Another Nice Big Sur Story

Published December 2003 in Big Sur Roundup

On a recent Sunday I started out from my house to the River Inn to join Ken, Paul, David, et al, to watch the 49er game on TV. It had rained an inch and a half that morning, and when I got to the bottom, there was a tree across the driveway. So I backed up the 100 yards to the tool shed, got out the chain saw, gas and oil and went down to cut it up. I figured it would take well over an hour, or the first half of the game.

Just as I was setting up the saw I heard a familiar rumble coming up the Coast Ridge Road. Sure enough, in a couple of minutes Mike Trotter's black lab, Buddy, ran around the corner of the drive, looking for Bailey to play with, followed in a few minutes by Michael on his back hoe. When he got there I pointed at the tree, and, in less than three minutes the tree disappeared. I tried to give him $20 but he wouldn't accept it.

I won't tell you what happened to the tree, because if I did I would be sued by the County and the Coastal Commission for not getting a tree removal permit, a Coastal Development Permit, an environmental impact report, or recommendations from the Big Sur Land Use Committee regarding impact of the tree removal on the neighbors view. To clear up the violations I would have to hire a civil engineer to prepare a site plan showing the location of the tree before and after, geotechnical engineer to determine the impact of the tree removal on slope stability, a geologist report because I live in a seismically sensitive area and removal of the tree could exacerbate damage in the event of an earthquake, a biologist's report to determine if the tree was an endangered species or the new location of the tree could spread sudden oak death fungus, and a report from the LUAC regarding objections from the neighbors.

I figure the fees would be in the range of $30,000 to $50,000, then doubled because I acted without a permit, and the process of flagging the site with orange netting, going through half a dozen hearings before LUAC, then to the Planning Commission and the Board of Supervisors would take two years. Finally, they would deny the tree removal permit and order me to restore the site to its original condition.

If I used the tree for firewood, I could be convicted of felony destruction of evidence. So, I am not going to tell you what happened to the tree.


Coast Property Owners Association, P.O. Box 59, Big Sur, CA 93920
© 2004 by Coast Property Owners Association