A July 12th email from City Management Analyst Carl Vos to residents who had commented on the City's proposal for weed abatement revealed that the City has responded to some resident concerns.
Revised recommendations allow mulch, hay bales, and avocado leaves, and remove the requirement for 4 acre lots to have trees.
The recommendations must still be passed by the City Council however, and residents should still make their concerns known.
Still remaining as issues are Roadside Clearance and Entire Lot Clearance.
A new ordinance shown on the agenda as "Amend Municipal Code Requirement for Emergency Vehicle Access" proposes to expand the 13 foot 6 inch road clearance requirement to extend from 3 feet off the road on one side to 3 feet off the road on the other.
The previous requirement, though not entirely enforced, followed a common sense approach for clearing roadsides three feet back where visibility or travel were impeded. This was reinforced at a 2009 Council meeting where the Council made clear that they don't want the roadsides denuded (see WMV video clip)
However, the new requirement wants roadsides clear-stripped 3 feet back except for groundcover, with the Fire Chief showing an example of, in his opinion, an appropriately cleared roadside.
Proper Roadside Clearance Example used by Fire Chief at Weed Forum
On many Heights roads, the terrain slopes steeply up from or down from the road, with vegetation providing a visual cue to the road edge, and a last defense for cars going off the side. On such streets, there is no emergency vehicle access benefit as vehicles leaving the road will either careen down the hill or be flipped by the slope.
The new proposal would remove those plantings, removing roadside beauty, and putting drivers, especially night time drivers unfamiliar with the roads, such as out of town fire fighters responding to mutual aid calls at risk.
If the above picture is NOT what you think La Habra Heights should look like, you need to contact your Council Members and voice opposition at the July 14th Council meeting!
Prior Weed Abatement requirements included clearing flammable materials within 200 feet of a structure.
Newly passed Code language requires clearing the ENTIRE lot of flammable materials adding hundreds of acres of annual clearance work to be done.
Was State Agency Misled by City?
In an internal City June 22nd email, released by City Manager Shauna Clark, it appears the City may not have quite been truthful when an inquiring State Agency was told that additional green waste materials would be due to enforcement NOT the major Code change requiring entire lot clearance.
While the revised July 12th recommendations allude to phased canyon clearance, no mention was made of backing off the Entire Lot Clearance requirement.
Residents who do not think that clearing entire lots is practical, useful, or economical should contact their council members and attend the July 14th Council Meeting.