Dead or alive? | November 18, 2016 | Palo Alto Weekly | Palo Alto Online |

Palo Alto Weekly

Cover Story - November 18, 2016

Dead or alive?

When it comes to cutting down Palo Alto's trees, city arborists' opinions often clash with the public's

by Sue Dremann

The 120-foot redwood presiding over the Castilleja School campus didn't look sick. Its lush canopy sported dark green, shiny leaves and full branches. But it was a disaster waiting to happen, in danger of toppling in the next winter storm because of a rotting base, according to city arborists and a consultant hired by the school.

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Staff Writer Sue Dremann can be emailed at


1 person likes this
Posted by Gladwyn D'Souza
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 18, 2016 at 8:04 am

Go up PA and use Residential Permit Parking to skip and price the parking.

18 people like this
Posted by Jean Libby
a resident of Community Center
on Nov 18, 2016 at 12:58 pm

Interesting choice that your news story followed a public meeting at Castelleja School Thursday evening in which school growth was discussed but the trees barely mentioned. The reason is that meeting was managed by the school in such a way that they did all the talking (reading from Power Point slides) and the invited neighbors not allowed to speak until after the announced time for the meeting to end. There were at least 200 people in attendance. Where was the press? or the City?

27 people like this
Posted by Once a Coastal Dweller
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 18, 2016 at 1:18 pm

That tree was ALIVE! My brother, a plant pathologist and professor at UC Davis, looked at it and verified that it was healthy. This was one day before it was chopped to death.

He also looked at the pieces as they were cut: no sign of brown needles at the top, nice healthy trunk with over 120 rings.

We call BS on Castilleja and the city!

9 people like this
Posted by Casti neighbor
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 18, 2016 at 4:56 pm

I am grateful that the city and Castilleja are willing to work together to do the right thing. Taking down a beloved tree is a hard decision to make, one that was not made lightly. Keeping people safe must be our priority.

14 people like this
Posted by Appreciative Neighbor
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 18, 2016 at 5:06 pm

I attended the meeting last night at Castilleja and appreciated hearing the school's presentation, viewing lots of information about the project and many points of view of neighbors and parents. My first of what I understand to be many, many meetings and I was impressed. Castilleja is listening. Some neighbors are opposed, even asking for Castilleja to leave the community. What?! We are so lucky to have Castilleja in our midst. I love being their neighbor. I love being surrounded by schools and kids. Who are we without each other?

8 people like this
Posted by Neighbor
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 28, 2016 at 1:53 am

The description of the recent meeting sounds like so many 'community' meetings held by the city. Overwhelming time consuming bureaucratic presentations and the conclusion is what you expect. Demolition will proceed.

The tree is one of 81 in the city removed or permitted for removal since April 20, 2015, city records show.

Funny how development plans suddenly turn up dangerous trees. Such a coincidence.
Huge number of trees were removed to make way for the Mitchell Park library expansion and also for the Rinconada expansion and the Art Center.

It's not a new idea: Developers rule the city.

6 people like this
Posted by Worse Still...
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 28, 2016 at 2:10 pm

Even worse is the fact that the Menlo Oark VA has been cutting down very healthy heritage oak and redwood trees over the past year.

I counted the rings on the trunk of one that was on a lowboy, waiting to be taken away. It took a while to count, and I counted twice to be sure: 387 rings! That oak tree was 387 years old!

Sad, but apparently federal law supersedes the CA state law that makes cutting down California Live Oaks illegal.

5 people like this
Posted by Concerned Castilleja neighbor
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 29, 2016 at 1:10 am

Thank you Ms Libby for your concerns about Castilleja's "forum" where presentation and speeches took precedence over discussion.

Castilleja parents, most of which did not live in the immediate area repeatedly used valuable time to praise the school rather than addressing immediate neighbor concerns of years of construction, loss of residential streetscape with an underground garage, increased traffic and safety issues on a main bike corridor.... I would have liked to ask why they think planting new trees rather than retaining existing and mature ones on campus is beneficial to the city? And why removing a row of 80-95 foot redwood trees to build a garage and inviting more traffic into Palo Alto is OK? And why planning to move and transplant 30-50 foot trees is OK for any tree! I hope Walter Passmore will be reviewing each and every tree with great consideration.

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

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