Around Town | November 26, 2010 | Palo Alto Weekly | Palo Alto Online |

Palo Alto Weekly

News - November 26, 2010

Around Town

A MASTER PLAN ... If a tree falls in Palo Alto, or even a branch, you can be sure everyone will hear about it, even if they don't actually hear it. Last year, community uproar over 63 felled trees on California Avenue prompted a series of apologies and an internal investigation from embarrassed city officials. These days, Public Works officials and council members are getting lobbied from residents who want the city to chop down damaged eucalyptus trees at Eleanor Pardee Park, as well as from those who want the city to leave the trees alone (the debate was sparked by an incident in January in which a large branch fell off a tree and landed too close to a pedestrian for the pedestrian's comfort). City officials will discuss plans for tree removal at Pardee Park at two community meetings in early December (the first one will be at 7 p.m. on Dec. 1 at the Lucie Stern Community Center). At the same time, Palo Alto hopes to avoid future tree snafus by pursuing a new master plan for protecting the city's "urban forest." This week, the City Council approved a contract with the firm HortScience to help devise an Urban Forest Master Plan that would "help the city conserve, renew and monitor its urban forest" and "identify how to minimize conflicts between retention of the urban forest and construction of development and infrastructure projects," according to a staff report. The plan is partially funded by a $66,000 state grant, with the city pitching in another $93,604. Catherine Martineau, executive director of Canopy (which advises the city on tree-related issues), lauded the new effort and said it will help Palo Alto avoid controversies like the ones at California Avenue and at Pardee Park. "If we have a plan to manage this forest and to grow it in a sustainable way, I believe and the board of Canopy believes that we'll avoid many of these problems," she said.

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