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La Cañada Might Force Farmer To Rip Out 475-Tree Persimmon Grove

Persimmon tree (Photo by kenjii via Shutterstock)
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Seven years ago William Johnson planted 475 persimmon trees on a 78 acres of land that run alongside the Angeles Crest Highway in La Cañada. But there's a chance that Johnson will never be able to enjoy the (literal) fruit of his labor. It takes seven years for the trees to bear fruit, but the city of La Cañada is considering a new general plan for the city that would ban agricultural activity from the land where the persimmons are growing before the trees will bear fruit, according to the La Cañada Valley Sun (h/t Curbed LA). The Sun reports it's likely that Johnson would have to shut down his operation and tear out the grove.

The new plan will come before the city council on January 22. The city manager told the Sun that if the general plan is adopted, the planning commission could create an overlay zone to accomodate Johnson, but he would have to submit an application. Right now 11 acres of Johnson's grove is on land owned by Southern California Edison, though Edison has no problem with the trees.

Neighbors, on the other hand, aren't very happy. It's not the persimmon groves that bother them but the animals he keeps on his property. Charles Gelhaar, former president of the homeowner's association of the nearby Angeles Crest Estates, explained: "It's the fact that he had cows and horses and alpacas up on his property. You’re supposed to put [animal] waste in metal containers daily and remove it weekly, and he just wasn’t doing it."

Johnson said he wants to see if he can get enough signatures for an amendment that would allow him to keep the farm running and the trees growing.