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EDITORIAL: Take a look at views

It’s about time the city took a hard look at views.

When our columnist Catharine Cooper wrote recently lamenting the loss of her home’s ocean view as trees and landscaping have grown taller year by year "” some of it on distant properties "” we received a slew of comments from people with similar complaints.

Most of these people did not want their names published in the paper out of concern that they would alienate their neighbors. Some were published.

Most people with tall trees probably don’t realize they are impeding the view of someone on a higher hill. In some cases, however, people with ocean views themselves are allowing landscaping to take away the view of someone else. That’s really galling.

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Views "” especially of the ocean "” are not only nice to have, but they greatly increase the value of a property. So, in blocking a view with landscaping, a neighbor is essentially taking away something of value from another.

That’s not neighborly and it’s not something a homeowner would wish on oneself.

The city of Dana Point makes a big point about how “all" of the city "” probably not all, but most "” has spectacular ocean views. That’s not something Laguna Beach can boast, even though it is similarly situated right along the ocean.

Many are frustrated with city policies that allow tall plants such as hedges and trees to grow nonstop and that no measure is in place to negotiate between neighbors.

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This sometimes leads to unauthorized trimming, or even chopping, of view-blocking trees or hedges.

The police logs are replete with reports of neighbors trespassing, or sending work crews, onto someone else’s property, to trim or remove vegetation. The only reason for this to happen is if the errant neighbor believes that landscaping is harming views "” and property values.

An effort to protect views was under way several years ago but didn’t get very far, perhaps because the 2005 landslide took precedence.

There are other reasons the city might want to curtail overgrowth: Large trees, particularly eucalyptus and pine, are fire hazards. The other reason is water conservation. Laguna Beach is notorious for using the majority of its water for landscaping. And most of the large trees and vegetation are not native to this area. Even the ubiquitous eucalyptus is an import. If you look at photos of Laguna Beach from the 1920s, the lack of trees is startling.

In short, the city could strike a blow for neighborhood harmony, promote water conservation, reduce fire hazards and increase property values "” all by solving the “view" issue.



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