Residents Urge City to Intervene on Edison Tree Trimming

Southern California Edison

Southern California Edison crews reportedly plan to start cutting and trimming trees in Malibu Park and on Point Dume next week, prompting city planning commissioners to ask if the city should regulate the pruning.

The power company has said it needs to comply with state law, by cutting trees within 12 feet of its overhead power lines.

But city planning commissioner Kraig Hill pointed out Monday night that the laws are not exactly what Southern California Edison has claimed them to be.

At Monday’s Planning Commission meeting, Hill said rules adopted by the state give the power company discretion; they are not a mandate to clear cut the area in the name of reducing power pole fire threat.

Residents Patt Healy and Judy Villablanca implored the commission to demand that SCE get a city permit and hire independent tree experts to oversee the Edison work.

“We are now at risk for a complete collapse of the Santa Monica Mountains’ ecosystem due to the combined effects of drought, fire and climate change,” Villablanca said. 

“This is now nesting season for birds that have lost much of their habitat in the Woolsey Fire,” she continued. “In light of all this, this is clearly the wrong time to add another stress to our ecosystem by trimming and removing native trees.”

City Planning Director Bonnie Blue was asked why SCE needed to take out a Coastal Development Permit from Los Angeles County for tree trimming outside city limits, but no similar permit from the city.  She had no immediate answer. 

But Blue said SCE has agreed to expedite tree trimming in eastern Malibu, which was spared from the fires last November. That request was first made by Council Member Skylar Peak at the Monday, April 8, Malibu City Council Meeting. Nevertheless, SCE will be starting in Malibu Park and Point Dume next week, she said.