Menlo Park residents fight to save old oak tree

'Granny' slated for removal due to Hetch Hetchy pipeline project

Residents of North Fair Oaks will be out in force Monday morning (May 16) to prevent the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission from cutting down an old oak tree that is the "pride of the North Fair Oaks" area, said resident Mary Ann Mullen in a press release.

"After 3 years of obfuscation regarding this majestic 300-year-old 100' tall Valley Oak, ... affectionately called Granny, the SFPUC notified a few neighbors late Friday May 13 that they will be cutting this tree down this Monday morning May 16," she said in the Sunday press release. "This tree is the largest in the district, one of the original Oak Forest that once existed here."

The SFPUC plans to remove the tree as part of its Hetch Hetchy pipeline project.

"The preferred (least expensive) method for laying this pipe is the open trench method, which would cut through Granny's root system." She said. "Alternate methods are to place the pipe above ground in this section or to tunnel below the root system as is being done a block away under Marsh Road and was done successfully in a very similar situation by EBMUD under an old oak in Danville in 1985."

"Given the late and limited notice, we do not know if a permit is in place or if an environmental impact report has been ordered. There has been no notice of either. Certainly the community has had no opportunity to publicly respond as would have been required under the county's Heritage Tree ordinance. "

She said residents were gathering in the 800 block of 15th Avenue at 7 a.m. Monday morning.

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Like this comment
Posted by BaaBaaRaa
a resident of Menlo Park
on May 16, 2011 at 10:28 am

I grew up in the Fair Oaks neighborhood... and now live in Menlo Oaks... where the Oak canopy keeps diminishing too. The new folks who move here (the oak canopy is a huge part of the charm of this neighborhood) waste no time cutting down the oaks to put up their huge homes... and the laws in place never seem to stop the process if someone has enough money to keep pursuing it. Good luck to the Fair Oaks folks and good luck to Granny. I remember how sad it was when the huge heritage oaks next door to me were finally cut down... replaced with new home and man-made 'nature'.

Like this comment
Posted by Sarah
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on May 16, 2011 at 10:42 am

Move the darn pipeline. Did they have to aim it at this wonderful
old tree? Really!

Like this comment
Posted by JB in Menlo Park
a resident of Menlo Park
on May 16, 2011 at 2:52 pm

SHAME on the authorities! I live across Marsh in Menlo Park and the city sent postcards to all my neighbors when I had to remove trees out of necessity. Neighbors were well advised and informed. And my trees were not healthy like the 300 year old wonderful speciman such as this old oak is! Poor planning and lots of thoughtlessness for the neighborhood. Where is the EIR? RETAIN THIS TREE!

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Posted by Tree Hugger
a resident of Menlo Park
on May 16, 2011 at 8:40 pm

You can not tell me that if the tree was considered essential and precious to our environment that the authorities could not find another solution. I have to believe that those in charge think chopping down the tree is the easiest and quickest solution since it's cheaper to have it done that way and doesn't require a lot of brain power to find other solutions. In the long run, we'll all pay, living in concrete cities with not enough healthy air to breathe! When are we going to stop this abuse of our environment by those who don't care? Oh, by the way, their plans are to do this right in the middle of bird nesting season!

Like this comment
Posted by Resident on 15th Avenue
a resident of Menlo Park
on May 17, 2011 at 6:37 am

We were able to get the SFPUC to postpone the removal of the tree until next week. They have agreed to meet with the community this week to discuss the situation. If you care about preserving one of the few remaining old growth oak forest canape trees, please contact the SFPUC and demand that they host a public hearing to discuss options.

There ARE options to preserve this tree. It sits 10 - 12 feet away from the trench and they have the ability to go under the root zone and preserve the integrity of the tree. We need to get them to consider this option.

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