Without ruling on the validity of allergy-based tree removals, Planning and Community Environment Director Steve Emslie denied an application to remove two redwoods on Byron Street last week.
Property owners Lauren Janov and Mark Grossman have 14 business days, beginning Monday, to appeal the decision, City Arborist Dave Dockter said.
Janov refused to comment Tuesday.
The couple had applied to cut down two healthy redwood trees on Oct. 9. One tree is partially located on city land between the sidewalk and the street, qualifying it as a city street tree, Emslie noted earlier.
Janov and Grossman cited allergies as the reason for the removals, the same justification that had allowed them to cut down four other redwood trees at their 2063 Byron Street home this summer.
But this time Emslie said no.
To remove the jointly owned 90-foot-tall tree both parties would have to agree, Dockter wrote.
"The city does not wish to remove this tree; therefore, the application to permit removal of the ... redwood tree must be denied," the letter states.
The other, 70-foot-tall tree's fate is linked to the taller tree.
"Given that the larger (90-foot-tall) redwood tree in the front yard will remain, it is reasonable to assume that removal of the (smaller) tree will not eliminate the allergy concern in the front yard," Dockter wrote.
The letter does not mention the receipt of a petition from more than seven neighbors opposing the removals, or other correspondence and calls advocating saving the trees.
Despite the potential of an appeal, neighbor Bob Herriot said Tuesday he was pleased with the decision.
"I think (Emslie) listened to the community and it appears he decided to place the wants of the community above the wants of an individual," Herriot said.
Emslie was not available for comment Tuesday afternoon.
The issue of allergy-based tree removals aroused tree-lovers' ire this summer when the Bonomi family of Lowell Avenue received permission to cut down two redwoods by providing a doctor's note.
Lauren and Flavio Bonomi had tried for months to win approval to have the trees removed. They , produced voluminous reports, citing the trees' threat to their children and they even brought their priest to testify before the City Council shortly before midnight one night in May.
But a month later they quietly submitted a doctor's note (Grossman visited the same doctor) wioth a bare-bones application and the Bonomis had their long-sought-after removal permit.
At the time, Emslie said the city had to respect the medical need for the trees' removal, basing his decision on a 2005 case where a Kenneth Drive resident received a permit to cut down a redwood tree after submitting a doctor's note citing allergies.
Mature, healthy redwood trees are classified as "protected" in Palo Alto and property owners must apply to remove them.
The city's Oct. 31 ruling leaves open the larger question ofwhether protected trees should be removed based on medical claims.
Seven Palo Alto redwoods have been removed since 2005 based on allergy complaints.
Catherine Martineau, executive diretor of the tree-advocate group, Canopy, has pointed out that tree pollen, which causes allergies, flows freely across property lines.