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Widespread errors led to clearcutting of Cal Ave trees

Original post made on Dec 4, 2009

Insufficient public outreach, miscommunication within Palo Alto's Public Works Department and the department's widespread failure to comply with proper planning procedure all contributed to the city's controversial axing of 63 holly oaks on California Avenue in mid-September, internal correspondence from Public Works indicates.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Friday, December 4, 2009, 8:57 AM

Comments (69)

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Posted by trees
a resident of Midtown
on Dec 4, 2009 at 9:18 am

fire the folks who did not follow procedures. Did some people get a kick back on this?
or as usual just look the other way and save face?


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Posted by anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 4, 2009 at 9:38 am


"It's understandable that people who have those types of questions," Roberts said. "I want to strongly state that while a number of serious mistakes have been made, they were made with good intentions."

The road to hell is paved with good intentions.

Procedures are there for a reason.

Anybody else getting tired of city council members expressing surprise and shock at something that has happened in the city? I guess staff realizes the council has been inattentive and mostly irrelevant.


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Posted by Parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 4, 2009 at 9:47 am

To trees:

The answer to your question is in the article:

"There was a strong desire on the part of many people to expedite the project," Roberts told the Weekly. "People wanted to make it happen and have it done before the shopping season to avoid disruptions."


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Posted by Daniel Mart
a resident of Mountain View
on Dec 4, 2009 at 10:30 am

Daniel Mart is a registered user.

Government amazes me.

Sure living up to "For the people, by the people," huh?


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Posted by Ironic
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 4, 2009 at 10:59 am

At the end of everyone's rants and raves below 'add a comment' is a google add for tree service "tree care and removals Lc arborist..".


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Posted by Architect
a resident of Professorville
on Dec 4, 2009 at 11:08 am

I think the original plan of red maples would have looked stunning. I'm not a big fan of the current plan to plant a hodge podge of different tree varieties. I'm sorry the project got caboshed half way through. I'm sorry the result has been classic design-by -committee nonsense. If the original project had been allowed to continue the new trees would have been planted weeks ago.

Renovation projects are always at their absolute worst just after demolition. I, myself, am stunned every time at the amount of destruction. And I have been involved in dozens of projects. There's always this point where it seems as if somebody has made a gargantuan mistake. In my opinion local residents and other groups totally overreacted. But who could blame them. They had zero preparation and support.

To make things worse, the project was staged for low cost and high efficiency rather than to minimize impact. Removal of a few trees at a time followed by immediate replanting would have been much more palatable.

Public Works is an odd entity. It's this way in every city I have worked in. They are a fiefdom unto themselves, able to make their own rules and regulation and used to making their own decisions. Building and Planning departments must deal with the public and must follow written codes. Public Works departments decide for themselves what is best and then just go about doing it. It isn't about kickbacks and bribes or even incompetence, per se. It's about how good intentions can become arrogance when there is no connection to the outside world.


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Posted by Fs
a resident of Green Acres
on Dec 4, 2009 at 11:12 am

Green in Palo Alto means GO as quickly as you can.
That for sure 'takes the rag offen the bush'.
Ironic


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Posted by John
a resident of Barron Park
on Dec 4, 2009 at 11:29 am

What I can't understand is how essentially the same error was made twice in a period of about three months. The downtown park was torn up contrary to the city charter and a few months later the California Ave. trees were cut down without the required period of waitilng. In both cases it seems the city staff was responding to a few of the merchants. It seems to me it is up to the City Manager to see that his staff doesn't make the same mistake twice in such a short period.


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Posted by A. Mayor
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Dec 4, 2009 at 11:35 am

If the Holly Oaks were the problem, still can't understand why the big, beautiful and healthy PINES over the pedestrian underpass by the Caltrain station were also cut down. They are never mentioned in the repeated phrase "63 holly oaks"

Can we have a list of the members of CAADA again. Their arrogance is peerless


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Posted by Greener
a resident of College Terrace
on Dec 4, 2009 at 11:35 am

Needless to say how poor job the city of Palo Alto was done in this project. I'm surprise to know the major driver of this tree-removal project is those businesses in California Ave (CAADA). I'm wondering, if they don't care about this neighborhood, why would we care about their businesses?


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Posted by Daniel Mart
a resident of Mountain View
on Dec 4, 2009 at 12:17 pm

Daniel Mart is a registered user.

The more comments I read, the more enraged I become. I mean, it's like, why do we have city governments? Just as a means for people in power to ignore the public and "legally" pay attention solely to the special interests?

CA Avenue in Palo Alto had gotten to be somewhat of a landmark ... now, thanks to this administration, it's reputation has severely diminished.

I know Evan Low and was at his Inauguration as Mayor of Campbell; he is one of a number of young 20 and 30 something council candidates all over who are committed to fixing a broken status quo and bringing fairness to their cities.

I find it so ironic that my generation seems to care a lot more than people who grew up in the '50s and '60s. It's like those seniors who you'll talk about activism with and all they do is laugh and say, "you're cute," as if in reality you're crazy or something.


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Posted by M A Michel
a resident of Downtown North
on Dec 4, 2009 at 12:23 pm

Enough already...too bad we must have someone to blame. The new trees could already be planted if we had not spent so much time looking for that one.
Everyone now knows where Cal Ave shopping center is and that's a good.

I am a long time Cal Ave shopper now living "up town"


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Posted by Facts
a resident of another community
on Dec 4, 2009 at 12:29 pm

To Daniel Mart

Than's right, Dan, like we used to say back in the 60's: "Never trust anyone over (the age of) 30! Be careful, or you just might find yourself in that demographic one of these days......


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Posted by Bick
a resident of University South
on Dec 4, 2009 at 12:49 pm

Well written article. I have a much better understanding of the situation and chronology of events.


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Posted by Paul
a resident of Downtown North
on Dec 4, 2009 at 1:29 pm

"CA Avenue in Palo Alto had gotten to be somewhat of a landmark ... now, thanks to this administration, it's reputation has severely diminished."

I'm inclined to thank the Benest administration, which spent a decade creating the present government culture we all appreciate. Keene is a real breath of fresh air. Give him a chance to fix things.

Hopefully he'l start by cashiering all the senior managers, soon, beginning with Roberts.


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Posted by anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 4, 2009 at 1:36 pm

Keene has been in his position 15 months now.. plenty of time to start cleaning shop if he wanted to.


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Posted by Poor Management
a resident of College Terrace
on Dec 4, 2009 at 1:41 pm

The unanswered question is where was the proper management oversight that was supposed to be exercised by Public Works Director Glenn Roberts and Assistant Public Works Director Michael Sartor? Or their boss James Keene?


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Posted by mj
a resident of College Terrace
on Dec 4, 2009 at 1:54 pm

The article assumes the merchants on California Avenue did know ahead of time because it is assumed in the article the merchants were members of CAADA.

Has the author verified with CAADA who was an active member of CAADA while this was going on? My understanding of the CAADA membership is that this group primarily BUILDING OWNERS, who may also be merchants of course. And not all building owners were/are active members of CAADA. That only about three people were active in CAADA, and no one else doing business on California Avenue knew or were notified what was going on.

So is it correct to say that the merchants on California Avenue are involved with and represented by CAADA? And merchants did have advance notice of the tree cutting?


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Posted by Elizabeth
a resident of Midtown
on Dec 4, 2009 at 2:04 pm

This article cites a desire to get the trees replaced before they repave California Ave.

Seems like that was the song and dance we got for why they cut down all the wonderful trees on San Antonio Road - because the roots were affecting the roadway.

If Palo Alto gov't was as innovative as they used to be and wish us to believe, they could have cut the offending roots and plated them with metal to resolve that condition. That's how they've successfully managed such situations in Europe.

Instead they just cut down all the trees and re landscaped.

Has anyone seen that horrendous road's resurfacing? I certainly haven't. Months later we have new landscaping, but the roads are as miserable as ever.


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Posted by anon
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Dec 4, 2009 at 2:42 pm

Why not just flatten the entire California Ave area to make room for another storage - er, retirement facility, like the one on San Antonio and Charleston. That really helped south PA look better - and very few annoying trees to boot!




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Posted by Humbug
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Dec 4, 2009 at 2:46 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


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Posted by sarlat
a resident of Crescent Park
on Dec 4, 2009 at 2:48 pm

But what exactly is the incentive for city employees to even bother following established procedures when they know there will never be consequences to their foul-ups. Widespread errors should have lead to widespread terminations, or am I being too logical?


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Posted by Tom Jordan
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Dec 4, 2009 at 3:10 pm

Still unanswered, but important questions: 1) Please name the members of CAADA who actively participated in this. 2) What percentage of merchants/property owners along California Ave are members of CAADA? 3) What was the participation, if any, of the full membership of CAADA? 4) Did any DPW official senior to Woojae Kim authorize/direct him to proceed as he did? If the answer is "yes' name the person or persons.
The person who said that the original plan for all red maples would have been beautiful does not know much about tree siting. I have a 35' red maple in my front yard which I choose with the help of McClenahans and planted 26 years ago, and it is indeed an excellent tree, but it is a tree to be planted in a lawn where it gets regular water in substantial amounts. Street trees simply do not get as much water as a red maple needs to show at its best. It is a lawn tree, not a cement bounded street tree. Two significant failures in two months by DPW in violating clear written instructions on when a project can start are, at least. one too many. Rules and procedures are important and inability to follow the clear rules is clearly grounds for termination of the senior responsible person. The public is waiting for the City Manager to take the necessary corrective action. I hope that he does.


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Posted by M
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 4, 2009 at 3:26 pm

This was an expensive and perhaps unneeded project. Many stores lost customers without the shade from the trees to provide a cool and pleasant place to eat outdoors or to attract customers to the shop.

I think, that all the city departments and their people, who were involved in this mess should pay for it. Then they wouldn't be so smart the next time and would really be more careful, and to care about the public aspects of it. The city needs to cut back on its expensives. Let those involved in this tree mess pay their share because they are responsible for it.


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Posted by Facts
a resident of another community
on Dec 4, 2009 at 3:29 pm

To "Tom Jordan" -

You cite "two significant failures by DPW in two months..." What is the second item, other than California Avenue? If you are referring to the Lytton Plaza project, please be reminded that is/was not a Public Works project. It is a public/private partnership administered elsewhere in the City, and the contract was actually let by the private parties involved, not by the City. Public Works only inspects the construction.

Please stop aiding and abetting the disemination of false information. Your bias is showing, and your false statements are bordering on slander and defimation. This forum is a public venue....


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Posted by Poor Management
a resident of College Terrace
on Dec 4, 2009 at 4:01 pm

Facts,

Care to comment on "Tom Jordon's" fourth question? You seem to be a City Hall insider, so should be able to answer his simple question below.

"4) Did any DPW official senior to Woojae Kim authorize/direct him to proceed as he did? If the answer is "yes' name the person or persons."


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Posted by Facts
a resident of another community
on Dec 4, 2009 at 4:14 pm

To "Poor management" -

I'd suggest you either reread the article and draw a conclusion from the information presented therein, or wait until the HR investigation is completed. I can not comment specifically until then.


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Posted by Moi
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 4, 2009 at 4:44 pm

Please don't scape any goats. They are perfectly delightful beings.


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Posted by John
a resident of Meadow Park
on Dec 4, 2009 at 6:47 pm

Just keep paying your hard earned tax money to the incompetents and keep re-electing the same politicians. Oh yea, we're already doing that!


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Posted by John
a resident of Meadow Park
on Dec 4, 2009 at 6:53 pm

Notice the article also mentions that the trees wern't diseased. I knew we were lied to.

Also the pine trees were removed at the end of the street. I suppose the chain saws would have kept going if it wasn't for Alma St blocking the way.

Carelessness and incompetence. Use tax money to clear cut heathly mature shade trees to replace then with: trees!


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Posted by Tom Jordan
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Dec 4, 2009 at 8:27 pm

I posted a comment earlier (about 8 comments ago) which drew a response from "Facts from another community" stating that DPW had no part of the mistaken premature illegal early start on Lytton Plaza about two or three months ago. I am checking that matter and will post what I find as soon as I have an answer.
In the meanwhile I have a question for DPW Director Glen Roberts: You are quoted at the end of the Weekly article as saying that though serious mistakes were made they "were made with good intentions". Please explain carefully how "good intentions" are relevant to the statement in the third paragraph of the Weekly article that DPW " staff ignored a clause, written in bold type on the planning permit mandating a 14 day waiting period before approval was considered final and construction could begin" and started cutting trees the day the permit was issued. What " good intentions" could possibly justify not following THE BOLD FACED terms of the permit?


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Posted by outside observer
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 4, 2009 at 8:59 pm

Oh, El Palo Alto, great god of all things tall and green, let the tree planting commence, and silence the usual whining heathens, so that they may find a new place for their ever present anger, elsewhere. Bless the Merchants and the good citizens who frequent them. Bless California Ave. and the new trees. Bless the Farmer's Market. Bless the Santa Train and Trick or Treat Day. Bless the Murals. Amen.


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Posted by John
a resident of Meadow Park
on Dec 4, 2009 at 9:07 pm

And with the blessings keep paying more in taxes...


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Posted by Johnny
a resident of College Terrace
on Dec 4, 2009 at 9:41 pm

I was pretty depressed about the whole thing for a while but am over it. Divincenzi strikes me as clueless. There's another member of CAADA though, Pope, Bishop or Cardinal or something like that, who is a bldg owner and I think must have been at the heart of the whole expedite strategy. She was on the news two days later talking about how happy people were...


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Posted by Daniel Mart
a resident of Mountain View
on Dec 4, 2009 at 10:28 pm

Daniel Mart is a registered user.

Happy? What? Really?

Sounds like the planning commission member who was quoted as saying, "we're happy to have another hotel in town" after viewing the development plas for Palo Alto Bowl...

In their own little world...


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Posted by Curious Citizen
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 4, 2009 at 11:02 pm

How could a business organization notify an entire city this project was going to happen? Is it standard procedure for Palo Alto to assume that would happen? Is that how it's handled in other cities, like Menlo Park, Los Altos, Mountain View, Sunnyvale, San Jose?

Did the Mountain View Merchants Association notify the entire city, when they redeveloped their downtown 10 years ago? Did the merchants assocation have to re-notify the whole community, when the wrong trees were put in the first time & 3-4 years later, they pulled out all the trees, and replanted a different species?

If so, was the CA Merchants Association told they needed to contact everyone in the whole city, including council & they dropped the ball on the task?

Is that how University Ave was done? Did the downtown PA merchants association handle notifications to everyone when all those blocks of trees were put in, and redeveloping was done on University Ave, Lytton, Hamiliton and all those sidestreets? It was a huge project!

It seems really odd, if that's the case. Just asking - would appreciate an answer, if anyone knows for sure.

How about "Facts"? If you have any inside info- What's the standard procedure for notifying the public about projects such as this one? Just curious. Thanks-


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Posted by outside observer
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 5, 2009 at 3:23 am

Oh, El Palo Alto, You know that only one entity is responsible for <planning> to cut down the trees, <deciding> to cut down the trees, for <notifying> the citizens that the trees will be cut, and actually <cutting down> the trees - just like in <every other> community. That entity is the <City of Palo Alto Public Works Department>! Oh, El Palo Alto, please forgive anyone who reports otherwise or says otherwise or believes otherwise for they are either shirking responsibility, or are ignorant of the facts, or simply don't know what they're talking about, or are incessant whiners looking for a target. Oh, El Palo Alto, you know that University Ave was also clear cut to plant trees and the citizens didn't whine. Please understand. Oh, El Palo Alto, please also forgive the transgressions of the Weekly, when they had their developer cut down the most beautiful Pistache tree on Cambridge Ave., in front of their new office, months ago, and didn't say a word about it. Oh, El Palo Alto, you know that the Weekly could have noticed the community, in it's "What's New" pages. Oh, El Palo Alto forgive the Weekly for No ceremony, no reporting, no hand-wringing, no nothing. Forgive the whiners and bless the trees. Soon all citizens will enjoy the cool shade, and multi-use retail, and the new train schedule. Let us rejoice. The trees are dead; long live the trees. Amen


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Posted by Commander McBragg
a resident of another community
on Dec 5, 2009 at 7:39 am

As of this post, the city Public Works Department has my official approval to cut down trees or whatever else they think is necessary to accomplish a re-landscaping project. It's so very annoying that they didn't check with me first on this California Ave. project, because I'm so damned important, and my sensibilities MUST be respected. However, I would have given them my approval anyway.


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Posted by outside observer
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 5, 2009 at 2:04 pm

Commander McBragg, El Palo Alto thanks you for your well-said permission. Your permission is special because it comes from someone who has substantial self-described self-importance. This is the same self-importance that some other members of our community also have, but are unaware of, as they think they channel the power of the trees and nature and the very gods that made them. El Palo Alto forgives them all, and will cover all of them in shade as its children thrive within the new land of California Avenue. Bless the little children, and the little trees/Bless the Whiners who have no life and that no one can please (please grant them a real Life, O Palo Alto, for suffer not the Whiners, they too are the children of the tall and green/Bless the Merchants and the Mayor and the Budget Deficit/Bless the grog that will help us forget this fiasco. Amen.


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Posted by bikes2work
a resident of Santa Rita (Los Altos)
on Dec 5, 2009 at 2:22 pm

Thank you Outside Observer for your prayers. I think I can feel better about missing the next candlelight vigil for climate change now.


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Posted by Mama
a resident of Downtown North
on Dec 5, 2009 at 5:49 pm

Tom Jordon - The good intentions were to complete the project prior to the Christmas shopping season so not to impact the merchants.

Curious Citizen - The whole City is not informed of City projects only residents/businesses within a specified range. This is what was done with the San Antonio Rd. project. Not sure how it's handled in other jurisdictions but would hazard a guess that Palo Alto probably is typically more stringent in their policies.


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Posted by Daniel Mart
a resident of Mountain View
on Dec 5, 2009 at 11:27 pm

Daniel Mart is a registered user.

This is "not" government ... like the newest eyyesore of a building that replaced the century-old structure which burned down ... the problem with this type of governmental structure is that we get people with no taste and no desire for the good of their entire city.
The entire city should be consulted on projects; not just a select few!


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Posted by Lesson Learned
a resident of Midtown
on Dec 6, 2009 at 8:58 am

Lesson learned: put people first. Involve the community. Broaden the vision and outlook of those who work in the City bureaucracy at all levels.

Community engagement needs to be an active process, not just a catch phrase. The culture of City Government needs to be transformed to make these things happen as a matter of course, not just in response to controversy.

There needs to be new leadership at the top levels of management and a fresh approach at City Hall.


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Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 6, 2009 at 12:36 pm

Anyone care to list the members of CAADA? Otherwise, I'll boycott the entire street.


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Posted by Tom Jordan
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Dec 6, 2009 at 2:00 pm

Mama fromDowntwn North: Are you saying that the DPW staff wanting to complete the project before Christmas is a justifible excuse to ignore completely the BOLD FACE STATEMENT ON THE PROJECT PERMIT THAT IT WAS NOT VALID FOR FOURTEEN DAYS? Let me know.


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Posted by Curious Citizen
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 6, 2009 at 3:33 pm

I read this to mean the 14 day wait period was not ignored but rather, Public Works thought if a tree was removed and a new tree planted, a 14 day wait period would not apply to this Phase of the project.

The next Phase, with new additions - street furniture and the street resurface/re-stripe WOULD apply. But I didn't read this article to mean it was a case of ignoring anything intentionally. Though it would have been simpler to just ASK and get the answer from a superior rather than to assume the wait wouldn't apply.

Thanks for answering my question above, Mama. Who was responsible for notifying the public on the San Antonio project? Was it the city?

What I'm trying to get at is if it's ever a responsibility of a merchants group, like CADA, or even a residents association to notify people outside their own group.

An example: if a nearby Condo Complex by Cal Ave wanted to do something to its exterior, would the condo association have to handle notifications to outside people themselves, say, to resident or business owner (building owner) within a three block radius?

Would a California Avenue condo complex be responsible for outreach to Evergreen & College Terrace residents? If so, how would the city fit into the process? Is it official or not to reach out one group to another?

Secondly, if the city does NOT have responsibility of notifications, and the onus is on private organizations, and citizens, to spread the word, it seems information may be disseminated that's not accurate. Like - not all we read in the newspapers is true.

Unless private groups are totally informed, almost micromanaging it, this seems like a bad idea if anyone OTHER than the city is responsible for spreading the word to other groups, and doing Public Outreach to them.

Wouldn't it have to be in Municipal Code? Especially if Palo Alto would have a more stringent procedure of notification and community outreach for a project. The average citizen would not know about it. I don't even know where to find it in Municipal Code. Do you?

If private organizations are responsible for getting information (such as this) to other private organizations, it gives "Civic Engagement" a whole new look!

What would the city be responsible for? When workers retire, there would NEVER be a need to replace them! Amongst themselves, citizens of Palo Alto could do everything!

There are plenty of landscapers in Evergreen and College Terrace, so even the PLANTING could be done among citizens.

Residents could arrange for resurfacing/re-striping of the street & the street furniture, and probably cheaper than the city can!

All done without city workers. I think I'm on to something!


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Posted by Herb Borock
a resident of Professorville
on Dec 6, 2009 at 3:38 pm

There is a gap in the Weekly's timeline between October 2006 and the project application of July 29, 2009.

On July 28, 2008, a year before the project application, the City Council was informed by Public Works staff that city staff and CAADA agreed to spend project money first to replace the street lights, and then only if any money was left over to pay to replace some street trees and some street furniture: Web Link

What is missing is a report on the evidence that shows who was involved in changing the spending priorities from the July 28, 2008, plan of Public Works staff and CAADA to spend the available money for a street light replacement project to a July 29, 2009, application to spend the available money for a street tree replacement project.


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Posted by Mama
a resident of Downtown North
on Dec 6, 2009 at 5:04 pm

Tom Jordan - I never said it was justifying anything, I was merely explaining what the good intentions, albeit misguided, were. I agree policies should be followed.

Curious Citizen - Check out the City's website it was Public Works that is/was doing the outreach for San Antonio. There is a next phase coming. I would assume anything in the public right of way or owned by the City would certainly be under the City's pervue for notification. I think private property would fall under the buildling permit/review process. I know when our neighbors were building a 2nd story we received a notice and had an opportunity to voice our concerns. Not sure I'd want to be responsible for doing all the noticing you describe, look what happens when something goes wrong!!!


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Posted by Howard
a resident of Crescent Park
on Dec 6, 2009 at 10:13 pm

So what we have is a decision to cut down trees approved by the most relevant stakeholders -- the business owners along California. As far as I can tell, even now most poeple accept the notion that it made sense to cut down those trees. We next have a decision by the staff to cut the trees down all at once and quickly replace them in time for the holidays. The work is done and, as would be the case of any such project in midstream, it does not look so good. People are startled and surprised and ask "what is going on?" The persons responsible explain what is going on. At this point, in a normal, well adjusted community, the people who were concerned would say, "Oh, OK. Just as long as you are replacing the trees with new trees, that's fine." But because we live in a community of spoiled screwballs with nothing better to do, we have an "off with your head" mass hysterical reaction, that has delayed the tree replacement process and wasted everyone's time.


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Posted by outside observer
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 6, 2009 at 10:34 pm

Howard: "But because we live in a community of spoiled screwballs with nothing better to do, we have an "off with your head" mass hysterical reaction, that has delayed the tree replacement process and wasted everyone's time."

O, Howard, El Palo Alto, our god, thanks you for saying it like it is. In Tree Heaven we lop off the tops of spoiled trees; maybe Palo Alto citizens who are sensible can start smacking upside the head the spoiled screwballs in Palo Alto. This would be a pleasant change. Perhaps isolating them in a special tree house, all together, where they can whine all day and night, until they fall asleep. El Palo frowns on whiners, and hopes that those who continue to look for villans, instead of being part of the solution, just stay home and whine in the mirror, or to other whiners After all, who really needs them? So says El Palo Alto. Amen.


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Posted by Follow the money
a resident of College Terrace
on Dec 6, 2009 at 10:38 pm

It is not believable that a project of this magnitude was not known to the top administration. Didn't happen.
Another way to investigate is to follow the money. Who profited by this tree cutting. What does Glenn Roberts mean when he says he takes responsibility. Meaningless, empty posturing. He's a good actor. "Mistakes were made." He's got the bureaucratic gobbledgook down perfectly.Who made the mistakes and how will they be punished?
Follow the money.


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Posted by I dont get it
a resident of another community
on Dec 7, 2009 at 7:30 am

To Follow the Money?

Are you implying that some City employees profited by cutting down these trees? Please explain your theroy on this fantasy.

The only reason this project has become one of "magnitude" is due to those erogant private sector members who feel they must approve all City run activities. You vote in Council Members to represent and make City wide descission for you. Let them do their job. If you dont like the way they act, do not keep re electing them. Bottom line, this fiasco is your fault!


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Posted by outside observer
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 7, 2009 at 10:28 am

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


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Posted by Tom Jordan
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Dec 7, 2009 at 11:29 am

On the issue of whether DPW had any part of the illegal premature action at Lytton Plaza, I have checked and they did not. Although this is the type of project that nearly always falls under DPW control, in the case of Lytton Plaza it was Dept of Community Services that was responsible.
The issue of the California Ave trees remains as an action for which corrective action needs to be taken by the City Manager. This cannot be clouded with statements of "good intentions". Rules are rules, and the rules were clear here. It is arrogance/ignorance that leads a City employee to "do it the way he wants to" and it is the absence of "suffering the consequences" thatallows such conduct to continue. If it is to stop, there have to be "consequences". PA citizens have long asked for an audit of the actions of DPW and nothing has ever been done.
I do not know what to make of the citizen (apparently they are citizens) comments criticizing the efforts of other citizens (myself included) to try to make the City run better. If you do not care how the City is run, why not save yourself the trouble and not comment at all. Everyone certainly has the right to comment, but is it not better to address the facts of the issue than to attack the commenters. Democracy grew in Athens because a majority there took their citizenship seriously ---- not solemnly, but seriously --- and there were more commentors than scoffers/apologists. Where ever democracy fades, and it does fade, it is because the scoffers/apologists dominate. Anonymous postings certainly contribute to this. The facts should all come out and corrective action should be taken.


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Posted by Daniel Mart
a resident of Mountain View
on Dec 7, 2009 at 11:35 am

Daniel Mart is a registered user.

People vote for politicians with hope that they'll follow through in a fair and just way; providing a government by the people, for the people and of the people.

This administration and some previous ones have betrayed their entire city; like many politicians, they don't bother with whatever was promsed in their campaigns; and these members ought to be ashamed.

They have no place in any government.


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Posted by cal ave customer
a resident of Menlo Park
on Dec 7, 2009 at 11:36 am

Still waiting for identification of members of CAADA and what gave them any authority to act with city over issues critical to nearby residents and California Avenue users.


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Posted by CHinCider
a resident of Downtown North
on Dec 7, 2009 at 11:36 am

To "Tom Jordan" -

So, you made a mistake and were wrong about Lytton Plaza? Were your intentions good? I note you have not even apologized. Perhaps you should hold yourself to the same standards you wish to impose on others rather than offering lofty analogies to Athenian democracy and this Country and City.

Methinks there is an old quote that might apply here - "Patriotism is the last refuge of scoundrels"......


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Posted by I dont get it
a resident of another community
on Dec 7, 2009 at 1:01 pm

To CHinCider,

Your post points out that it is alright for a citizen of Palo Alto to error, but not their employees. At least the employees apologized for their mistake and will make changes to assure policy compliance. Too bad the same can't be said for this citizen.


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Posted by anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 7, 2009 at 1:22 pm

Tom,

Thanks for the follow-up - though in a way it is more disturbing to learn that staff in two different departments thought it was ok to ignore defined procedures.


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Posted by Poor Management
a resident of College Terrace
on Dec 7, 2009 at 5:32 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


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Posted by CHinCider
a resident of Downtown North
on Dec 7, 2009 at 6:57 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


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Posted by John
a resident of Meadow Park
on Dec 7, 2009 at 6:58 pm

One good thing from this ineptitude, the business tax was voted down.
No more taxes until city government is cleaned up. Starting with a 10% across the board cut in all departments. This is one example of too many employees trying to find things to do.
I know it won't happen.
As I gaze into my crystal ball, I see more taxes and more city government making more do nothing work.


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Posted by John
a resident of Meadow Park
on Dec 7, 2009 at 7:07 pm

"There's no accountability, and so nothing's going to change."


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Posted by outside observer
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 7, 2009 at 9:51 pm

El Palo Alto's post has been deleted. O, cry the little trees! El Palo Alto is accountable; she breathes, and gives at the same time. Would that were true for all, as whiners use too much oxygen...editors, too. Amen.


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Posted by Outside Observer
a resident of another community
on Dec 7, 2009 at 10:06 pm

Outside Observer, resident of Another Palo Alto Neighborhood,

You may have had your posts censored because your "handle" is so similar to mine. Same name, but I don't live in PA.

I'm an independent thinker, so my posts are often censored. They may have confused you with me.

I read your "El Palo Alto" posts. Far from controversial, they were both entertaining and enlightening.

Sorry you were a victim of mistaken identity.



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Posted by Johnny
a resident of College Terrace
on Dec 8, 2009 at 9:55 pm

CAADA took down their website quickly after this debacle.
President
Ronna Devincenzi, Realtor Alhouse-King Realty

Vice President
Jim Stevens, Country Sun Natural Foods (who had quit)

Secretary
Terry Shuchat, Keeble and Shuchat

Treasurer
George Langford, Hewlett-Packard
Mark Luchesi, Mollie Stone's Market
Elizabeth Bishop, Bishop Corporation
Karl Broussard, Kinko's
Lynn Davidson, California Paint & Wallpaper
Gerald Brett, Language Pacifica
Warren Wong, Hotel California


It's clear as day to me that it was Devincenzi and that Bishop lady who expedited this thing. Find out what buildings they represent and boycott those businesses.

"These trees were old, they were not healthy, they were not appropriate to this environment, it was time for us to put something in that was more appropriate" said Elizabeth Bishop, a member of the CAADA and property owner, on Channel 5 news.

Web Link


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Posted by Address the newsracks
a resident of Southgate
on Dec 9, 2009 at 4:49 pm

Newsracks are a part of the project. While Public Works was in such a hurry, why didn't someone expedite the renovation of those things? There was a council meeting with newsracks on the agenda. That was over a year ago.

Yet this past summer, I bought a copy of a newspaper called "Summer Movies", looking for a new release. It cost me 50 cents, and the issue itself was from 2005!

All that money spent on Destination Palo Alto -- Is that what we want for our visitors? The condition of the rows upon rows of newsracks is disgusting and it's still hard to find a DAILY newspaper!!


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Posted by Julian
a resident of Palo Verde
on Dec 19, 2009 at 6:13 pm

Dissolve CAADA, liquidate their assets to pay for restoring Calif. Ave, and revoke the business licenses of the CAADA members involved.


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Posted by Daddywarbucks
a resident of Midtown
on Dec 19, 2009 at 8:20 pm

I don't feel like reading, but looking at the few pics, I see pretty trees with brown trunks and green leaves, what was the problem again?

Why do taxpayers have to cover the double cost of removal and replacement? It seems new trees would bring the same amount of extra business that painting the front of the store or steam cleaning the sidewalk would. Zero to very little. Weren't those trees there when they signed leases? I can understand if a couple may not be healthy, why not just replace a couple?


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