Hostility was in the air Tuesday when owners, neighbors and city
officials voiced various opinions about a construction project on
At a special public hearing, City Council members considered
whether to initiate revocation proceedings of the Design Review
approval for the project, which has had a stop work order on it.
Council members decided to lift the order while the property
owners agreed to replace three injured Eucalyptus trees.
Toni Iseman, Paul Freeman, Steve Dicterow and Cheryl Kinsman were
present. Mayor Wayne Baglin was absent.
Based on a recommendation from the city arborist, the city had
authorized the property owners, Bill and Claudia Hardy to remove two
damaged Red Gum Eucalyptus trees. However, when it was discovered
that a third tree had lost as much as 75% of its root system due to
excavation and grading work, the city placed a stop-work order on the
“We want the council to have the Design Review Board reopen the
approval of the design if we are to save any of the remaining grove,”
neighbor Sharon Risley said in a phone interview.
Risley claimed that the property owners did not hire an arborist
to monitor construction and that the project designer, Greg Abel
assured the city that the house would fit in and around the trees so
that none would be compromised.
“Basically the property owner said ‘oops’ after the damage was
done,” she said.
“We really feel the property owner was responsible for the damage
done to the trees,” she said.
About 20 neighbors, who have voiced their concerns since the
project began in 1999, were in attendance.
“We have a written agreement with the owner that calls for him to
replace three trees with 15-gallon sized plants,” City Manager Ken
The agreement also stipulated that Hardy must hire a certified
arborist to supervise future excavation and grading activities and
ensure the health of the remaining trees on the site.
Hardy not only agreed to those conditions, but also apologized for
the damage caused to the trees. However, he spoke out against the
neighbors whom he claims have fought him and his wife since the
beginning in their effort to build their dream home.
“We won’t give up,” he said. “I’ll do whatever I takes and I will
build my house.”
After the council clarified that Hardy would have to replace the
trees with Eucalypti -- unless they wanted to return to Design Review
-- it voted 4-0 to lift the stop-work order.
Hardy agreed to have his design team meet with city staff as soon
“To tell you the truth, I don’t know what my house looks like,”
Claudia Hardy said of the process. “But I’m still happy that I’m
going to live in Laguna.”
-- Mary A. Castillo