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Is PAUSD going to cut down Redwood Trees?

Original post made by Mr. Green, Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Mar 15, 2007

There are about 20+ large Redwood trees on the Fairmeadow campus.

The Redwood trees create a natural border line down the backside of Fairmeadow campus, creating a border around the play field, and separating Fairmeadow from JLS land and Mitchell Park.

Technically, there is more available land behind the Redwood trees, and the the school board has approved the installation of up to six portables back there.

Where there are portables, there are kids. (up to 120 more kids at Fairmeadow!) And kids need to be supervised, and they need appropriate play space.

But because of the row of trees, there is no line of sight from the administration/main fields back behind the trees. And the space is not play space.

But when you look at how they've drawn the campus on their facilities plan drawings - they show that all as open space - as if the portables are on play space, they show no trees there.

But it is NOT plays space, its a virtual Redwood forest.

So is PAUSD quietly planning to cut down 20+ 50 year old Redwood trees or are they making ill considered decisions for the appropriate use of that space?

If they put the portables in there, how will they protect the trees? And make enough space for 120 more kids?

Tree lovers and parents in Palo Alto want to know.

If you want to know - please write to the Palo Alto Board of Education.

By the way, if you live on East Meadow or surrounding area, you might also want to ask the district about their plans (or lack thereof) for traffic mitigation in this busy area once they add 120 kids to Fairmeadow.

Comments (14)

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Posted by Parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 15, 2007 at 11:05 am

Since the BOE voted against opening a 13th elementary school and PA continues to build more homes and now we have a threat of a Charter school with a possible need to find facilities for such, where would you suggest the extra children go. I think most people would like to see the trees remain, but when there is a choice of trees or places in our schools, then there is an obvious answer.

Alternatively, we could stop the housing and the charter school.

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Posted by Mr. Green
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 15, 2007 at 11:23 am

The charter school strong arm threat is now not only threatening the quality of education for 11,000 PAUSD School children but now also threatening a grove 50 year Redwood trees??

Interesting. I wonder what kind of person or persons would perpetrate such an ugly threat?

Regardless of the excuse they use, PAUSD must step up to the plate and disclose that they plan to cut down a dozen or more fifty year old redwood trees if that's what they plan to do.

Is that what they plan to do?

There are several other schools in this district with space for portables, there is no valid reason to cut down these trees.

By the way, if there is no existing open campus space in the district, a charter school can be housed anywhere the district chooses even out of the city limits. They district doesn't have to put up portables for a charter school. That's an outright lie.

Many in this city would rather rent a vacated school site in Mt. View for a charter (which would be allowable under the law) than see a whole grove of trees cut down.

The thought is disgusting.

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Posted by Palo alto mom
a resident of Crescent Park
on Mar 15, 2007 at 11:28 am

The district only needs to provide space if there are 80 or more PAUSD students in the Charter.

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Posted by Parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 15, 2007 at 12:07 pm

I do not think my previous post was a "threat", just a comment on what is happening in our district. We have an enrollment problem which is not going away. There is housing started already and more on the way. The possibility of a charter school is still one of the great unknowns.

To deal with the increasing enrollments, ideally, space has to be provided near to where the children live, not necessarily where there is space for portables, as no one thinks there is space in their own school. As it is, too many children are overflowed out of their neighborhood schools and driven all over town which adds to the already problematic traffic on many of our roads at school commute times.

Each neighborhood school community has excellent reasons why increasing the number of portables on their own particular site is unwise. Whether it be for traffic reasons, environmental reasons, or play space, etc. the reasons are valid. However, to be realistic, we have to find space for children somewhere in our schools and some of these decisions are not going to be popular to one group or other. With or without a charter school, we are overcrowded.

There is no ugly threat. There is no discussion yet on where to place a possible charter school. There are just pros and cons being aired.

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Posted by Observer
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 15, 2007 at 1:58 pm

Whether the portables are for a charter school, or for a storage shed, or for neighborhood kids, the trees are being threatened.

Is this real?

If there are so many kids in that neighborhood that massive redwood trees have to start getting cut down to make way for new buildings, why don't they make Hoover an available site for a neighborhood school?

Today Hoover is a commuter school, with kids driving in from all over Palo Alto. Instead of cutting down trees, why don't they relocate a commuter program? Why are they shipping more kids into such an impacted area?

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Posted by Board Observer
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Mar 15, 2007 at 2:09 pm

I remember hearing from a board meeting that the Fairmeadow portables would not be put on play space, and that no trees would be harmed.

I think Fairmeadow is whining about having to take the new students, and people are making up rumors to fan flames.

Get the real information from the real source.

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Posted by I like trees too
a resident of Palo Verde
on Mar 15, 2007 at 2:20 pm

A permit from the city is required to remove a Coast Redwood that is 18 or more inches in diameter at 54 inches above natural grade. Does anyone know if these trees are that big? If they are, perhaps someone can check to see if any permit applications have been filed with the Planning Division.

More detailed information is available at Web Link.

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Posted by Seeker
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Mar 15, 2007 at 3:35 pm

Portables behind or around those redwoods does not make an appropriate play space. That area as a play space is not easily visible so that it can be monitored. So will trees come down, or will kids be playing behind the library, behind the trees, under the trees, behind the science lab?

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Posted by Mr. Green
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 15, 2007 at 9:46 pm

I went to the meeting at 25 Churchill two weeks ago where the detailed before and after drawings for each elementary school were presented by the district staff and discussed. Hodges, Smith Matranga were presenting. City representation was there.

The portables for all schools for Level 1 were drawn in - Fairmeadow for some reason has six drawn in, even though the Level Two portables have not been approved.

There were no trees drawn in - the space between the boundary line of Fairmeadow all the way through to the border of the field was drawn in to the drawings as open play space.

So Board Observer from Greenmeadow - is this real enough information from a real enough source for you?

My question is - was that a mistake in the drawing (and therefore a grave mistake in approval of portables for that space) or is there a plan to cut down that line of trees?

Anyone know?

When asked in the meeting they said 'they were aware the trees were there, they've taken good care of them before when B4E portables were on the site' (in a completely different area).

I still don't know why then they have drawn misleading site maps and allowed the board to presume the area is usable play space.

I Like Trees Too: I'm not so sure the School District is bound by same city permit rules as everyone else. My understanding is that the school district has complete and utter autonomy on everything, from building two story buildings, to cutting down trees, to creating traffic impacting configuration changes. I understand the city has no real authority over the school district whatsover. I think they operate on courteous neighbors principals.

These trees are all at least about 2X times taller than the buildings, they are probably varying from 40-80 inches in diameter (just a guess, I haven't hugged them recently.)

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Posted by another view
a resident of Palo Verde
on Mar 16, 2007 at 8:33 am

I remember playing among those redwoods when I was a student at Fairmeadow during the 70s, and those trees were the most magical play space of all. I hope the district does not assume that a redwood grove is not a suitable play space or that "yard duty" monitors being able to see around those pesky trees is more important than allowing kids to play below them. When my child attended elementary school, the grove of trees at the edge of the playground was also her favorite retreat from the otherwise hot, treeless, and noisy playground.

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Posted by A neighbor
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Mar 16, 2007 at 10:17 am

I went by Fairmeadow this morning and yes, there are 20 redwood trees. As an alternative they could cut the lower limbs of the trees for better sitelines. Can they still fit 6 portables in the back and keep the trees? Unfortunately, Fairmeadow is the only neighborhood elementary school in that part of town which is undergoing a building boom. However, most of the developments are apartments which statistically do not generate many children, and the TKCJL is senior housing. I suppose I should be pleased the District administration is planning ahead.

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Posted by Board Observer
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Mar 19, 2007 at 10:10 pm

If you look at the facilities presentation, pages 32 and 33, you'll see that the new 6 portables are placed where the daycare is now.

Web Link

There's a note, "Daycare to be relocated".

You might be able to ask elementary school questions at the last meeting about high schools:

Elementary Schools
Thursday, March 8, 2007
6:30 p.m.
25 Churchill Avenue (Staff Development Center)

Middle Schools
Wednesday, March 14, 2007
6:30 p.m.
25 Churchill Avenue (Staff Development Center)

High Schools
Thursday, March 22, 2007
6:30 p.m.
25 Churchill Avenue (Staff Development Center)

Written and oral comments will be accepted at these meetings, and you may also send your written comments to Tom Hodges at 25 Churchill Avenue, Building D, or e-mail The District will accept comments on this information until March 31, 2007.

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Posted by Tree Lover
a resident of College Terrace
on Apr 11, 2007 at 9:22 pm

Cutting trees for visibility—so children at play could be "supervised" from afar—is absurd. If the number of kids increases, the number of adult eyes needs to increase as well, and the bodies that house those eyes can and should move closer to the children, where they can intervene quickly as needed. Escondido has two playing fields, completely out of view from each other, and they didn't raze buildings to provide line-of-sight supervision!

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Posted by Jean M.
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Apr 9, 2012 at 12:15 pm

Over the Spring Break 2012, someone cut down 2 old redwoods which were behind a protective fence complete with a phone number to report any PAUSD unapproved damage to the trees. The phone number is invalid. 329-2927.

What is going on? Did the school district give permission to remove those trees? Why bother with a protective fence if the trees were to be removed?

What trees are next?

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

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