Saturday, September 20, 2008

I'm a lumberjack and I'm okay

You know you haven't blogged in a long time when your neighbor gets on your case (nicely, of course). Sorry about the silence; it's been a grueling week, including not one but two projects due AND the sudden death of a co-worker.

I've got plenty to say (don't I always?), but I'll start with our adventures with the city. As I've mentioned before, we have a problematic chinaberry tree that is attempting to kill off our fig tree. We got our tree-removal application in under the wire (the wire being the fee hike from $75 to $500 -- ow, ow, ow), and we've been waiting to hear from the city.

Earlier this week, the assigned staff person from the planning department called, then visited, then talked to the arborist, then called again to fill us in. He was friendly, informative, and efficient -- what more could you ask for from city staff?

Next up is going before the Historic Preservation Commission. When I filed the application in August, they said it would be several months before the matter would come before the HPC, but by my count it's about seven weeks. Hurrah for municipal efficiency. Take that, Daily Bullet-In! (Oh, wait, ragging on the DB for its Pomona coverage is Ed's job, not mine.)

We're not keen on killing off trees, by any means, so if the HPC tells us to just trim the heck out of the tree (the only alternative, for a whole bunch of reasons), we'll do that in good cheer. Mainly, I'm just impressed by the whole experience so far. I guess it could all go pear-shaped, but I can't imagine how (famous last words).

In the meantime, I just hope our neighbors don't see the hearing notice posted on our front window and assume we've been foreclosed upon.


Anonymous said...

I for one always enjoy your blogs...but I also enjoy Abba, so what does that say about me?

Anonymous said...

Man, if that "fee" did go from $75 to $500 I predict MANY people tearing out trees on the sly on weekends.
This city is it's own worst enemy.
$500 bucks is a total soaking and it's bullshit.

Ed said...

Should I admit being a DB subscriber? I couldn't keep bashing it without paying for a subscription.

$500 for a tree removal seems absurd, particularly given the language in the tree ordinance. Everyone should read it.

Anonymous said...

Yes, everyone should read it!

Anonymous said...

By the way, where were all of you when the new fee schedule went to Council a few months ago? Kinda late to complain don't cha think.

Hacienda Park Res

Anonymous said...

No! it is not to late to complain, or to continue making changes and or improvements to our City. Please think.

K said...

Eh, if it really costs the city $500 to process an application, it seems reasonable for the folks who are getting the benefit to pay for it. I suppose you could argue that all of us in the historic district are enjoying the benefit of a neighborhood full of trees.

I can imagine how this could all cost $500 -- we've had the arborist drop by, a staff member who took some pictures, and a couple guys stop by to post the public notice about the hearing. I could imagine that with some paperwork and some more folks reviewing the paperwork, plus the Historic Commission meeting, we've managed to keep a whole bunch of folks busy.

I wonder if there's some way to come up with a cheaper review path for trees? I'm not sure I'd want to drop too many of those steps, and, yet, I can't imagine a whole lot of folks paying $500 to get permission to remove a tree, when removing the tree may not cost that much!

sherlock said...

That was kinda my thought. Since you're asking for a tree removal, I'm guessing it would bump up to a major certificate of appropriateness instead of the 'minor' which would only put you back $50.

200AMP panel $26
electric water heater $16
garbage disposal $7
septic tank $85
toilet $14
**the cost of a Mills Act contract is capped at $2467.

There are exemptions to the requirement of a major certificate of appropriateness, but I don't know how willing the planning department is to issue them.

I'm concerned the cost of complying might be worse than a fine. I wonder about windows as well. If you replace one window with a valid wood window and get caught, would the planning department ask for the $500 or just for the cost of a window permit. Is the planning department pushing the community to sidestep the permit process?

Anyone know how other communities solve the problem? Tree ordinances?

John Clifford said...

Unfortunatly, removal has to be a major COA as once a tree is gone you can't get it back, so it requires review to determine if there is a "legitimate" reason for the removal.

Note that tree "trimming" is a minor.