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Commentary: Fair objectives needed for view ordinance

The Citizens for View Preservation and Restoration (CVPR) has reviewed the view ordinance issued by the View Equity Committee on May 10. More about CVPR can be found at

We believe our views in Laguna Beach are irreplaceable. We value our trees but recognize that vegetation must be managed to avoid wrongfully allowing it to block a neighbor’s views. We oppose limiting by any qualifier a property owner’s right to access remedies under the view ordinance process.

Following are our objectives for a fair, enforceable and effective ordinance:

•Views take precedence over vegetation. The ordinance as envisioned by Mayor Kelly Boyd is to give property owners the right to a view, and that shall take precedence over the right to grow vegetation. Trees are wonderful aesthetically, for shade, privacy and bird habitat, but once the vegetation grows above the roofline of a property, that vegetation is deemed secondary to impacted views.


•The ordinance must be enforceable and designed to survive legal challenges.

•The ordinance should be available to all property owners — the date an applicant purchased his or her property should not be a barrier to the view-restoration process. This would penalize property owners who had no earlier enforceable ordinance to rely on. Restoration shall have no date baseline or statute of limitations. Restricting any property owner’s ability to secure relief through the ordinance would be discriminatory and unfair.

•Factors for determining “significant view obstruction” should be unweighted — the ordinance should not attempt to rank or weight factors determining “significance” of the obstruction since these are highly site specific.

•'View area’ should be inclusive. The ordinance should entitle relief from view obstruction in all viewing areas, not simply a “primary view area.” Different viewing areas on a property may require multiple restorative actions.


•Views include ocean, coastline, islands, canyons, hillsides and mountains, city lights and various natural and man-made landmarks — all of these, near and far, are worthy of protection.

•Distance from the view obstruction is irrelevant. All property owners with an obstructed view should be able to use the ordinance for relief and not limited by an arbitrary distance.

•The vegetation owner should pay for compliance. If a property owner is unable to privately negotiate or mediate a solution with the vegetation owner, the property owner should only pay a reasonable and affordable one-time application and inspection fee. If the view permit is issued, the vegetation owner should pay all costs of compliance, including a refund of the applicant’s fees.

•Heritage Trees do not take precedence over view rights. Registration of a tree as a Heritage Tree should not provide a means of circumventing the view ordinance.

•City-owned or -maintained trees should also be subject to the same view ordinance rules and procedures.

•Under the ordinance, owners of commercial properties and vacant lots shall be given the same access to a view-restoration process as residential property owners.

We urge the View Equity Committee to revise the draft ordinance to include these features.

The CVPR STEERING COMMITTEE consists of Steve Caporaso, Jeff Thornton, Doug Cortez, Wayne Phelps, Marianne Blume and Greg Gilroy.