Around Town | January 14, 2011 | Palo Alto Weekly | Palo Alto Online |

Palo Alto Weekly

News - January 14, 2011

Around Town

LESSONS LEARNED ... It's been more than a year since Palo Alto officials hastily axed 63 holly oaks on California Avenue, but the fallen trees continue to cast a long shadow over the city's planning process. So when city officials began planning for a removal of 10 ailing eucalyptus trees at Eleanor Pardee Park, they held countless public hearings, received input from at least three different arborists and had a stack of reports on hand when they brought their proposal to the City Council this week. Greg Betts, director of the Community Services Department, told the council that staff had learned from its experience on California Avenue, which led to a public outcry and apologies from top city officials. But some members of the City Council felt staff may have learned the lessons from the California Avenue fiasco a little too well. The council praised staff's massive outreach campaign but rejected its recommendations to remove the trees in two phases, choosing instead to fell them in one swoop. Several council members also said they were concerned that after California Avenue, staff has become a bit too reticent in its proposals. "I believe the California Avenue situation has caused our staff to be more adverse to taking clear but controversial positions in their recommendations," Councilman Pat Burt said. Councilman Larry Klein agreed and said the Pardee Park operation had been "overly influenced" by California Avenue. "California Avenue was a failure of the city's own process," Klein said. "This is a triumph of process."

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