For the last two or three years, even mentioning tree trimming in the Coastal Zone of southeast Long Beach was asking for trouble.
So it should come as no surprise that notice of a public hearing dealing with the "policy for the provision of annual and emergency tree trimming activities for the city-maintained trees within the local and appealable areas of the coastal zone," calls of concern came quickly.
It turns out that the Jan. 11 public hearing was seeking only to consolidate policies in the Public Works and Parks, Recreation and Marine departments so they followed state Coastal Commission edicts. There was never a plan to trim trees outside of those rules, according to Jennifer Carey, communications officer for the Public Works Department.
"I think there is some misinformation circulating and we have been trying to clarify with the community," Carey wrote in an email. "There is no tree trimming currently scheduled in the coastal zone… The October-December window for scheduled coastal tree trimming has not changed."
Last year, the state Coastal Commission cited the city and tightened rules on tree trimming after palm trees lining the median of Ocean Boulevard on the Peninsula were trimmed on May 6 — long after nesting season had begun — and at least one bird was found dead. That followed a year-long fight in 2019 over trimming and moving palm trees on Marina Drive as part of a Complete Streets makeover as part of construction of the 2ND&PCH retail center.
State regulations prohibit tree trimming during nesting season — Feb. 15-Sept. 1 — with very few exceptions. The city worked for and received limited waivers during the Marina Drive construction, but admitted the 2020 trimming of the Peninsula palms was a mistake. That prompted an agreement to only trim trees in the Coastal Zone in October through December.
One Peninsula resident said it appeared the city was looking to extend trimming into January. But Carey said there was no tree trimming scheduled anywhere in the Coastal Zone.
"The goal of this LCDP (Local Coastal Development Permit) is to align Public Works and Parks, Recreation and Marine policies and procedures with regards to coastal scheduled trimming and allow for both Departments to operate under the same permit," she wrote in the email.
The description of the permit in the hearing notice says specifically that it "does not affect the applicability of the Tree Trimming and Removal Policy approved by the California Coastal Commission."