Nine street trees will be removed from downtown Palo Alto later this month to make way for a new mixed-use building and two underground levels of parking.
The project at 265 Lytton Ave. includes construction of a new three-story building and rehabilitation of a two-story portion of the Tinney Building. Developers Michael and Charlie King had received approval for the project from the city's Architectural Review Board in September 2009.
Though the nine trees appear to be in good health, three arborists (including two city arborists) had concluded that these trees would not survive the excavation and construction activity that will have to take place as part of the project. Construction of the new building is expected to remove a large portion of the trees' root systems, according to a statement from the city.
The construction project is expected to begin during the week of Aug. 23, the city's Public Works Department announced, and will include removal of five camphor trees along Lytton Avenue and three liquidambar trees on Bryant Street. One other tree, an invasive species called Tree of Heaven, is also slated for removal on Bryant, according to Mike Sartor, assistant director of public works.
Sartor said in a statement that the city no longer plants these tree species because they "cause significant damage to sidewalks and adjacent infrastructure."
"The existing street trees are liquidambars and camphors, which cause pedestrian hazards along the sidewalk from overgrowth that obstructs a portion of the sidewalk, large roots that push up the sidewalk and conflict with nearby utilities, and the spiky seed pods of the liquidambars that drop everywhere," Sartor said.
The city plans to plant four cimmaron ash trees along Lytton and three Chinese elm trees along Bryant. Each of the new trees will come equipped with the "Silva Cell" stormwater system to speed up tree and root growth.
"The new trees were selected to easily adapt to the restricted growing space available for street trees, offer a similar tree canopy shape as trees in the vicinity, avoid sidewalk upheaval from roots, eliminate conflict with buried utility lines, and reduce sidewalk obstruction from foliage overgrowth," Sartor said in the statement.
The Public Works Department had posted public notices for the nine trees slated for the notices. Residents have until Aug. 20 to comment on the tree removal.