Re: “Closing in on New View Rules,” April 19 edition.
Please: Establish a hierarchy of priorities wherein views are at the top, and trees are nice but definitely less important.
Establish an ordinance that is challenge-proof, has teeth, is fair and especially, is enforceable.
If there is to be some concession granted for preserving a few select historic or landmark trees, make the owner carry the burden of defending the tree as a historical landmark.
Establish a means of measuring the highest allowable tree on a given property, such as 1.5 times the height of the roof line or no taller than the chimney.
Going forward, it should be as difficult for a tree owner to exceed the established limit as it is for a property owner to get a permit to raise the height of his home or office. If the property is unimproved then I would suggest a flat figure, say 10 feet.
Employ both the carrot and the stick. If the tree owners acquiesce to trimming or removing offending trees without the hearing process, help them out. Give them the city-contracted rate on tree trimming or removal. Give them new baby trees to plant in place of removed trees. Set up a firewood-buying coop that will pay homeowners for cut trees and logs. If, on the other hand, the tree owners insist on fighting and losing a battle for a tree that is found to clearly and substantially block one or more views, then I think that property owner should be fined a sum in addition to paying for the city mediation and the ensuing trimming or removal.
Please don’t: Limit the city’s jurisdiction to only protect a property owner’s primary view. All views are precious and no tree-owner should be allowed to ignore their obligation to maintain foliage.
Don’t treat publically owned trees or foliage differently.
Don’t try to establish a view baseline predicated on how long the current owner has owned the home. All that does is reward the lazy and negligent tree owners that have been allowed to get away with impacting their neighbors’ views for decades.
Don’t charge the applicant for any of the cost to trim or remove the offending trees. Whatever fees the committee feels it should charge to resolve these disputes, those costs should be assigned to the losing party. That way both parties will realize they are gambling on paying the full cost of appeal and tree removal.
Greg Gilroy, Laguna Beach