Hermosa Beach homeowner battles city over demands to trim trees hosting protected owls nests

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Wednesday, December 21, 2022
Hermosa Beach homeowner wins battle to protect owls nests
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A Hermosa Beach homeowner has won her battle with the city over saving protected owls who have nested in the trees in front of her home.

HERMOSA BEACH, Calif. (KABC) -- A Hermosa Beach homeowner is grateful after winning a reprieve in her battle with the city over saving protected owls who have nested in the trees in front of her home.

The city of Hermosa Beach was demanding Izumi Brandvold trim the two palm trees in front of her home or face a hefty fine if the city had to send out their own trimmers.

She says she protested, explaining to one city official that there are owls nests in the trees protected by state and federal laws.

In the past, she says, that was enough for the city to back off, but this time the official she was dealing with was more insistent and said she still had to meet a Dec. 29 trimming deadline.

Now Brandvold is crying grateful tears after learning the city will excuse her from the deadline and arrange to have the trees inspected and possibly trimmed by professionals experienced in protecting nests.

"It makes me happy, I feel like it's a Christmas miracle," she said.

Brandvold contacted Eyewitness News after receiving a threatening letter from the city stating if she refused to trim the trees by the end of December she would be fined upwards of $500. It also said she would be ordered to repay the city for sending out tree trimmers.

Brandvold said she did research that indicated the barn owls are protected and their nests are supposed to be left undisturbed.

Eyewitness News contacted the city regarding the plight of the owls. The city told us they decided to remove the deadline and that the homeowner no longer needed to trim the trees the owls live in, for now.

"Our team has been in contact with both the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) and the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) to ensure that any trimming of the palm trees is completed in a way that protects the lives of the owls and follows the requirements of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act," the city wrote in a letter to Brandvold.

This news brought joy to Izumi knowing she spoke up for animals who could not speak for themselves.

"All I wanted was, I wanted to protect the owls."

Izumi's daughter, Sheellee Ross said that she was extremely grateful the city listened and decided to protect the owls that have been living there for years.

"I'm extremely happy and grateful that the city listened to us and our cries to protect the owls," she said. "They've been living here for years."

City Manager Suja Lowenthal issued a statement to Eyewitness News: "We love our owls, and we are dedicated to protecting wildlife and the public. That is why we are enlisting the assistance of licensed wildlife professionals and specialists, as well as a certified arborist, to determine how we can trim the trees to protect the public from dead palm fronds falling on them and at the same time protect the owls."