County board to weigh permanent tree ordinance

Ridgemark has been removing the trees while claiming they are old and diseased.

The county board Tuesday is set to consider making its temporary tree ordinance permanent.
Supervisors in early December extended a prior 45-day moratorium against cutting mature trees by more than 10 months. The ordinance before supervisors at their 9 a.m. Tuesday meeting at the County Administration Building, 481 Fourth St., would extend the ordinance through 2020 and lay out a series of guidelines and exemptions as they relate to cutting mature trees.
The issue has evolved following tensions in the gated Ridgemark community over the golf course owner’s cutting of trees on the course last year in a move that angered many residents there.
The Ridgemark Homes Association filed a lawsuit in April against JMK Golf LLC – the company that acquired the Ridgemark Golf & Country Club golf course in the spring of 2009 – asking for a restraining order that would keep the company from cutting down trees on the golf course in front of their houses. The 125 trees in question were in the fallow part of the golf course, which employees stopped watering in July when Ridgemark closed some of its fairways and moved from a 36-hole course to an 18-hole facility.
Some of the key points included in the draft are the following:
•       County officials argue it won’t need an environmental review because it does not meet the definition of a project, and the California Environmental Quality Act applies just to projects.
•       The goal is to “preserve the majority of protected trees” within the county’s urban area.
•       The planning commission could give its approval Feb. 18, followed by a board ratification March 17.
•       County officials plan to decide on a five- or 10-year sunset date, whether to make exceptions for trees in back yards and other places near homes, whether to grant an automatic exception for removal of one or two trees per year on a parcel, and whether to include exclusions for certain types of trees.
Look back for more.

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