News

Tree disparity grows between north and south Palo Alto

New master plan cites greening of southern neighborhoods as a priority

Grass may always be greener on the other side, but when it comes to street trees it's the north side of Palo Alto that actually does have more than the south.

That is one of the findings -- and problems -- identified in the city's new Urban Forest Master Plan, a document that has been in the works for more than three years and that the City Council is slated to adopt on Monday night. Spearheaded by Urban Forester Walter Passmore, the master plan is at once an encyclopedia of local trees, a manual of best practices and a policy document with more than 90 suggestions for maintaining and enhancing the city's beloved canopy.

The master plan also lends credence to a perception that many residents have espoused in recent surveys: There's a difference between north and south. Two analyses conducted for the master plan led staff to identify what the plan refers to as a "disturbing trend."

"In 1982, the average canopy for the predominantly residential sections in the north was 11 percent greater than the average for those in the south -- and by 2010, that disparity had grown to 22 percent," the plan states. "To investigate and reverse this trend is a master plan priority."

The news is unlikely to shock residents in southern neighborhoods such as Fairmeadow, which according to aerial photos saw its canopy decrease by 6.3 percent between 1982 and 2010. Yet the reasons may come as a surprise. While redevelopment is often blamed for a loss of trees, in Fairmeadow's case the loss appears to have more to do with tree species.

When the post-war Eichler subdivision was created, there was a push to plant fast-growing trees, according to the master plan. These included short-lived species that now have reached the ends of their life spans and trees that were problematic for underground pipes installed for radiant heating and for other elements of Eichler developments. Other south Palo Alto neighborhoods also suffer from soil with a high clay content, according to the report, though that didn't seem to be the problem in Fairmeadow, where soil is mostly alluvial deposit.

The city's tree survey shows that while the neighborhood had a canopy cover of 41.5 percent in 1982, the number dropped to 38.9 percent in 2010.

The Greenmeadow and Charleston Meadows neighborhoods also saw slight decreases in canopy over the past three decades. Greenmeadow's tree coverage went down by 0.4 percent, with losses and gains effectively canceling each other out. A loss was caused by the replacement of stone pines with native oaks on San Antonio Road, a change that is expected to eventually increase the canopy. The maturation of some trees and new landscaping at the Rosewalk townhome complex on San Antonio also added trees.

Both the north and the south have seen an increase in canopy cover between 1982 and 2010, though the trend was much more pronounced in the north than in the south, according to the master plan. In 2010, the north's and south's canopy covers were 47.8 percent and 39.11 percent, respectively.

In the north, it is the city's oldest and most affluent neighborhoods that are also the most lush. Old Palo Alto and Crescent Park were 55.8 percent and 55.1 percent covered in foliage, respectively, while Professorville followed with 53.4 percent. Downtown North lagged behind its northern neighbors with 38.7 percent, though this is a significant jump from the 29 percent it had in 1982.

In south Palo Alto, Barron Park did comparatively well with 46.5 percent; out of seven southern neighborhoods surveyed it was the only one with more than 40 percent coverage. Green Acres had 39.9 percent, while Midtown had 38.6 percent.

The disparity hasn't been lost on residents, many of whom flagged it as a problem in a citizen survey that was undertaken as part of the plan. Even though no survey questions mentioned the issue specifically, it emerged as a "Hot Topic" and residents' opinions were consistent, the master plan notes. One respondent cited a "stark difference when you cross the Oregon Expressway from the north to the south side in atmosphere, as the south side has fewer trees and feels more barren and exposed to the harsh sun; the north side is absolutely gorgeous with its tree-lined shady streets."

Another respondent urged the city to "begin work in south Palo Alto, where the need for more trees is most urgent."

"Typically, programs like this start in north Palo Alto and run out of money before they ever get to Midtown or any other neighborhood south of Oregon Expressway," the response states.

"North Palo Alto looks beautiful because it has more established tree canopies on both sides of streets," reads another response. "I would like to see more trees in Midtown and South Palo Alto streets, to make the entire Palo Alto look uniform."

Deirdre Crommie, a south Palo Alto resident who sits on the Parks and Recreation Commission, commented on the disparity during the commission's April 22 review of the master plan, which it approved unanimously. One reason for the inadequate canopy growth is the "transformation of small homes into these humongous homes," Crommie said.

"That's particularly noticeable in the Fairmeadow neighborhood," Crommie said. "When I was on the market looking to buy a home in 2001, I looked in that neighborhood and I saw what I called a lot of monster homes being developed there. I really think that that went on in such a pronounced way in that neighborhood that it actually should be possibly acknowledged. When people increase the footprint of a home that large, you lose space for trees."

Much of the new plan is devoted to a comprehensive list of programs, some of which pertain to the next year or two while others look ahead to a decade from now. In the first two years, the plan proposes that the city "initiate the investigation of -- and resolution to -- disparity between the canopies of north and south Palo Alto." This includes assessing development-review procedures and creating new development-design standards that feature "innovative ways" to ensure that new development also enhances the natural environment.

Further in the future, the city should create a Comprehensive Conservation Plan for each of the city's major parks and open-space preserves and exploit the city's Geographic Information System for "exploring unprecedented ideas and partnerships," according to the plan.

The guiding document also includes numerous policies that intend to reconcile the city's canopy goals with other sustainability initiatives. In some cases, going green in one area may have the opposite effect in another. The community's hunger for solar power and for water-conservation initiatives could, for instance, conflict with its desire for a rich canopy, Passmore told the Parks and Recreation Commission in April.

"On the one hand, we want to conserve water. It's a very important sustainability aspect for our community in the future," Passmore said. "On the other hand, we also know that large-growing trees with dense canopy provide the greatest amount of benefits at the lowest cost. It's a balancing act there. There's some conflict, and we should expect that to occur as we have dialogue on these subjects."

Comments

6 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on May 8, 2015 at 10:36 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

This disparity was noted in the 1974 Palo Alto Comprehensive Plan (just over 40 years ago!) and given a high priority for action in that plan.


12 people like this
Posted by Get Rid of Your Weeds
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on May 8, 2015 at 11:26 am

It's not just a tree disparity. There is homeowner landscaping disparity too, which is why we chose to live in North Palo Alto.


10 people like this
Posted by Anymembername
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 8, 2015 at 11:27 am

Now it's tree inequality...


10 people like this
Posted by Me
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on May 8, 2015 at 11:31 am

Someone needs to compensate me for the lack of trees. I proposed a Bond or Measure B to Buy me more trees!


6 people like this
Posted by CrescentParkAnon.
a resident of Crescent Park
on May 8, 2015 at 11:58 am

For this area deciduous trees are great. They grow their leaves during the hot bright season and provide shade, and then in the winter to let the light and heat through in the winter.

I can't say I like the fact that we have some really huge long-lived ... never going away ... evergreen conifers like sequoias and redwoods here in town that perpetually shade areas way past the domain of whosever yards they are in and also make solar panels untenable or problematic in the future.

I know we all love trees, but Palo Alto needs a process to deal with large tall evergreen trees that affect residents in yards past the owner of the tree.

I would propose a "Measure T" where the City take on the responsibility for these trees since they failed to manage the "tree-space" intelligently. Go through and remove 2-3% of these large trees every year and either leave it up to the property owner to replace the tree or replace it at owner's request from a list of approved trees. Of course some of these tall trees that are not bothering anyone should be retained ... like the sequoias around Channing House that do not really block solar and set off the tall building. Reason could prevail, couldn't it?

If they can take my money and use it for schools that do not affect of improve life for all Palo Altans I think they could do this and start to gradually prepare for a solar future while removing what amounts to a solar trespass for many of us by our neighbors.


10 people like this
Posted by Greenacres
a resident of Green Acres
on May 8, 2015 at 12:34 pm

Not just trees, but also other community assets, like recreational and meeting places. We have nothing near Gunn High School. Thanks to the Council for beginning this conversation.

Wish it had begun with saving the Maybell Orchard.


4 people like this
Posted by rebugging
a resident of Los Altos
on May 8, 2015 at 12:35 pm

I agree with CressentParkAnn. I love trees, but we need a way to encourage solar to reduce green house gasses. Tall large trees to the south impinge on the neighbors, and supply nesting sites for crows whose population have increased hugely in the last years.


11 people like this
Posted by Gale Johnson
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on May 8, 2015 at 12:52 pm

Boo hoo! Boo hoo! Us poor folks who live on the other side of the tracks (Oregon Expressway). Please plant huge mature trees here now so I can enjoy them. I won't be around in 15 years.


6 people like this
Posted by resident 1
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on May 8, 2015 at 1:11 pm

I do not know why this stream was started. I just drove across town and think the city looks beautiful and green.
There is a problem with the ash trees - some type of bug. Also - the tree people the city sent out - subcontractors - refused to listen to neighbor input. I can point out which sections are DEAD - but since they come when there are no leaves at all - they don't listen. So now the tree is filling out and there are dead sections - not a pretty picture.
It does not enhance the tree to have sections which are dead - so why doesn't the city listen - everyone wants their trees to be healthy and good looking. If the people are on the street then do the job right and listen to what people are telling you.


5 people like this
Posted by Crescent Park Dad
a resident of Crescent Park
on May 8, 2015 at 1:22 pm

Ever since I was a very young kid --- I always noticed the lack of trees in the Eichler tracts, etc. Good that this will be eventually fixed.


Like this comment
Posted by Call Them
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 8, 2015 at 1:47 pm

@resident 1:

If you see dead sections call the Urban Forestry department and report a dangerous situation. If there is risk of falling limbs they will trim them out.


2 people like this
Posted by maybe
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 8, 2015 at 3:21 pm

Next study should be who has more telephone poles and drooping lines. Gosh I wonder who will win. Although maybe the south can count the poles as trees to help the tree count.


2 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 8, 2015 at 5:18 pm

We know there is a north/south divide and perhaps envy in Palo Alto, but I didn't know it extended to trees. Do we have to find more things to disagree over?????

Mind you, I agree about the utilities poles. These should be gone, yesterday.


9 people like this
Posted by Sans trees
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on May 8, 2015 at 5:21 pm

I agree that it is more or a question of not replacing trees as they die and are cut down. At Robles park, in the last five years of so, one huge eucalyptus and two pines have died and been removed...sadly they have NOT been replaced by ANY trees. The two pines gave beautiful shade to the picnic tables near the sandbox.....wish we could plant more shade trees there.


5 people like this
Posted by Gale Johnson
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on May 8, 2015 at 5:28 pm

@maybe
Thanks. Funny and cleverly expressed, and I got it.

Yeah, funny how that works. Why not start the undergrounding of utilities in my part of town? Hmmm...I think I know the answer. I'm sure I'll get comments from the north enders on that and they'll try to explain the logic of starting it in their part of town. Okay, okay, I got it. I know how things work in this town now! I've lived here since 1961 and it's taken a long time, but I finally 'get it'. I remember Gary Fassino's speech at the grand opening of the CVS store in Midtown. I loved Gary, one of our very best in City Hall, and a sad loss to a horrible disease. He spoke about his upbringing and early years living in the Midtown area. But he didn't stay here. He bailed out and moved to the other part of town where the really rich live. I never held that against him either. That part of town is much more beautiful than where I live, but you wanna know what? I love where I'm living and I'm starting to see beauty here.


9 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on May 8, 2015 at 5:31 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Is there any reason why more residents of southern Palo Alto haven't themselves planted more trees?


4 people like this
Posted by another impression
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 8, 2015 at 6:53 pm

The north does have it over the south in another respect - dead and
dying trees - many of the Magnolias, Redwoods, Camphors and others appear
to be in terrible shape, especially Crescent Park including the Magic Forest
at Rinconada. This report seems disconnected from the current reality.


8 people like this
Posted by Luap Naynub
a resident of another community
on May 8, 2015 at 7:43 pm

"I love trees, but we need a way to encourage solar to reduce green house gasses."

Why not encourage trees? They pull CO2 right out of the air and sequester it in their biomass. Solar cells can't do that.


11 people like this
Posted by jane
a resident of Evergreen Park
on May 8, 2015 at 7:50 pm

However, the city council, in its wisdom, changed the code to require new commercial buildings be built to the sidewalk. El Camino south or Oregon is being rapidly redeveloped with much taller buildings, but the sidewalk is too narrow tallow the new trees to fill out properly as they mature. The result is lopsided trees. With the weight of the branches no longer evenly distributed the trees start to lean away from the buildings, eventually no doubt to be deemed a hazard and cut down long before their time.

When the previous council responded to residents' comments that El Camino was beginning to feel like a canyon the council was set to change the code back to require new buildings have at least a small setback. Unfortunately one of Palo Alto's larger property owners came to the council meeting with his lawyer and said that this would amount to a taking of his property. So council caved.

I hope the current council will be bold enough to change the code back to require all new buildings along El Camino either be set back far enough to allow for the mature street tree canopies, or if not require the third floors be set back enough to allow enough room for the tree canopy to grow evenly.

The trees soften the effect of these taller buildings which are fast changing the face of Palo Alto.
Sadly the new trees planted down the center of El Camino and are beginning to grow nicely will most likely have to be removed by VTA when construction begins for their two dedicated bus lanes down the center.

The issue of leaving room for mature street tree canopies applies to California Avenue too, which is almost all one or two story buildings at present. However, council rezoned California Avenue to encourage high density redevelopment recently. It is just a matter of time before property owners tear down the older one and two story buildings one by one and replace them with taller buildings with offices above the retail.


1 person likes this
Posted by sea reddy
a resident of College Terrace
on May 8, 2015 at 7:55 pm

Good information.

North South East West, we need to love our neighborhoods and enjoy each other and the beauty of our landscape.

Let's enjoy by going to each others parks!
I love palo alto specially when the sun is setting on the west side.

We are the lucky ones.

Respectfully


15 people like this
Posted by Bad Dog, No Biscuit
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 8, 2015 at 8:02 pm

The previous city council and the ARB have done so much damage to this town in the way of tall, ugly buildings, unreplaced trees, lack of care for ailing trees, etc, that it will take at least thirty years to recover.

That is, unless the overdevelopment and urbanization continue. Then Palo Alto will no longer be a residential town. It already has become a bad place to raise children.


4 people like this
Posted by heavily overflown trees
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 8, 2015 at 8:32 pm

another impression,

Unfortunately, the areas you mention with the dead tress are also heavily overflown areas (by SFO and other airports), and I wonder if the the toxic dumping from airplanes is taking a toll.


7 people like this
Posted by Representation
a resident of Midtown
on May 8, 2015 at 8:48 pm

The north part of town gets more attention and more care and improvements done and always has. Maybe one way to fix this is to have City Council members represent specific areas, and that way the non-North neighborhoods would have more of a voice and more influence and not always be left out.


4 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on May 8, 2015 at 9:01 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"The north part of town gets more attention and more care and improvements done and always has."


Is there any reason why more residents of southern Palo Alto haven't themselves planted more trees?


3 people like this
Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 8, 2015 at 9:12 pm

City hired contractors just loped off several trees near me for the power lines and street lights. Maybe there are more trees where the power lines are underground. Since we are still paying for undergrounding the power lines, where is that money going?


12 people like this
Posted by Seriously???
a resident of Menlo Park
on May 8, 2015 at 9:16 pm

Did this comment thread seriously devolve into a fight between the millionaires of South Palo Alto against the millionaires of North Palo Alto over who the city cares about more?

Maybe we have more pressing things to worry about in America than this...

I hope this was all tongue-in-cheek and I just missed the joke.


4 people like this
Posted by Bob
a resident of Community Center
on May 8, 2015 at 10:19 pm

Oh fer goodness sake!! What ridiculous comments trying to stir up a north-south chipping contest. First of all, the trees in "old Palo Alto ' are really old -many back to the early days of the city and before and pre- WWI and WWII. Ditto Community Center and parts of Crescent Park. Christmas Tree Lane. Before WWII, Duveneck/St Francis used to be a big vegetable garden - some people still have wells. The area between Embarcadero and Newell was built in 1951 and the city planted camphor trees which are not friendly. Also planting magnolias was not very bright either. Before WWII the area south of Oregon AVENUE - virtually the entire area was gutted of the orchards. It was wall-to-wall orchards. I was told that the area had to be annexed to the city. Thousands of homes were built and some trees planted. So no one has been 'out to get' the area south of what is now the Oregon Expressway. Get one of the big for-sale editions of Palo Alto history. Drugstores even have them for sale. But for heaven's sake, quit this stirring up trouble. Read the city history. No one is picking on one area or the other. Enough already!! It's time for the PA Weekly to write some 'history lessons'.


10 people like this
Posted by Paly Alum
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 8, 2015 at 10:31 pm

Paly Alum is a registered user.

@Seriously???: I grew up here in the 70s and there has always been a North/South PA conflict. And word is, north of Oregon Ex houses cost $100,000 more. It's usually been South PA complaining they have "nothing" while the North has the Main Library, Rinconada Pool, Childrens Library, Jr. Museum. Now, I think it's even because of the new Mitchell Park Library and the Magical Bridge Playground (which is quite amazing, BTW). But really, our city is small, so the whining about having to trek to the other side of town is ridiculous.

As someone pointed out, south PA homeowners really should work on their landscaping.


5 people like this
Posted by Me
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on May 8, 2015 at 11:43 pm

I understand my garden is a mess but it's really never my fault. I maybe lazy getting off my couch but I blamed my problem solely on my rich northern neighbors. They did this to me and cause my garden to be in a state of dis-repair. Why can my northern Palo Altans have a heart and contribute money to me directly or set up a go-fund-me.com so that I can hire a licensed landscaping artist inorder to make my garden beautiful again? Perhaps our compassionate CC could intervene on my behalf or some hero politician could pledge public $$$$ just for my cause. How I wish...how I wish.....I know there is a Santa Claus somewhere. They have been telling me this wonderful story every Christmas time. Yes it must be true!


4 people like this
Posted by mising the problem
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on May 9, 2015 at 7:59 am

We should just follow what PAUSD is doing and cut down trees in North Palo Alto until coverage matches that in the South. It's a simple quick solution and shows we are doing something.


10 people like this
Posted by Reality
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on May 9, 2015 at 5:28 pm

The real problem Is that the city arborist doesn't care about trees!

A couple of years ago, we noticed a dying/dead limb on the sycamore in front of our house hanging out into the street. We called the arborist' s office four times over 18 months to ask that someone take a look and prune it back before it fell and damaged a parked car.

They claimed, on the fourth call, that someone had come out and found nothing wrong.

Well, about six months later someone visiting a neighbor parked under that tree, and CRAAAACK, the limb came down and put a deep, deep dent in the tailgate of the truck.

My neighbor said their visitor's insurance company is seeking reimbursement from the city, and will sue if necessary.


4 people like this
Posted by tree lova so pa
a resident of Midtown
on May 10, 2015 at 8:18 am

yes this tree issue is a fight between the old haves of north PA and the now haves of south PA.

It is exactly that.

It was only a matter of time before savy so. Palo Altans demand their trees stop being cut down; that their trees be preserved, maintained and added too.

Trees give shade and property value & smart people with money know that. Go South Palo Alto!


Like this comment
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on May 10, 2015 at 10:04 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

If south Palo Alto folks want trees why don't they plant more of them?

Google Earth clearly shows far more trees on private properties in north Palo Alto than on private properties in south Palo Alto.


2 people like this
Posted by Turing Machine
a resident of another community
on May 10, 2015 at 10:28 am

Tree cover and wealth, as

Web Link


3 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on May 10, 2015 at 10:58 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

I sincerely doubt that the income level in south Palo Alto is such that they cannot afford to plant trees on their private property.


1 person likes this
Posted by resident 1
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on May 10, 2015 at 11:38 am

I was told by the city tree people that they would only come out every four years. When I complained about the dead portion of the trees they still did not come - until a branch broke off into the street. Then they were trapped on the street listening to everyone's complaints.

One problem is that the tree limbs have to be 14 feet above the street so that the city trucks and DHL can go under them. So now the complaint was that the trees were below 14 feet and the street sweeper would avoid going under the lower branches.

Finally we got some service when all of the leaves were gone so they could not see the dead portions. Now the trees are leafing out and the dead portions are very evident.

I was told by the city tree people that I could not get a private tree service for the street trees or they / I would be fined. Also you cannot put a tree on the section going twelve feet in from the street - those are all considered street trees.

At some point if you are looking at a potential insurance issue then some independent decisions need to be made.


3 people like this
Posted by Gale Johnson
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on May 10, 2015 at 3:01 pm

My last comment on this. It was the writer who first introduced the north-south division and in one paragraph referred to
affluent north neighborhoods that looked so lush and green, comparing them, I assume, to us southender folks who let our weeds grow out of control. Leaving out any reference to wealth/affluence would have read better and not stirred up the hornet's nest. Are they more virtuous than we are? No, but they are richer and are more able to afford landscapers and regular gardeners. Us folks down here try to do our own gardening and 'yes' it shows sometimes that we don't always do a good job.
But if the north-endears are listening to the drought news, green might be bad and brown good, I don't waste a drop of water on my weeds.


4 people like this
Posted by excuses, excuses
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on May 10, 2015 at 4:03 pm

There are plenty of native Californian trees that manage to handle the drought.

As to the writer drumming up the north/south cesspool, that's just the Weekly's click-bait. Same as their headline: "Measure A opposition hotting up". No basis in fact, why would a newspaper need to check facts, but gets the clicks for the ads.


3 people like this
Posted by Tree Hugger
a resident of Evergreen Park
on May 10, 2015 at 5:24 pm

@ Peter Carpenter

"If south Palo Alto folks want trees why don't they plant more of them?"

There are a number of reasons why people do not plant more trees.

If you reside in a small lot sometimes it is not practical to have a large tree. For example,if there happens to be large trees next door you enjoy the benefit without the liability. The benefits will be more sunlight, less maintenance. Additionally, there are usually less mold issues associated with properties with less trees. Sometimes, it is nice not being in a shadow all day.

Don't get me wrong, I like trees, but trees need to be planted intelligently.For example; Don't plant your Sequoia sempervirens (Redwood) four feet from your house, or four feet from your neighbors house, Then, ten years later complain that the city will not let you remove it because it is now determined that it is a heritage tree (30" diameter and greater). Then when the next big wind storm arrives, it falls on your neighbors house then you are liable.

Remember, when you plant these trees, and others: Sempervirens (Redwoods) Quercus agrifolia, lobata ( Coast live oaks, Valley oak) These are very difficult to get a permit for removal. in other words once you plant these trees , the city pretty much owns your property within the drip line of these trees.

So yea, there are some reasons why people do not want trees on their property.


Like this comment
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on May 10, 2015 at 5:37 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

So, if you don't want trees then don't complain that you don't have trees.


2 people like this
Posted by resident 1
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on May 10, 2015 at 5:48 pm

I think the Weekly likes putting incendiary titles in their stories. It did not occur to me we had a problem until the story came out - what a bunch of unhappy people. I thought the problem was the choice of trees - some of which seem to have an infestation of bugs.

Same for Searsville story - it implies that fish will get water. Sorry - not a firm conclusion. And if silt is shoved down the creek then no fish will come up the creek. So story title is in error. The implication in the title is not borne out in the text of the story.


3 people like this
Posted by Tree Hugger
a resident of Evergreen Park
on May 10, 2015 at 6:53 pm

@ Peter Carpenter

"So, if you don't want trees then don't complain that you don't have trees."

I could not agree with you more. However there are a lot of folks out there that want trees.I was just making a valid rebuttal why some people don't.


2 people like this
Posted by Midtowner
a resident of Midtown
on May 12, 2015 at 7:07 pm

A few years ago when an old silk tree fell on my front yard (and on city easement) the city replaced it with a whip of Chinese pistache tree. It did not survive the winter and I had to take it out and planted a Japanese maple instead (paying for it myself). However, in 6 months I got a fine from the city arborist for $1000 (=$500 for removing a tree and $500 for planting another tree without permission).
After numerous calls, the city agreed to waive the fine, but insisted that the maple is replaced with pistache.
So a few month later they came unannounced and yanked my maple out and planted another whip of pistache tree.
The City has nothing better to do than replace my perfectly fine Japanese maple with another tree. When I asked why they couldn't give any reasonable explanation. The street I live on has a variety of tree species, so go figure why the City had to spend hundreds of $ to hire a crew to take my tree and replace it with whatever was in their register.
Both trees when mature reach a similar size.


2 people like this
Posted by FromSouth
a resident of Midtown
on May 12, 2015 at 8:47 pm

The difference in tree coverage is very obvious once you cross Oregon. I don't think anyone can argue that. My street is a 65 years old street. But if you only look at the street trees, you would think it is a 10 - 20 years street because most street trees are small, and newly planted in the last 10 years or so.

I think one of the reason, at least on my street, for these young trees, is because the old ones were trimmed excessively over the years by the city's tree contractors. Some of the trees on my street were trimmed to bare bone, tall, thin, like poles. Big branches were topped off, taking the trees years and years, if ever, to recover.

Some trees could not take these damages and died. They were cut down by city. Some were replaced by new young trees. Some were not replaced at all. My next door neighbor came out and refused to let city trim his tree every time they came by. His tree is the only beautiful and healthy tree on my street.

This year, we put up a sign to refuse the trimming too. My tree was top off last time by city, and really need some time to recover.


Like this comment
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on May 12, 2015 at 8:55 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

[Post removed.]


3 people like this
Posted by CrescentParkAnon.
a resident of Crescent Park
on May 13, 2015 at 1:40 pm

> "So, if you don't want trees then don't complain that you don't have trees."

Sheesh, another barb repeated over and over. Can't you just make your non-point once.

Most people have no say about the trees on their lots. They buy a house with trees already there. Yes, they can plant more if they want to, but that says nothing about city property, or business properties that give a aura to an area.

If you don't like the tree you have and want to plant a new one you are just out of luck ... try getting rid of a tree in Palo Alto. People plant trees, and then the trees grow into monsters and they have no idea, or they just leave it to the next owner who is stuck with it, and the bills for maintaining it.

[Portion removed.]


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on May 13, 2015 at 2:23 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

[Post removed.]


Like this comment
Posted by CrescentParkAnon.
a resident of Crescent Park
on May 13, 2015 at 5:03 pm

[Post removed.]


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on May 13, 2015 at 5:07 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

[Post removed.]


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Posted by Gale Johnson
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on May 14, 2015 at 10:12 am

@Peter Carpenter, resident of Atherton
You've chewed on that bone long enough. I don't recall any of us folks in SPA complaining and I didn't know we had a problem until the writer (must have been a slow news day so they had to make some) said we do. Please, my first comment was tongue in cheek.

We moved to our home on Ross Road in 1963. It was a new neighborhood and in addition to city trees (Modesto Ash), original home owners were over exuberant in planting trees on their property, too many for the lot sizes. Over the course of years I've removed 7 trees (for various but good reasons) of the ones that were here when we moved here. In addition I've removed 4 that I planted but shouldn't have. I am properly treed and love my yards with shrubs, some flowering, a wild flower garden and just one tree on my property, a beautiful maytens. I have one city tree in my front yard lawn patch (have to mow around it) and two on the Louis Road side. I can lie on my living room sofa (I'm there now) and look out the floor to ceiling windows and see my neighbor's 3 Italian Cypress and another neighbors 2 tall birch trees, as well the string of Modesto Ash on Louis Road.
My brick patio, that I put in years ago, is surrounded by shrubs and flowers. It'is beautiful and light and bright. I have no complaints.


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Posted by M.Bieder
a resident of Midtown
on Jul 8, 2016 at 6:18 pm

It's obvious to everyone that the trees look wonderful in old Palo Alto north of Oregon Expressway. That is why people come to this leafy city. But it's clear more needs to be done in south Palo Alto for street trees, etc. I too have had my tree destroyed over the years by topping, lopping, etc. More upsetting is letting people build huge humongous houses while not putting ANY of their own trees in is making this problem worse. We have small lots and some who have moved in have taken out trees (or the speculators have). City planning should right size what can be built on these small lots and require foliage if Palo Alto is to maintain what made us want to move here in the first place.


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