A 51-inch-diameter "significant and historic" coast live oak on Cowper Street is slated for removal in late September, City Manager James Keene said Monday (Sept. 12).
Keene told the Palo Alto City Council that the tree, which is located in front of 816 Cowper St., has extensive trunk and root decay. City arborists discovered the disease during a recent pruning inspection, when they found a small cavity at ground level that was not readily visible in the past, Keene said.
"Staff arborists say the tree is in good health but the determination is the extensive decay combined with very off-center branches and crown indicates a moderate probability of branch failure and a high probability of trunk or root failure," he said.
The tree's large size and potential to damage nearby homes and the street if it falls led the arborists to reluctantly decide on its removal, he added.
The venerable oak is one of the patriarchal remnants of Palo Alto's turn-of-the-20th-century era when the city still had dirt roads, according to a report by city Planning Arborist Dave Dockter.
But because of its significance the September date could change to allow for discussion before the tree is axed, Keene said.