Around Town | June 11, 2010 | Palo Alto Weekly | Palo Alto Online |

Palo Alto Weekly

News - June 11, 2010

Around Town

TREE WARS ... For Palo Alto officials, settling the city's tree controversies is a bit like playing Whac-A-Mole: Just as one crisis appears to be under control, another one unexpectedly pops up. So it was Tuesday, when Alma Plaza suddenly edged out Eleanor Pardee Park as the site of the great tree travesty of the moment. On Tuesday morning, contractors chopped down the first of nine trees on Alma Plaza, much to the annoyance of residents in the nearby Stanford Villa apartments. Later that evening, Palo Alto officials had a civil and well-attended meeting at the Lucie Stern Community Center to discuss the city's pending replacement of six damaged trees at Eleanor Pardee park, a project that's been opposed by some residents. The city's tree-removal operations became a testy subject in Palo Alto, where the city's abruptly removed 63 holly oaks on California Avenue. The city wasted no time in addressing community criticisms about the latest tree removals. On Wednesday morning, Planning Director Curtis Williams and Planning Arborist Dave Dockter, rushed to Alma Plaza before any more trees could be removed, to meet with neighbors and project developer, John McNellis. They concluded that the tree removal at the plaza is legal, approved and necessary for McNellis' pending renovation of the plaza. The city also issued a public statement Wednesday explaining the project and the reasons for the tree removal. Williams said he and Dockter reviewed the plans and "confirmed that there is no practical way to preserve the trees, given the constraints of parking and placement of utilities that are now being installed along the northernmost property boundary near the Stanford Villa apartments." The next discussion of a major tree-removal operation will be held on Thursday, June 17, when the Architectural Review Board is scheduled to discuss the San Antonio Road Median Improvement Project, which includes (among other design elements), removal and replacement of 87 street trees.

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