By Roseanne Tellez

CHICAGO (CBS) — There’s a tree trimming blitz underway, and it has nothing to do with Christmas.

It’s the city’s response to a huge backlog of requests for dead and dangerous tree limbs to be cut down. As CBS 2’s Roseanne Tellez reports, you won’t believe the wait times.

They hang perilously close to power lines — some dangling over parked cars. We’re talking about dead branches of trees on the public way, whether on parkways or in alleys.

It’s the city’s job to trim these branches. But call today, and the average wait is 18 months.

“I’m disappointed as to the speed with which tree-trimming is taking place in the city Chicago, at least in my ward,” 26th Ward Ald. Roberto Maldonado says.

Sean King, an expert arborist, says trimming is critical.

“It doesn’t take much for a branch to fall on somebody or a car. And it doesn’t take much to do a lot of damage, bring your wires down,” he says.

Maldonado doesn’t blame the City Streets and Sanitation Department, which has been faced with huge cutbacks.

“They’re doing miracles with the severe reduction in staff that they have experienced,” he says.

Streets and San officials say many crews have been diverted from routine trimming to tackle emergencies — some 18,758 of them this year, following violent storms. On July 11 alone, there were 6,386 reports of damaged or downed trees.

With no funds for that prevention, the city is trying a new approach to catching up: a tree-trimming blitz.

City crews blanket a neighborhood and try to cover as many emergency trims as possible. This is round three of the blitz effort, and Maldonado’s 26th Ward gets it turn Friday. He says it helps but it’s no solution.

Under the blitz effort, the city has trimmed more than 3,365 trees.

Meanwhile, Chicagoans who thinks a tree in their neighborhood should be trimmed should call 3-1-1, to get on the waiting list.

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