Across the country, concerned citizens and civic officials are promoting the planting and preservation of trees. Recently, an obscure 44-year-old Huntington Beach ordinance--9771(b)--has been brought to light that threatens many of the trees in residential neighborhoods throughout our city.
Drive down any street and look at how many trees line our streets and yards. Look in your own yard. Many of the trees in Huntington Beach, and very likely your back yard, may be illegal according to this law. It states no “hedge” can be taller than six feet within five feet of your side yard and within 10 feet of your rear property lines.
You may say this does not affect you because “my trees are not a hedge.” According to Webster you would be right. But a recent amendment to the city’s ordinances has replaced Webster’s definition with Article 9080.65: “Hedge. A plant or series of plants, shrubs or other landscape material so arranged as to form a physical barrier or enclosure.” That’s right, as little as a single plant can be considered a “hedge” and ordered cut to six feet.
We now have a situation where many residents have a “chain saw” hanging over their heads just waiting to be turned loose on their trees and landscaping. There are many “concerned citizens” who are ready to use this law to get even, in disputes with tree owners. This law and city resources should not be used as tools of spite or vengeance.