We love trees as much as the next guy, but this beast must go. It's unhealthy, structurally unsafe, and within about 15 feet of our back door. Unfortunately this isn't Alabama, so you don't just call your neighbor and his cousin to cut a tree down. The process around these parts goes as follows:
1) Call the city arborist and ask for a preliminary evaluation to see if there's any chance you'll be permitted to take down the tree. If he says there is indeed a chance, proceed to step 2.
2) Call an independent arborist. Pay him to look at the tree and fill out an official arborist report.
3) Fill out an application for tree removal. Attach the arborist report and a check for the application fee and submit it in person to the city.
4) Wait a week or two until the city arborist comes for the official evaluation. Use Southern charm and cross your fingers he's still open to approving removal. If he does approve it, proceed to step 5.
5) Wait two weeks while every neighbor who lives within 100 feet of the tree has an opportunity to appeal the approval to the city.
6) While waiting, get bids from four tree removal companies. Choose the one who has insurance and also, as a bonus, returns your phone calls.
7) Receive final approval.
8) Have tree removed.
9) Enjoy your less hazardous yard, which just cost you more than you paid for an entire year of college tuition.
We're at step 6. Stay tuned!