Trees and views on upcoming council agenda

Mayor Kelly Boyd announced Monday that he would introduce a proposal to overhaul the city's view ordinance at the City Council's first meeting of the new year on Tuesday.

The ordinance has been a bone of contention since it was first proposed in 1996 and created the Tree Review Equity Evaluation Board, named so the Acronym TREE could be used.

Critics claimed the ordinance had no teeth because it did not require owners of trees that blocked views to participate in a city review of the complaint filed by neighbors whose view was blocked.

The ordinance was amended in 2003, removing the city from the mediation process. Failure to participate moves the burden of proof from the complainant to the tree owner in the event of legal action.

It was still an issue in the 2012 City Council election forums.

"One thousand homes have lost their views due to vegetation," said Steven Dicterow, who was once the chair of the tree board. "People who buy homes with a view have a right to a view.

"If the view is obscured when the house is bought, it's a different story."

Boyd said Monday at the Laguna Canyon Conservancy dinner that 60% or 70% Laguna's homes are built on hills and blocking views could cost the property owners 25% of a home's value.

"This isn't about cutting down all the trees in Laguna; it is about working together on issues that affect your neighbors and the community," Boyd said.

The council also will address complaints from residents about the increasing number of low-flying commercial airliners that thunder over Laguna and also drop fuel dust.

"Put your finger on a glass table outside and you can see it," Boyd said.

Resident Peter Weisbrod said the problem is 10 times worse than it used to be.

Items of the consent portion of the agenda include the city treasurer's report, appointment of a council representative to the library committee, an update on flood mitigation measures on Laguna Canyon Road, which may include information of weather system preservation, three claims, the Red Phone Booth Temporary Art Installation competition and the guidelines for the Lifeguard Headquarters Art-in-Public Places competition.

Consent items are approved in one vote unless an item is pulled for discussion by a member of the council or the audience at the hearing.

An update by Assistant City Manager Christa Johnson on an economic development program is tentatively scheduled under Regular Order of Business.

The final item on the agenda is an appeal of the Planning Commission approval of a deck, rooftop furniture and an elevator proposed by Mozambique Steakhouse.

Tuesday's meeting will be held at 6 p.m. in the council chambers.

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