City Council on the hot seat tonight – Coast Inn issue; Historic Preservation task force; and the fate of a tree

By BARBARA DIAMOND

The City Council meeting tonight has more than one hot button agenda item. In addition to the Coast Inn appeal, staff is recommending the removal of a tree on High Street.

Councilwoman Toni Iseman put the tree removal on the agenda as requested by landscape architect Ann Christoph. 

The condition of the red ironbark tree in front of 485 High Street was brought to the council’s attention in 2015. The High Street property owner wanted it removed then, but the council denied the request and ordered staff to maintain the tree.

However, after consulting with an arborist late in 2017, staff is recommending removal of the 600 pound tree. The arborist reported that the structural integrity of the tree is suspect and it represents an unusual degree of risk. 

Amy Jackson opposes the removal, according to the staff report. She has indicated she believes the city-retained arborists would agree to the removal of any tree they are asked to inspect. She stated the tree was more important to her than the risk of injury or property damage. 

Jackson wants the tree inspected by independent arborists.

Property owners Vicky and Ken Boden are prepared to contribute up to $2,000 for a replacement tree if they agree with the selection proposed by staff.

In other action

The council will consider establishing a Preservation Ordinance Task Force to try to resolve the deadlocked dialogue that has brought to a standstill a revision to the existing ordinance. 

As presented by staff, the task force would be composed of two council members, and one representative each from the Design Review Board, the Planning Commission and the Heritage Committee and four from the public. 

Community Development Department Director Greg Pfost and Senior Planner Martina Caron would serve as staff liaison to the task force.

Let Laguna Live announced in an email its intention to oppose the proposed composition of the task force.

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