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Santa Monica Neighbors Fighting Over 40-Foot-High Hedge

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Santa Monica's most recent height-related controversy is not about sky-scraping hotels; it's about foliage. Former State Treasurer/current SaMo condo-owner Phil Angelides has taken his neighbors, "hedge owner" Leana Greene and her husband (who is seriously and amazingly named Browne Greene), all the way to city hall to try to get her to lop 12 feet off of her 40-foot hedge, reports the Santa Monica Lookout. That's right: this woman has and refuses to trim an approximately four-story plant. Forty feet is well over the city's height cap, but the Greenes are claiming that their hedge is special, "one of about 2,600 hedges, fences or walls that exceed the City's 12-foot height limit but were 'grandfathered' in after a heated battle with residents." (Does Santa Monica have any other kind of battle?)

Further, Greene maintains that her hedge has always been this tall. Bullshit, says Angelides, who has produced damning photos of a stumpier hedge. The city Code Enforcement Department echoes his findings, saying that, when last measured, Greene's tree was closer to the 28 feet that the law permits.

The so-called "Hedge Wars" have been waged since the early aughts, when the issue, so resonant with residents, provided Bobby Shriver with a springboard for his political career. Is this all just a political stunt, then? Ugh, remember the good old days when people used to actually care about the hedges they were fighting for or against?

Fun fact: the Greenes live in a house with an incredible pedigree. It was built for early Hollywood actress Norma Shearer and super-producer Irving Thalberg (and once shared the road with the homes of J. Paul Getty and Douglas Fairbanks); F. Scott Fitzgerald described it as built "for the great emotional moments," remembered the LA Times in a write-up of the Greenes' 1997 renovation.