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OAK-PROTECTION RULES REVISED BIGGER TREES NOW REQUIRE CUTTING PERMITS.

Byline: Eugene Tong Staff Writer

SANTA CLARITA - The city made last-minute revisions this week to its just-revised oak protection ordinance, requiring permits for removal of any trees more than 12 inches in circumference.

The updated laws were being read Tuesday for the second and final time before the Santa Clarita City Council when Councilwoman Marsha McLean questioned a new provision allowing homeowners to remove oaks 25 inches around or less without a permit. Previously, only trees with circumferences of 6 inches or less were exempt.

``It's too big for people to take out without coming to the city,'' she said. ``They should still come before the planning commission. That's too big of a tree, I think.''

McLean struck a compromise for 12 inches. The council unanimously approved the change, which is set for another reading March 8 before becoming law.

City officials have said the change were intended to prevent homeowners from cutting down trees about to come under city protection.

``People are so oak tree-savvy, they're yanking them before they get to 2 inches (in diameter),'' Councilman Frank Ferry said.

The panel also asked city staff to draft ordinance education and enforcement guidelines.

The oak tree protection was adopted as one of the 18-year-old city's first laws, intended to ``protect and preserve oak trees in the city'' that were threatened by development.

The revised ordinance also allows owners of single-family homes to remove as many as five oaks from their properties - an increase from three trees - with the planning director's approval. Removing a ``heritage oak tree'' - one at least 108 inches in girth - or more than six oaks will require permission from the city Planning Commission.

The $80 pruning permit fee has been waived, but homeowners must use a city-certified arborist for the job. Encroachment - or any intrusion into a tree's protected zone - is now categorized as either ``minor'' or ``major,'' with each requiring different permitting.

Eugene Tong, (661) 257-5253

eugene.tong(at)dailynews.com
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Feb 24, 2005
Words:326
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