancé.  The Ombudsman was confirming the offer within SRP, finalizing details and planned to contact Blake again this week.

SRP’s Vegetation Management team works year round to clear overhead power lines from customers’ encroaching vegetation over an area covering approximately 13,000 line miles. The department is responsible to ensure customer safety and reliable power for our more than 1 million customers while reducing any risk of fires caused by direct contact from vegetation with the overhead power lines.

While SRP can prune most trees to keep growth away from power lines, pruning is not possible with palms once they are within 10 feet of high-voltage lines. Unlike other trees, palms have a single growing point. Pruning too close to the single growing point or the heart of the palm can kill the palm. Therefore, when palm trees grow too close to high-voltage lines, SRP will remove them altogether.


Gary Harper's 3 On Your Side reports air weeknights on 3TV News at 9.


Copyright 2019 KPHO/KTVK (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.



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(18) comments


If SRP is willing to cut down palm trees, I have three you can take out and I'll thank you, not look for money. Palm trees are nothing but a pain in the a$$.


So did Abraham Lincoln[tongue]


You might want to rethink that.

JF Conlon

APS doesn't just cut down palm trees; they also cut down saguaros.. Some in Sun City (the rural area) and more in Maricopa Cty. (Gloop - thanks for mentioning the Kofa palms!)


They got $3900 and a $500 credit because SRP cut down that useless tree? I believe that utilities have the right to cut a tree if it poses a hazard. I do believe that SRP should have knocked on the door before removing the tree, however. $3900 is more money than these people will ever see in their lives. The article says Scottsdale, but this home is NOT in the area that people think of when they hear the name "Scottsdale". These lucky people should count their $$, and move on.


They have the right to trim branches that pose a problem. The tree wasn't theirs to kill though. So they paid for it. That seems fair. Maybe these folks will plant a new tree. Maybe not. They have to be trimmed or the make a mess. Pigeons like to nest in them.


You're happy now that you got a #3900 check huh? This had nothing to do with love. It had everything to do with scamming SRP. You're pathetic if you're in love with a tree.


Good thing one of them was home.


Typical behavior of an arrogant spokesman who claims they did nothing wrong when they did. Why do monopolies have so much power anyway? Any other person or company would be facing criminal charges.


And you know this snottsdale scum are telling the truth? Of course not. Your addled brain is becoming pickled in Sun City.

Agustus Gloop

And you know this Scottsdale couple are telling a lie? Of course not. Your crystal ball is clouding up.


This is SRP, they are required to have power.


Who cares? Palm trees are ugly and should all be cut down. I mean they're a stupid looking and pointless tree; a telephone pole that provides no shade and has a scraggly bush on top of it. They're not even native to Arizona; a developer trying to entice people to move to Arizona came up with idea of importing palm trees here and using them in out of state marketing pictures. It worked, people bought the bait and telephone poles with a scraggly bush on top have been here ever since. Cut them down, all of them.


Palm trees are just lowlife Westsiders right Daddy.


Lol Thrill! What's up little buddy? I didn't remember who you were at first. I remember you now, you're that clown that I kept calling a coward. You were saying that I blamed women for men going to jail and prison. You must've gotten really mad at me to still be lingering around my comments after all this time. That's hillarious. Remember you were saying you didn't know how to reply to my comment because it only showed a "report" button and no "reply" button? You work in IT and you couldn't figure out how to get around that situation? Ha smh. Anyway, that's funny, I forgot about you and I remembered a few moments ago who you are. Wow, too bad you're such an angry guy, it probably has a lot of negative effects in your life. If I hurt your feelings it wasn't intended...I just didn't know you were so sensitive.

Agustus Gloop

Hey Daddy!!!!
I'm all in with you, one hundred percent. Give me your address and I'll come pick you up. We'll head down to the west side of AZ and start with those native palms in Palm Canyon, located in Kofa National Wildlife Refuge. I already starting writing the song we'll be singing, on our road trip: "Stand up next to a native palm and chop it down with the back of my hand.....ooooh....ohhhh....cause I'm a....." Need help with that last part.


Agust - You need a lot more help than figuring out lyrics to a song. lordy, lordy, lordy, you are one troubled individual. And yes, I picked up on what you were saying, (like I said, you're too obvious) Dig a little further into the research and you'll find that they are not native to AZ, though many people think they are.

Agustus Gloop

Hey Daddy!!!!
I'm not going to squabble over native V non native with you, our relationship means too much to me. Fighting and bickering over some palm trees would just build a wall between us. "Lordy, lordy lordy" won't work for the missing lyrics. How about "stand up next to a non native palm and chop it down with the back of my hand...ohhhhh...ooooh....cause I'm a Daddy's Boy, Daddy's Boy."

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