City's tree fines appear to be illegal

A question for La Cañada Flintridge residents: During the last 10 years, have you or anyone you know been fined by the city for either removing or excessively trimming a protected tree, i.e., an oak, a Chinese elm, a sycamore, a California pepper or a deodar cedar? If so, please give me the facts by emailing me at or by calling me at (818) 497-7099.

For at least the last 10 years, the city, in my view, has been illegally fining unsuspecting property owners for removing or excessively trimming a protected tree located on the property owner’s site. Other than a minimal fine, the city cannot increase your fine unless both of these two facts exist: One, a replacement tree is involved. Two, the city requires the replacement tree to be planted off site.

In the past year alone, the city has recommended respective fines of $45,000, $3,650, $2,250, $1,650 and $800 against five separate property owners.

Four of the cases involved trees that were excessively trimmed by professional tree trimmers. In not one of these four matters did the city require a replacement tree to be planted. The fifth case involved trees that had been removed. The city ordered that the replacement trees be planted on site.

A public hearing before the City Council regarding a proposed new tree ordinance is coming up. When the agenda is announced, let’s all attend that hearing and make our concerns be known.

Richard S. Cohen
La Cañada Flintridge

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