By Jason KUROSU
The Crescenta Valley Town Council Land Use Committee and various other members of the community convened at the La Crescenta Public Library on March 10 to discuss one issue: the felling of an oak tree which occurred over a year ago.
At that time, newlyweds Paul and Mariam Barnes hired a tree trimmer to cut down an elm, which led to the accidental cutting of an oak tree. At the Land Use Committee’s meeting, Paul Barnes told the Committee that this particular trimmer “split after cutting the oak,” and that he and his wife “haven’t heard from him since.”
Since then, the couple has dealt with a troublesome permit process in order to remove another oak from their premises in order to build an add-on to their house, where Paul’s parents will live. The Land Use Committee members weighed whether they thought the Barnes should have a permit or whether they were at fault for the fallen oak. Their recommendation would be given to Los Angeles County, which will decide whether or not the permit will be provided.
Members of the community were allowed to speak before the committee and share their thoughts on the matter.
Tujunga resident April McCarty sympathized with the couple’s “desire to help Paul’s parents” and noted that “the homes that are already here would not exist without knocking down a few trees.”
La Crescenta resident and retired police Sergeant Gene Ingram said, “Laws are meant to be enforced by the spirit of the law, not the letter of the law. They should have the right to remove the tree.”
After hearing all of the remarks, the Committee members shared their reflections.
Robert Thomas said, “Trees are very important, but people are also very important.”
Robbyn Battles spoke on the Barnes’ desire to have Paul’s parents closer to them and Battles’ recent loss of her father.
“If a tree had been in the way of me being with my father, I would cut it down myself,” Battles said.
Overall, much of the committee and the community sided with the Barnes. There were dissenting voices though.
Committee member Danette Erickson made sure to comment that “out of all the people that came up to speak, only two of them were neighbors [of Paul and Mariam Barnes] and they didn’t approve of cutting down the oak.” She added that she “was going by the letter of the law with her vote” and that she was “angry that the oak tree was cut down.”
That being said, a vote was taken, and the committee approved the Barnes’ request for an oak tree permit by a seven to two vote.