Trees' fates on council's agenda

The Laguna Beach City Council could decide Tuesday whether to remove eight trees within the downtown area as part of the city's Sidewalk Repair Project.

If the council approves the tree replacements, work would be done within the next month, according to a staff report. Last month, workers started replacing several sections of the sidewalk where the trees are present and have caused damage, according to a staff report.

The trees have caused lifting in the sidewalk or are leaning because they are too close to buildings for their size, Public Works Director Steve May wrote in an email. There are three trees on Ocean Avenue, two on Forest Avenue, two on Mermaid Street and one on Second Street.

If the council does not approve the project, City Manager John Pietig would send the proposal to the Planning Commission for design review. The project would be delayed for one year, the report said. Councilwoman Toni Iseman opposes the tree removal, according to the staff report.

The eight trees to be replaced include six ficus and two eucalyptus trees. New Zealand Christmas trees would replace the ficus while silver dollar gum trees would replace the eucalyptus.

City staff hand-delivered notices, including a map, of the Sidewalk Repair Project and potential tree replacement to downtown businesses March 15.


Commission appeal

Also on the council's agenda is an appeal to the Planning Commission's 3-2 vote in February to remove an existing curb, gutter and four trees and install a new curb, gutter, pedestrian access ramp and 200-foot sidewalk extension that runs south along Laguna Canyon Frontage Road from Woodland Drive.

The sidewalk would narrow the existing roadway by about 2 1/2 feet to 15 1/2 feet, once completed. Residents at the commission's Feb. 27 meeting questioned why a one-way road should be narrowed further to accommodate a sidewalk that "leads to nowhere" and suggested improving the existing walkway along the frontage road instead. Laguna Canyon Frontage Road fronts the Sawdust Art Festival grounds and sits between the grounds and Laguna Canyon Road.

Iseman appealed the commission's vote due to a lack of consideration of other options and questioned the adequacy of proposed landscape restoration, according to a staff report.

The council meeting begins at 6 p.m. in Council Chambers, 505 Forest Ave.

Twitter: @AldertonBryce

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