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Saturday, Nov. 09, 2002 at 10:00 PM
Boy takes to 400 year Oak tree to save it from newhall ranch developement. Mothers of community are feeding him. Send support.
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
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
"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
"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,
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
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
However, it is expected to be
several years before those plans
are approved, county officials
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
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