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THOUSAND OAKS : City Council Shelves Forestry Master Plan


Uneasy about creating a Big Brother bureaucracy to regulate home gardening, the Thousand Oaks City Council has voted to shelve a proposed forestry master plan until staff members can rewrite key points.

City leaders have long hoped for a comprehensive program to keep Thousand Oaks green, but the 40-page document submitted for council review Tuesday smacked of red tape and taxes, several council members said.

In particular, they objected to three proposals: to create a citywide tax district to cover the cost of landscape work on city property, to force developers to pay into a tree maintenance fund and to require property owners to obtain permits before pruning or cutting down trees.

"I ought to be able to do what I want with my property," Councilman Alex Fiore said. "I think it's dead wrong for the city to go into this kind of regulation."

Mayor Judy Lazar also scoffed at a proposal calling for the city to count all its trees every year and then estimate the dollar value of this "community forest." Compiling such an inventory would be a waste of time and money, she said.

"I think that's the kind of policy we can put into abeyance until we're so rich that we have money to burn," Lazar said.

The forestry plan would confer special protection on four species of "landmark trees": the California walnut, bay laurel, holly and sycamore. Developers wishing to cut down or prune these trees would have to get permits, and the City Council could review any project encroaching on the living space of these trees. Thousand Oaks' namesake, the oak tree, already receives these protections.

The council expects to reconsider the forestry document this fall.

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