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Monterey OKs huge fines for tree cutters -- $76,000 Fine

Monterey Herald -- Dec. 16, 2009




Ordinance intended for those who illegally cut down or overprune trees
By KEVIN HOWE
Herald Staff Writer
Updated: 12/16/2009 01:29:45 AM PST


Heavy fines for people who deliberately cut trees on their own property or on city property were approved unanimously Tuesday by the Monterey City Council.

Current law allows a civil penalty for cutting down trees without a permit, but it does not levy one for trees that are overpruned or damaged, said city forester Robert Reid.

In some cases, he said, owners cheerfully pay damages and penalties when removing trees that block views because it can enhance the value of their property.

The ordinance, Reid said, isn't aimed at people who inadvertently damage a tree by improper pruning. It targets professional tree trimmers and property owners who instruct them to illegally cut down or overprune trees.

The penalties would amount to twice the value of the required replacement tree, which could amount to $76,000, as well as the replacement cost.

In a related matter, residents Ansel and Melissa Theony voiced concern to the council about the city's plan to cut down a row of large acacia trees on Lighthouse Avenue at Scholte Park near the Monterey Senior Center.

One tree toppled in a recent storm, and Reid has recommended that all of the trees be removed because of past root damage and public safety concerns.
City Manager Fred Meurer said the tree removal would be discussed at a meeting of the city's Architectural Review Committee next month.

In other action, the council voted unanimously to authorize city staff to explore an agreement to share joint fire services with the city of Seaside and other Peninsula jurisdictions that have indicated interest in a partnership.

Seaside recently completed a fire department management and staffing study that recommends it continue and expand efforts with Monterey for mutual fire protection and emergency medical services.
The Monterey council approved an ordinance prohibiting "mobile billboards" in the city — any wheeled conveyance that pulls, carries or transports a billboard sign and is designed primarily for advertising.

The ordinance would not apply to buses, taxis or vehicles that display an advertisement or business identification for its owner as long as the vehicle is engaged in usual business.
Kevin Howe can be reached at 646-4416 or khowe@montereyherald.com.



Last Updated: Dec 16, 09

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