Skeptical About View Committee’s Make-up



Several years ago, Buena Park’s City Council decided to remove  a whole street of beautiful old jacranda trees because  their  roots  were  affecting  the sidewalk.

I  remember  thinking,  “Thank  God  I  don’t  live  in  a  city  where  they  would  cut  down  old trees  to  maintain  flat  sidewalks.”  Little did  I  know  that  I  did  live  in  such  a  city.

Now  we  have  a  new  city  committee,  the  View  Ordinance  Committee,  that  seems  hell-bent  on giving  any  homeowner  the  “right”  to  an  unobstructed  ocean  view  as  they  define  it,  jeopardizing trees  throughout  the  city  on  private  property  or  public  (think  Heisler  Park)  even going  back  to before  the  current  owner  bought  the  property  and  extending  as  far  as  their  eye  can see.

This committee  is  being  bird-dogged  by  a  self-made  “view  preservation”  group. They have their advocates on the appointed city committee. Chris Toy, for one, insists, “It is undeniable that there is a hierarchy of view over trees. If you put  more  restrictions  in  the  ordinance  (about  saving  vegetation)  you  take  away the power  of  the  city  to  restore  views.”  When did  the  city  get  into  the  business  of  “restoring  views”?

There’s a  reason  no  other  coastal  city  in  Orange  County,  including  Newport  Beach,  offers residents  such  “view  protection”  and  that  is  lawsuits.  This  committee  had  to  go  all the way  to Rancho  Palos  Verdes  to  find  another  community  with  a  View  Protection  Ordinance,  and  even that  doesn’t  seem  to  provide  enough  “protection”  to  these  committee  members since  it  limits jurisdiction  to  1,000  feet  of  the  residence.  Many want there to be no limit at all.  And no date in the past that constitutes the “view” that was “lost”.

When  did  we  decide  that  an  individual homeowner  had  a  guaranteed  “right”  to  an  unobstructed  view? And since when are important city committee members handpicked by the mayor without having to go through any application process or produce any qualifications other than their antipathy for trees?

Anyone who speaks on behalf of the value of trees is openly mocked or ridiculed. This is a real failing of committee chair Larry Nokes. If people cannot express an opinion at a public meeting without intimidation or harassment, it’s no wonder the committee is only hearing from one side of the issue. The entire make-up and mandate of this committee is suspect.

The City Council, not just the mayor, needs to look closely at the makeup and presumed purpose of this important city committee before it’s foregone conclusions become the law.


Anne Cox, Laguna Beach

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