Next Wednesday, February 22, is the birthday of the “father” of our country, George Washington. It is also the deadline for “grandfathering” (to be politically correct/gender neutral the City of Santa Monica prefers “grandparenting”) nonconforming hedges, fences and walls by registering them with the City. Once “grandparented,” all existing hedges, walls and fences will be allowed to remain at their August 26, 2005 heights. Notwithstanding the new guidelines, no fence, wall or hedge shall be allowed, if it violates the municipal code as it pertains to hazardous visual obstructions. Next Wednesday’s deadline brings some closure to an interesting, even bizarre chapter in city history. When the City’s assault on hedges began, owners of offending hedges were informed that the penalty for refusing to modify nonconforming hedges was $25,000 a day. And George Washington and peers thought the British tax on tea was unreasonable! Among the hapless homeowners who were threatened with the $25,000 a day fine was since-elected Councilman Bobby Shriver. When he and scores of other hedge owners protested the draconian fine, City staff claimed that the $25,000 figure was a typo, and the actual fine was $2,500 a day, but the hedge owners were not mollified and the protests continued, forcing the City Council to re-evaluate the threat posed by hedges. It ultimately adopted new, relaxed restrictions, including the grandparenting of existing hedges. fences and walls. Today, as far as we know, Santa Monica is the only in the world with a hedge registry.Visit www.santa-monica.org/planning/fence&hedgeregister.htm for details including an application form. The form requests: 1) A schematic drawing including structures and the location of non-informing hedges, walls and fences; 2) Measurements of the nonconformers; 3) At least two color photos; and 4) The hedge/fence/wall owner’s signature. Complete the application carefully, including hedge measurements, as the application is submitted under penalty of perjury. Thanks to George Washington and our nation’s other “foreparents,” applicants will have due process to defend themselves if the City accuses them of lying about their hedges.But hedge owners and the City should be aware that an anti-grandparenting/anti-tall hedges movement has now been organized.
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