Santa Monica – hedge growers can now join dogs, cats, rental units and convicted sex offenders in Santa Monica registries. On July 26, the City Council gave final passage to a new law which grants a reprieve to “grandfathered” hedges of all heights provided owners pony up a $100 “hedge registration fee” to formally record the dimensions of the biomass on their property.
Neighbors can still challenge a hedge on the basis of public safety. An example of a public safety challenge might be a very high hedge on the final approach paths of Santa Monica Airport.
With the intimidating prospect of a $25,000 a day fine, the so called War of the Hedges hit Santa Monica over a year ago when approximately 200 residents received letters from the city telling them to cut their tall hedges or else. Bobby Shriver, a victim in the early Hedge War theater, has since been elected to the Council. As the revised hedge ordinance was being considered, Shriver was pro-choice on free growth of hedges, but lost out to other Council members insofar as the new law still restricts the height of future greenery.
Several details remain in mopping up operations. Since hedge leaves consume carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas, and emit oxygen, the City’s restriction of future hedge biomass could be seen as contributing to global warming.
Will Brazil see Santa Monica’s War of the Hedges as an implied green light for the continued destruction of the Amazon rain forest? Will seniors on fixed incomes, some of whom need supplemental oxygen, be eligible for a subsidy to help offset the $100 Hedge Registration Fee?
Implementation of the new law is a challenge as well. It was suggested that current hedge growers simply email a photograph of their biomass to the city for registration. Perhaps learning from Iraq where surveillance photos of chicken coops were repeatedly misinterpreted as missile silos, the City Council deemed that photographs could be misleading. So City inspectors will fan out and personally record each property’s biomass as soon as the applicant’s $100 check clears. It will be a race against time as hedges grow taller every day.With hedge peace in our time and the City inspectors rolling, it is the hope of some that Santa Monica will now turn its resources to the home front including homicide, drug dealing and gang warfare.