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Neighbors appeal to City Hall to spare 2 Flintridge Avenue oaks

 861 Flintridge Ave., La Cañada Flintridge
On May 23 the La Cañada Planning Commission approved plans for a house and guest house at 861 Flintridge Avenue, requiring the removal of several protected oak trees. On June 7, neighbors Peter and Judy Cooper appealed the removal of two mature oaks on the lot’s north end.
(Sara Cardine / La Cañada Valley Sun)

The La Cañada Flintridge City Council on Tuesday will consider the fate of two oak trees at 861 Flintridge Ave., whose removal was granted by the Planning Commission in May but recently appealed by two residents.

Flintridge Avenue homeowners Peter and Judy Cooper filed a June 7 appeal challenging a May 23 commission decision that allowed for the removal of several trees to accommodate construction of a 13,237-square-foot French-country-style home and guest house at the intersection of Flintridge Avenue and Woodleigh Lane.

The Coopers are appealing the removal of two mature oaks near the proposed entrance to the property. They also challenge the height of a proposed pool/guest house, which would sit atop a 3.5-foot-tall cement pad whose height will not be counted toward its total height.

The appellants took issue with sections of the city’s municipal code that stipulate which findings allow for the approval of tree removal permits. A finding can be made if denial of such a permit would “create unreasonable hardship or a significant undue impairment of the use and enjoyment of a property” by its owner.


“The Planning Commission seems to somehow have interpreted [the code] to shift the homeowner’s burden of proof to the neighbors and community members to safeguard and protect La Cañada’s ‘Tree City USA’ designation,” the Coopers wrote in their appeal letter.

The code states tree removals may be condoned when they do not impact the character of a neighborhood from public view or adjacent properties or where such removal can reasonably be mitigated. The Coopers maintain the two protected oaks are integral to the historic Woodleigh-Flintridge corridor.

“As a major thoroughfare through La Cañada, the entire community enjoys the beauty and shaded protection of the canopy,” they wrote.

The La Cañada Flintridge City Council meets Tuesday at 6 p.m. in City Hall, 1 Civic Center Drive.