While I sympathize with people who have lost views, and I applaud Councilman Kelly Boyd for initiating the effort to try to help, and the View Preservation Committee has worked long and hard to come up with as fair and as workable an ordinance as they could, never-the-less there are still a number of questions about whether any view ordinance is the appropriate way to address the issue of loss of views. View Committee Chairman Larry Nokes did his best to set reasonable expectations when he explained repeatedly that there is no intrinsic right to a view under the law. Therefore, the strategy has been to see if the police powers of the government can be stretched to accomplish the same end.
1. Property Right Transfer: The process being proposed is for the benefit of one specific property owner at the expense of another specific property owner. It is a forced transfer of property rights from one owner to another. This is different than a “taking” because a “taking” has to be for the benefit of the public. This is not. It is only for the benefit of one specific party.
2. Council discussions regarding South Laguna Heritage Trees concluded that the city did not have the authority to tell a property owner what he can or cannot do with a tree on his property. The ordinance takes the exact opposite position and says the city does have the authority to tell a property owner what he can and cannot do with vegetation on his property. Seems inconsistent.
3. Appointed administrators will be inherently biased: An enforcement committee appointed by a council that passes the ordinance will reflect the bias of the majority who passed it and will likely be biased in favor of views unless the enforcers run for popular election, or are chosen randomly.
4. Potential Loss of Economic Value to the Community: If the ordinance results in massive elimination of vegetation citywide it is likely that the loss of character to the city as a whole may cause a loss of overall economic value to all property owners in the city that could outweigh the individual gains. It’s a transfer of value from many to a few. Robin Hood in reverse.
5. Under the notice provision of a View Restoration Claim, only the claimant and vegetation owner are noticed. Shouldn’t other impacted property owners be noticed and heard?
John Thomas, Laguna Beach