An independent arborist hired by the City of Palo Alto has determined the 100-plus-year-old Cowper Street oak tree named "George" cannot be saved.
The coast live oak, which is located in front of 816 Cowper St. and has stood since the days when Palo Alto had dirt roads, does not have adequate root structure and is hazardous, according to consultant Barrie Coate.
"When the lack of sufficient buttress root integrity to support the tree in a westerly wind is combined with the 30 percent proportion of sound wood in the trunk combined with the slightly displaced canopy with and leaning trunk, with great sadness, I must recommend removal of the tree," Coate wrote.
"This will be a great loss to the neighborhood and loss of another of the old oaks that were present during the founding of this Tree City, USA. Perhaps a clever use of the hollow trunk can retain some remnant of its history."
Neighbors sought to save the oak from the chainsaw. City Public Works officials met with residents on Sept. 30 to discuss possible ways to save the tree. Seven tons of limbs were removed and cables were added to reduce stress on the leaning tree. Only a six-inch-diameter "pipe" of living inner trunk supports its great mass, city Planning Arborist Dave Dockter said.
He said there would be a community meeting regarding the tree's status the second week in January. Copies of Coates' report will be available at the meeting. An exact date and place is pending.
"Let's take the next steps for the neighborhood tree, in a simple but honorable way. I expect the meeting will be fruitful with ideas and we can leave with a sense of honoring a new tree site that will last another 100 years," he said. "With a few constraints, there is a lot of room to do something creative, unique and responsive to the old intersection that is currently punctuated by oaks, the historic Women's Club building and other elements,"