CURRENT DRAFT of TREE and VIEW POLICY (Concepts for further discussion)

PALOS VERDES HOMES ASSOCIATION

VIEW AND TREE PROPOSALS

September 24, 2019

THIS PRELIMINARY DOCUMENT IS CONCEPTUAL AND WILL SERVE AS TALKING POINTS FOR FUTURE DISCUSSIONS AT FUTURE BOARD MEETINGS.  IT IS NOT APPROVED BY THE PVHA BOARD AND SHOULD NOT BE CONSIDERED A FINAL RESOLUTION.

INTRODUCTION

Two new policy resolutions are being proposed relating to views and vegetation. These two policies are intended to work hand in hand for effective management of the PVE green canopy. While a majority of view issues are settled neighbor to neighbor or in mediation, a small number go to court with dissatisfaction of outcome, expense, time frame and enforcement.  Meanwhile trees and hedges slowly creep up to obscure diminishing views.

Resolution 185 was approved on a split vote and although the main contention was the definition of adjoining, there were other issues with the document needing attention.  Residents spoke of the cost and time incurred with the step-by-step process. When PVHA provides mediation, the view seeking homeowner still has to pay.  There is no monetary benefit to the homeowner by providing a mediator through PVHA. Even when there is an agreement in hand some residents refuse to comply or delay action. At the end of the day a court order is the only real avenue for enforcement of uncooperative neighbors. There is also an effort underway to coordinate standards between PVE and PVHA and to also address county and state requirements, for example, regarding fire and wildlife.

VIEWS, EXCERPTS AND INTERPRETATIONS

The expectation from the community is that PVHA will protect their views. The ‘Protective Restrictions Palos Verdes Estates’ hereafter referred to as CC&R’s contain several passages that relate to views and trees as well as to the responsibilities of PVHA.

CC&R-Summary (p1):

The restrictions have been most carefully worked out for every part of Palos Verdes Estates, to accomplish the following results:

THIS PRELIMINARY DOCUMENT IS CONCEPTUAL AND WILL SERVE AS TALKING POINTS FOR FUTURE DISCUSSIONS AT FUTURE BOARD MEETINGS.  IT IS NOT APPROVED BY THE PVHA BOARD AND SHOULD NOT BE CONSIDERED A FINAL RESOLUTION.

  • First:  To preserve the fine views of ocean, mountains and park;
  • Second:  To increase with the years the wonderful natural beauty of the property, enhanced with fine planting; and
  • Third:  That every purchaser in Palos Verdes may be sure when building his home that his neighbor will have to build an equally attractive type of building. In other words, he will feel secure in knowing that his home can never be damaged by an unsightly or undesirable structure either upon adjoining lots or in any part of Palos Verdes Estates.

Interpretation:

  • Views and plantings complement each other and are to be preserved.
  • The CC&R’s provide residents with Restrictions to protect their property and avoid damage from adjoining properties.

CC&R-Summary (p3):

  • One important feature of the restrictions is that which requires an open and free space on each side of every dwelling. This assures the maintenance of a bright, open, sunshiny neighborhood for each dwelling with a maximum of light and air.

Interpretation:

  • Light and air are important aspects of the community and are to be considered when evaluating trees and hedges.

THIS PRELIMINARY DOCUMENT IS CONCEPTUAL AND WILL SERVE AS TALKING POINTS FOR FUTURE DISCUSSIONS AT FUTURE BOARD MEETINGS.  IT IS NOT APPROVED BY THE PVHA BOARD AND SHOULD NOT BE CONSIDERED A FINAL RESOLUTION.

CC&R-Summary (p5):

  • Fences, walls, hedges and poles will be limited to a reasonable height. No trees on any lot larger than twenty feet in height may be cut down without the consent of the Park Department of Palos Verdes Homes Association

Interpretation:

  • The Homes Association has the authority to limit the height of hedges and trees in order to manage the green canopy of the city.

Dec. No.1 – Declaration of Establishment; Article V, Section 7, Trimming/Removal of Trees & Shrubs (p36):

  • No tree over twenty feet in height above the ground shall be trimmed, cut back, removed or killed except with the approval of the Homes Association, and representatives of the homes association and/or of the Art Jury shall have the right at any time to enter on or upon any property for the purpose of cutting back trees or other plantings which may grow up to a greater height that in the opinion of the Homes Association is warranted to maintain the view and protect adjoining property. The Homes Association shall have sole authority and right to trim, remove, replace, plant or re-plant or otherwise care for trees, shrubs and plantings in the sidewalk or other spaces in front of lots or adjoin them, subject to any county or other officials having superior jurisdiction.

Interpretation:

  • “Maintain the view” is a separate directive from “protect adjoining property”. Adjoining property is to be protected from the impacts of vegetation from an adjoining neighbor as an example, protect from overhanging branches.
  • PVHA has the authority to determine the height of trees and other plantings.
  • To clarify, currently the sidewalk areas are in the city ‘Rights of Way’ easement and jurisdiction of that easement falls to the city of PVE.

THIS PRELIMINARY DOCUMENT IS CONCEPTUAL AND WILL SERVE AS TALKING POINTS FOR FUTURE DISCUSSIONS AT FUTURE BOARD MEETINGS.  IT IS NOT APPROVED BY THE PVHA BOARD AND SHOULD NOT BE CONSIDERED A FINAL RESOLUTION.

CC&R-Summary (p7):

  • The Art Jury and the Palos Verdes Homes Association exist solely for the common benefit of all property owners in the Estates and should be made use of them to bring about the most attractive, convenient, and satisfactory development possible.

Interpretation:

  • The community should consult Art Jury and/or the Homes Association concerning the qualities of development.

Dec. No.1 – Declaration of Establishment; Article VI, Section 7, Violation of Conditions (p40):

  • …Palos Verdes Homes Association the right to enter upon the property upon or as to which such violation or breach exists, and to summarily abate and remove at the expense of the owner thereof, any erection, thing or condition…Palos Verdes Homes Association, shall not thereby be deemed guilty of trespass for such entry, abatement or removal.

Interpretation:

  • PVHA has authority to enter a property concerning violations for abatement purposes. Abatement cost falls upon the property owner with the violation.
  • Further description of updated remediation guidelines will be addressed by Resolution # ____ Tree policy and Resolution #_____View policy.

THIS PRELIMINARY DOCUMENT IS CONCEPTUAL AND WILL SERVE AS TALKING POINTS FOR FUTURE DISCUSSIONS AT FUTURE BOARD MEETINGS.  IT IS NOT APPROVED BY THE PVHA BOARD AND SHOULD NOT BE CONSIDERED A FINAL RESOLUTION.

Dec. No.1 – Declaration of Establishment; Article VI, Section 8, Violation Constitutes Nuisance (p40):

  • Every act or omission whereby any restriction, condition, or covenant in this Declaration set forth is violated in whole or in part is declared to be and shall constitute a nuisance, and may be abated by Palos Verdes Homes Association and/or by any lot owner subject to the jurisdiction of the Homes Association…

Interpretation:

  • Non-compliance with the CC&R’s is considered a nuisance and is subject to abatement.

Dec. No.1 – Declaration of Establishment; Article VI, Section 11, Interpretation and Enforcement by Homes Association (p40):

  • …Palos Verdes Homes Association shall interpret, and/or enforce any or all restrictions, conditions, covenants, reservations, liens, charges and agreements…In the case of uncertainty as to the meaning of said provisions or of any provisions of this declaration, Palos Verdes Homes Association shall (except as to the provisions of Article III, which shall be interpreted by the Art Jury) in all cases interpret the same and such interpretation shall be final and conclusive upon all interested parties.

Interpretation:

  • PVHA has authority to interpret and enforce all the provisions of the Declarations and such interpretations shall be accepted as final.

THIS PRELIMINARY DOCUMENT IS CONCEPTUAL AND WILL SERVE AS TALKING POINTS FOR FUTURE DISCUSSIONS AT FUTURE BOARD MEETINGS.  IT IS NOT APPROVED BY THE PVHA BOARD AND SHOULD NOT BE CONSIDERED A FINAL RESOLUTION.

Dec. No.1 – Declaration of Establishment; Art. V, Sect. 10, Maintenance of Health, Safety and Welfare (p36):

  • To maintain the health, safety, and general welfare of people residing on said property, and to prevent danger from fires, street traffic, or other hazards to life and limb or property, Palos Verdes Homes Association shall adopt such rules and regulations as it may from time to time be advisable and necessary and all parts of said property shall at all times be maintained subject to said rules and regulations: provided, however, that all such rules and regulations shall be in addition to and not interfere with any regulations of County, State, or other duly constituted public authority.

Interpretation:

  • PVHA is tasked with protecting residents from hazardous conditions and may, as necessary, adopt rules in addition to, but not in opposition to regulations of other governmental agencies

TO SUMMARIZE:

  • PVHA has the authority to interpret and enforce the CC&R’s,
  • PVHA has authority to manage the green canopy, determining the height of trees and vegetation over 20 feet tall, for the preservation of views and protection from hazard to residents, especially noted for adjoining properties.
  • Violations of the CC&R’s constitutes a nuisance and may be abated by PVHA.
  • Homeowners in violation of the CC&R’s will incur the cost of abatement and associated expenses.

THIS PRELIMINARY DOCUMENT IS CONCEPTUAL AND WILL SERVE AS TALKING POINTS FOR FUTURE DISCUSSIONS AT FUTURE BOARD MEETINGS.  IT IS NOT APPROVED BY THE PVHA BOARD AND SHOULD NOT BE CONSIDERED A FINAL RESOLUTION.

POLICY CONCEPTS 2

The new resolutions being proposed are intended to:

1. Clarify who is eligible for a view complaint

2. Define view and the criteria for evaluation

3. Offer PVHA ‘opinion’ through the guidelines specified in the resolutions.

4. Provide clarity on the responsibilities of PVHA

5. Outline an expedited process where homeowners seeking view remediation are responsible for specific steps and associated costs relating to their complaint.

6. Open the opportunity for consistent guidelines and regular enforcement between PVHA and PVE.

7. Facilitate a community culture where stewardship of our personal and public greenspace is a priority – that trees, hedges and other plantings be cared for properly to enhance the natural beauty of our neighborhoods.

THIS PRELIMINARY DOCUMENT IS CONCEPTUAL AND WILL SERVE AS TALKING POINTS FOR FUTURE DISCUSSIONS AT FUTURE BOARD MEETINGS.  IT IS NOT APPROVED BY THE PVHA BOARD AND SHOULD NOT BE CONSIDERED A FINAL RESOLUTION.

PALOS VERDES HOMES ASSOCIATION TREE POLICY

5.7.19, revised 9/10/19

1. Trimming of trees and shrubs must conform to ANSI standards and be performed under the supervision of a licensed ASI arborist.

2. Topping and severe pruning are not permitted.

3. In order of preference the following techniques may be employed for view restoration:

    1. Lacing

    2. Vista Pruning

    3. Crown reduction

    4. Crown raising

    5. Stand thinning

    6. Heading back permitted only for hedging

    7. Removal and replacement

4. Generally trimming should be scheduled for the dormant winter months depending on the variety of tree and to avoid the nesting season of birds.

5. Timing of trimming is required to conform to the California Department of Fish and Game Code designated under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act.

6. Where trimming is required for view preservation, a maintenance schedule for trimming based on the individual species of tree is to be included in the agreement. See requirements for agreement.

7. LA County Fuel Modification standards also apply to Palos Verdes Estates, restricting tree placement and limiting the height of hedging depending upon their distance from structures.  Please refer to LA county Fuel Modification specifications.

THIS PRELIMINARY DOCUMENT IS CONCEPTUAL AND WILL SERVE AS TALKING POINTS FOR FUTURE DISCUSSIONS AT FUTURE BOARD MEETINGS.  IT IS NOT APPROVED BY THE PVHA BOARD AND SHOULD NOT BE CONSIDERED A FINAL RESOLUTION.

THIS PRELIMINARY DOCUMENT IS CONCEPTUAL AND WILL SERVE AS TALKING POINTS FOR FUTURE DISCUSSIONS AT FUTURE BOARD MEETINGS.  IT IS NOT APPROVED BY THE PVHA BOARD AND SHOULD NOT BE CONSIDERED A FINAL RESOLUTION.

PALOS VERDES HOMES ASSOCIATION

VIEW POLICY  

9.10.19

In any mediation, arbitration, or litigation arising out of a dispute among neighbors concerning view disputes, the below referenced goals, considerations, definitions evaluation criteria and application process as well as the PVHA tree policy, will be deemed to be the criteria to govern the resolution of such disputes.

1. GOALS

  • To implement directives set forth in the PVHA CC&R’s (Refer to ‘Excerpts’ document)
  • To provide guidelines for the evaluation and resolution of view disputes
  • To implement a clear process to residents for managing view issues
  • To document outcomes effectively for future evaluation

THIS PRELIMINARY DOCUMENT IS CONCEPTUAL AND WILL SERVE AS TALKING POINTS FOR FUTURE DISCUSSIONS AT FUTURE BOARD MEETINGS.  IT IS NOT APPROVED BY THE PVHA BOARD AND SHOULD NOT BE CONSIDERED A FINAL RESOLUTION.

2. CONSIDERATIONS

The type of scenic views may vary considerably from one property to another. Our community was intentionally designed to embrace a variety of features referenced by topography and orientation of lots. Public vistas from roadways and parks are also an important factor of neighborhood character.

Note that per PVHA CC&R”s any tree over 20’ tall requires PVHA approval for trimming or removal.  Managing the tree canopy is a function of PVHA.

For residential view restoration purposes, the main viewing area must be defined and documented.

Existing neighborhood character should be considered when altering the treescape.

Neighbor’s privacy needs are to be reasonably balanced with any remedial view measures.

Safety may also play into a decision for the type of remediation requested. Branches overhanging a neighbor’s property, roots escaping to a neighbor’s yard and clogging plumbing or compromising foundations, the possibility of structural failure of an aged or diseased tree, and the possibility of fire due to proximity of buildings and electrical wires should also be considered. 

Designated trees, those specified on approved plans, grandfathered trees that enhance beauty, and historical trees should be given special consideration as they were intentionally selected for particular attributes.

Refer to PVHA Tree Policy

THIS PRELIMINARY DOCUMENT IS CONCEPTUAL AND WILL SERVE AS TALKING POINTS FOR FUTURE DISCUSSIONS AT FUTURE BOARD MEETINGS.  IT IS NOT APPROVED BY THE PVHA BOARD AND SHOULD NOT BE CONSIDERED A FINAL RESOLUTION.

3. DEFINITIONS

Cutting back trees or other plantings” shall refer to Trimming according to INSA standards.

Maintain and improve the view of” means one or more areas of view. It does not mean an unobstructed view or all views.

View” means the primary viewing area

Framed View” means a directed scenic view softened with vegetation to draw the eye into the landscape

Adjoining property” means touching

Scenic View” shall mean a view of the community and its special features such as landscapes, ocean, city lights, canyons, golf courses, parkland, architecture, and greenery. This visually impressive scenic vista is to be evaluated from the established “Main Viewing Area” of the residence.

Residential View Zone” means properties that adjoin, are directly across the street or directly across an alley. It does not include properties 2 or more lots away. Remediation in this zone may be based on view alone.

THIS PRELIMINARY DOCUMENT IS CONCEPTUAL AND WILL SERVE AS TALKING POINTS FOR FUTURE DISCUSSIONS AT FUTURE BOARD MEETINGS.  IT IS NOT APPROVED BY THE PVHA BOARD AND SHOULD NOT BE CONSIDERED A FINAL RESOLUTION.

Neighborhood View Zone” means the area outside the “Residential View Zone” and requires additional undesirable tree characteristics to be considered for view remediation.

THIS PRELIMINARY DOCUMENT IS CONCEPTUAL AND WILL SERVE AS TALKING POINTS FOR FUTURE DISCUSSIONS AT FUTURE BOARD MEETINGS.  IT IS NOT APPROVED BY THE PVHA BOARD AND SHOULD NOT BE CONSIDERED A FINAL RESOLUTION.

Main Viewing Area” shall mean the primary living area of a residential structure. A “Secondary Viewing Area” may be considered for view remediation pending lot orientation and architectural layout.

Designated Tree” shall refer to a tree specified on an approved plan, a grandfathered tree that adds beauty and function (shade, screening) to the landscape, or a historically significant tree.

Undesirable” Tree” shall refer to a tree that is causing significant view obstruction, a tree that is not properly maintained causing poor health and a disfigured appearance, or a tree causing a safety risk. The undesirable tree may be an invasive species, or pose a fire hazard. Often the undesirable tree is a volunteer, not shown on an approved plan.

“Significant View Obstruction” means a substantial obscuring of the view, diminishing it’s attractiveness and enjoyment by homeowners.

THIS PRELIMINARY DOCUMENT IS CONCEPTUAL AND WILL SERVE AS TALKING POINTS FOR FUTURE DISCUSSIONS AT FUTURE BOARD MEETINGS.  IT IS NOT APPROVED BY THE PVHA BOARD AND SHOULD NOT BE CONSIDERED A FINAL RESOLUTION.

4. EVALUATION CRITERIA FOR SIGNIFICANT VIEW OBSTRUCTION:

A. ‘Framed views’ are an important feature in Olmsted designs and were a major consideration in the planning Of Palos Verdes Estates. This effect is preferred when evaluating view obstruction.  Consideration should be given to the composition of the view as one would look at a painting. Look for proportion and a harmonious blending of features in keeping with the overall vista.

B.  The extent of obstruction into the scenic view, current and future. Include notation on the condition, age, lifespan, and natural growth habit of the tree.

C. The quality of the scenic view being obstructed in terms of special features (refer to definitions of scenic view)

D. The extent to which the view has been diminished by factors other than growth of the obstructing tree or vegetation. This may include new additions, residences, trees and landscape beyond the scope of the application.

E. The extent to which the view contributes to the enjoyment of the Applicant’s property.

F. The extent to which alteration of the vegetation affects neighboring properties and the overall neighborhood character.

THIS PRELIMINARY DOCUMENT IS CONCEPTUAL AND WILL SERVE AS TALKING POINTS FOR FUTURE DISCUSSIONS AT FUTURE BOARD MEETINGS.  IT IS NOT APPROVED BY THE PVHA BOARD AND SHOULD NOT BE CONSIDERED A FINAL RESOLUTION.

5. APPLICATION PROCESS

Residents who are unable to resolve a view issue in an informal neighborly manner may elect to take the next step to mediation, arbitration or litigation, in ascending order.  The goal would be to reach a practical solution within the guidelines set forth by PVHA.

6. TO REGISTER A VIEW COMPLAINT:

Step1:  Engage your neighbor in friendly conversation explaining your view issues with the intention of finding a mutually agreeable solution. Document your communications.

Step 2: If step 1 fails, you may register a view complaint with PVHA. You will be required to complete a review packet and pay an administrative fee. A letter of notification from PVHA will be sent to both parties along with a copy of the view and tree policies.

Step 3: Select an independent mediator, arbitrator or litigator to address the dispute. In order to be valid, a legal contract between parties must be in agreement with the policies and guidelines of PVHA. (see agreement requirements) You may also wish to consult with an ISA licensed arborist to document the condition and value of the tree, and for advice on the best management of the tree. At the conclusion of negotiations submit a copy of the agreement to PVHA for review and addition to the property file.

Step 4: Engage an ISA licensed arborist to supervise the work designated in the agreement.

Step 5. When the remedial work is complete also submit documentation and photographs.

If agreement is not reached, the file will be used as reference in the review of any future architectural or landscape applications and also become part of the disclosure statement when either property is sold. 

THIS PRELIMINARY DOCUMENT IS CONCEPTUAL AND WILL SERVE AS TALKING POINTS FOR FUTURE DISCUSSIONS AT FUTURE BOARD MEETINGS.  IT IS NOT APPROVED BY THE PVHA BOARD AND SHOULD NOT BE CONSIDERED A FINAL RESOLUTION.

AGREEMENTS FOR REMEDIATION OF VIEW DISPUTES ARE TO INCLUDE THE FOLLOWING PROVISIONS:

1. All agreements including mediation, arbitration or litigation, are to be in compliance with the PVHA Tree policy resolution#____ and PVHA View Policy Resolution #_____ in order to be valid. These resolutions and policies represent the PVHA ‘opinion’ to be applied in resolution of disputes over views and other vegetation issues.

2. All trimming or other remediation is to be supervised by an ISA licensed arborist. They must document proof of a Palos Verdes Estates business license, and general liability insurance with a combined single limit of not less than 500,000 per occurrence.

3. All agreements must ‘run with the land’. Any new approved landscape plan will also be subject to restrictions of the agreement unless a new agreement between parties is negotiated.

4. All agreements must include permission and timeframe regarding entering the property for remedial work.

5. The applicant must complete and submit the PVHA application packet as a part of registering their complaint. An administration fee of $______ is required. At the conclusion of resolving the dispute, the final agreement must be filed with PVHA. 

THIS PRELIMINARY DOCUMENT IS CONCEPTUAL AND WILL SERVE AS TALKING POINTS FOR FUTURE DISCUSSIONS AT FUTURE BOARD MEETINGS.  IT IS NOT APPROVED BY THE PVHA BOARD AND SHOULD NOT BE CONSIDERED A FINAL RESOLUTION.

TRANSITIONING

Implementing new standards can be a difficult and lengthy process. Some additional interface with the community may be necessary.

1. Get the word out using multiple communication methods.

2. Include in the approvals for the new policy budget allocation for a brochure and website postings. E-blast those residents who have signed up for notifications.

3.  Encourage residents that have older unresolved view issues (specify constraints) to re-apply under the new standards. Set a time frame, possibly 6 months or longer to accept these types of applications and waive the registration fee.

4. Generally institute all policy changes at one designated time within the year. This way residents and professionals will be aware and ready when these events occur.   

THIS PRELIMINARY DOCUMENT IS CONCEPTUAL AND WILL SERVE AS TALKING POINTS FOR FUTURE DISCUSSIONS AT FUTURE BOARD MEETINGS.  IT IS NOT APPROVED BY THE PVHA BOARD AND SHOULD NOT BE CONSIDERED A FINAL RESOLUTION.

THE FUTURE

There are many adaptations that our community will be making in the coming years. Our climate is getting warmer and in response the State of California and the County of Los Angeles are more carefully regulating California’s limited resources. Green lawns are being replaced with native plants to save water, and we are restricted in the selection and placement of plantings due to fire concerns. Stewardship of our community open spaces and proper care of our personal landscapes have global impacts.

On the local level working together with PVE is a priority for PVHA in reaching our goals and protecting our community.  PVHA wishes to engage PVE in 3 ways:

  1. To be in agreement with the same standards and language in our policies.
  2. To have a mutual compliance within setbacks, easements and clearances.

3. To incorporate easily understood fire and water guidelines so the community may comply with ease.

  S: BOARD/9-25-2019 TREE AND VIEW POLICY DRAFTS

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