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Treesit in Santa Clarita

by omni 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.

Oak

tree

may

be

doomed

By

Heather

MacDonald

Staff

Writer

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."

Report this post as:

LATEST COMMENTS ABOUT THIS ARTICLE
Listed below are the 10 latest comments of 3 posted about this article.
These comments are anonymously submitted by the website visitors.
TITLE AUTHOR DATE
Transcending Single Issue and Reformists Politics at the Santa Clarita Treesit nomoreleftys Thursday, Nov. 14, 2002 at 8:18 PM
Save Pico Cyn Oak Tree F A Rose Sunday, Nov. 17, 2002 at 4:18 AM
Mr. Michael Linder Tuesday, Nov. 19, 2002 at 4:23 PM

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