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on Sep 18, 2009
We've lost control of our city and need to get it back. Substantial changes like this need to be done incrementally and with plenty of public involvement.
Yes, the council and the manager knew nothing. Probably they knew but did not care--now that there is an outcry, they are trying to cover their tracks.
I agree with Eric. I am totally devastated by the loss the trees but even more concerned about the lack of transparency and democratic process. In reality those trees belong to EVERYONE who has paid taxes in this city and these MAJOR decisions should be open to all concerned. I understand allowing government some free reign to do maintenance as necessary (like cutting out one clearly dead or diseased tree) but this is too much. It's time to get more citizen involvement and I'm happy to engage in the effort.
I am always suspicious when an arborist says "the trees are diseased", I find it's often an excuse they use to cut them down. Of course, there are different degrees of disease; do they simply have a bad cold or are they terminally ill with cancer? It may be neither; they're probably just old but with some loving care will last a few years longer.
Questions we should also be asking:
How much did it cost to remove 50 trees?
How much will it cost to plant 50 new trees?
How much will it cost to replace the old fountain that nobody minds with a new fountain that nobody seems to want ?
How much is the city planning to cut benefits and wages for its workers?
Its sad how 2 building owners and one real estate agent can change the landscape of one entire street.
They raped California Avenue. A chainsaw in a man's hand is an out-of-control madman. Biking home one day last week I approached the train station underpass and, without even looking down the street, I could feel that something was out of order. Where did the shade go? Without the trees the Sunday market will be unbearably hot.
Do you think this ever could have happened along University Ave??? How did this happen??
It is just so sad now without the trees. It looks like Sunnyvale.
The city manager and city council only care about downtown Palo Alto.
I am unspeakably sad about the loss of the trees. I knew nothing until I went out to dinner on California Avenue on Wednesday and saw what had happened. How could this happen without residents being alerted in time to register their opinion?
if I a contractor had done that i would be in jail
they should have taken out every other tree now and the rest a few years later
ONLY AFTER PUBLIC NOTIFICATION
this city government has forgotten they work FOR us
its not us working for (to pay for) them
its nice to know the business tax fees will go to tree genocide
want to see an example of what happens when the people lose control of their city,
drive down california ave
This tree removal is but a sign of how little regard and respect
the 'power elite' has for the common folk.
Beware and watch carefully, there could be a chainsaw in your
Hmm.... I can't recall the specifics, but I do remember reading a plan fro the California Avenue Beautification plan, noticing the trees were supposed to be removed, writing a letter to comment that removing mature trees was ridiculous..
so, don't be too quick to jump there was no public notification, because there was a plan, and you could comment on it, but it would require citizens to actually read City Council and Planning Commission agendas, etc. For all we knoe notices were given to nearby businesses and residents, but those things end up being ignored and thrown out.
THAT said, there clearly should have been better communications about it, particularly notices POSTED IN THE AFFECTED AREA, so those who are there a lot could have seen it.
And I absolulely cannot understand why they would be planting non-native trees there, given the City's big push to be green, conserve water, etc etc..
If the City Manager and the City Council were caught by surprise by the tree cutting on California Ave., they likely have been caught by surprise on a lot of other things that are passing as shoddy city governance in Palo Alto.
Wish people and business were aware of what was going to happen. I really would have enjoyed seeing protesters chaining themselves around trunks, and some Berkeley tree sitter type action. Maybe Julia Butterfly Hill could have come out, and Joan Baez could have brought her guitar to California Ave for a sit in.
I was saddened to discover all of the California Avenue trees cleared this week. Maybe there is some long term plan that will restore the warmth of the street, but for now the street seems hard, barren, and hot. The biggest impact I noticed was the change in the "climate". The mexican restaurant mid street has been a favorite outdoor lunch destination for me for years. Now, with the loss of shade, the area is simply hot and very uninviting. It is not pleasant to stroll down the street midday. I suspect this change will have a big negative impact on the merchants along the street. I myself will miss one of my favorite outdoor lunch destinations. If I were a Palo Alto voter I would be motivated to replace the representatives that were responsible for this. There should have been other ways to migrate the tree canopy over time, if this was even really necessary to do to begin with.
"Don't it always seem to go that you don't know what you've got 'till it's gone..."
My grandson loves walking along Calif. Ave. so this is upsetting. Where was Dave Dockter, the City Arborist on this issue? Palo Alto has such intensive standards related to trees. Did this removal meet those standards, and have his approval?
I felt like I was on Tatooine when I drove over to pick up my Round Table pizzas the other night -- I was confused by the strong sun and the buildings, and it all began to sink in as I saw the stumps. I grew up in Southgate and still live here. I bought candy as a kid at Patterson's Variety which is now Know Knew Books. I saw Rocky at the movie theater that is now whatever. The corner at Round Table was a bookstore that had a cool well outside with fish you could look in on. And Monet's pet store, a child's dream. California Avenue is my street, all of our street. Something inside just died in me over this, it was so wrong and so unnecessary. Whoever worked on this, approved this, does not understand Palo Alto and should not be in the position of authority that caused this. :(
Beautification? Who decides on that? Everything that has been done to California Avenue in the last few years has made it more ugly. Taking down the trees is the most absurd thing of all.
And what are the City Manager and City Council FOR if they don't know about this sort of disaster, and can do nothing to stop it.
And how much does the City Manager earn?
"Do you think this ever could have happened along University Avenue." Yes, and it did some 25 years ago when they replanted the whole of University Avenue with the English Plain Trees (sycamores) that you see there now. University Avenue was a mess just like California Avenue!!!!
Heads should roll in Public Works Department management over this disaster!!
Afew years ago, most of the trees around the community garden area next to the main branch library were cut down. I had contacted the city numerous times trying to get an explanation for this bizarre endeavor but never received an explanation. This seems to be a similar act of thoughtless vandalism.
"Where was Dave Dockter, the City Arborist on this issue? Palo Alto has such intensive standards related to trees. Did this removal meet those standards, and have his approval?"
The intensive standards are only for home owners who want to remove trees from their private property. Even if a tree is diseased on private property, you have to do cart wheels to get permission--once you apply to remove a tree Dockter informs Canopy and they put the wheels in motion to stop you.
Interesting to find out what went on here and why the double standard
Everyone responsible, and someone is responsible, for this outragious waste of 30 year old native trees, waste of money and time and lack of regard for their constituents wishes should lose their jobs! All heads should roll unless someone steps up and takes the wrap for their arrogance and irresponsibility. California Avenue looks like a war zone, it's appalling. What a waste!
They'll probably blame it all on someone who has just retired, just like they did the Children's Theatre mess.
Does anyone know who the two building owners and real estate agent (referred to by "employee, resident of old Palo Alto" in the posting above) are?
If this is who call themselves "representatives for California Avenue" their motives are suspect. Would it be to their benefit if small retail and restaurants on California Avenue went out of business so that the vacancy rate is driven up to the allowable percentage (either 5 or 10%) that the city to allow the space to be converted to offices?
And WHO PAYS the salary of the executive director of the California Avenue Area Development Association, Ms. Ronna Devinzenzi? What role has she played in approving complete tree removal in one fell swoop? Who does she really represent if so many of the small business owners were not consulted? This is a total disaster for them.
California Ave. looks much brighter, and less dingy now. I like it, and I will appreciate the new tree plantings, as shade trees. In the meantime, some colorful outdoor umbrellas can provide shade. This move will be highly praised in ten years.
Thankfully, the Palo Alto Process did not interfere with this excellent move.
Is the City intentionally destroying College Terrace and its environs? First, we get Facebook and now we get stripped of trees. Good Going City! I won't live long enough to see the 15 gallon trees provide shade. Shame on you City for allowing this--and for allowing Facebook to move in without adequate parking! SHAME, SHAME, SHAME! You have destroyed my section of the city.
It was like getting slapped in the face to see this destruction. It's horrible and depressing to see the street without the trees! The whole character of the area was changed overnight. It will take years for any trees to "replace" them. Each tree's death diminishes me.
This should be a wake up call to the Council that this city has actually been run almost exclusively by and for the convenience of the city staff for years. They need to "man-up" and retake control to look out for the interests of the actual residents. Otherwise, bad, make-work events like this will continue to gut the city of its character.
On the "bright side" -- pun intended -- we now all have a singularly unobstructed view of California Avenue's world-class building architecture.
I'm confused. If the city council and the city manager didn't approve of or even know the trees were being destroyed, who approved and finalized the action?
Remediation will need to take place and a new plan put into effect. 10' tall trees (15 gallon) will not be enough.
This is a mistake of colossal proportions. It's hard to imagine how an entire collective of public officials and city workers could have allowed this.
what a god awful shame....california avenue has been raped..job security for city staff....who is running the show...? try cutting a DEAD tree down in your own front yard.....hours of redtape....can they even spell BEAUTIFICATION...DESTRUCTION....it will take years and years to come back..
They didn't have time for trees, because they were too busy meddling in the library plans.
I was appalled when the city removed all the current trees from California Ave., blighting the street. Even if they needed to be removed, it should have been done gradually so the street would not be denuded for the next 10 years.
Red maples, while beautiful, are not at all appropriate to CA climate and would conflict with the council's desire for reduced water usage. I think the city arborist needs to be more in tune with California climate conditions and water use. Apparently cost and ease of upgrading the street were the main considerations.
At a minimum, I would like to see a more appropriate tree for our climate planted with some variety so some disease doesn't take them all at one time. I also recommend that at least some of them be bigger so that we can have some shade sooner than the immature trees suggested. Perhaps one of 3 could be larger that the proposed 10' trees.
A native variety would be the best possible alternative. That may not be practical but should be considered. I would suggest Mr. Doktor consult with Canopy which has considerable experience with street trees in Palo Alto.
I just found the following link to the Bol Park revegetation project:
If their roots were not intrusive, I would love to see madrones and/or CA bay laurels, both of which are beautiful and native.
If your City Council and City Manager did not know about this how can you expect your citizenry to be aware?
A decision with such dramatic cosequences absolutely must have participation of the residents and businesses affected. It is the city's responsibility to engage the community (as Menlo Park is currently doing about it's down-town plans)
This travesty should have never happened and somewhere along some individual has made a bad decision and should be held accoutable.
Where's the accountability for poor decisions like these? For those of us in the private sector, we all know what happens when there's a major mistake. Someone definitely pays for it.
Is the tree that drips and stains sidewalks the Maple?
This kind of debacle happens too often in Palo Alto---look at the council's recommendation re the high speed rail and now they didn't know this would happen???? This should not be swept under the rug (or the pavement) with a statement that "mistakes were made". The person or persons who did this travesty should be held accountable and be fired for this action. And the cost---what kind of values does this city have when the Casa Olga people get kicked out because of lack of funds, when there is enough money to not only remove beautiful trees, but plant new ones? Something is quite amiss.....
Vote with your wallet. Boycott the real estate agent and businesses in the two building that pushed for cutting down these trees.
Now that it is done, let's make the best of it by also removing the hideous and embarrasingly bad sculptures along California Avernue! I wince when I take newcomers to the street because of these ugly, amateurish statues!!
If the Arts Commission contacts me, I will be happy to be of service with experienced advice.
Firing the people who chopped all the trees at once is probably too severe. Just put them on unpaid leave until the shade grows back...
wait till sunday when all the farmers market folks see our tax dollars at work
we should start a facebook group : "TAXPAYERS TIRED OF BEING SCREWED BY PALO ALTO"
They do it in Israel. Have people donate trees in the name of a person or Foundation or business, etc, put a plaque on it and we can start a community process here. Of course, with native trees.
Don't just fire some peon or blame someone who just very conveniently retired. Make the specific management poeple who are responsible for this mess fully accountable for their actions.
If you're upset by what happened I recommend getting in touch with someone:
Ronna Devincenzi, the president of CAADA, at rdevincenzi at ak realty dot com
Palo Alto mayor Peter Drekmeier at pdrekmeier at earth link dot net
I emailed both of them. Ronna sent me back a canned message about a web page going up about the ordeal soon and Peter email me back with an apology about the whole thing.
It astounds me that this can happen in Palo Alto, where even minor changes in the facade of an old house can trigger extensive review and considered community input. The tree removal is not minor, but a major alteration of the streetscape, and apparently none of the neighbors were informed about it!
And many wonder why we don't have faith in those making decisions for the city re: the High Speed Rail project.... One would think the city could properly execute a 50-tree removal project.
Maple trees on California Ave? Has anyone checked their culture requirements? How do their roots spread? Can they get enough water living in a hole in the sidewalk between pavement and buildings? We live in a monsoon climatedry season, wet season. Do they need year-round water, or a freezing season? What is the range of temperature within they can maintain their health? What temperature soil do their roots require? Can they live in adobe soil? What about soil pH?
Gerracious, there's a lot to know when you choose a tree. Homesickness can drive us to pamper one tree from back home. But, a whole street full of them? Toto, I don't think we're in Vermont anymore!
Reading the reactions of city officials this morning has no effect on what went down. The "I didn't know anything" mantra is pathetic.
This outrageous and callous act of barbarism cannot go unpunished. Merchants are worried now about losing valuable business as people will most certainly begin to go elsewhere for dining and shopping. Did NO ONE consider this when this idiotic plan was proposed? And, how about at least letting the public know of their intentions by posting well-placed signs long before the day of the clear cut? Of course, we know why... we would have run them out of town on a rail!
As I wrote yesterday, the new City of Palo Alto motto should be "The city that knows how! If it ain't broke, we'll make sure it gets broken!"
cal ave looks lioke a ''shooting gallery''! cant hide behind trees so the gestapon can round up the citizens in case of ''national emergency'' ? it has that vibe , remember the ''anarchist '' demonstration with military cops chasing skaters thru town! cut down trees so citizens cant hide behind.they want to WATCH YOU mesage to cal ave businesses i will think twice before going o cal ave no shade too blaring
I find this hard to believe they were able to do this without the City Council/Manager even knowing about it. I am furious. Who are these people? I did not vote for them. Agree with Marie and JB's comments. Have they properly researched the viability of non-natives other than that they a pretty? Someone please list the names of the businesses that supported this so I may boycott them.
It appears that many Cal. Ave businesses, city officials and even Canopy were NOT alerted about the huge tree removal. How could this happen?
Jeez folks. Get a grip. You all are freaking out over trees.
Who knew CPAU needed to add Prozac to the water supply?
Several PA Town Online comments have queried or asked for my opinion or activity. I actually have been silent on the matter but do wish to help focus the issue in a positive way.
I have not been involved with the project for one reason or another, but the managing arborist for the city, Eric Krebs, has been capably advising. For specific information and the new plan and to review the tree data, please contact the CalAve capital improvement project manager Woojae Kim, Woojae.Kim@CityofPaloAlto.org, or Mike Sartor, Assistant Public Works Director, 650-329-2295. They have requested correspondence be directed to them for comprehensive response.
The City of Palo Alto projects web page may also have information at: Web Link
"The CAADA and Formal Public Works statement is as follows:
Cal Ave Trees: California Avenue Streetscape "Phase One" has begun. The overwhelming majority of the Holly Oak trees on California Ave. was either diseased, damaged or causing damage to sidewalks, and will be replaced. The reason for planting new trees at the same time is to ensure equal growth rates that will create a consistent looking canopy, as the trees mature. -- Currently, most of the existing street trees are Holly Oaks and many of them are diseased and in poor condition. Their branches cover street lights and grow over building storefronts and roofs requiring frequent tree trimming. They bear and drop large acorn fruits that are tripping hazards for pedestrians. The Holly Oaks will be replaced with Red Maples, deciduous trees that change color to deep red. Tree selections were made by the Public Works Tree Division and were well received by the California Avenue Area Development Association (CAADA). Red Maple is a fast growing tree that is tolerant to different soil conditions. They produce smaller seed fruits that are safer for pedestrians to walk over. With the replacement of street trees, the City standard tree wells with metal grates will be installed in concrete sidewalks which will bring a uniform look to the business district. The existing tree wells in sidewalks are open wells which may be tripping hazards."
On a personal note, retail district improvements should always have the best interest for improved Economic Vitality (when possible). Based on the best studies of consumers and business districts, it is clear that public preferences for green landscaping, shaded storefronts and green surroundings increase interest in the experience of shopping. The presence of a quality urban forest and landscape design positively influences shoppers' perceptions, behavior and spending preferences. Scientific studies have documented that shopping behavior is willing to spend several minutes browsing a shaded retail window (versus walking quickly past) and may spend as much as 9-12% more for products when compared to an unshaded shopping district with minimal to no quality landscape design in the immediate area. More on these studies from Kathy Wolf, PhD, can be found at www.cfr.washingfotn.edu/research.envmind
Lastly, for a general understanding of our community forest goals and principles, the city manager has provided for you an overview of our urban forest potential on our Palo Alto-See-it! site. There is an important PowerPoint presentation show reflecting our community that you can view and download for reporting, use as school project material or just use the pictures. You may need to enlarge the show to see it all correctly. Go to: Web Link (environmental protection/climate/healthy urban forest- then click on 'documents')
I hope this helps the conversation and perception of the city's urban forestry goals. Please exercise patience for our ability to assimilate the some of the newer concepts needed for a better and greener Palo Alto. Our Urban Forest Master Plan update has been on hold for quite some time, and would function as a central hub where all departments, development and projects would be following consistent policy, communication and quality control. The above issue is a glaring reason why it is needed and how it would assist staff in all departments.
Environmental Planner/Landscape Advisor, ASCA, ISA, APA
City of Palo Alto, 250 Hamilton Avenue
Palo Alto, CA 94301 USA
650-329-2441 Web Link
Our Community Tree Canopy is a measurable utility
Providing infrastructure-based services and dividends, and is
Your local front line of defense against global climate change
I'm quite pleased with the removal of the trees and the plan to replace them with the red maples. The plan to improve California Ave. is way overdue. There is so much more that can be done to make it more pleasant and usable by local residents. Reducing the # of lanes, creating a bicycle lane and adding benches are all great ideas. I do agree that more communications would have helped, most people that I spoke to on the avenue had no idea what is going on so they all panicked when they saw the trees being cut down. They had no idea what the big picture was to improve the street. It seemed like business owners were just as ignorant. One thing that is broken are the parking spaces in the lots, they are way too narrow. Creating more pedestrian space with outside cafes and dining would also enhance the environment.
Why don't we have a honest City Council that will honestly say "Developer (Contractors) Lobbyists , Developer (Contractors), donate to us and we will approve!!!!"
It would be great if the City Council and all the other "Councils" and "Work Shops" learned a new word NO or new phase DISAPPROVED….
There is no sane reason for this PROBLEM except MONEY, MONEY, MONEY and not caring about the people of Palo Alto or ANY of the other communities …..
Sound to me like DEVELOPMENT, DEVELOPMENT, DEVELOPMENT !!!! Gee, the CITY has messed up "University Avenue.", West Charleston Road & El Camino Real, butchered San Antonio Road and let's not forget San Antonio/East Charleston Road.
Like I said ABOVE - There is no sane reason for these PROBLEMS except MONEY, MONEY, MONEY and not caring about the people of Palo Alto or ANY of the other communities …..
The tree cutting is part of Capital Improvement Program PE-07005 that is managed by the Department of Public Works and that is supposed to have been reviewed by the Architectural Review Board (ARB), the Planning and Transportation Commission (PTC), and the Public Arts Commission (PAC). The City Council should direct staff to include in the next City Council agenda packet copies of all staff reports sent to the ARB, PTC, and PAC for public hearings held on this specific public works project. I don't want staff to misinterpret Council direction. I don't mean staff should send the Council the entire Capital Improvement Program document for all projects or send the Council staff reports on the fountain that also used money from this project fund. The City Council and the City Manager need to see the staff reports that went to public bodies that were supposed to hold hearings on the subject of the tree cutting and its relationship to the re-design of California Avenue environment.
The people behind this will get fined. A huge amount.
They then will have to pay to replace all the trees
Then since it was SO wrong, they will have to plant many more trees in the City of Palo Alto.
How much damage to the living creatures that now have no homes? Sounds like they should be planting Thousands of trees.
Well lets ask Gary Baum? Hey Gary How did this happen?
Love that Take charge City Manager..... ?????????? trees in Palo Alto??? We have trees?????
I remember a story about a person who wanted top remove a redwood tree???? Cost him $$$$$$ and greef..
I will join in the boycott of specific businesses that supported this. I went by today to see for myself what it looked like and I was completely horrified. I hope the person who signed off on this project for the city gets fired.
I think after having to come up with a huge BS story about the Childrens theatre. Then having to do the same with the Police Chief thing. Leave Dennis out of this, what he had to go through was a joke, A'la CPA. The CM,CC and developers where doing the CPA Think Tank Butt kissing dance ( lots of butts getting kissed) when the memo went past.. The city pays people to find people who cut trees down. Then when a WHOLE FORREST gets cut down right under thier noses.. They know NOTHING??? The CM did not know about a plan like this..... Pssssst Send Keene a memo THE WORLD IS ROUND....
It might look flat from Az put here it is round.. No matter what CPA thinks..
R.I.P. cal ave.
The city has become dysfunctional.
A Suggestion: Why not have a Council rule that any decision directing the City Staff to change the community in a significnt way that is more than five years old and has not been implemented should be brought back to Council for public discussion and confirmation./ Marvin Lee
The reaction to the cutting of trees in the California Avenue Business District is a high-profile example of the City's failure to give proper notification. According to several City Staff members to whom I made suggestions on improvements, this was intentional under the previous City Manager.
As an example, take the two hypothetical notifications:
1. "City to replace diseased trees on California Avenue"
2. "City to replace almost all trees on CalAve. Likely to be at least 10 years before shade and visual character restored."
Unfortunately, the first isthe kind of notification that the City routinely provides. Other examples, High Speed Rail (HSR) and the decision in 2001-2002 to push out retail and other non-residential uses in favor of high-density housing.
It is not just the normal citizen who doesn't get adequate notification. As a neighborhood activist, I routinely have problems figuring out what is actually to be discussed and decided at a meeting. And having access to City Council members does not help: Too often when I ask them, I find out that they don't know or that they have conflicting guesses about what should be crystal clear to them going into meetings. However, our current (and past) Council members have been unwilling to do anything about this longstanding problem. During the 2007 Council race, I tried (unsuccessful) to make this an issue (my multipart rant on this class of problems, Web Link , did have space for this particular aspect).
If a homeowner needs to cut down an Oak that's "diseased" and may collapse on their home, car or pedestrian... forget about it. No way. Fines, penalities... and more. Seriously ... how diseased were these trees? were ALL of them diseased? I would think NOT. But let's have the folks at City Hall show us the arborist report citing which tree were indeed diseased. This would quell a lot of outrage...so show us the facts? or let us draw our own conclusions? (There were no weapons of Mass Destruction... there were no diseased trees)
where do the red maples come from? are they native to Northern California? will they grow well here? this will look like a planned tracked.. why not have a mix of trees rather than a uniform look. where is the charm? such a sorry result.
When the very healthy and pretty trees surrounding the community gardens next to the main library branch were cut down a few years ago, I couldn't get an explanation for this act of barbarism from any city department I had contacted. When I asked the contractor what reason he had been given for cutting down the trees he shrugged as said that he hadn't been given any. It just seems that some bureaucrat, like in a Nikolai Gogol play, comes up with an absurd idea and manages to execute it while everybody else is oblivious.
The statement from Dave Dockter is a masterpiece of obfuscation. And who the heck are these CAADA people. Their statement was ridiculous. I'd like to see the statistics on falls due to acorns on the sidewalk. Their arguments for removing ALL the trees are completely specious. Someone wanted these trees gone for a building project.
Sick trees can be taken care of and heal. Spray and trim? With the huge amount of BS in Palo Alto that should not be a problem
"Do you think this ever could have happened along University Ave?"
You bet it can. We better hug those trees while we still got 'em.
Its swift execution indicates this clearcut operation was very carefully planned. The perps wanted the deed done and over before citizens or their representatives got in their way. All the gripers about the Palo Alto Process can rejoice. No Process here.
This is embarrassing.
This thread will be used as a typical example of "affluent Palo Alto" residents worrying too much about things that have little relevance to real life (the first was the whole freak-out over not having our "sanitation engineers" go up our driveways to pick up our trash).
You guys are a piece of work.
Am trying to figure out why non-native trees were chosen and why trees that will NOT provide shade year-round???? This will be miserable and affect outdoor seating for a number of restaurants/cafes. Any chance of a better plan for tree replacement? Anyone from the city want to respond on this blog?
Trees do actually have relevance to real life. They provide shade, oxygen and character to California Ave. Or they did. I agree with you that Palo Altans argue about too much sometimes, but not in this case. What happened here is a disgrace.
RONNA herself fell from a falling acorn!!!
"They provide shade, oxygen and character to California Ave. Or they did."
And they will again. It's not as if they aren't replacing them.
Who made the determination that the trees were diseased? Surely, not every single tree on California Ave was diseased, this is bizarre. And I too tried to find out who ordered the removal of most of the trees around the community gardens adjacent to the library and not one person in any city department seemed to have any idea who ordered them removed and why. The only theory I got was from one of the gardeners who speculated that a couple of vagrants would camp out for the night under those trees and somebody decided to make the area less attractive to the homeless by cutting a bunch of healthy, shade and oxygen producing trees.
"Manager, council surprised by Cal Ave tree cutting"
Liars! Fire them all!
I worked on California Avenue for 8 years and always enjoyed the low-key, small-town atmosphere there. Part of it was the presence of the Holly Oaks and the pleasant SHADE they provided. Now, I don't go to California Avenue all that often, but after reading about the tree massacre from all the distraught witnesses, I have no wish to visit the scene of the crime. I know I'd burst into tears at the needless destruction. I agree that IF indeed the trees needed to be taken out it should have been done gradually and replaced by natives which are better aclimated to our climate. Whoever authorized this project should be re-evaluated. ..... I
The merchants on California Ave. need to pay more attention to what the California Avenue Area Development Association (CAADA) is doing in their name. California Ave used to be a friendly street with a lovely, splashy fountain and nice shade. Now it looks like a strip mall. And all in the name of beautification? Shame on the City Council for not knowing that ALL THE TREES on Cal AVE were destined for the chopping block! Or did they know and decided it was better to ask forgiveness than to ask permission. They probably didn't want protesters like the folks who saved the trees along Middlefield Ave. to mess up their master plan.
Those who weren't sure what bureaucratic insanity actually meant should look at this utterly absurd fiasco and they'll get the meaning.
tear down the wall!
[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]
It's like a joke that our lovely neighborhood becomes an abandoned bald ghost town overnight.
This is our city. This is our neighborhood. This is our street. How dare the city manager and council approved such irresponsible and destructive plans! We require an investigation to find out what deal they have behind this project.
Dave Dockter informed me he was not involved in the decisions for this project. Mr. Dockter is in the Palo Alto Planning Department. Public Works has its own arborist. Public Works is in charge of the project.
Well, after reading most of the comments, whew,.....,I drive, walk by Cal ave. frequently, to and from biz,etc., and when we(my two kids and I)drove from our house to Cal ave. to El Camino, we all looked down Cal ave.(last Wednesday) and commented what's wrong? It looked so different, what's up? So we drove down the massacre site, and had to turn left at the first stop sign, because of the street closure due to cutting, I zipped my window down and said loudly to the traffic director(tree contractor)stop cutting, of course to no avail! This would/could have been a perfect time to have a non-violent protest/civil action and intercede for the trees. Well this did not happen. Maybe in the future it could. Or in the future let's up the communication, so all residents and esp. business owners know what's up. I agree with the owner of PA Sol, if he had been there, before that chain saw revved up, he would have prevented it. Maybe that was needed, by all us upset citizens.........
If the Public Works Department is in charge of this project, exactly who in Public Works exactly approved the decision to cut down all the tress at once? Surely it was not the man who actually cut down the trees. Who in authority gave the authorization? And don't tell the citizens of the City Council that the person responsbile retired last month!
Shame on you Eric Krebs (current City Arborist) and David Dockter (recently promoted from that position). Your approval of a tree report claiming that most of the trees down the entire street were diseased or in poor condition tells us you haven't been doing your jobs. Your approval of a non-native (red maple) monoculture replacement tree tells of you're less than competent. Propagating the smoke screen of tripping hazards (acorns, tree wells, cracked sidewalks) to justify removal tells us you think we're naive -- as if every other tree in town didn't have it's own share of similar inconveniences. But worst of all, to let this action proceed with no fanfare, knowing full well that your jobs were borne out of this community's heartfelt concern for preserving our tree canopy, is a disgrace to the city positions you've been entrusted to. You should both be fired.
Because of this city-arborist-sanctioned clear-cutting blitzkrieg, we should alert the National Arbor Day Foundation ( www.arborday.org 402-474-5655) to remove Palo Alto from its list of Tree City-USA award recipients, which it had received each of the past 24 years. Let's deny our city officials this feel-good award until Eric Krebs and David Dockter are replaced by arborists worthy of the title.
Finally, let's support the boycott of the real estate agent and businesses in the two buildings that pushed for cutting down these trees.
It is time for an investigation of the ENTIRE Public Works Department from very top to bottom ---from lousy streets to vanishing trees to composting - the list is long. THAT should be the top priority for the auditor. The last auditor took a look at some of that and 'it wasn't pretty'. Remember that most of the Public Works employees don't even live here - top to bottom.
City Council and the City Manager need to find out which people in City of Palo Alto upper management authorized or consented to the decision to cut down fifty trees in a business distric without real public discussion. I am concerned that the blame will get shifted in a panic to some working person who used a chain saw as directed to do so and not the management making the actual decisions.
Nothing in the City happens without City Manager and Council approval. That is where the blame lies. Period. Even if the decision was made years ago, the current City Manager and current Council need to do their homework on projects that have been approved and are ready to proceed. Stop blaming someone in Public Works for poor City management. I guess someone was too busy trying to find the perfect 2 million dollar home.
I agree the the buck has to stop with the City Council and with City Manager Keene. Other senior city staff cannot be exempt from responsibility and accountability, however. Making sure that all the people involved are held accountable for their decisions will help to prevent this unwise action from happening again.
Between tree cutting, poor process management of libraries, Facebook parking, homeless problems, University Avenue, literail, insane price of rent, I have lost my taste for Palo Alto. I used to call this town home, but now would prefer to sell my house and leave it behind like an unhealthy relationship.
This is the second time I have been surprised and disappointed in the Arborist decisions concerning tree planting communications. Not sure if Canopy is involved in this decision but they were in the Bol Park tree planting. There seems to be an out of control department that doesn't want to include the citizen's of Palo Alto. I have a very hard time with this lack of inclusion of citizen input. One of the highest priorities of the City Council is Citizen involvement. How do we pass this on to staff who are use to doing it their way?!
I took an 11 am walk on California Avenue today, the same walk I took a week ago. The air temperature was still cool, but the blazing sun made for an unpleasant walk on California Avenue, and made me just want to get out of the sun. It used to be a pleasant walk. No longer.
When I try to envision the replacement maples, I look at the two remaining 12-foot tall street trees in front of Starbucks and The Counter. Those trees were planted a few years ago when the new Starbucks building was built. Those trees barely make any visual impression, even on a barren Cal. Ave. that has been clear-cut of all other trees. Those 12-ft tall trees are too small to provide meaningful shade to pedestrians or restaurant customers seated on the sidewalk. It will be many years before those trees grow large enough to provide the shade and visual enhancement of the former mature Cal. Ave. trees. It will be many years before a walk on California Ave. comes close to being as pleasant as it used to be.
I think there is no "perfect" tree for a street such a California Avenue. If a tree is not too susceptible to disease, then it has some other "problem," such as losing leaves in winter or dropping acorns or seed pods. Natives are preferable, but native oaks grow relatively slowly. Redwoods grow faster, but they also get too huge and their roots push out the pavement. Other trees may also be faster-growing, but they may use too much water, or are prone to their limbs breaking. Other comments above have pointed out some drawbacks of Red Maples.
To me, this supports the concept that all mature trees should be valued, especially mature native trees and trees that are slow-growing or difficult to replace. The City supposedly recognizes this concept in its tree ordinance and tree technical manual, but Public Works seems to have disregarded this in its decisions and actions. Unfortunately, this time, Public Works' screw up cannot be easily rectified and will have very long-term consequences that residents, visitors and businesses will all have to suffer.
Isn't a tree the symbol of Palo Alto? Maybe we should now have an axe. San Antonio looks denuded; I imagine California Ave. does also. I agree we should be taken off the Tree City Awards list and be on a new list: the right hand doesn't know what the left hand is doing. If you want to send a message, do not re-elect anyone currently on the City Council--that's the only message they'll understand!
The next assault on California Avenue will be a workshop on the "Concept Plan" on Nov 5. Go to Web Link to sign-up for notifications. That site also has some of the presentations from the first two workshops. The notes I prepared for the first workshop and for a stakeholders' meeting (neighborhood associations) can be viewed at Web Link . As the workshop approaches, I hope to post similar notes on my site.
These workshops are pushing for turning CalAve into an area for high-density housing (because it is close to a train station). From slide 33 from the presentation at the second workshop: "Higher density residential _or_ mixed use dwellings in the California Avenue commercial center within a walkable distance of major transit stations. Generally _three_to_four_story_ residential and/or intended to support substantial use of public transportation, in close proximity to Caltrain and California Avenue". Slides 33-35 have photos of such development that are worth looking at to understand the mindset of those pushing for such changes.
At the first two workshops, residents have pushed back hard at this, but it will require substantial public resistance to keep staff and Council from pushing this through. Council already approved P/TOD zoning for this area, providing additional incentives for developers to densify the area with more offices and housing. On CalAve itself, there was some protection for the retail _category_ but densification is likely to eliminate local stores in favor of the chains.
The previous City Manager (without Council approval) got the area declared a "Priority Development Area" and this is cited in ABAGs expectations for Palo Alto becoming substantially more dense.
The ABAG mandates should be rejected, outright. The penalty is that Palo Alto will not receive funds for even more BMR housing. So what?
The tree removal has no particular bearing with the ABAG deal, so why confuse the two?
This was a self-inflicted wound to Palo Alto administered by an arrogant, stupid bureaucracy. ABAG may be wrong about more high density housing in Palo Alto, but Palo Alto City government itself and not ABAG is to blame for the awful devastation to California Avenue.
On my previous post: I am not trying to start a discussion of the ABAG numbers here. Since this thread has lots of people who care about what happens to California Avenue, I wanted to point them at the sign-up for notifications (something that was a failing with this project) and add some info on why they might want to sign up.
Several public meetings were held concerning the California Avenue streetscape plan. So those of you who knew "nothing about it" chose not to attend. But now you are complaining. A lot of people, especially Ronna, have spend a lot of time and effort on this streetscape project. But you were all too busy, so you could not attend any of the meetings.
Well, too bad. Next time spend a little of your precious time to get involved before you start complaining.
I go to Cal Ave at least once a week, shop at Village Stationers, Country Sun, Mollie Stones, Know Knew Books, and the shoe store. I live less than half a mile from the street, a 20 minute walk and 5 minute bike ride. I read my local papers, email or write my elected representatives, and attend the occasional city council meeting. I consider myself a pretty involved citizen. Maybe they reached out to College Terrace, but they did not reach out to Ventura, because I did not know about this.
The damage is done, what is past is gone. However I think that the selection of any tree that requires more irrigation that the trees that have been killed would be selfish, short sighted and irresponsible. We are constantly in drought in CA and this problem is exacerbated as the population grows. And it is growing state wide through out the last 100 years at an accelerating pace.
It should not be all about making a pretty reproduction of someone's image of an east coast shopping district. This is California Avenue, let's select a Mediterranean climate tree!!!!!!!!!!!
My previous post was removed. So I'll use a differnent phrase from another poster:
"The statement from Dave Dockter is a masterpiece of obfuscation."
I also mentioned acorns and how they interferred with my shopping experience along Cal Ave. Now that Cal ave has been clear cut from El Camino to Cal train, the shopping experience will be so much better. Wake up people!
For some reason the city arborists have been fascinated recently with getting uniform trees along sections of streets. I don't mind this direction, as long as it is *phased in* slowly over the next 50 years. I don't mind that much, but, in general, it is pointless and stupid. In the meantime, I will be retired, dead, and buried before California Ave again has the character that it had for the last 35 years.
Arborists: This is a stupid fad that no doubt is recommended by the trendiest magazines and conferences. Stop it!! You just destroyed the beauty and character of California Avenue for the next 15 years! Don't do it this way again. If there are old, diseased trees along a street, start replacing the worst ones gradually so that in 15-20 years the job is done. I don't care what the magazines say: there is no need for the trees to be perfectly uniform.
I find it amazing that a topic like this elicits so much response in todays world.
Trees got cut down, it's sad. Really. But do you have so much time on your hands that you are honestly never going to go to that street again because it doesn't currently have trees? That's absurd.
How about this one: over 16,000 (yes that's sixteen thousand) children die from hunger related issues every day. Or, here's another one: 1.4 billion people, 1/6th of the worlds population, earn less than $1.25 a day.
Seriously, there are over 100 posts on this thread. If each of you highly intelligent, educated and well-fed people focused your attention elsewhere for just a few minutes we could make a better world. Not just a better California Avenue where it's now too hot for you to shop.
May I remind DeedeeO in the post above that the purpose of a neighborhood association
is to send out emails and notices of events that effect our lives. That's why they are elected! Not everyone can attend meetings even when they would like to. Hundreds of people have expressed outrage and anger at the loss of these trees. All of them were completely in the dark about this impending clear cutting event. Don't dismiss what has happened by blaming people for not attending meetings they didn't know about!
I contacted the Country Sun to find out if they did -- as reported by Cheryl Rose -- supported the tree cut.
They did not.
The Sun's former CEO, Jim Stevens, was VP of CAADA, but he moved out of state in February 2008. When he was still at CAADA, he knew about the streetscape project and he expressed his concern that the trees would be cut down.
I hadn't seen the massacre on California Avenue until last week and like countless others I couldn't believe this had happened. Why?
If we had known, we could have taken a final picture. California Avenue will never be the same for me and I can't see shopping there anymore (parking has been problematic for years, anyway). This, right after losing Polly & Jake's. This city has become like all the others and I can't wait to move out of the area... I'm tired of grieving for the losses and no gains!
The street lighting on Cal Aveue was going to cost too much to fix, so they left it alone and put the money into placing smaller trees in the old trees' stead.
Now, some of the least efficient and unsightly streetlights in three counties will be even more visible. I guess that is supposed to be one of the silver linings of the tree removal.
Why we cannot update the SHADES on the EXISTING lights, aim more light DOWN instead of OUT, and get the same light with smaller wattage bulbs.. especially now that the lights are not shaded in the least bit. At night, California Avenue really looks its worst, now. Sodium neon orange glare, treeless.. big fat wide street.. it looks like a set for the next Living Dead movie. Or a landing strip.
As a business owner and resident of Palo Alto I can attest that the tree cutting was done WITHOUT informing the residents and business owners in the area, this is amazing considering the fact that we were informed about possible work on the gas lines which did in fact occurr weeks late and in quatruple the time frame promised and when the gas needed to be cut we got a sign hanging off our door a day AFTER they cut it. Yet when a project that killed trees would happen it happens so quickly and we all are supposed to love it afterwards because 'its for our own good' or 'we should be concentrating elsewhere'. If officials were so confident that they could convince us of the benefits of this project then why did they not attempt to do so by the legal means available? All I could think of is how much were the treecutters paid and who signed their checks?Dear sirs, even in third world countries we call 'terrorists' you cannot cut down a tree with as little accountability as was done here! What concerns us is to have city officials to show us who was responsible, what measures were taken, and how such a 'whoopie' would never happen again! Obviously giving us BS explainations before has emboldened officials into thinking that they can BS again. I think the us as residents of Palo Alto should lobby for an independant investigation in the multiple events such as the 'children's theater' and the california avenue mess to make sure we never get blindsighted like this again!
Do you get it yet?
"TAXPAYERS TIRED OF BEING SCREWED BY PALO ALTO"
Anyone? Buehler?, Buehler?
Quit voting for the duplicitous pols.
You killed the trees.
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