120-foot redwood at Castilleja School to come down

Despite hopes to save it, aging tree to be removed

A 120-foot redwood on Castilleja School property will be removed this week after nearby residents and school officials agreed that it could not be saved.

The tree, an estimated century old, is located at a home owned by the school on the Emerson Street side of campus, became a focal point of concern after an arborist hired by Castilleja determined the tree's base is too rotten to allow it to remain. Neighbors were suspicious of the assessment because the tree stands where the school wants to build an underground garage as part of a larger campus expansion proposal.

City of Palo Alto arborists agreed the tree poses a threat and could completely topple in the next storm. But residents wanted to see if a secondary trunk could be saved.

School officials agreed during an Oct. 18 public meeting to allow an independent arborist hired by the residents to inspect the tree. That arborist concluded the tree poses a hazard and should be removed. The residents' arborist also could not conclude that the second trunk could be saved. The residents decided they would not pursue further investigation to save the tree, resident Rob Levitsky said.

The tree's limbs are being removed on Wednesday, Oct. 26, and its trunk is expected to be taken down on Friday, weather permitting, school officials said.


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5 people like this
Posted by Tim Burr
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Oct 26, 2016 at 1:55 pm

Wow. The $ from that redwood lumber will bring a tidy sum.

7 people like this
Posted by Oldster
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Oct 26, 2016 at 2:46 pm

There are so few lumber mills left locally that the cost of milling and the space needed to season/dry the wood for use other than woodchips, shingles and grapestakes in our area means one usually has to pay a lot to remove the wood. I know this thanks to having to deal with big redwoods and other trees here. The local cost to take down such a mature tree close to houses is extremely expensive. "Topmen" - the ones who work at the top of the trees are far and few between around here.

6 people like this
Posted by Que Pasa?
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 26, 2016 at 6:28 pm

Que Pasa? is a registered user.

What is wrong with this redwood tree that it must be cut down?

Like this comment
Posted by John L.
a resident of another community
on Oct 27, 2016 at 9:13 am

We sold our wood from a 80 footer. They came and got the logs. It offset the costs of removal, but I have friends/contacts in the industry so maybe someone did me a favor that was out of the ordinary.

9 people like this
Posted by Tree Lover
a resident of Mountain View
on Oct 27, 2016 at 11:57 am

These trees are beautiful, provide privacy and homes for wildlife, but in addition to becoming unhealthy, they can also outgrow the space in which they were planted. No one thinks that a small sapling can get so big.

My neighbor has a Redwood tree growing in their very tiny backyard. The tree is close to 30 years old, young for a redwood tree, but it is easily very close to the size of the one in Palo Alto that is coming down. Over the past few years, the tree's roots have caused damage to my hardscape and encroach on the rest of my small yard moving toward my home's foundation. While the tree is lovely, I wish the homeowner would remove it before additional and very expensive damage is done. Sadly, they refuse, refute the current damage and have no concern over future concerns.

Interesting that the school has been looking to build on the site where the tree stands; however, it too may have outgrown its space in addition to becoming unstable. I am happy that safety is taking precedence over age and beauty, and that the tree is being removed. Perhaps a smaller, less invasive one can be planted in its place.

10 people like this
Posted by Sylvia
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 27, 2016 at 12:34 pm

Sad to see such a beautiful tree go, but I'd like to thank the neighbors for arranging an independent arborist to be sure that every avenue was explored to save the tree.

8 people like this
Posted by Oldster
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Oct 27, 2016 at 12:41 pm

Yes, Palo Alto has so many big redwoods and other trees that people planted long ago who failed to think 50-100 years in the future. When my family moved here there was a 15-20 year old redwood within 2 feet of the front door! We cut it down immediately and rooted out the stump. Another neighbor had to take down an 80+ year old redwood which was planted too close to 2 fence lines and a neighbor's garage and thus had suffered lethal root damage.

I lived at another local property with a very healthy redwood planted 100+ years ago near a flimsy fence and no building foundations which the City called a "sentinal" and so, me and my neighbor worked with the City arborist to ensure a new fence would not hurt the tree. Just like our protected oak species, property owners here must "pay now or pay more later" if they fail to take care of the big trees - or those which will be big trees.

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

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