Woman in log jam with officials over tree removal

Glendale isn't the only place where residents can find themselves in a tree quagmire.

In La Cañada Flintridge, one woman is struggling to get a tree removed that she says is damaging her back patio, but city officials have been holding off on approving the application until their own arborists can verify that the roots are the culprit.

Meanwhile, Roberta Dominguez's months-long quest to remove the Chinese elm tree from the back yard of her La Cañada home will last at least a month longer since she was unable to obtain a city-approved arborist's report in time for a Planning Commission meeting.

The commission voted to continue her appeal to an initial denial to the next meeting, which will not take place until September due to an August recess.

Dominguez, who contends that the tree's roots are damaging brickwork in her patio, said that she hadn't been given any reason for the delay in the arborist's report by the city planning staff.

“No reason, none at all, just that they're working on it,” she said. “So meanwhile, I have the chance of my house getting worse because of this. So it's very disappointing.”

Planning Commissioner Herand Sarkissian said that without the data of an arborist's report, the commission couldn't make a decision on the appeal.

“The process of the city calls for an arborist to render an opinion what the tree is, or is not, doing,” said Sarkissian. “I think [city staff] was late in getting three estimates, because they have to get three competitive estimates, and then present it to [the appellant].”

Dominguez said that she had been rebuffed in her request to hire an arborist recommended by a friend to perform the inspection and compile the report.

“So I'm having to wait longer now,” she said.

Sarkissian emphasized the importance of following the city code.

“Whatever we wish, or we feel, or we sympathize with somebody, that's not something that's in our purview,” said Sarkissian. “We have an ordinance, and the ordinance is there in order to be equitable for everybody, for you, for me and for her.”

Sarkissian said that the ordinance provides a way for the tree to be removed, as long as the rules are followed.

“There is a process, and the process calls for an arborist's report, and if the arborist's report says that it's damaging the house, then I think we would take action and allow [the removal],” Sarkissian said.

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