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Newhall; Judge Issues Eviction Order For Activist in Tree

by AP (from LA Times) Saturday, Jan. 11, 2003 at 10:09 PM

Judge Issues Eviction Order For Activist in Tree John Quigley's attorney says the activist will chain himself to the oak before he will allow himself to be removed.  







From Associated Press

A judge today ordered a man evicted from a 400-year-old oak in which he has perched for nearly 70 days to save the tree from a housing developer's road-widening project in northern Los Angeles County.

John Quigley's attorney said the activist would tie or chain himself to the tree.




 "Mr. Quigley is adamant about not coming down from that tree," attorney Anthony D. Zinnanti said after the ruling.

John Laing Homes, which owns the property the tree sits on, wants it out of the way to widen a road that would serve the proposed 21,600-home Newhall Ranch development.

The company has offered to relocate the tree rather than cut it down, but Quigley and other environmentalists don't believe it can survive a move.

Superior Court Judge John Shook approved a temporary restraining order requiring Quigley to "vacate and leave this oak tree" and to remain outside a fence put up by security guards before dawn Thursday.

Quigley, 42, has been living on a platform in the tree since Nov. 1 and was to be replaced by another tree-sitter Thursday so he could return to his teaching job and spend more time with his elderly father. But after the fence went up, he said he would stay put.

The judge also ordered Los Angeles County sheriffs deputies to evict Quigley if he refused to leave, and to arrest him for trespassing if he was removed and tried to climb the tree again.

No deadline was given for the eviction and attorneys for developer John Laing Homes declined to say if they would immediately seek Quigley's removal.

Sheriff's deputies referred calls to the developer.

Zinnanti said he would seek an emergency appeal to stay the ruling.

When the fence was erected Thursday, Quigley was served with a trespassing lawsuit and supporters sleeping below the tree were ordered to clear the area.

The tree technically is known as "Oak Tree No. 419" but supporters call it Old Glory.

"Our arborist has said there's only a 5 percent chance that tree will live if it's moved," said Lynne Plambeck of the nonprofit Santa Clarita Organization for Planning the Environment.

During the hearing, the developer's attorneys argued for Quigley's quick removal. Their experts had said relocation of the tree had to begin by Jan. 15 if it was to have the best chance of survival, attorney Stacy McDaniel said.

Attorney Edward Galloway said the developer also had received many complaints from homeowners about "dozens and sometimes hundreds" gathering near the tree to support Quigley, creating litter and noise.

"If Mr. Quigley is ordered to leave the tree, what is the harm to him?" Galloway said, arguing that the environmentalist could continue to press his case in the media. "We're simply asking that he stop doing that on our land."

Quigley's lawyer challenged the need to move the tree before a full hearing.

"The tree's been here for 400 years," Zinnanti said. "What's another couple of weeks?"

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