OOPS To D.C. Agency and SE Residents, Tree's Killing Is a Most Unkind Cut Developer Fined After Tall Old Oak Is Sheared in Half By Paul Schwartzman Washington Post Staff Writer Monday, October 22, 2007; Page B01 In the category of the egregious no-no, cutting down a single oak tree might not seem like a big deal. But in Washington, sometimes called the City of Trees, oaks, maples and their kin hold an almost exalted status. A worker on a Macy Development condominium project was supposed to saw off one limb of an oak but removed almost all of the branches. Certainly more exalted, at least for the moment, than Macy Development, which has acknowledged killing a 65-foot-tall oak on 15th Street SE this month. The penalty: a $15,000 fine, the largest the District has ever handed out for the killing of a tree on public property. "This is an offense that the District Department of Transportation takes very seriously," said Erik Linden, a spokesman for the agency, which issued the summons last week. The city's arborists, he said, described the tree as a "beautiful pin oak," with a 40-foot canopy. It was planted 50 to 60 years ago, and its sheared remains -- all of 35 feet -- stand outside the site where Macy is building a four-story condominium complex. A neighbor saw a construction worker cutting the tree's branches Oct. 8 and alerted the District. A Transportation Department arborist arrived soon after and found the worker turning the oak into something resembling a totem pole. "A pole with raw circles where the branches used to be," said Jim Myers, who moderates a neighborhood Internet site where residents have groused about the lost tree. "Condos vs. Trees" was the headline Myers chose for his comments. A $15,000 fine might seem sizable at first blush, but Myers considers it the equivalent of a "parking ticket" for a real estate developer. "Given the damage to the environment of the street and the character, $150,000 wouldn't be enough," he said.