A West Hollywood, California, city ordinance, which I found on the web site of the West Hollywood Tree Preservation Society (“WHTPS”) says this:

 Landscaped areas shall be continually maintained in good condition and kept watered, cleaned and weeded. Dead or dieing [sic] plant material shall be replaced. This shall be consistent with the approved landscape plan for project, which have an approved plan. Landscape and landscaped areas shall be kept free of trash and debris. This section shall apply to vacant or abandoned parcels in addition to any developed parcels in the city.

Existing landscaping, including but not limited to grass, trees, planting and natural vegetation shall not be removed from any lot until and unless a landscaping plan for the lot has been approved. This section shall not apply to single-family dwellings or areas of residential development not visible to the general public and shall not apply to the immediate replacement of any plantings with plantings of like or similar type and size. (Ord. 91-284 (part), 1991: prior code 9327)

Now, I can live with most of the stuff in the first paragraph.  Property owners should have to keep landscaping in good condition, replace dead or dying plant material, and keep landscaped areas free of trash and debris.  The sentence that refers to “the approved landscape plan for the project” is unclear, however.  I suspect it means that if I am going to replace dead or dying plant material, I have to submit a landscape plan to the city and get their approval.

The second part of the ordinance quoted is not so innocuous, and confirms my suspicion about the requirement for a permit to remove any dead or dying plant material.  Although it doesn’t apply to single family dwellings or areas of residential development not visible to the public, this part of the ordinance apparently requires owners of all properties other than single family residences to get a landscaping plan approved any time they want to remove a plant, except if it is immediately replaced “with plantings of like or similar type and size.”  So, if I want to remove a shrub from the front yard of my duplex, I have to get a landscaping plan approved by the city Why do I have the feeling that they are going to second-guess my reasons for removing the shrub and not replacing it with “plantings of like or similar type and size?”

I have asked before, and must ask again: just when did there get to be so many rules?  Why can’t I dig up my pyracantha bushes and replace them with saguaro cacti just because I want to, without having to get bureaucratic approval?  Doesn’t everyone love saguaro cacti?

Ok, so saguaro cacti probably wouldn’t grow in West Hollywood, but I was just using an example.  How about Joshua trees?  Those are native to California, anyway, so they would satisfy the part of the city ordinance that wasn’t on the WHTPS web site, but which undoubtedly exists, that requires use of native plants in new landscaping.



While we are on the subject of rules, here is an item that appeared on a web site called from a TV station in Florida:

CLERMONT, Fla. — A Central Florida war veteran faces a lawsuit for flying the American flag on a pole in his front yard.

“I don’t understand why it would bring down the values of our homes by flying the American flag from a pole in my front yard,” homeowner Jimmie Watkins said.

Watkins and his wife, Ria, received a final notice from the Sussex homeowners’ association in Clermont that they must remove the flag or face legal action.

The former retired U.S. Navy communications officer said he refuses to back down for the American flag.

You’ll be glad to know that the Arizona Legislature took care of this problem a few years ago by enacting a statute that says this:

Notwithstanding any provision in the community documents, an association shall not prohibit the outdoor display of any of the following:

1.  The American flag or an official or replica of a flag of the United States army, navy, air force, marine corps or coast guard by an association member on that member’s property if the American flag or military flag is displayed in a manner consistent with the federal flag code (P.L. 94-344; 90 Stat. 810; 4 United States Code sections 4 through 10).

2.  The POW/MIA flag.

3.  The Arizona state flag.

4.  An Arizona Indian nations flag.

The “community documents” means the “CC&Rs,” or covenants, conditions and restrictions, of a homeowners’ association, and any other rules a homeowners’ association adopts.  This means that in Arizona, your association can’t tell you to take down your American flag as long as it is displayed in a manner consistent with the federal flag code (which I didn’t look up but which I expect deals mostly with the how, not the what, where or when, of flying the flag).