Plans to remove hundreds of trees from Pacific Gas & Electric's (PG&E) pipeline right-of-way through Palo Alto will be the topic of discussion on Dec. 2 when the utility company holds a public meeting at Mitchell Park Community Center.
PG&E announced its plans in July as part of a pipeline safety campaign to remove vegetation along its pipeline right-of-ways throughout the state. Public officials and residents throughout the Bay Area have expressed concern at the scope of the tree removals, which also include taking out many trees on private property.
City of Palo Alto officials sent an email to neighborhood groups on Nov. 7 advising residents not to sign any agreements with the utility company regarding tree removal until the city has assessed and come to an agreement with PG&E.
"We are still awaiting some information from PG&E to make a thorough assessment, but they have assured us that no trees will be removed without agreement and evaluation by the city," city spokeswoman Claudia Keith wrote in an email.
The open house is a chance for PG&E officials to clarify the process of identifying and evaluating trees that may potentially affect the safety of the gas pipeline project, Keith said.
PG&E wrote in its notice: "PG&E is working with the City and local residents to look for items like structures or trees that could prevent emergency access by first responders or damage the gas pipelines serving our community.
PG&E has committed to sharing information on the safety risks and working collaboratively with affected residents to conduct the safety work in a manner that protects public safety while preserving our city's urban canopy. This could include planting a new tree at a safe distance from the pipe and other landscape restoration," the company wrote.
The utility company also plans other gas safety work for Palo Alto in 2016, including leak surveys, cathodic protection system inspections and regular patrols.
The community meeting will take place 7-9 p.m. in the El Palo Alto room at Mitchell Park Community Center, 3700 Middlefield Road. More information on PG&E's community pipeline safety efforts can be found at pge.com/GasSafety.