Trees, take three
Tahoe’s planning agency is at odds with a South Shore couple over allegations they poured salt around a large tree, killing it to improve their view of Lake Tahoe.
Cam and Charlene Lindberg have denied any wrongdoing at their former home on Tahoe Mountain.
Ten trees have died on the property since staff for the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency discovered rock salt at the base of a 20-inch diameter white fir tree in August 2004. Staff came to the property after the Lindbergs requested a tree removal permit.
The three-bedroom, two-bath home sold for $800,000 in April 2005. The Lindbergs purchased the home in 1988 for $216,000, according to the El Dorado County Assessor’s office.
TRPA is proposing a $50,000 fine to settle the matter out of court. If the Governing Board approves the fine at its meeting next week in Stateline, the Lindbergs have 30 days to pay to avoid litigation.
South Shore attorney Dennis Crabb is representing the couple, and in a letter to TRPA said the couple did not pour salt on the trees and do not know who did.
The agency says it does not have to prove the couple placed the salt because the TRPA Compact does not require proof of causation in a violation. It only requires they show the Lindbergs owned the property at the time in order for the couple to be liable.
Earlier this year, a Silicon Valley executive was fined $50,000 for drilling holes at the base of three trees and applying herbicide to kill them. John Fitzgerald eventually appeared before the legal committee of the board to apologize, saying it was the stupidest thing he’d ever done.
Since then, several tree removal violations have come before the board, but none were considered “egregious,” so the parties received a typical fine of $2,000 to $5,000 per tree or topped limb.
The agency is also investigating the removal of 387 trees north of the Lake Tahoe Airport in May, and alleges the city violated the conditions of a permit allowing 100 trees be removed between 6 to 10 inches in diameter. The city maintains the trees had to be cleared for safe visibility.
Cam Lindberg is an orthopedic surgeon. The Lindbergs belong to the Jaguar Club of Santa Barbara, and host social events for members. Charlene served as treasurer for their 2005/2006 board.