Pepper tree dustup leads to arrest in Canyon Country

The stump of a pepper tree stands in the backyard of a property on Blackbrush Drive in Santa Clarita on Tuesday, 0141321. Dan Watson/The Signal

A dispute between Canyon Country neighbors led to the arrest of a man on suspicion he had a tree on his neighbors’ property illegally cut down.  

On Friday, neighbors reported hearing a commotion coming from outside a home on Blackbrush Drive, at the base of the hill beside which they live.  

“Upon arrival, (Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station) deputies learned while the victim was having trees trimmed on her property by workers, the suspect, who is also her neighbor, instructed the workers to remove a large tree in her yard without her authorization,” said Deputy Natalie Arriaga, a spokeswoman for the SCV Sheriff’s Station, noting the report from deputies who responded to the initial calls. 

A few neighbors have accused the owner of a home on Wildridge Lane — whose property and house sits atop the hill overlooking several backyards below on Blackbrush — of intentionally ordering the removal of the pepper tree in the backyard of their neighbors’ home. 

A photo is taken of the pepper tree immediately after it was cut down. Courtesy photo.

Sheriff’s Department records indicate deputies returned to the neighborhood Sunday, two days after the initial arguments on the street, and the Wildridge Lane resident, Richard Quinn, 61, was arrested on suspicion he paid for a tree-trimming service to cut down a pepper tree — estimated to be 20-30 feet in height — that wasn’t on his property. The formal charge was vandalism, according to station officials. 

Neighbors said only a mulberry tree, which resided in the center of the Blackbrush Drive house’s backyard, was ordered to be cut down — but Community Upkeep Services staff are believed to have cut down the additional tree anyway. The trees to the right of the victims’ property, that run along their neighbor’s backyard fence, were not cut down.   

In a phone interview with The Signal on Wednesday, Quinn said he would neither confirm nor deny the allegations and wait for the legal matters to settle the issue. The company that had reportedly cut down the tree, Community Upkeep Tree Service, could not be reached for comment. 

The incident is under investigation by the Sheriff’s Station. 

Quinn is scheduled to appear in court May 10, after he was cited and released from the Sheriff’s Station on April 12, according to LASD records.  

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