California Avenue trees ready for planting | January 29, 2010 | Palo Alto Weekly | Palo Alto Online |

Palo Alto Weekly

News - January 29, 2010

California Avenue trees ready for planting

100 volunteers will replant green canopy Saturday

by Sue Dremann

California Avenue will be naked no more.

Fifty trees have arrived in Palo Alto to re-green California Avenue, according to Catherine Martineau, executive director of the nonprofit Canopy, which is overseeing the replanting on Saturday.

The Silver lindens, Southern live oaks, Freeman maples, Shumard oaks, valley oaks and Chinese pistache trees are at an undisclosed location in Palo Alto, with staff and volunteers preparing the root balls for the trees' new home, said Sharon Kelly, Canopy program director.

The trees will replace 63 mature holly oaks the city removed the week of Sept. 14 as part of an overall plan to revitalize the shopping district. The sudden removal of the trees outraged the community.

One hundred volunteers have signed up to help replant, Martineau said.

"It will be dramatic. There are different tree sizes. We hope to plant one side of the street all at once," she said.

The tree-planting event on Saturday is open to the public.

The city's Assistant Public Works Director Mike Sartor is heading the effort.

"We look at this as a possible moving-forward opportunity. We're very excited about getting this moving," Sartor said. His department has adopted the theme, "New Trees for a New Year."

The majority of trees will be Freeman maples and lindens, with the other species serving as accents or anchors, such as at the El Camino entrance, he said. The trees will be 10 to 14 feet tall and between 1 1/2 and 2 inches in diameter, depending on the species, he said. After five years, they will grow to 18 and 20 feet and after 10 years will be 25 to 28 feet tall, he said.

The volunteers will meet at 9:30 a.m. to sign in at Mimosa Lane, the alley next to Country Sun Natural Foods, 440 California Ave. Shortly after 10 a.m., 20 teams will begin planting.

A tree-planting ceremony to honor outgoing Mayor Peter Drekmeier and new Mayor Pat Burt will commence at 12:30 p.m. in front of Bank of the West at 414 California Ave., Martineau said.

"The Mayor's tree planting is a 14-year tradition by Canopy, where a tree is planted in honor of the outgoing mayor. This year we are playing catch-up so we will also honor Pat Burt," she said.

Many street-parking areas will be blocked off while the planting takes place, with spaces opening up as the planting progresses up the street, Martineau said. Volunteers are being asked to park in parking structures and lots away from California Avenue. The event will take place rain or shine, barring a severe storm, she said.

Staff Writer Sue Dremann can be e-mailed at


Posted by El Palo Alto, a resident of Crescent Park
on Jan 28, 2010 at 10:25 am

Why is it that we work to remove/eradicate non-native species on lands outside or on the periphery of town, yet plant them with abandon in town? Early photos of this area have a sparse beauty, which now is lost to jumbles of non-native trees and plantings.

Heresy; but perhaps Palo Alto has too many trees.

Posted by Crescent Park Dad, a resident of Crescent Park
on Jan 28, 2010 at 10:30 am

What is actually pretty ironic is that there were two recent columns in the SF Chron stating/proving that Redwood/Sequoia trees should not be planted in urban areas or in areas with less than 25" of annual rainfall. Yet CPA has decided that those same non-native trees are "protected."

Posted by Judith, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 28, 2010 at 10:58 am

If El Palo Alto was here when the Spanish arrived, how is it that redwoods are "non-native"? There are plenty of redwoods doing quite well in Palo Alto. Maybe the Chron "stated" and not "proved" they were a problem.
As for native plantings in town vs out of town or on the periphery - the edges are more natural and should be protected as such. Our urban areas are just that - urban - and the "sparse beauty", which I might have appreciated when it existed is long gone to buildings and roads.
My concern is - where are the rest of the trees? I thought we were getting 74?

Posted by Ronna Devincenzi, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 28, 2010 at 11:01 am

Many thanks and special honor should go to Dave Muffley from Canopy, for volunteering days going to numerous nurseries during Winter, hand-inspecting all the tree roots & selecting each specific tree likely to flourish when planted this Saturday-surely a labor of love!

It's all the behind the scenes work and preparation on the part of the community that will no doubt, make this a successful effort for everyone that cares about California Ave., and creating a lovely canopy.

Posted by plum tree queen, a resident of Barron Park
on Jan 28, 2010 at 11:04 am

Regarding Crescent Park Dad comment: I see no place in the article that Redwood trees are being planted along California Avenue. Thank goodness it has only been six months since the old trees were removed, and new trees are being planted. I'm surprised it hasn't gone the way of Alma Plaza and still no resolution.

Posted by Laurie Moore, a resident of Los Altos
on Jan 28, 2010 at 11:24 am

I read the article numerous times for the day/date. Someone commented that it was Saturday. Can that be clarified?

Posted by Sara, a resident of Midtown
on Jan 28, 2010 at 11:24 am


Posted by Laurie, a resident of Los Altos
on Jan 28, 2010 at 11:28 am

I finally saw "Saturday" in the tagline...thanks.

Posted by Daniel Mart, a resident of Mountain View
on Jan 28, 2010 at 11:32 am

Daniel Mart is a registered user.


Posted by PABob, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jan 28, 2010 at 11:46 am

Hello, Weekly: Looks like someone cut the paragraph with the who, what, where, when information on "the event" alluded to in the article. Headline mentions Saturday, so that's a clue, and I gather city officials and volunteers will be involved, but what is "the event," when is it and where is it?

Posted by Deep Throat, a resident of another community
on Jan 28, 2010 at 12:10 pm

How can City Council Members participate in this photo opportunity when they are supposed to be at their annual retreat Saturday morning?

Posted by Jocelyn Dong, editor of the Palo Alto Weekly
on Jan 28, 2010 at 1:54 pm

Jocelyn Dong is a registered user.

Hi PABob. Thanks. We've added details to clarify that the planting of trees will take place Saturday along California Avenue. Volunteer check-in starts at 9:30 a.m.

Deep Throat, I guess we know what Pat Burt will be doing during the retreat's lunch break!

Posted by sarlat, a resident of Crescent Park
on Jan 29, 2010 at 7:23 am

Non-native trees? And our ancestors who arrived here from other parts of the world and nearly eradicated through genocide the indigenous population are native? Just asking.

Posted by New Harmony, a resident of another community
on Jan 29, 2010 at 9:30 am

May this signify the end of all controversy and disputation in Palo Alto and the dawn of a new era of harmony, amity, and good will all the way from the shores of the mighty San Francisquito Creek to center lines of storied San Antonio Road!!

Posted by Brian, a resident of Evergreen Park
on Jan 29, 2010 at 11:07 am

New Harmony,
Your rhetoric gave me a small chuckle, but I'm not going to hold my breath. There is a group of angry people who seem to camp out on Town Square waiting for their pet issues to come up. On this tree issue, it was a little disappointing that: a) the Public Words Department ignored a rule, and b) the City Council (as a group) seemed to be completely unaware of the tree cutting before it occurred. But the reaction to it was way over the top - in my very humble opinion. I heard about the tree cutting several days before it occurred via our neighborhood email group, and while I thought it odd that they were going to cut the trees down all at once, I figured smarter people than me had determined it was the best and most efficient (in these days of challenged budgets) way to get a new crop of trees in place. Anyway, I agree with you that this will hopefully bring this issue to rest. Stay tuned for many other issues that will bring out the angry people. My favorites (not!) are high speed rail, the never-ending math wars, language immersion, school bonds, libraries, crimes/police issues .....
I can't go on; there are just too many.

Posted by SANDRA BEGES, a resident of Los Altos
on Jan 31, 2010 at 5:15 pm


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