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Lowell Avenue redwood trees to come down

Original post made on Aug 31, 2007

After months of appeals, arborists reports and even an entreaty from a priest, a doctor's note was all Flavio and Lauren Bonomi needed to cut down the two large redwood trees in front of their Lowell Avenue home.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Friday, August 31, 2007, 5:34 PM

Comments (72)

Posted by Dissapointed, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 31, 2007 at 7:14 pm

Get a doctors note that says you're allergies are
impacted by redwood trees- that's the way!
Sounds like a Dr. Suess story- Sierra Clubbers
who really like redwoods- just not in their yard-
or silly little laws that get in their way-
"the tree are not native to this area" Is that so?
I suppose a few strayed to far from the coat.
Are these folks native?
Go ahead, have some cake too!

Posted by pat, a resident of Midtown
on Aug 31, 2007 at 7:58 pm

Sounds very suspicious, especially since the homeowners tried all sorts of other ploys before resorting to a doctor's note. I'm allergic to just about everything, but the redwood in our back yard doesn't bother me a bit, nor is it messy compared to maples and other deciduous trees.

Could the real allergy be to "sap stains on the family's new cream-colored stucco house"?

Posted by Anti-tree hugger, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 31, 2007 at 9:20 pm

I think it is an invasion of an individual's property rights when the City tells a resident they can't remove a tree in their own yard.

Coastal redwoods have very shallow roots and can easily be blown over during a winter storm. If a protected redwood falls on a resident's home, I hope the city's insurance company will pay to repair the damage.

Posted by oxygen_addict, a resident of Community Center
on Aug 31, 2007 at 9:54 pm

This story disappoints me no end. Trees are not only a defining characteristic of Palo Alto, they are also a vital element of our environment. They were there and protected before the Bonomis arrival in Palo Alto and they are effectively part of the city's organic infrastructure. They clean the air for us, pulling in carbon dioxide (which contributes to global warming) and replacing it with oxygen.

Trees that size have many years left in them, so I doubt they posed any risk. If they did, I'm certain the city arborist, Dave Dockter, who's very reputable in his field, would have cited that -- and not allergens -- as a reason for uprooting the trees.

I only hope Flavio and Lauren Bonomi offset this damage by purchasing carbon credits (which go towards planting new trees).

Posted by bob, a resident of College Terrace
on Aug 31, 2007 at 11:39 pm

This is another example of big brother (government) telling us how to manage our own property. Why a tree is more important than an individual is beyond me.

Because one person is not affected by trees does not mean that all individuals are not affected. We are all different in reacting to our environment.

Posted by self important, a resident of South of Midtown
on Sep 1, 2007 at 12:04 am

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

Posted by Be Informed, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 1, 2007 at 6:32 am

How uncivil of some of you to assume the worst of your neighbors. Before accusing someone of malicious intent or even dishonesty, do your research.

While some trees may be worth protecting in Palo Alto, redwoods are not on the list.

-- Don't assume they've been here for a long time just because of their size. Unlike oaks, redwood trees are very fast growing and can grow to 100' tall in just 25 years.

-- They are not native to Palo Alto (oaks are).

-- They pull more from our environment than they give back to it (oaks don't).

-- They are prone to failure because of health problems that are not evident to their owner. Because of their size relative to the small lots they are on, when they fail they crush houses and cars and send people to the hospital. (Just google for stories in the Weekly and Almanac that appear each year it seems about redwoods falling in town during winters storms.)

-- Know that some communities around here know something about redwoods trees that Palo Alto seemed not to realize when it passed the ordinance. They either ban redwoods from being planted in their towns or advise residents against doing so, going so far as to label them as "undesirable" in their Municipal Codes. Even a community in the heart of redwood country up north, where redwoods are native and thrive, warn residents against planting redwoods on their lots.

-- And yes, redwoods are well known to cause allergic reactions.

The facts are that redwoods take over homeowners' ability to use their relatively small yards in very little time because of how quickly they grow and how wide and shallow their roots spread, take up a huge demand on our water supplies relative to other trees, and because of their size when they fail they cause considerable damage to homeowners and their neighbors around them. Caring for them is difficult to impossible if the homeowner has an allergic reaction every weekend he tends to his yard.

I completely understand how someone can love redwood trees but not want them on their lot.

Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 1, 2007 at 7:59 am

Redwoods tees are definitely not an endangered species. Let these two trees go. The trees should never have been planted there in the first place. I support the Bonomi family in their quest to remove the trees.

Posted by former tree climber, a resident of South of Midtown
on Sep 1, 2007 at 9:41 am

It seems to me that it's easy to criticize if you don't know the whole story and it sounds like the Bonomis have a laundry list of reasons - any one of which is valid. But if you do a little homework, you just might find out that the tree sap is tannic acid - nasty stuff - and I wouldn't worry so much about property damage as I would my own health. I used to do some tree work but had to stop because of being overexposed to the stuff in the wood. I had an allergic reaction one day and that was enough for me to quit that job. I'd rather be around to watch my kids grow up.

Posted by History buff, a resident of Community Center
on Sep 1, 2007 at 10:02 am

I can't quite figure out why redwoods are protected in Palo Alto. If you look at the history of this town and the old photos, the only redwood you see is El Palo Alto along the creek.

If they were truly native, the town would look like a redwood forest. Palo Alto was grasslands and oaks.

There's a word for trees that grow that big so quickly... weeds. Good riddance.

Posted by TJ, a resident of Midtown
on Sep 1, 2007 at 10:34 am

History Buff

Redwood trees along with oak trees became protected trees several years ago. Tree Huggers wanted to protect all old trees in Palo Alto with a trunk of 18" in diameter or larger. Many residents protested as it was an invasion of homeowners property rights. Council voted in favor of protecting native Californian trees i.e. redwood and oak trees.

Posted by Dissapointed, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 1, 2007 at 10:41 am

....and it still sounds like a Dr. Suess story

Have some more cake!

Posted by Free the Trees, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Sep 1, 2007 at 10:48 am

To all those who claim to be ardent supporters of cutting down the trees-

please, remember that these trees were here long before these people bought their home
and that children grew up with them- became etched in their memories- part of their
daily lives- and they didn't even have to hug the trees to share their love- they simply adored them on their way to and fro- and know the "environmentalisits" haved moved in-
decided that it's really better that the trees must go- their time is up- they have lived long
enough- and although they are beautiful- they must go! We bought the land- and we will
do with it what we please- so say goodbye the old trees and hang on to those memories-
cause that's whrere they will be. More cake anyone?

Posted by Dissapointed, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 1, 2007 at 11:02 am

Former Tree Hugger?Climber: So glad the redwood trees didn't kill you! Sounds like it was
pretty close call though- you barely made it out alive! Fortunately for your kids!

History Buffoon: I did not recall seeing your pretty face in any old photos either! or your ancestors! Does that mean it's time for you to go as well? Like people, trees migrate.
In case you forgot, they only appear to be stationary.

Be informed: Take hike! (preferably in a redwood forest, what little are left) Maybe an epiphany will ensue and you will return with Julia Butterfly and do something constructive
for once, something useful to the planet, and not simply your agenda.

Posted by former tree climber, a resident of South of Midtown
on Sep 1, 2007 at 11:21 am

Maybe some info. about redwoods would help. Unlike oak trees, redwoods need a lot of water and/or fog to grow, especially when they get big. They get to a certain size where the amount of water going in cannot compensate for the amount of water going out. This is especially true on these hot summer days outside of the fog belt. When that happens, the trees get stressed and prone to disease. They shed limbs, the tops die, etc.

When a redwood tree loses just one limb or the top dies, it is very dangerous. They are massive trees. Single limbs can crush cars and kill people. The Bonomis are lucky no one has been injured with the limbs that have fallen from their trees.

From what I understand, both trees had to be topped to reduce the hazardous conditions. The problem is - any new growth becomes a hazard because it's weakly attached. So, it becomes a catch-22. You have to prune to reduce the hazard, but pruning makes it worse.

It truly is a safety and health issue.

Posted by History buff, a resident of Community Center
on Sep 1, 2007 at 1:16 pm

To the negative comments: I'm well aware of the history of the tree ordinance; and while I'm not a Native American, I'm a fourth generation Californian.

There are some things that seem to be overlooked. Their neighbors supported having the trees removed. Sounds to me like there are real safety concerns.

There is the fact that another resident had a tree removed for health reasons after being denied by the city the first time around. That other resident had property damage, too, and the city originally denied the application because it didn't damage public property. It sounds like the city has a bad law that they ought to fix.

Posted by Botanist, a resident of Professorville
on Sep 1, 2007 at 11:38 pm

Let's get the facts straight. This is an excerpt from the pollen library:

"The redwood is native in southern Oregon and California ... Little or no allergenicity has been reported. Likely unrelated to allergenic proteins of the redwood pollen, asthma attacks as a result of sawing the wood and inhaling the resulting dust have been published."

Web Link

Redwoods are actually recommended as one of the trees to plant for allergy sufferers. Here is yet another excerpt From The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences: Web Link

"Preventive Strategies
If you buy trees for your yard, look for species that do not aggravate allergies such as crape myrtle, dogwood, fig, fir, palm, pear, plum, redbud and redwood trees ..."

As a botanist and resident, I have been following this story now for quite a while. I have driven down Lowell and seen these trees which are close to the sidewalk line. It is sad when healthy beautiful heritage trees near a sidewalk line must be destroyed just because someone does not like them.

This womans's allergies are probably due to many other trees and shrubs in the neighborhood. Pollen from trees many blocks away is carried by wind.

These trees were there before this family moved here, and they were there when they purchased the property. They have used EVERY possible reason to have them destroyed.

I am saddened by The City of Palo Alto in their decision to allow these trees to be cut. Hopefully they will change their policies after this loss.

We must all work to have this loophole closed immediately.

Posted by geri, a resident of Barron Park
on Sep 2, 2007 at 1:05 am

NO!!!!!!! So the Redwood Trees are NOT native to Palo Alto...How about the fact that the REDWOOD TREE is THE tree that IS THIS City's NAMESAKE??????????!!! See it on the City of Palo Alto's stationery!! See it on the City trucks! It's all over this town!
Redwood 'em or leave 'em...(alone)??
The fact is that the town of REDWOOD CITY HAD numerous REDWOOD TREES at one time...all the way out to the Bay. They are no longer there, due to extensive logging in the 1800's...........Redwood trees are superior building material for homes as they are bug resistant. There are a few Redwoods in that town that have survived.
"HENNEY PENNEY!! THE SKY IS FALLING!!" The redwood tree branches MAY fall, too!!!!!!!!! "Lion, tigers and Bears, oh my!!!!!!!" HuH! Another fairy the end, "we will remove the trees"...(How sad of an ending.)
Should we go door to door and see HOW MANY people in Palo Alto actually have allergies??????? Gee, we can all get notes. Then we can all live in a barren, treeless city. How does THAT sound, folks?
I would personally like to see Palo Alto save a little space for breathing. Quit building on such small lots. Someone should have sold that lot with the redwood trees on it and made it a huge tree fort. (Kidding, of course). Open space would have been a better option, but in this over priced town, that option went out the window also.
Too bad the owners didn't think ahead. Didn't they know Palo Alto meant "tall tree" and didn't they read the book about "Palo Alto's Trees"? ( Great reading, by the way. Great pictures in it also.) But seems like they put their (legal)thinking caps on and came up with what seems to be an unpopular victory. Wonder if they are enjoying the shade those trees are giving them this week due to the extremely HOT HEAT wave we are having!
This will only be a memory now.

Posted by Curious, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Sep 2, 2007 at 1:09 am

Self Important of South of Midtown, could you please repost your thoughts again. I am curious.

Posted by Curious, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Sep 2, 2007 at 1:56 am

Geri, They tore down an existing home and built a brand new stucco home. I would assume that they have air conditioning.

They could have got everything they wanted (without the stress) if they moved to Fremont or Milpitas.

New stucco homes with barren yards and no redwoods are bountiful.

Sierra Club Members?

I don't know of any of my friends in the Sierra Club (since the 70's) who would ever consider cutting a redwood, and secondly, completely demolishing an existing home.

I have heard that currently our waste from home demolition (deconstruction) exceeds our residental waste.

Ponder on that when you are wiping and rinsing out that peanut butter jar to recycle.

Any person who cares about the environment, and certainly active Sierra Club members know that remodeling makes far less of an impact on the environment than a complete demolition.

It seems that most of the deconstruction demolition and disregard for trees, are from people who are not from California.

Every new home that I know of is owned by a person who has moved here from some where else; they have different values, lots of money to litigate, and time for important things in life like allergist appointments, and leaves staining new concrete yards.

What can we do?

Posted by Terry, a resident of Midtown
on Sep 2, 2007 at 9:24 am

Perhaps the people (on this Forum and elsewhere) who object to the Bonomis cutting down their trees can extract their revenge by simply planting redwoods in their own yards. They are fast growing and not expensive.

Oh, btw, in interest of full disclosure, they do drip resin on your house/yard/car, drop limbs, suck up all the water, cost a lot to maintain, and will eventually take up most of your yard. And if you change your mind, you can't cut them down (unless you develop an allergy, I guess!). But they are REDWOODS!

Not interested? Ok, I see your point - I too would prefer to see them in my neighbor's yard, preferably a few houses over - they look very attracive there.

Posted by TJ, a resident of Midtown
on Sep 2, 2007 at 10:03 am

Thanks Terry, I would never plant a redwood tree in my yard; you can't cut it down if you change your mind 15 years down the road. This ordinance is actually a deterrent to planting native California trees.

Posted by dissapointed, a resident of Ventura
on Sep 2, 2007 at 12:22 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

Posted by 4rd gen Palo Altan, a resident of Professorville
on Sep 2, 2007 at 1:51 pm

Palo Alto is an extraordinary place. One of the key elements of this specialness comes from the community who has for the past century celebrated the trees. There are numerous community's available with few trees, if that is ones preference. I welcome new and diverse neighbors, and hope that they move into town, respecting the things which make Palo Alto so special. Our beautiful trees are one of these. Please don't buy a home with large trees if you don't want a home with large trees. Seems pretty simple to me. If you want individual homeowners rights, move to Redding or Texas, where you can shoot anything you want on your own property or park whatever junk vehicles you have anywhere without regard for your neighbors. But if you choose to come and be a part of this special enclave which celebrates investing in foothill park, great education, its own zoo, and its wonderful tree canopy, then please come, but be willing to be a good steward of the trees on your property. If not, pick a lot where you don't face decisions drawing such passionate objection from your community over something very near and dear to our hearts. I prefer to live here in this exceptional place, partially for its trees, but more importantly for its people who are passionate about safeguarding the values of this town.

People will remember these actions, the attitude behind them, and their affect on our community , long after the trees are gone. This is sad. I've cleaned up after 4 beautiful Redwoods between my sidewalk and the street for many years. Yes they are messy, and yes, I clean up after them weekly. I would never, ever remove them to free myself of (personally inflicted) civic duty. I know that these trees add to the neighborhood and to the enjoyment of the community which I adore.

Many PA residents before us have paid for the pruning, caring, and cleanup of thee trees without complaint. It is a labor of love to preserve the uniqueness of this town. I hope people will adopt this approach and avoid purchasing a home that doesn't meet their tree appreciation profile.

Think before you act!

Posted by resident, a resident of another community
on Sep 2, 2007 at 3:00 pm

Whoa. Lighten up folks. Redwoods are among the fastest growing trees and they drop branches all the time. They need a lot more space to be redwoods than you'll find around those cute little houses.

If the community wants those trees so badly, then maybe the community should be responsible for their care and damage. New tax anyone?

Posted by Parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 2, 2007 at 3:15 pm

I'm sorry, but I have to disagree with a lot of this. While I'm sad to see trees go, I'm more concerned about my children. If I knew that a tree had a history of breaking branches, I wouldn't let my kids play there. It's just common sense.

It's the same as when that mountain lion came through the town and was shot from the tree. No one felt good about it, but it still was the safest thing to do. It was sitting above a backyard where twin two year olds were playing.

By saying this, am I evil, too? I moved here because I valued what Palo Alto has to offer. But maybe I made a mistake. I thought the people were nice.

Posted by dissapointed, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 2, 2007 at 3:15 pm

Resident: Humans are fast growing too- and defile the planet much more readily than simply shedding a few branches, and to suggest that they do so all the time simply is untrue, and makes your argument weak, but that is to be expected I suppose. Space? Cute little homes?
Have you taken a stroll dowm Lowell lately, or any of the surrounding streets? These homes are not cute, and they are certainly not on small lots, lacking space, and if any are that is due to the fact that the property has been overbuilt/with some monster home. We like trees here in Palo Alto. We have books about them, have named our city after them, so don't be suprised if we get upset when some folks get around the law by claiming to have an allergy because their clever lawyer found the loophole. People who buy homes with old trees on the lot should know that in this town we actually care when a giant redwood who has been here long before most folks gets cut down simply due to the home owners fancy. This is not Modesto, no offense, but you apparenltly have forgotten where you are. People around here like trees. Pure and simple, and the trees have a hard time speaking up for themselves.

Posted by Dissapointed, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 2, 2007 at 3:23 pm

I promise to take a break, but the mountain lion thing and little children.
Give it a rest. Now we are worried that redwood braches are dangerous.
Utterly insanity. Suggesting that people around here unkind because they
like the trees that they grew up with? What do you expect us to think whenn
such events happen? Trees are living beings, that support other living beings,
who also become part of a community in the process. They provide so much, so
don't thnk that we are kind to folks who have them cut down.

Posted by Terry, a resident of Midtown
on Sep 2, 2007 at 5:21 pm

Old PA'ers who like their trees should definitely keep them. The idea that newer (and older) PA'ers who want to cut down trees that are in some way inappropriate for their yards are harming what's special about PA - well, that seems pretty goofy to me. There are a LOT of trees in town. I personally like the occasional redwood (gosh, tall!), but not enough to force the homeowners to keep it until the city arborist decides it is ok to take it down. Cutting down nuisance redwoods is not like cutting down every tree in town and if a new crop of residents wants something different, well that seems ok to me. If older residents and the like-minded want to see them kept, they can buy the properties, or of course just plant more redwoods of their own. Not enough people want them in their yards? - oh well, there's your answer.

If the people who owned the orchards that were here before (and the then-resident townies) had this attitude, most of the houses we live in wouldn't be here. The idea that change for some reason should stop now (vs. in the past or the future) does not compute for me.

Posted by Resident, a resident of Palo Alto Hills
on Sep 2, 2007 at 5:32 pm

I used to love the Redwood trees in our yard..until the top broke off of one in the middle of a quiet summer day a few years ago, crushing our car. Thank God it didn't fall the other way onto our house, or that we weren't in the car when it fell!

I learned from that incident that these trees are as feckless as the Eucalyptus trees that Los Altos Hills just forced everyone to cut down when one fell over and killed someone last year.

Owners of Redwood trees, of any trees really, need to be responsible about them, and if they are a risk to human life or property, they need to be at least cut down to size, if not removed.

Posted by It's Only Logical, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 2, 2007 at 8:35 pm

Before you post, please do your research. Discourse in town is harmed not helped by unsubstantiated claims that incite emotional rather than rational reactions.

To Botanist:

Allergic reactions are quite different depending on the individual.

If redwoods do not typically cause allergic reactions, that is good for those who don't want to see redwoods come down. Few residents will be able to demonstrate that they are allergic to them and more trees will stand.

But to not allow exceptions for the few who are allergic to them is insensitive.

(The link you provide says an allergy test is available to determine allergic reactions to redwood trees. Seems to me that your cite recognizes that some people are allergic to redwoods, not the reverse as you claim. Sounds like the Bonomi's took this test and their doctor discovered that they happen to be one of them.)

To disappointed:

To your comment "a giant redwood who has been here long before most folks," that is simply not true. As "Be informed" already posted, most tall redwoods have not been in town for all that long. They are exceptionally fast growing. A 100 foot tall redwood is all of 20-25 years old.

To Geri:

While redwoods are native to parts of northern California ( a narrow strip of the foggy, mountain slopes of the Coast Range running parallel to the Pacific), they are not native to Palo Alto.

Ask El Palo Alto how it feels to be a tree in a non-native setting. It is being kept alive by a watering system installed at taxpayer expense that runs a misting system all the way up its 100+' high length now that the creek that it used to get water from has run dry.

To 4rd gen Palo Altan:

Sounds simple. But what about the people who bought their home before the ordinance went into effect just a few years ago? How could they have assumed that the flexibility they had for landscaping their yards when they purchased their home would become so restricted?

Palo Alto has trees. Lots of trees. 99% of them are not protected and they still stand. A few trees coming down because of residents' health concerns will not obliterate the Palo Alto landscape.

Posted by In the News, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 2, 2007 at 9:15 pm

Just took a second to search the Weekly to see if there had been any reports about the dangers of redwood trees. Didn't take long to find these two stories which reported of redwoods falling during winter storms in our area in the last year or so.

Redwoods fall, damage property and send people to the hospital.

Last winter: Web Link

The winter before that: Web Link

Posted by Matt, a resident of Santa Rita (Los Altos)
on Sep 2, 2007 at 9:43 pm

In the News, I would be more worried about oak trees causing injuries. Do a similar search on oak trees killing people, and I think you'll find more hits.

Trees really are a lot of work, but they are worth defending. I used to live next to a tree killer. She really ruined her property when she cut the beautiful maple in her front yard. It changed the feel of the whole cul-de-sac. We were renting the place next to her and I loved the fact that our peaceful back yard had a lot of trees that dumped leaves and blossoms all over her paved-over lifeless back yard. Poetic justice.

I think the City should make this couple mitigate their destruction by forcing them to plant 4 new trees in their yard that she isn't allergic to. When development projects impact sensitive habitats, permitting agencies usually require mitigation in excess of the impacts. It would seem appropriate for the heritage tree ordinance too.

Posted by Terry, a resident of Midtown
on Sep 2, 2007 at 9:59 pm

I don't know Lowell St very well, but assuming it is like most others in PA, the city owns a strip of land between the homeowner and the street. If the city wants trees, they can (and probably do) plant them there. Heck, if the city wants redwoods (and the burden of maintaining them) they can plant redwoods there. The idea of a city telling homeowners how to landscape their yards (down to how many trees) gives me the willies! The ordinance seems silly and misguided - sounds like IT should come down.

Posted by I trust my neighbors, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Sep 3, 2007 at 6:36 am

I support other posters here -- we don't need to micromanage homeowners. It is in homeowners' self-interest to keep mature trees on their lots. Need proof? Just look around. Most trees in Palo Alto are not protected and they still stand.

If a homeowner decides that the cost to health and safety of a tree here or there outweighs the benefits, we should trust them. Yes, there will be a few who don't seem to have much aesthetic sense, but they are truly few. Bad cases should not make bad laws.

City (and some of the posters above), please get out of people's back yards. If you want to exert control over property, regulate developers who won't be living on the landscapes they alter if you must, but trust your neighbors and the people who live here to do what is best for the beauty and safety of our community in which they live too.

Posted by TJ, a resident of Midtown
on Sep 3, 2007 at 9:25 am

The Tree Huggers of Palo Alto are preparing an "Urban Forest Master Plan" What surprises are they preparing for those who believe in individual property rights? I hope all those who believe in freedom for homeowners will fight any attempt at controlling what we can or cannot do with trees on our property.

Posted by Mr. fixit, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Sep 3, 2007 at 10:04 am

Thanks jesus theres sume sensible folk. Stay out of my yard and mind yur own bisness. I plan to pave my front yard and enjoy my passion of fixin 6 old ocars in various states of disrepair. Ill be setting up some motion sensor floodlights so noone stealls the tires staked around, or the seats and mufflers. I pln to defend my property if anyone tries going over the chain link fence across the front. good fences make good neighbors, thus the barb wire. The leaves of trees just fall into the pools of oil, making them harder to sweep into the street.

Im not saying everyone should share my passion, just dont tell me how to live my life on my property.

Posted by joe, a resident of College Terrace
on Sep 3, 2007 at 10:30 am

I trust my neighbors,

Alas, you are already proven wrong. Just look at the proliferating McMansions.

Posted by joyce, a resident of Barron Park
on Sep 3, 2007 at 10:36 am

"A 100 foot tall redwood is all of 20-25 years old."

That's just bogus. The growth rate for redwoods varies a lot by conditions and age, but for 100 feet, you are looking at, in the best of conditions, about a century.

As to El Palo Alto not being native, I guess it pulled up its roots and walked here.

Posted by Terry, a resident of Midtown
on Sep 3, 2007 at 10:56 am

Joe, what's your definition of a McMansion? Mine is a bigger and more expensive house than its neighbors are willing to build. When I look at some of the shacks around here, I'd take so-called McMansions any day.

Joyce, here's from the Wiki Sequoia (coastal redwood): "Growth of seedlings is very fast, with young trees known to reach 20 m (65 feet) tall in 20 years." So you are right - that 20 year-old redwood is probably only ~50 feet tall, not 100 as alleged. Still plenty big. As for redwoods being "native" maybe El Palo Alto hit the jackpot, sitting on a creek for water. It wouldn't be native in many PA yards.

Posted by Sad Situation, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Sep 3, 2007 at 1:07 pm

We have massive redwoods in our small yard and they have never caused any staining to our old plaster/stucco home(nearly 100 years old). They have not caused staining to our concrete like the leaves from others trees.

They don't drip sap or resin like other kinds of trees or long needle pine trees. The only work for us is cleaning out our gutters.

It is part of homeownership.

My husband has serious allergies and asthma to pollen, but he has not been bothered by redwoods.

Our neighbors on all sides love our trees and have lived with them for 30 years.

We just asked them if they bothered them. They were worried that we may be thinking of cutting them. They told us they enjoy them.

Sap? Allergies? Staining? Limbs falling?

These seem like poor excuses.

ALL trees have a risk of falling and limbs breaking.

I read an earlier post with a link above about pollen. Thank you for posting that.

Palo Alto has many trees. This city has always been famous for their tree lined streets and neighborhoods.

We love it here because of all the trees in the neighborhood.

We are happy that the city has ordinances in place to protect them.

Most cities in California have tree ordinances, and even plant ordinances. People should know the laws and abide by them before they purchase a property in our city and state.

Another post says move to Texas or somewhere where anything goes.

Don't blame our Redwoods for your allergies! One of those links recommends redwoods as one of the trees for allergy sufferers to plant.

This is a sad situation.

Posted by Tree facts too, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 3, 2007 at 1:07 pm

My neighbor tells me that the redwood in our neighborhood was planted 25 years ago by a neighbor who lived here before we moved in. The tree is about 100 feet tall now. Found on google that urban redwoods, because of all the water they get from drip systems, grow 4 to 6 inches a year. 4 inches x 25 years = 100 feet, so that would be just about right.

No one was around when El Palo Alto was planted so no one knows for sure how it got here. But I've heard a local historian say that the redwoods we see on lots around town were planted by homeowners not even a generation ago, like the one in our neighborhood. Apparently, 20 years or so ago nurseries were almost giving redwood trees away to get people to come visit their stores.

Posted by Terry, a resident of Midtown
on Sep 3, 2007 at 1:37 pm

Tree Facts, hopefully your math facts have a typo ;-) If they grow 4 inches/year, then in 25 years, they are 100 inches, or about 8 feet. Since I read that new sprouts can grow 7 feet in a year, hopefully you mean 4-6 FEET/year (with irrigation).

I do think it is true that many of the redwoods in PA are not so old. In Barron Park, where I used to live, one of the old-time family members by Bol Park would tell people that his mother had personally planted many of the Barron Park redwoods.

I'm not arguing they should all come down, don't get me wrong. But the idea that they deserve special protection is goofy. There is a temperment in PA that things should be "preserved" - that it was all so good the way it was. Of course, if former residents had felt this way, few of us would be living here today (imagine what people said about post-war subdivisions!). Things change; towns change as they mature and turn over. To the point of another poster above, I wonder how many redwoods are being planted today, as homeowners realize the maintenance, size, and regulator issues that come with them?

Posted by Marvin, a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Sep 3, 2007 at 1:45 pm

The redwood tree issue is just another example of the "historic mania" that seems to be in PA. People want things "historic" here--otherwise they are just living in any old town--but since there really is very little in PA that is actually historic--any home that is over 10 year sof age is considered historic and any tree that is big, must be old and therefore historic. and then it must be preserved at all costs.
What I find amazing in some of these posts is that people presume to understand and second guess the allergies/general health issues of the homeowners. [Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.] How typical of some of our citizens.
Finally any discussion of homes in PA always seems to lead to certain people labeling homes that they do not like as McMansions/monster homes/taco Bell homes or some other derogatory comment.
Very sad gorup of people in this town.

Posted by Tree facts too, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 3, 2007 at 1:54 pm

Terry, thanks for catching the mistype. Yes, I meant 4-6 feet a year.

Posted by Resident, a resident of another community
on Sep 3, 2007 at 2:56 pm

Too bad that there is so little deep understanding of a very complicated species. Yes, each tree has it's own personality as a life form. And thus, just because one person's tree does not drop limbs or sap, does not mean someone else's tree isn't guilty of it. So don't go leaping to conclusions. This whole thread seems like the gossip column and the article from the enquirer.

How many of you really know the facts behind this situation? How about some of these links to add to the list? They talk about growing and maintaining redwoods and what they do when they're not happy - like shed branches, develop multiple leaders that can peel off (like these trees that had to be topped for "safety" long before any construction happened), and have short lifespans outside their normal habitat.

It's astounding to me to hear that El Palo Alto has a misting system to the top. I've also heard (yes, more hearsay) that arborists advise against redwoods as landscape trees. Do they know something we don't?

Web Link

Web Link

Web Link

Posted by dissapointed, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 3, 2007 at 4:06 pm

Marv: You are wrong again! Imagine that!
It ain't about history dude, it's simply about dissapointment
that some trees I grew up with are due to be killed, in this
case by "environmentalists" and loop-holers.
That's it bro. Just dissapointed to see these old fellas come down
due to somebody's decision that it's time for them to go.
I will get over it. The tree spirits may not. If we make you so sad, well,
like the sailors say, I can give you something to really lament about if you
think this is depressing. Cheer up! Don't bring your dreariness around here!
Climb a tree, or have some cake, anything to make your sorrow dissipate!
When you get over it, it would be great to hear from you again, but if all
you got is sorrow, well michael jackson said it well: "just beat it!"

Posted by History buff, a resident of Community Center
on Sep 3, 2007 at 4:07 pm

Just found this photo of Lowell from 1904 looking toward the train tracks. This neighborhood was a ranch - grass and oaks - not a redwood forest that was logged - no redwood stumps.

Web Link

As for the negative comments on health and allergies, If you've ever suffered from anaphylaxis, you'll never question the allergy issue again. Otherwise, people should mind their own business, unless you think peanuts should still be served on airplanes. (Gee, I'm not allergic, so why can't I have them?)

Posted by dissapointed, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 3, 2007 at 4:44 pm

History Man: I just found a photo of Lowell in 1894 that reveals this neighborhood was actually a tropical rainforest, freshly covered with flying monkeys and resplendently draped in

nobody ever said there was a redwood forest here, dude!
Check the thread- simply fond of these trees-
and quite honestly, never have had the disease you mentioned- and i simply don't
believe that these trees are causing all those stuffy noses and so forth! I am going to
go way out on a limb and say that this excuse if fabricated. Plain and simple.

As for the peanuts, it's probably not a good idea.

Posted by History buff, a resident of Community Center
on Sep 3, 2007 at 6:19 pm

Disappointed. You need to google anaphylaxis and choose a different pen name.

Posted by Dissapointed, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 3, 2007 at 8:00 pm

History Man: Why do I need to do as you say> seriously> twas only trying' to defend the trees- and while i am open to suggestions- why should i bro? what good will it do? why don't you make your point> and why they bleep should i have to change my nom de plume? i like it just fine, and if ya don't> well tough luck i suppose> better get back to studying the past!

Posted by Mike Alexander, a resident of Barron Park
on Sep 3, 2007 at 8:34 pm

I'm a big fan of redwoods. I've planted them at our house here in Barron Park -- as a fast-growing screen against the McMansion next door -- and at my last place in Menlo Park. It's true that the PA flatlands are not prime habitat for them, but they do nicely when they can tap into ground water (by creeks, for example). They grow crazy fast at first, yielding lush, cool shade in a few years, and providing great habitat for birds, squirrels, 'possums, and 'coons.
I understand not everyone likes redwoods. I think only extraordinary specimens should be protected, and in that case the property owner should be compensated in some way for the burden of having a public resource on his private place. There may be a few such trees in the older part of town, north of Embarcadero, and in Barron Park.
Valley Oaks and Coast Live Oaks, the only ubiquitous big natives in the flats, deserve similar protection (and compensation). These are trickier, though, because they are so easily damaged by summer water. Meaningful protection of oaks would require restricted use under the entire crown of the tree -- a tough pill to swallow if you're not an oak enthusiast.
The founders thought highly enough of oaks that many were left standing in the streets when the city was laid out. They didn't do well -- I can't think of any of these remaining -- I think because the paving killed the soil system. I'm told there was a grand Valley Oak in our street until about 20 years ago, and I suspect many nearby trees are offspring of that one -- they do very well. At Town & Country, the new owners have cut "breathing strips" into the pavement around the old oaks -- I wonder if that will help. I hope so, as only about half the trees that were there in 50's remain today, and the new palms just aren't the same.
I feel badly for the people on Lowell who didn't want the redwoods in their yard, because they are out of touch with the nature of the place. I'm sure the turn-of-the-century farmer who watched as his place was chopped into little rectangles felt the same way. But what can you do? I think I'll go out and plant another tree. It'll have a good start when this passing fancy called "modern living" has run its course.

Posted by Terry, a resident of Midtown
on Sep 3, 2007 at 8:48 pm

Mike, that seems like a sensible strategy. The Bonomis don't like their redwoods, you like yours; they take down theirs, you plant more. All as it should be!

Posted by Terry, a resident of Midtown
on Sep 3, 2007 at 9:07 pm

BTW, just to show there are two sides (and I can't let a dig go by), the "McMansion" owners probably like your redwoods too, since they served as a fast-growing screen against your place! What the heck is a McMansion anyway, aside from a new house you don't like?

Posted by History buff, a resident of Community Center
on Sep 3, 2007 at 9:53 pm

Who ever said they don't "like" their redwoods? Maybe they don't "like" falling limbs. Their neighbors sure didn't like the falling limbs and wanted them to get the trees out long before they finally applied. Maybe they don't "like" the idea that the tops of those trees are diseased and might shear off and land on their heads. Has anyone looked at the record of these two trees? It's easy to defend these trees if you know nothing about them. But the accusations that fly around make this town downright scary.

Posted by dissapointed, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 3, 2007 at 10:09 pm

Hist. Guy: You make it sound as though these trees have a criminal record-with all
their falling branches- must happen on a daily occurrence- that sure seems funny
though- because i have lived on this planet for quite sometime, in the close proximity to
redwood trees, topped or not, and only rarely do they shed brances- your fear based
logic makes it sound as though its dangerous to walk down the street or be in close range
to these local hoodlums/trees- completely absurd if you ask me- the only thing that is downright scary is people like yourself who get scared to easily- remember- the only thing
to fear is fear itself! take a breather- come up for air- it's okay to be wrong!

Posted by History buff, a resident of Community Center
on Sep 3, 2007 at 10:31 pm

Listen to yourself. It is okay to be wrong. I question what makes you so right(eous)? You need to take a breather because you've used up all the oxygen berating anyone who doesn't see the world exactly the way you do.

Posted by Think Before You Cut - Asthma Alert, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 4, 2007 at 3:16 am

I know many people who are seriously allergic to cats and dogs, they would rather wheeze and sneeze, take Claritin, or just live with their allergies rather than euthanize their beloved companions.

This mild allergy thing seems far fetched.

I bet that allergist regrets ever writing that note.

Redwood pollen does not cause severe allergies.

Breathing redwood dust from sawing and cutting redwoods can cause severe asthma attacks in some people. If it is a windy day, the dust could travel far and blow all over the neighborhood.

It would be prudent to send out warnings to everyone in your area before you begin to cut.

You never know when one of them may call (or be) a lawyer.

Think before you act!

Your neighbors should be warned if they have asthma.
If the trees are indeed as large as this, their pollen will blow far away.

Posted by History buff, a resident of Community Center
on Sep 4, 2007 at 9:25 am

You suggest that it's better to sacrifice the health of the family who own the trees, because their allergies can't be that bad. Yet, if they remove the trees, the pollen will blow far away, so the neighborhood should be alerted.

Have you considered that these trees require pruning every year for safety? Should the "neighborhood" be exposed to that every year? Have you considered that they may be sued if someone gets injured if they don't prune for safety? They are stuck between a rock and a hard place.

You are fortunate indeed to have such fine health that popping a few pills can take care of your sniffles. Not everyone is as fortunate as you.

Posted by Stop the Assault, a resident of another community
on Sep 4, 2007 at 9:32 am

Why so snitty?

You want trees, others have reasons not to want them.

While I enjoying reading differing opinions on this forum, I find it jarring when posters are not kind or don't think things through before posting.

To Think Before You Cut - Asthma Alert:

People who are allergic to animals can choose to live with them or live without them. People with redwoods in Palo Alto are not given the choice. That is a big difference. Anyway, why do you think you can have a say about someone else's health and appropriate treatment, but deprive them of the same?

Claiming you know how the allergist feels is groundless.

Unless you are the allergist who tested them, you have no idea how allergic these people are to their trees, so why claim their claim is "far flung?"

How do you know that redwood pollen doesn't cause severe allergies? Post your credientials and proof (please no unsubstantiated weblinks) or keep those thoughts to yourself.

And, is "Think before you act!" a threat?

To dissapointed:

"This excuse if [sic] fabricated. Plain and simple." Where's your proof? I thought that the PA Online folks don't allow libelous statements on this forum, so why post one?

And you too with the threats.
-"I can give you something to really lament about"
-"extreme measures will unfortunately be necessitated "
-"no more mister nice guy- we have told the good lord"
-"the good lord has been notified- the tree spirits have been alerted as well- and if you know anything about anything you will know that they will exact revenge much greater than typical earthlings can even imagine. Beware to those who slay the redwoods! you have been warned! don't mess with mother nature! unless your willing to suffer her wrath!"

Please. Post your opinions. Don't post your conjecture. And please don't threaten others. It inflames, not informs.

And others who read these Town Square forums, please discern between postings offering objective information and those trying to intimidate and inflame.

Posted by oh_my_allergies, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 4, 2007 at 11:41 am

Well, I for one am very heartened by this news article. There are a lot of irritating birds on my property that, like the Bonomis redwoods, cause a lot of mess. They poop on my car, and the city won't do anything about it. Fortunately, I have a doctor who will write me a note saying it's OK to shoot them all, because after all, it's a health problem.

Once I get that problem out of the way, I'm going to start on these irritating heritage oaks. They block my view. Fortunately, I'm pretty sure my allergies will cover the oaks, too -- just one more note from my doctor.

Let's see, what other loopholes can I find that a doctor's note can fix? I hope my children are watching carefully, because I always like to teach by example. If due political process doesn't serve, just get a doctor's note. It's a good thing I went to law school.

Posted by Marvin, a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Sep 4, 2007 at 12:00 pm

Oh my allergies--it is unfortunate that you and others have decided that the bonomi's health issues are without merit, without even knowing them or what their health issues really are. It is very sad that you consider them to be, basically, lairs and that their reasons for chopping down the redwood tree was without merit.
It is a good thing that PA has people like you--they know exactly what is right and wrong and know who is telling the truth and who is lying without actually knowing the real facts.

Posted by Hugs_Trees_for_Good_Reason, a resident of Community Center
on Sep 4, 2007 at 12:01 pm

This is Palo Alto, which, like all cities, has some rules in place that have been put there for a reason. One such rule is that oaks and redwoods are protected trees. Just as people move to Palo Alto for schools, people move here for the trees, and the trees you get are like your neighborhood school -- you get what you get, and you know what that is before you buy. If you don't want these existing trees on your property, buy a different house. No one forced the Bonomis to buy that property on Lowell. Caveat emptor.

If we start hacking down our trees willy nilly, PA will begin to look like a very different place. Drive through Mountain View or Sunnyvale if you want a taste of what it will look like. Nice cities, but after all we chose to live here, not there. In fact, note that property values in PA are the highest where there are higher densities of trees.

There's a Joni Mitchell song here somewhere...

Posted by oh_my_allergies, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 4, 2007 at 12:06 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

Posted by History buff, a resident of Community Center
on Sep 4, 2007 at 12:56 pm

The ordinance, if you actually read it, gives virtually no rights to homeowners unless the tree is already in the middle of your living room or the tree is about to fall in the next hour. Thus, the original application cited hazard and was supported by an expert opinion. Just because the city arborist decided not to believe the expert and well respected arborist, it turned into an inflammatory mess that this article irresponsibly provoked by not doing proper research.
It sounds like the process was followed and the city knows they have a bad law.

Posted by History buff, a resident of Community Center
on Sep 4, 2007 at 12:59 pm

To the PAWeekly,

Shame on you for abandoning all journalistic integrity by printing this story and allowing this slander to continue.

Posted by Marvin, a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Sep 4, 2007 at 1:07 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

Posted by oh_my_allergies, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 4, 2007 at 1:56 pm

Hey Marvin,

[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff]
Take a gander at this excerpt from the PA Weekly on Jan 17:

"Tired of the sap stains on their
new, cream stucco home, the fallen
branches on their driveway and the
$2,000-per-year pruning cost, the
couple applied in November to have
the trees removed."

Back in November of last year when they filed this complaint, there doesn't seem to be any record of allergies being the problem; it was the inconvenience.

And History Buff, please be advised that our city arborist, Dave Dockter, is himself an expert and well-respected (and published) arborist.

Posted by History buff, a resident of Community Center
on Sep 4, 2007 at 2:16 pm

So Dave Dockter knows all???? Fallen branches constitute a hazard if you cannot move the target.

Posted by Marvin, a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Sep 4, 2007 at 2:19 pm

Oh my allergies--okay let's stick to the facts--the Bonomis provided documentation that the trees presented a health risk. I assume when you say "Back in November of last year when they filed this complaint, there doesn't seem to be any record of allergies being the problem; it was the inconvenience.", you are calling into the question that documentation. [Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.] When you have those "facts" in your hand, then please feel free to present them to the others on the forum.
All you have is an attempt by the PA Weekly to publish a "sensational" story that will cause much discussion and your own opinion about what is going on--you have no facts to stick to.

Posted by family.with.asthma, a resident of Crescent Park
on Sep 4, 2007 at 3:28 pm

[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]
How many people asking for concern about the health aspect of this story actually got out of their cars last week, or carpooled, when every day was a Spare the Air day? You knew it was a spare the air day, but did you act with consideration for all the people with asthma right here in our community, kids and adults alike, who were struggling to get a deep breath and couldn't leave their homes or offices because the air was so bad?

Good to hear you talking the talk, but let's see you walk the walk. My point is this: by all means, let's be compassionate about health issues. But let's do it comprehensively and genuinely, not selectively. If it's a question of the air quality over at the Bonomi's place, we should be thinking as a community -- we all share the same air.

And on that note, those trees they're taking down do a lot of air filtering on spare the air days.

Posted by Geri, a resident of Barron Park
on Sep 6, 2007 at 12:01 am

Stray seeds?? Who, then, planted the "Redwood Grove" over behind the Rinconada Swimming pool, next to the firestation???This area, thankfully, was not logged as much as Redwood City.

Poor El Palo was a thriving tree when young and has managed to survive the hustle and bussel of traffic nearby, not to mention the train tracks, smoke from the trains and it's constant usage over all the years..

My mother dutiful raked the leaves and watered ~not only the tree that was standing in front of her home for over 60 years, but also swept up straying leaves in her neighbors yards on many occasions. THAT is dedication to this town. The legacy should continue. It IS what has made Palo Alto the town it is today.

If you were a member and logged in you could track comments from this story.

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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