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Court order OK’d cleanup of Catalina Street property

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

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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

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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

out.

“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.

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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

office box.”

Haase is currently listed in the La Canada telephone directory.

Frank said the city notified Haase by regular and certified mail

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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

chief said.

“I don’t think we will see much change in the status quo in the

protected areas,” Chief Mark Klosterman told the City Council

Tuesday.

“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

fishing; and

* Marine Conservation Areas, which may prohibit fishing for

specific species, similar to the restrictions at Laguna Marine Life

Refuge.

“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

area.

“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

Dana Point.”

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

process.”

-- 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

the right-of-way.

“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.


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