After months of appeals, arborists reports and even an entreaty from a priest, a doctor's note was all Flavio and Lauren Bonomi needed to cut down the two large redwood trees in front of their Lowell Avenue home.
The Bonomis submitted the note June 28 and by Aug. 15 Managing Arborist Dave Dockter had issued them a permit to remove the 65-foot-tall and the 95-foot-tall coast redwood trees, which are considered "protected" in Palo Alto.
As of Friday afternoon, the approximately 50-year-old trees were still standing. The last day for a community member to appeal the decision was Aug. 29.
The Bonomis have been trying to remove the trees since November 2006. Originally, they cited the mess created by the trees' sap and litter and the potential danger of falling branches.
Their appeals were rejected by the Dockter, the Planning Commission and the City Council. At the meetings, the Bonomis presented pages of documentation and several neighbors and friends to testify to the need to remove the trees.
In May, they even brought their priest, who also said the trees needed to go.
The Bonomis tried again June 28. This time they submitted a short letter and a note from Dr. Manjul Dixit at the Menlo Medical Clinic.
"Mrs. Bonomi is a patient of mine who has significant allergies to numerous pollens including, but not exclusively, redwood trees. … It is my recommendation that these redwood trees be removed from her premises," Dixit wrote.
With evidence the trees posed a health problem, the city was able to issue the permit, Planning and Community Environment Director Steve Emslie said Friday.
Emslie said he did not know when the trees would be removed.
The Bonomis are not required to replace the trees, according to the Aug. 15 permit.
The permit worries some city residents, who say they fear the couple exposed a loophole in the city's current regulations.
"This is definitely something that needs to be addressed," Canopy Executive Director Catherine Martineau said Friday.
She said she hopes the community will close the loophole in a new Urban Forest Master Plan that is being drafted.
Included in the Bonomis' file in City Hall is a copy of a previous decision that apparently guided city staff who issued the permit. Arborist Dockter was not available Friday.
In 2005, Uri Greenberg of Kenneth Drive received a permit to remove a redwood after submitting a doctor's note citing allergies.
In that permit, Dockter noted that redwoods release less pollen than other trees near Greenberg's house but that city staff didn't have the expertise to research the veracity of Greenberg's health claims.
The Bonomis attracted attention because of their determination to remove the trees.
At each meeting this winter and spring, the list of reasons to remove the trees, complete with documentation and witnesses, seemed to grow.
The trees left sap stains on the family's new cream-colored stucco house and cost $2,000 a year to prune, they said.
Lauren Bonomi also had allergies and feared a branch could injure her children.
But they love nature, the couple said repeatedly, also arguing that coast redwoods aren't native to Palo Alto.
They said they are members of the Sierra Club.
The Bonomis were not available Friday for comment.