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Tree Sit - SoCal style

by By Heather MacDonald Tuesday, Nov. 05, 2002 at 4:55 PM

Oak tree may be doomed

Tree Sit - SoCal sty...
110202_oak.jpg, image/jpeg, 150x105

Friday, November 01, 2002 - STEVENSON RANCH -- Desperate to prevent a 400-year-old oak tree from being chopped down, an environmental activist scaled it Friday and prepared to sit there until a deal is reached to save the majestic tree.

Alerted by members of the Santa Clarita Organization for Planning and the Environment about the potential destruction of the heritage oak tree, John Quigley of Pacific Palisades climbed the massive tree just before 7 a.m., hours after an agreement protecting the tree on Pico Canyon Road expired.

"I'll be up here as long as it takes," Quigley said, via a walkie-talkie from about 50 feet above the ground. "This tree is older than any of us, and there's no reason for it to be cut down."

Down below, other environmentalists protested plans that call for the tree to be cut down to expand Pico Canyon Road. After tying yellow ribbons to the orange mesh fence surrounding the oak, they urged drivers to honk in support.

"This tree is a symbol of all of the trees we've already lost and all the trees we're not going to be able to save," said Cynthia Neal-Harris, vice president of the Santa Clarita Oaks Conservancy.

The county Department of Public Works has been looking into the issue for several days but has yet to find a solution, officials said.

The Santa Clarita City Council will discuss the matter at its Tuesday study session and may vote to urge Los Angeles County officials to reduce the size of Pico Canyon Road -- the main thoroughfare in the planned community west of Santa Clarita -- or reroute it away from the oak tree.

"We need to be more creative," said Councilwoman Laurene Weste, who participated in the early morning rally. "No one wants to decimate Pico Canyon."

John Laing Homes, the builder of the Southern Oaks 279-home subdivision, promised not to cut down the tree near Whispering Oak Avenue until after the council meeting.

"We don't want to make this road any bigger, and our homeowners don't want this road any bigger," said division president Bill Ratazzi. "We'd be very happy not to cut that tree down, but we need to reach an agreement quickly."

The development cannot be completed until Pico Canyon Road, which has been under construction for months, is expanded to four lanes. That is tying up millions of dollars in road improvement bonds, Ratazzi said.

Eventually, Pico Canyon Road is slated to be extended to State Route 126 to relieve congestion in the rapidly developing area west of the Golden State Freeway, which includes the proposed 21,600-home Newhall Ranch project.

Mayor Frank Ferry said he would oppose any plan to reduce Pico Canyon Road to two lanes because it would force hundreds of cars onto I-5 and city streets.

"We have to strike a balance between the environment and the quality of life of our residents," Ferry said. "The reality is that the cars are coming."

Lennar Communities -- the developer of Stevenson Ranch -- has submitted plans to county officials that would reduce the size of the road and spare the tree as part of its proposal for the development of the fifth phase of the community.

However, it is expected to be several years before those plans are approved, county officials said.

The obvious solution to resolve the situation quickly is to separate the road issue from the development, Ratazzi said.

"I'm hopeful that we can reach an agreement and save the tree," Ratazzi said. "I don't need any more firewood."

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Listed below are the 10 latest comments of 14 posted about this article.
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Transcending Single Issue and Reformists Politics at the Santa Clarita Treesit noleftys Thursday, Nov. 14, 2002 at 12:20 PM
Concerned Citizen Diane Escalante Saturday, Nov. 16, 2002 at 11:24 PM
trees- in response to Diane Raz Jones Monday, Nov. 18, 2002 at 1:32 PM
Fight "evil" at home first Peter Gachot Thursday, Nov. 21, 2002 at 11:51 PM
save 400 year old oak lynne adams Sunday, Nov. 24, 2002 at 8:47 PM
ms michelle Friday, Nov. 29, 2002 at 7:39 PM
Hippy hater John Deere Sunday, Dec. 08, 2002 at 12:06 PM
totally sweet Hip E. Tuesday, Dec. 10, 2002 at 10:24 PM
Hippy hater John Deere Tuesday, Dec. 10, 2002 at 10:59 PM
hey hippie hater roxy8386 Tuesday, Dec. 10, 2002 at 11:03 PM
Old Glory Jo Sunday, Dec. 22, 2002 at 3:41 PM
Warning! Warning! builder123 Thursday, Dec. 26, 2002 at 1:05 AM
yes to B. 123 who Thursday, Dec. 26, 2002 at 10:18 AM
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