Couple dug up and buried dozens of iconic and protected Joshua Trees

Originally published at: Couple dug up and buried dozens of iconic and protected Joshua Trees | Boing Boing


how did they buy property for a house in the area and nobody (their realtor?) informed them about this? crazy.


That seems like the kind of thing a realtor would be acutely aware of, but fail to mention in order to close the deal.

I trust realtors slightly more than car salespeople.


I’m genuinely curious and it’s not addressed in the article: there must be some review and permitting process to allow moving / removing trees on a building site; otherwise the (private) land would be worthless for anything larger than a tinyhouse.

Also my mom was a realtor, and she was extremely careful about disclosures like this - you can get in huge amounts of trouble for that sort of thing.


$18,000 added to the construction budget for their million-dollar house. That’ll show 'em.


This was a few miles from our house, they should be publicly shamed, forever.


How it often unfolds in Austin, Texas:

  1. Developer / builder / moneyed landowner wants to build XYZ, which is designed in a specific way that DBML will want, regardless of site conditions.

  2. Either DBML already knows about existing applicable ordinances re: protected trees, stream buffer setbacks, etc., or possibly may have been told by realtor. (In my very own neighborhood, several of the properties that sold in the past 12 months did not have full disclosure from realtors about very real and extenuating issues that may adversely affect buyers.)

  3. DBML cuts down trees, alters site, whatever.

  4. DBML pays fine, which was already in the building budget anyway, typically, in some column euphemistically named something other that “budget for illegalities.”

  5. DBML gets exactly XYZ with no CCOs (construction change orders) and whatever they/she/he/it wants.

  6. Existing wildlife, plants, neighbors, etc. suffer.

  7. Lather rinse repeat.

Happens all the time here.
All. The. Time.
Very nearly in my backyard, as a matter of fact.

Regulatory infrastructure, enforcement, inspectors, etc. are barely a speedbump when you can just pay to play.

ETA: grammar
@Papasan said it well, plus he lives in actual Joshua Tree IIRC


Yes there is a process, but the 1% ers coming in from LA basin are just ignoring them, the fine is cheaper & faster than the permitting process.


Go whack them with a tree branch. Right now.


They need to create some exacerbating circumstances for the fine. More than one tree, fine increases exponentially. Failure to disclose protected status of trees when selling property results in a fine for all the realtors involved. Killing the trees when on notice of the protected status (via that required disclosure upon sale) means an additional fine of 1% of appraised value of property.


We thought it was okay, that’s why we buried the evidence so deep they needed an excavator to find it. :roll_eyes:


Was meth involved? I mean I’m really trying to understand why someone would do such a thing?


We get a lot of people here from both Vancouver and Calgary who pull stuff like this all the time. They act all innocent and pay the fine (or beg for forgiveness) and go about their business like nothing happened.

The worst offenders are the contractors who know damn well they’re breaking the law or going against bylaws or environmental protections. They just shrug their shoulders and pull the old “I was just doing what I was paid to do” line like it’s just another day at the office and none of this is their concern at all.


Given that they went to all the hassle and expense to BURY the felled trees, I think they knew and just chose to, literally, cover it up.


Of course they knew, that’s why they buried the evidence.

Edit: Doh! I missed it by that mu – no, upon second though, not even close :smiley:


Surely you meant 10% off the property value.


Total supposition based upon the pacific northwest city i squat within: The @#$n view. There are a shocking number of people where i live who would kill a dozen 500 year old Douglas fir trees if it gave them a partial glimpse of Mt Rainier. -sigh-


hmm, now that you mention it… good point.


If we’re talking about people killing trees, Dan Snyder deserves a mention.

I heard someone who met him say that he insists on being called “Mr. Snyder”. So if you do meet him, call him “Dan”. Or “Danny”.


It doesn’t.

A Realtor who cares about keeping their license will disclose everything known to them regarding a given property, and will also provide any disclosures required by law pertaining to the property’s location. The penalties for shirking this are significant, and their Errors & Omissions insurance only covers non-willful violations. If the Realtor can be shown to have both known and failed to disclose to their buyers in this case, the buyers could sue the agent to recover their own losses in the matter.

That said, the couple both dug the trees up and then buried them and then tried to make a size-related excuse. These actions seem to demonstrate prior knowledge on their part. Ignorance isn’t a shield from consequences, of course, but it’s hard to look at what happened and presume they were ignorant in the matter.