News

Historic oak on Cowper Street to be cut down

Tree slated to be removed in late September, city manager says

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.

Sue Dremann

Comments

Like this comment
Posted by Ann
a resident of Downtown North
on Sep 14, 2011 at 11:44 am

We love to cut our trees here in Palo Alto, don't we?


Like this comment
Posted by Worship trees
a resident of Stanford
on Sep 14, 2011 at 11:48 am

Ann--did you actually read the story:

"he tree, which is located in front of 816 Cowper St., has extensive trunk and root decay. "

and

"he 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"


"But because of its significance the September date could change to allow for discussion before the tree is axed, Keene said."
I see. WE will now open a can of worms with public discussions and people claiming that the tree can be saved. The city will have to pay to get second and third opinions etc. And what happens if the tree falls in the meantime and injures someone????
This tree worship in Palo Alto is ridiculous.


Like this comment
Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Sep 14, 2011 at 1:02 pm

Sounds like periodontal disease, the roots and crowns and decay and cavities... Time for an extraction and new implant.


Like this comment
Posted by Ann
a resident of Downtown North
on Sep 14, 2011 at 2:20 pm

Our street tree was removed and there was no "implant".


Like this comment
Posted by sonny
a resident of College Terrace
on Sep 14, 2011 at 6:28 pm

The arborist determined that the tree was in relatively good health. Can't it be pruned and monitored by staff?


Like this comment
Posted by sonny
a resident of College Terrace
on Sep 14, 2011 at 6:28 pm

The arborist determined that the tree was in relatively good health. Can't it be pruned and monitored by staff?


Like this comment
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 14, 2011 at 6:41 pm

All well and good, but relatively good health relative to what?

I know, that if it was outside my house, beside my car on the driveway and where my children spend time hanging out, I would not want it there ready to fall, or lose a branch. I would hate to wake up one dark and stormy night to a tree falling on my home or car.


Like this comment
Posted by Dave
a resident of another community
on Sep 15, 2011 at 10:47 am

A huge section of an heritage oak tree recently came down in foothills park right near the road and a memorial bench. No body is making a big fuss about that one... Trees get old and fall down just like people.


Like this comment
Posted by Jo Ann
a resident of Crescent Park
on Sep 15, 2011 at 11:01 am

Our street has Privets...pollen and trash galore! Anybody with asthma should not come near. I have even offered to replace them but they need to be diseased or rotten before the city will do anything. It doesn't matter if people are getting sick. In any other city, these would be considered 'rubbish trees' and removed.


Like this comment
Posted by Gail
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Sep 15, 2011 at 12:25 pm

When will the city arborist decide we need to cut down all the trees on University? Part of the problem with the City of Palo Alto employees is that they don't live in Palo Alto, and they don't have a vested interest in the town. They make decisions that are easiest and most expedient for their job. They have no city pride.


Like this comment
Posted by Mark
a resident of Greater Miranda
on Sep 15, 2011 at 2:00 pm

"This tree worship in Palo Alto is ridiculous." I agree! Trees get old and they need to be cut down. This not the forest folks, where when a tree drops, it hits no one.


Like this comment
Posted by the real issue
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Sep 15, 2011 at 5:10 pm

While in good health it is coming down like other "but I'm not dead yet" (monty python) trees in PA because of lawsuit concerns. For those concerned by trees falling on you, there are many attractive homes in the central valley without any trees.. Enjoy.


Like this comment
Posted by Me Too
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 15, 2011 at 5:59 pm

@real issue - for those who want no tree to be touched, there are large parcels available in Los Altos hills and elsewhere where you can keep any and all the trees you like till they rot in place. Seriously, the idea that you can't replace existing trees that have become a nuisance is wacky - my "heritage oak" (a weed tree that planted itself between my yard and my neighbors) is knocking down our fence and killing the grass in a third of my yard. But can I take it down and replace with a nicer tree in a more appropriate spot? Of course not!


Like this comment
Posted by Ignored by City of Palo Alto
a resident of Downtown North
on Sep 16, 2011 at 2:35 pm

I had called and had my landlords call the City in regards to the tree several times to get it trimmed because it has been outside of my window for years and now is scraping the cars when they pull into the driveway. The city refused to come out until it had grown so much it leaned against the building. I think the city should take better care of their trees instead of spending thousands of dollars taking the trees down and ruining a beautiful piece of history. I know I am not an Arborist, but any moron that has looked at the tree would know that if it is pruned like trees are supposed to be, we wouldn't have this problem in the first place. If the city is so worried, why did it take them years to take action after several calls? Why did it take them months to address our safety concerns? Why does it take so long to get anything done or why don't they do preventative cost efficient maintenance? Meanwhile, they let more foliage grown and the branches to become even heavier over the past few years ignoring the neighborhood concerns. The city should fix the issue and instead of cutting it down, look at ways to save to maintain our beautiful history and make it safe for the neighbors and cost efficient for the tax payers.

What are they thinking?...Let's just forget the remnants of old Palo Alto and get rid of every trace of it by cutting one of the few trees left that date back to the time when the street was still just dirt. Way to go City of Palo Alto! Thank you for waiting and ignoring our concerns, and now you want to take our tree and history away? That's politics for you folks!


Like this comment
Posted by Bob
a resident of another community
on Sep 16, 2011 at 3:24 pm

Years ago my folks had a 250 yr old oak in their backyard about 5 to 6 feet in dia. The tree had been inspected and pruned in 1975(the tree was routinely inspected and pruned about every three years) by a reputable tree service and given a very clean bill of health.

A year later in 1976 it fell down on their house and a neighbor's nearly killing two people.

Turned out it had root decay which wasn't visible until the tree fell.

Those of you who wish to halt the inevitable please park yourselves in the trees fall zone and don't complain when it hits you.

If a tree falls on street where only idiots prevented its safe removal, does it make a sound?


Like this comment
Posted by Carol
a resident of University South
on Sep 29, 2011 at 10:42 pm

I am glad to report that a group of neighbors has been meeting with city staff and canopy and the tree now has a stay of execution! It seems that the art and science of preserving veteran trees has progressed a lot, and this tree is a likely candidate for preservation. It will be worked on during the coming week, and unless big problems are found it will be pruned carefully to balance the canopy and remove dangerous limbs, and some supports will be installed. This will enable the tree to continue to grace our neighborhood for many years.


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

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