Public Should Vote on View Ordinance


Last Tuesday’s special City Council meeting on a view restoration and preservation ordinance puts all of Laguna Beach down a very slippery slope (even literally if too many trees are sacrificed) and is our Council’s newest boondoggle.

It is unclear whether we will have any further input on this expensive, fiscally unsound, litigious ordinance before they actually thrust a “one year [irreversible] trial” on us.  City Council has disbanded the view ordinance committee, and now it is “in their hands”. Our Council wants to enact it themselves not by city vote. Palos Verdes, the supposed “bullet-proof” model for our ordinance, gave their residents the courtesy of a ballot vote.  Do we deserve anything less?  Let Laguna vote!

The newest ordinance iteration is a mishmash of the Dec. 3 view ordinance draft and the old hedge ordinance, putting virtually any tree or clump of vegetation over 6 feet and within 500 feet of someone else’s yard in jeopardy of attack via both the hedge ordinance and view preservation ordinance. Palos Verdes has 16’ or roofline as tree height, not 6’.  I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to live in Munchkin land.

The Palos Verdes’ model of a five-person council of tree and geology specialists determining vegetation view blockages has eroded into the addition of three new in-house staff at a total annual cost of $300,400.  Conversely, only $48,000. is allocated for contract mediator services (40 claims/year) and $16,200 for a contract arborist (30 claims/year).

Palos Verdes contracted a full-time professional mediator (annually) and credit her with almost 90% of their resolutions.  That is the best “bang for our buck.  Better yet, let’s just try a contracted mediator with our current hedge ordinance for a year and see how many people can be satisfied at $693/year, rather than $6000.  Let’s put enough resources behind a current ordinance to actually support it.  We have too many ordinances that are virtually unenforceable already.

Everyone, please call, e-mail, twitter whistle to all of our City Council members and tell them that we will not accept yet another fiscal and legal nightmare. Let Laguna vote on a view ordinance.  Nothing less will do.

Joanne Sutch, Laguna Beach

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