Arroyo Grande council teetering over tree removal policy

September 15, 2014

cuestatreesWhile reluctant to do so, the Arroyo Grand City Council may amend city policy in order to make the process of removing problematic oak trees more manageable. This is after the council denied an ill man the ability to remove a tree causing him health issues. [Tribune]

Currently, the city of Arroyo Grande enjoys the distinction of being a nonprofit-designated “Tree City USA.” The recognition requires Arroyo Grande to greatly restrict the removal of trees inside the city.

An Arroyo Grande ordinance prohibits the removal of any trees from commercial, residential or mixed-use areas, unless a permit to do so is obtained. One can acquire a removal permit if the tree is dead or dying, damaging property, preventing construction or posing risks to public health and safety.

At last week’s city council meeting, Arroyo Grande homeowner Steven Andrews appealed to the council for permission to remove an oak tree on Tanner Lane. Andrew said the tree rains down with debris and gives him allergic reactions, making him very ill a few times a year because he has a weakened respiratory system.

The council rejected Andrews’ plea, with the majority arguing that it would set a precedent for future tree removals. The council indicated, though, that it may hear Andrews’ appeal again if his health does not improve.

Likewise, the council directed city staff to prepare a discussion on tree policy for a meeting in the next month or two.



  1. agag1 says:

    If the gentleman wants his tree removed he simply needs to call the folks who signed the death warrant for the trees on the police dept property.

    (6) 8 Total Votes - 7 up - 1 down
  2. MaryMalone says:

    The City is right in being cautious about setting a new precedent to suit one individual. In allowing an exception to their tree- removal regulation to address that resident’s allergies, It will set precedent for all residents’ requests for the exception to the regulation and may ultimately lead to making a case for other health issues of its residents being the responsibility of the city.

    Each person’s immunity system is different. A person’s response to allergens is specific for each person. A person with allergies can seek treatment and/or can find a residence which better suits their allergy problem.

    It is not the responsibility of the city to participate in the treatment of a resident’s allergy problem by granting them an exception to a city regulation.

    The regulations were developed as a measure to be applied to all residents. There are many city regulations that apply to all residents. Such regulations are put in place for a reason, usually to advance the residents’ best interests. Some of the regulations apply to private property, such as the requirement for building permits, disposal of solid waste, and regulations to control sewers and septic systems.

    If the city allows special-case exclusions for regulations applying to all residents, especially because someone has a common malady like allergic response to pollen, certainly it will set precedent for anyone who wants to avoid the regulation regarding removal of trees on private property by claiming they are allergic to the tree they want removed.

    So if the city decides to open the door for people applying to remove trees on their property, they should be prepared for many challenges of the regulation….and it won’t be just for oak pollen allergies.

    About 35 percent of Americans have allergies to pollen of some sort. California oak pollen is not one of the bad pollen. So if the city grants an exclusion for one oak tree, since so many plants and trees produce pollen, there is a wide range of pollen that can be claimed as a reason for allowing a resident to remove a tree on their property.

    (-4) 16 Total Votes - 6 up - 10 down
  3. Perspicacious says:

    Why do we give a rip if we are “Tree City USA”? And we waste a set amount of dollars per resident just to keep that worthless distinction?

    (10) 22 Total Votes - 16 up - 6 down
    • agag1 says:

      So Tony can travel on the taxpayer dime representing “his” city, collecting feathers for his crown, I mean cap.

      (10) 14 Total Votes - 12 up - 2 down
  4. tomsquawk says:

    who was there first?

    (5) 11 Total Votes - 8 up - 3 down
    • roberttorrance says:

      nobody owns anything anymore… all belongs to the government…..smells like a bad formula…..

      (4) 4 Total Votes - 4 up - 0 down
  5. justchuck says:

    The council agreeing to an appeal if his health does not improve sounds similar to the “ducking stool” of witch hunt days. Cut him some slack and have a ”tea party” for him, Adams.

    (3) 15 Total Votes - 9 up - 6 down
  6. dogeatdog says:

    I don’t understand why Kristen can even vote on the issue of the tree when she heads up the non profit (?) tree guild. Who pays for the water they use after planting the trees, not the tree guild, the city does, and it comes out of the budget.

    And for her to go on and on about her child and the fact it has asthma, what does that have to do with this man and his problem. I don’t care there are other oaks near him, these trees are NASTY when dropping debris. If he can produce a doctors note like Joe Costello asked for then remove the tree.

    This is a great example as to why people choose not to get a permit to remove problem trees. This thing could easily drop a branch on this guys house and cause major damage. It really is to big for the setting it is in, and Kristen is NEVER going to think it is okay to remove a tree.

    This gentlemen has been before this council twice on the same issue, and has gotten no where really. They did give him permission to trim the branches and if I was him, I would make damn sure the tree was not going to live after the trimming.

    Now if we could trim our council members and make sure that Crony Tony died off from being mayor it would be a win for everyone

    (15) 29 Total Votes - 22 up - 7 down
    • agag1 says:

      Kristen’s trees are on her half acre lot, this man’s tree IS his front yard, way too big for the location.
      Even if Kristen tripped on the sidewalk this tree had uprooted and knocked all of her teeth out, she still would not see the wisdom in removing the tree.

      (6) 10 Total Votes - 8 up - 2 down
      • MaryMalone says:

        This man’s tree was either there when he bought the house, or he placed it himself. Either way, the responsibility for what is now an established oak, and the fixes do not include removing the tree.

        (-2) 2 Total Votes - 0 up - 2 down
    • MaryMalone says:

      BTW, the AG tree guild’s tree selection is ridiculous.

      How about the many sycamore trees they have planted as street/sidewalk plantings? Talk about using water AND causing horrific allergy responses.

      They also have no skill for planting trees that go with the existing trees (especially when they have to replace a street tree). If a tree planted in a group of trees dies, do they use the same species tree to replace it, to maintain the overall landscape design? NO. I believe they stick whatever is cheapest in the ground.

      If this tree guild continues to control tree choice in AG, you can bet our previously well-landscaped public spaces will end up looking like a ghetto in East LA.

      (0) 0 Total Votes - 0 up - 0 down
  7. kayaknut says:

    Lets make sure this issue does not distract us from the most pressing issue, the City Manger and the city council lies. It would not surprise me that the council hopes the tree issue will take the heat off them.

    (15) 31 Total Votes - 23 up - 8 down
    • MajorityFan says:

      Save the manger for the holidays, please. It is way too early too early to put up all of the Christmas stuff.

      (-4) 10 Total Votes - 3 up - 7 down
    • MaryMalone says:

      LOL. They don’t know this crowd very well if that is what they expect to happen.

      (1) 1 Total Votes - 1 up - 0 down

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