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Debate over view ordinance heats up

May 16, 2013|By Barbara Diamond

Views should take precedence over vegetation, even heritage trees, regardless of when or where the vegetation was planted, according to many participants at subcommittee meetings to develop a revised view ordinance.

A mayor's subcommittee is working on the revisions. An update will be presented to the City Council on Tuesday, after which more revisions will be made before the next committee meeting June 28.

Suggestions of view equity were met with disdain from members of the audience, many of whom had lost cherished views over the years or had neighbors who refused to even listen to requests to lace, or prune, trees.

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"Vegetation and views are not economic equals," Marianne Blum said.

Homes with views cost more, but there will be a cost to process view-obstruction claims. City Manager John Pietig's draft budget, to be reviewed at 3 p.m. Tuesday, states that the preservation program could cost more than $300,000 a year.

"In the old days, we would have just put a bullet in the tree and the trees died," Robert Ross said.

Village Laguna President Ginger Osborne received a hostile reaction from the audience after recommending that applicants who want vegetation removed should pay the costs.

South Laguna resident Richard Picheny asked whether the environmental effect of chopping down air-cleansing trees was considered and was met with derision.

"We don't need trees; we have ocean breezes," said Cliff Drive resident Sandra Desmond.

The committee is listening to all sides but is determined to find a reasonable remedy for the unjust loss of views, according to committee Chair Larry Nokes.

"That is the sweet spot we are trying to find," Nokes said.

"We want to come up with an enforceable ordinance, nothing Draconian or that will change the character of the city [but] something to regulate tress and views in responsible ways."

He cautioned that the work on the ordinance is not done.

Citizens for View Preservation and Restoration argued the ordinance is overdone.

Group member Dave Connell pronounced the latest draft ordinance too complex, with too many steps and too much city involvement.

"Simple and straightforward will negate the need for a lot of equivocal wording," Connell said. "A blocked view is a blocked view."

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