Not since the 36-foot height limit was challenged years ago has such a sweeping change to the nature of Laguna Beach been about to become law.
Under the current draft of the tree ordinance on the city site as of May 21, anyone can ask for trees to be removed that block their ocean view as far as three and a third football fields away.
As I stood in South Laguna today half way up the hill, I could have demanded 36 trees chopped to the eight-foot limit. One application fee and one mediator picked by the city, and I could go after all the trees from my friend’s deck to the ocean under this new law. I would pay nothing and anyone not complying could have a lien put on their house to pay the bill.
This law is favoring a blue view over a green one. It favors up hill houses over downhill.
Old growth trees have roots that protect us during rain storms, preserving ground water. This is important in a hillside community where mudslides have destroyed property. Trees create better air for us to breathe. They create shade so energy is not needed to run air conditioning. They create a sense of peace.
We are about to become Cameo Shores, denuded in a Stepford controlled tree environment so that people on the hill can sit in their home and look at a blue ocean they can’t hear or smell or feel. A 20 minute walk gets anyone in Laguna to the sand with a completely unobstructed view.
Under the new law the city will tell me what kind of tree I’m allowed to plant in my own yard. They will tell me who can cut it. And how often it must be cut. Any up hill neighbor with a gripe over three football fields away can activate that process.
Picture that distance. No tree is safe. You say we won’t be that unreasonable. I say, “but the law will demand that the city enforce it.”
Maybe you have a tree 10 feet away you would like trimmed in your neighbor’s yard. The current law makes you pay half the price of the trimming. It lets a team of design review board members look at the property and weigh the tree advantages and a shared view of trees and ocean. It is enough.
If you care, it is time to get involved. E-mail Bob Whalen, one of our newest city council members, simply say, “Save Our Trees. Stop this ordinance.” email@example.com
Let the 100 highly organized anti-tree group know we hope they move to Newport or Huntington where trees aren’t there to offend them.
Marni Magda, Laguna Beach