On Nov.19, starting at 5:30 p.m., the City Council will hold a public study session to discuss the proposed new protected-tree ordinance. We have lived in La Cañada since 1977. We have two large Chinese elm trees in our front yard. These trees have been trimmed every two years.

In March 2012, I was cited and fined because my trees were trimmed more than 25%, although they were trimmed to the same degree as in past years.

I told the inspector, “I have never heard of the 25% rule in the more than 35 years that I have lived here.” He told me it was my obligation to know this law.

I asked the inspector, “Why hasn’t the City notified the citizens of this law?” He said, “That would be too expensive.”

I disagree.

I contacted Richard Cohen. Cohen has written extensively on the present tree ordinance. Cohen had already pointed out to the city the flaws in the present tree ordinance. Since then, the city has temporarily stopped collecting any fines for trimming trees more than 25%.

The trees on my property belong to me, not the city. The city’s policies of fining and threatening a citizen with criminal prosecution are excessive.

The new ordinance is purely an attempt to legalize the interpretations and actions that the city’s staff has been taking under the guise of the present tree ordinance. If you have been fined or cited within the last five years with respect to your trees, you may want to attend the City Council’s meeting on Nov. 19 at City Hall.

Richard Batista
La Cañada Flintridge