Upper Kirby’s Latest Streetside Oak Massacre: The Story Behind the Takedown of 26 Trees


XO Communications Building, 2401 Portsmouth St., Upper Kirby, Houston

XO Communications Building, 2401 Portsmouth St., Upper Kirby, HoustonA grand total of 26 trees (some of them shown in the top photo of the above before-and-after sequence) surrounding 4 sides of the XO Communications building at 2401 Portsmouth St. just west of Kirby Dr. were felled over the weekend. That’s more than 4 times the number of trees turned to mulch in the overnight removal of street trees surrounding the Kirby Dr. Wendy’s just a few weeks earlier. Does the axing of the XO trees along Portsmouth, Park, Revere, and Norfolk streets in Upper Kirby count as another illegal tree massacre?


XO Communications Building, 2401 Portsmouth St., Upper Kirby, HoustonCity officials say all of the trees removed surrounding the office building were on private property, and that the building’s owner had a valid permit for their removal. As part of foundation repair work on the building — and to prevent further problems — the building’s owner is planning to have a retaining wall and moisture retention system installed. Their installation will require excavation into areas occupied by the root zones of all of those trees. A consultant from tree service company Davey determined that the trees would not survive the excavation; a city inspector who reviewed those plans agreed with the finding.


City rules will require the property owner to plant new trees measuring (in total) at least 110.5 inches in diameter — to match the equivalent measurement totals of only the largest trees removed (there were 6 of them). Plans submitted with the permit indicate a total of 45 trees will be planted after the repair work is completed, adding up to 112.5 inches. Because the building is not considered new construction, the owner isn’t required to abide by the city’s approved list of tree species; according to a city official, redbuds, pines and Japanese blueberry trees will be replacing the oaks.

XO Communications Building, 2401 Portsmouth St., Upper Kirby, Houston

Photos: LoopNet (before); Swamplot inbox (all others)

Goodbye Oaks, Hello Japanese Blueberries?

17 Comment

  • Green space is always refuge of prostitution and drug dealers. Prostitutes and Drug Dealers will often flock to greenery to perform their business transactions. Cutting down the trees, shutting down parks, and eliminating green space should be a component of the war on drugs. I support this massacre.

  • I stage dived at an Illegal Tree Massacre show when I was in college.

  • I can report another case in which trees along a curb were removed in preparation for new construction. Google Earth will show that on Driscoll, between West Main and Colquitt (but also including stretches of West Main and Colquitt), more than a dozen mature oaks were cleared away for townhouses that are now under construction. This occurred between late 2013 and early 2014. At the time I witnessed this, I assumed that it was legal. Now I’m not so sure.

    If this sort of thing is illegal, I’d like to ask swamplot readers where I can report it so that charges can be brought against the offenders.

    If it’s not illegal, it should be. How can we work to stop this?

  • @NotCommonsense
    I read your post thinking it was the real troll writing it and I came away not being too surprised with the content. Good impersonation.

  • While I actually enjoy the comments of commonsense (and even agree with many), I’m pretty impressed with the quality of the spoof account. Maybe I dont “lol” each time but I do at least smile.
    Commonsense should see it as a badge of honor to have someone that cares enough to take the time to do those posts. Regardless of their nature.

  • @NotCommonsense

    Need to force in some sort of non sequitur dig at hipsters in order to achieve 10 points from all judges.

  • Knee jerk reactions all around. Sometimes badly sited trees just have to go, sorry. But what’s this crap about an ‘approved list’ of species? Regardless of when the building was put up, it is private property, no?

  • And after reading the article, does it make anyone else quesy at how many rules, and the level of detail, regarding removing tress on your land? Government forms, permits, reviews, minimum diameter sizes based on various metrics, rules about what species are acceptable base on remodel vs new construction?
    I get it. Trees are good. I agree. But it seems there is a better way to assure we have green space without having some huge costly government apparatus to deal with? Personally I think if people value trees (as they should) then people would have a vested interest in keeping tress on/near their property. If removing tress is something that would decrease value, then I’d assume there is a reason to do so (such as damages to building, decreased visibility, etc) that exceeds the value they bring. And while I might get a benefit from a tree on someone else’s property (it’s pretty, shade, etc) I don’t know that I can force that person to keep it.

  • Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery :)

  • Commonsense getting a badge of honor, from me? I disagree. He’s nothing but an impersonating conformist metro train riding, hipster who probably was too young to vote in 2012 for Obama. If anything, I should be receiving the badge of honor for calling out the mainstream media on the internet every day!

  • Gigso,

    The approved list of trees is an attempt to use natives and/or non-invasive tree species.

    Some species of trees can have negative affects for the plant and animal life that live in the region (even in the city).

  • the one thing I don’t understand is if the trees are on private property why does this requirement still apply – “City rules will require the property owner to plant new trees measuring (in total) at least 110.5 inches in diameter — to match the equivalent measurement totals of only the largest trees removed”?
    are these specific requirements for pre-existing commercial properties based on a set date or something? just find it odd.

  • Common Sense was the name of rapper, Common. Then he lost his sense.

  • There are costs to removing trees (less shade, more greenhouse gases) that are external to the landowner who removes the trees (i.e. the rest of society pays those costs). Ergo, society via it’s representative government gets a say in removing and replacing those trees.

  • I can understand the need to repair the foundation, but they should re-think what trees they’re going to replace the oaks with. Putting in a bunch of glorified shrubs and pine trees is a huge downgrade to the pedestrian realm as they will provide few of the positives of larger deciduous shade tree.

  • Common tried his hand at acting too. He’s been “killed off” already but he had a stint on “Hell on Wheels”.

  • It should automatically be a misdemeanor to end the life of ANY live oak tree in Houston, Tx. With the exception of those that are diseased and dying, of course.