Coastal Commission Charges Long Beach With Pattern Of Tree Trimming Violations | Environment

An investigation by the state Coastal Commission found that Long Beach broke coastal law last week by having a contractor cut palm trees on the peninsula when there were several active Great Blue Heron nests there.

A letter from law enforcement officer Jordan Sanchez said the city had violated tree felling regulations several times over the past three years. This has resulted in a number of proposed penalties, including planting more trees, creating a new pruning plan with more oversight, and paying unspecified fines, with the money going to local groups like the El Dorado Audubon Society for a nesting activity monitoring program around Alamitos Bay.

A section of the Coastal Act states that the penalty for a violation cannot be less than $ 500 or more than $ 30,000.

An episode of tree pruning on Wednesday May 6th in the Ocean Boulevard median on the peninsula prompted the investigation. A crew of West Coast Arborists felled 86 Mexican fan palms, including several with active nests, despite requests from neighbors to stop. At least one young heron died.

“We’re still uncovering details, but it was clearly a mistake,” said Craig Beck, director of public works, in late May. “The West Coast arborists pruned the tall palm trees around 65th and a neighbor called and said it was a bird.” We replied and told the west coast to go. “

Beck said this Wednesday May 13th that his investigation is continuing. He said it was unlikely to have a full report by Friday – a requirement in the Coastal Commission’s letter.

Andy Trotter, vice president of field operations for arborists on the west coast, said his crew had a work assignment for the area and was unaware of an agreement with the Coastal Commission not to cut trees during the breeding season. He also said the company did not believe the dead bird was a heron.

“There has been a lot of discussion and we believe the bird was not a heron,” said Trotter. “It was a crow. We are staying in the middle of this investigation.

“Our company has a long history of promoting bird conservation. We made a mistake here and our crews need to be better informed about finding nests, but we believe in bird conservation.”

West Coast has been the city’s arborist since 2007 and received a $ 500,000 contract renewal last year. Beck said it was unlikely that a crew would be dispatched without a specific work assignment.

Sanchez said in his letter that the Coastal Commission will be calling for long-term changes to tree felling guidelines as this is the latest from several violations.

“As you know, there have been several incidents of improper tree felling and tree removal in the city over the past three years and our staff are very concerned about these practices,” wrote Sanchez. “So we hope to resolve this as soon as possible, including some immediate action and an agreement on longer-term steps that can both help repair the losses and prevent future events.”

Beck, the city, environmentalists and the Coastal Commission have argued a lot over the past year over palm trees on Marina Drive, where the city was planning to renovate Complete Streets for the development of the 2ND & PCH center.

The work required moving or removing several palm trees, which led to appeals to local and state authorities. The problem was exacerbated by the removal of palm trees from the development site. Ultimately, permits were approved after a series of changes, the trees that were removed were replaced and more trees were added.

If the recommendations of the letter are followed, more trees and nesting platforms will be on the way around Alamitos Bay.

“The staff believe there is an opportunity to fully meet the requirements to mitigate the habitat impact of the violations …” The letter stated that mitigation projects are being carried out, such as installing nesting platforms for gray herons next to the water in Alamitos Bay, planting more mature Mexican fan palms around Alamitos Bay, (and) restrict trimming for at least 7 years. “

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