Why aren’t homeowners or their insurance company responsible for the damage caused by trees on their property and not another homeowner, or his insurance company, whose property is damaged by the tree? If the owner (whose property had the tree) was responsible, wouldn’t that encourage him to prune his tree, making it safer for neighbors, while cutting insurance payouts and costs taken on by utility companies or the city-parish?

For years Louisiana had a legal concept known as “strict liability” that made the owner of a tree responsible for the damage it may cause due to decay. About 10 years ago, the Legislature, at the urging of then-Gov. Mike Foster, changed the law to make the owner of a tree only liable for decay that he knew about or should have known about as is the status of the law in most states.

When will RiverPlace begin construction on the downtown tower? Or any of the river road towers planned for the Riverfront master plan?

Developer Richard Preis said there is no current start date for construction of RiverPlace, his long-planned project for Lafayette and Laurel streets in downtown Baton Rouge.

The project was first unveiled early last decade as a condominium development, and has since been reimagined as a hotel, though Preis has said for years that skyrocketing costs in the wake of Hurricane Katrina and then frozen credit markets from the financial crisis have wrought havoc on his ability to get a deal done.

Reached for comment recently, Preis said completing the deal for a Hampton Inn and Suites nearby has made the site more attractive. He said he is in talks with a couple of different potential users and that all options are on the table. The project remains, as it has from the beginning, a work in progress.

The only other major commercial development slated for downtown is developer Pete Clements’ RiverPark, though he has not publicly stated any timeline for the commercial components of the development to be located near Hollywood Casino.

While it accounts for private development, the Riverfront Master Plan deals with public spaces and “the flow of people in, through and around the downtown area to create connectivity,” said Davis Rhorer, executive director of the Downtown Development District.

“The plan identifies opportunities for open-space improvements which make private developments more valuable in a mutually reinforcing relationship,” he said, noting the North Boulevard Town Square is the first project to be implemented from the plan.