Downtown development prompts tree removal

Nine trees to be removed, seven planted on Lytton Avenue and Bryant Street

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.

Gennady Sheyner

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Like this comment
Posted by clear cut
a resident of Downtown North
on Aug 13, 2010 at 4:34 pm

More clear cutting around town?

Like this comment
Posted by OB2 Kenobe
a resident of Downtown North
on Aug 13, 2010 at 4:41 pm

Mixed-use building? Right. Tell me another one.

How many promised mixed-use buildings in this town actually have active residential occupancy? Those purported residential spaces will be luxury executive offices.

Like this comment
Posted by Resident
a resident of Woodside
on Aug 13, 2010 at 4:42 pm

Oh, this is going to be fun!

Like this comment
Posted by Who-Cares?
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Aug 13, 2010 at 4:45 pm

Who bloody cares?

A tree, is just a tree. Cut them down, plant another.

If this is all that Palo Alto can understand, then businesses should move out of here as quickly as possible and find a rational place to operate.

Like this comment
Posted by Bob
a resident of Community Center
on Aug 14, 2010 at 10:50 am

WHat is this: clear cut city??

Like this comment
Posted by Follow the money
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Aug 14, 2010 at 10:57 am

The city seems to be on a tree cutting rampage.
This developer also wanted to take down a large oak on the property. The ARB said no. Who is making money on all these tree clearing operations?

Like this comment
Posted by John
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 14, 2010 at 2:52 pm

"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"

These are all non-native trees. The liquidambar tress are a real problem, and they should never have been considered for planting in Palo Alto (who made that decision?).

The developer is doing all of us a great favor. This is not worth getting your dander up.

Like this comment
Posted by Accidental Siliconer
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Aug 14, 2010 at 4:08 pm

Liquid Ambers are beautiful but very dangerous for urban areas because of the large pokey balls they drop, and they tear up the concrete. Other trees we have around town drop gummy and/or slippery substances. There are trees that are good for cities and that would require minimal maintenance. Why not look at cities like Paris and New York, that have long histories of urban trees and plantings?

Like this comment
Posted by Leda Marritz
a resident of another community
on Aug 16, 2010 at 10:24 am

Hi everyone,
I can't speak to the Town of Palo Alto's general attitude toward tree removal, but I will say that I'm very hopeful for the new trees going in.

I work for Deep Root Partners, the designers of the Silva Cell technology that will accompany the new trees being planted. The Silva Cell system will help to provide these trees with access to 500 - 700 cubic feet of soil each. With proper planting and care they'll be able to grow to maturity and stay on the streets of Palo Alto for their natural lifespan.

You can read more about similar projects on our blog:

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

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