Kenneth C. Haase will have to pay $5,000 plus administrative
costs, which could tack on another $2,000, to get his Laguna Beach
home out of hock.
The overgrown landscaping on the property at 680 Catalina St. was
cleared recently by court order.
“I am outraged by this,” Haase said Wednesday.
Haase has the option of reimbursing the city for the cost of the
contracted cleanup and associated costs, such as attorney’s fees, or
having the bill put onto his property taxes next year as a lien.
Unpaid taxes could result in the sale of the property by the county.
City officials said they went to court only after trying for years
to get Haase to voluntarily clean up the property, which he rents
“We would never have gotten the court order unless the judge
though we had made a reasonable effort to contact the property
owner,” City Manager Kenneth Frank said.
City officials said Haase had never responded to any of their
attempts to notify him.
“Why would I respond? I heard nothing from them,” Hasse said.
“They told me all their letters were returned marked ‘refused.’ I
don’t know how that could be since the letters were sent to a post
Haase is currently listed in the La Canada telephone directory.
Frank said the city notified Haase by regular and certified mail
and even hired a process server to stake out his La Canada home. The
city also sent notification to the post office box that tenants of
the Catalina Street house told city officials was where they mailed
their rent check.
Complaints about the Catalina Street property were first filed
with the city April 19,1999.
The next steps are the same used annually for weed abatement.
“The city notifies the property owners of the violations and gives
them an opportunity to protest and have a public hearing,” Frank
said. “If they don’t protest or clean up the property, we go in and
do the weed abatement.”
Notification of intent to go to court usually gets the attention
of property owners, according to Frank. But not always.
Backed by a court order, the city hired a contractor to clean up
the overgrown landscaping on the Haase property.
“It wasn’t a question of electrical or plumbing violations,” Frank
said. “It was just a fire hazard and an eyesore.”
A crew lopped off roof-high hedges and stripped the trunks down to
logs. Dead trees and debris were hauled away.
“This action sends a message to residents -- no more Mr. Nice
Guy,” Mayor Wayne Baglin said. “If you don’t clean up your property,
we will get a nuisance abatement warrant, clean up the property and
bill you for it.”
“I don’t know what my next step is,” Haase said. “I am just
dumbfounded by this.”
-- Barbara Diamond
Commission decides to let residents leave hedges be
At its Sept. 11 meeting the Planning Commission chopped down a
proposal that would have regulated hedges as a fence or wall.
Commissioners unanimously voted to recommend that the city not adopt
the controversial ordinance.
“The language to separate hedges from other vegetation was very
cumbersome,” said Kimberly Stuart, chair of the commission. “The
ordinance was well-crafted but we didn’t see it as something that
would be successful in accomplishing the goals of the council for
view and privacy issues.”
Moreover, the legal definition of a hedge added to the ambiguity
of the issue because of its changing nature.
“It’s a growing thing, so when it’s first planted it may not meet
the definition of a hedge,” Stuart said. “But when it grows and you
can’t walk through it, it suddenly becomes a hedge.”
Stuart also pointed out that there are ideal examples of hedges in
the community that create color while acting as effective sound and
privacy buffers. But in cases when residents plant vegetation to
spite their neighbors, the commission felt that Design Review should
be the city’s review and enforcement entity.
Their recommendation will go before the council next month.
-- Mary A. Castillo
Reassessment shouldn’t effect Laguna
A state reassessment of marine protected areas is unlikely to have
much effect on Laguna Beach coastal waters, the city’s marine safety
“I don’t think we will see much change in the status quo in the
protected areas,” Chief Mark Klosterman told the City Council
“That is the feeling that I get from the Fish and Game
[Department] people I deal with,” he said.
Currently, all of Laguna Beach is designated by the city as a
refuge, with a single ecological reserve designated in Heisler Park.
The California Department of Fish and Game administers the
California Marine Life Protection Act, which mandated protected areas
now being reassessed statewide. The protection act established three
primary levels of marine protection:
* Marine Reserves, which allow “no-take” zones, comparable to
Laguna’s Glenn E. Veder Ecological Reserve at Heisler Park;
* Marine Parks, which allows recreational, but no commercial
* Marine Conservation Areas, which may prohibit fishing for
specific species, similar to the restrictions at Laguna Marine Life
“The goal is to protect biodiversity and the integrity of marine
ecosystems,” said Rick Wilson, chair of the Laguna Beach chapter of
the Surfrider Foundation.
If the working group’s draft map is finally approved, the
ecological reserve in Laguna Beach would be eliminated. The map, as
presently configured, creates marine reserves at Crystal Cove and
Dana Point. Everything between would be designated a conservation
“The working group is reviewing the map and will make
recommendations,” Wilson said. “My recommendation is that there
should be a marine reserve from Crystal Cove through Laguna Beach to
Wilson doesn’t expect his recommendation to be popular among
fishers, but it would simplify enforcement.
Mayor Wayne Baglin asked city staff to organize a position paper
to be forwarded to Sacramento.
“I would not like to see us at the tail of this operation,” Baglin
said. “I would like to see us take a position out in front of the
-- Barbara Diamond
Heritage trees in the city’s hands
The city concluded a 13-year debate Tuesday on the issue of
maintaining trees in the public right-of-way in South Laguna.
The City Council had decided at last week’s meeting that the city
will be responsible for protecting and maintaining heritage trees in
“We lost a few of them,” said Ann Christoph, the leader in the
fight to preserve the heritage trees. “I’m happy that its resolved.”
“People would call me and tell me that the city told them to take
care of the trees themselves,” Christophsaid. As a result, some of
the trees that had been protected by the county were chopped down.
Now that the council has clarified the city’s responsibilities,
staff is gathering names and addresses of homeowners, who will be
notified that the city will take over adjacent trees, city manager
Ken Frank said.
The letter will also inform residents that there will be a public
meeting where they can bring questions and concerns to staff.
At its budget meeting on June 25, the council allocated $25,000
from increased parking meter revenues to maintain trees. Frank
estimates that trimming costs will fall between $20,000 and $24,000.
Residents who wish to trim or chop down a heritage tree adjacent
to their property need a permit from the city.
-- Mary A. Castillo
Annual coastal cleanup is here
The California Coastal Commission (CCC) and Clean Water Now!
Coalition will sponsor the 18th annual California Coastal Cleanup Day
from 9 a.m. to noon on Sept. 21. There will also be an Enviro Faire
that offers interactive demonstrations and information for adults and
children at Main Beach.
“The Clean-up lends itself to a wider public awareness and
educational element via empowerment of environmental advocates,” said
Roger von Butow, founder of Clean Water Now! and Main Beach captain.
Clean Water Now! was designated by the commission as an “Adopted
Parent” for the quarterly “Adopt-A-Beach” cleanups in Laguna Beach.
Clean-up volunteers can pick up supplies and sign the required
waiver forms at Main Beach before heading to one of the four sites:
Main Beach, Crescent Beach, Oak Street Beach or Treasure Island.
For more information and to contribute donations please call Clean
Water Now! at (949) 497-4816.
-- Mary A. Castillo
Don’t miss the boat on the Tall Ships
The Tall Ships are scheduled to be gathered off the coast of
Laguna Beach at 5 p.m. today. They will be just north of Aliso Creek
Beach (where the pier used to be). They will stop at that location
before moving on to Dana Point.