I was very happy, as were countless other citizens, to hear that the City Council is taking action to simplify the hedge ordinance to reduce the complexity and high cost of filing a view obstruction claim.
Though enacting the hedge ordinance many years ago was a great step forward in protecting our precious view sheds, it was made so complex and costly that very few people who have lost their views actually use it. While doing this badly needed revision, we hope that the city will make it clear that whether the vegetation near the property line is one plant, or multiple plants that are being used to illegally increase the legal height of a fence, it is still a violation of the intent of ordinance.
It is recognized that the mere existence of the hedge ordinance has done some good, in that a few thoughtful people who, when made aware that their vegetation cannot exceed the legal height of a fence if it is obstructing public or private view sheds, voluntarily reduced that height. Unfortunately, there are too few people who are that considerate. Hence the need for a good, simple, effective and easily enforced ordinance.
Another piece of well-received good news is that the planning commission has received permission from the council to work on revising the entire ordinance. There is lots of room for improvement.
As soon as the City and planning commission complete revising the hedge ordinance, they should revise our awful view preservation ordinance, which is a 1,000 times more important, complex and costly than the hedge ordinance.
The best thing you can say about the existing view preservation ordinance is that is just a little better than no ordinance at all. It should be noted that many years ago concerned citizens prepared a really excellent, fair and effective view preservation ordinance that sadly was rejected by the city. However, it is still available to the city and citizens as a model ordinance to preserve and restore our vanishing, beautiful public and private view sheds.
Dave Connell, Laguna Beach