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Dream house spoiled by tree preservation law

Part 1: Neither fire danger nor habitat destruction reason enough for uprooting

Learn the New Luxury Playbook at Luxury Connect | October 18-19 at the Beverly Hills Hotel

(Part 1 of a two-part series. See Part 2.) The winds are howling. A canopy of six giant trees is tossing refuse on your roof and creaking like old bones. You know the nearly 200-foot-tall trees are unbalanced and probably rotting at the roots. You know they should be cut down, but, according to the law, you're not allowed to. What would you do? "Whenever stuff would fall on the house, I'd get so nervous," explains Ginny Troyer, a graduate student in literature at U.C. Santa Cruz. "A couple times a year, we get 60-mile-an-hour winds here," says her husband, music-software designer David Zicarelli. "We couldn't sleep." So concerned was the couple that they packed up their two children and moved to friends' houses when fierce storms hit. Only a year before, Troyer and Zicarelli had bought their dream house in Santa Cruz, Calif., with little expectation that they were about to take a trip into the Alice in Bureaucracyland of urban forestry. It all looked so perfect. The gorgeous 3,400-sq...