The residents of Thousand Oaks really take their city's name seriously, and have now forced local officials to protect the area's foliage. A $25-million renovation on the Westlake Plaza shopping center took out 170 trees and locals get all up in arms about it, wondering how it could be legally possible to cut down so many trees—many of them decades old, according to the LA Times. Turns out, the city has a 2010 ordinance that permits the removal of any oak tree, no matter how old or how large, provided it was planted by the property owners. Despite the technical legality, plenty of residents were aghast—first at the shopping center's owners, then at their local government for what they saw as kowtowing to developers.
For their part, the Westlake Plaza's owners, Regency Centers Corp., planned to replace the total 200 trees it wants to remove with new landscaping; they also intend to redo the outdoor space in such a way that existing trees won't "damage the center's improvements and infrastructure." But local discontent caused a ripple effect, first in the redevelopment plans and then in Thousand Oaks City Hall. The shopping center will now begin replanting replacement trees sooner than initially planned, and has also nixed cutting down "a number of [other] trees," including four large sycamores on the property that predate the land's development.
Meanwhile, there's now a 10-month moratorium on the ordinance that allowed for the first 170 or so trees to be chopped down in the first place; a committee of property and businessowners, along with residents, will meet to "overhaul the approach to protecting large trees."
· Thousand Oaks redevelopment sparks public outcry to save the trees [LAT]