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View ordinance revision almost done

March 27, 2014|By Bryce Alderton

The city's 14-month journey to a revamped view ordinance is nearly complete.

View Equity Committee members hope only a few tweaks are needed before the proposal returns to the City Council for a vote.

Residents filled City Hall on Tuesday night to provide input on the latest rendition, which aims to clarify the conditions under which residents can fight the save their property's views. It would give property owners a legal means to preserve existing views or restore a view that has been marred since the property was purchased.

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Responsibility rests with property owners to take photos of their view, should they need to file a future claim.

The View Equity Committee, a council-appointed group formed at the behest of Councilman Kelly Boyd, considered information received at eight public meetings, visits to homes with affected views and cities with existing view ordinances, such as Rancho Palos Verdes, in developing changes to the ordinance.

"People don't have a remedy now," committee Chairman Larry Nokes said. "I want everyone to know I think we have the making of a very good remedy, something that is enforceable."

The current ordinance depends on voluntary cooperation without city involvement in enforcement and doesn't require the vegetation owner to participate in mediation.

It also does not allow residents who purchased property before Nov. 4, 2003, the date the ordinance went into effect, to claim that their views are protected.

The committee, which includes Planning Commission and Design Review Board members and two landscape architects, proposed removing that limitation and basing the legal rights only on the date of purchase of the property.

Under the proposed ordinance, residents may file a claim for vegetation that is 6 feet or higher and located within 500 feet of the claimant's property line. Property owners cannot file a claim for city-maintained vegetation or heritage trees.

Resident Ron Wisecup, who lives near the Montage Laguna Beach, said city vegetation should be fair game.

"It's a conflict of interest. The City Council is trying to pass a view ordinance, and my most offending neighbor is the city," Wisecup said. "I hope we can get an ordinance for city trees."

At the last view ordinance meeting in December, some Lagunans argued that they should have the right to protect multple views from a single piece of property. So the committee also worked that allowance into the proposed ordinance.

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