On June 25 at 4:30 at City Hall the View Restoration Committee will present their final draft to go to our City Council to become the new law for Laguna Beach. It will be a drastic change. What we have is good. Compare the two.
View Equity (what we have now) vs. View Restoration (the proposed law)
View Equity is two ordinances for hedges and vegetation including trees: no new city expense, no fee to the applicant or the property owner, Design Review handles complaints by applicants and neighbors can speak at the hearing about the impact on the neighborhood.
Trees are not less important than blue water. A balance is the heart of the ordinance because trees create an aesthetic environment. Tall trees are not expected to be cut to the level of the property owner’s roof line.
The city letter at the end of mediation states what is fair.
The proposed View Restoration: New costs estimated to be $400,000 a year for two new full-time city employees plus office space, a $5,000 applicant fee to start the process, a View Restoration committee appointed by the City Council to mediate concerned properties.
The applicant may be far away from the property owner (distance to be determined but is currently 1,000 feet). Only the applicant and the property owner are considered in the decision.
View equity is not considered. The criterion is that all trees in the applicant’s view are to be topped or removed. View without obstruction is the rule of law.
The impact on the neighborhood is not considered and the neighbors cannot participate in the mediation or hearing.
If the property owner is required to top or cut down his trees, and if he refuses or can’t afford to comply in 90 days, the city will cut the trees and will put a lien on the property for the cost.
The applicant pays only for the first trimming and has the right to activate city cutting as soon as the vegetation goes over the trimmed level determined by the city. This could be thousands of dollars annually. The property owner no longer has say over the vegetation on his property, but must pay for the trimming whenever the applicant requests.
Conceivably, all trees over roof top level will be eliminated in Laguna Beach.
Marni Magda, Laguna Beach