New Menlo environmental quality commissioner appointed

City approves 97 percent of heritage tree removal requests

Christina Smolke, recently seen asking the Menlo Park City Council to spare a heritage redwood tree located on a neighbor's property at 240 University Drive, was appointed to the Environmental Quality Commission on Dec. 14.

The commission advises the city on requests for heritage tree removals, among other matters of environmental importance.

Since 2008, the city has approved 652 tree removals, and denied only 21, according to Rebecca Fotu, environmental programs manager.

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Posted by Maureen Teter
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Dec 22, 2010 at 9:28 am

This is a copy of the email I sent to the City Council on Dec. 7th. regarding Heritage trees in MP.

I'm writing as a concerned resident regarding the number of Menlo Park heritage trees being cut down in our city. I looked at the online database of heritage tree removal permits issued since June 2002 and found an alarming number of trees being felled every month. I counted 1549 heritage tree removal permits granted, not including 182 trees with 'pending' removal dates. Rebecca Fotu supplied me with an additional record of 77 permits issued for the last half of 2006. Eight months of information are missing from the city database, but if one examines the available information and crunches the numbers (1626 trees divided by the 90 months on record), you realize that an average of 18 Menlo Park heritage trees are being cut down every month! Add the 'pending' removals and it goes up to 20 trees per month!

We have a heritage tree ordinance in Menlo Park because we value trees in our community and want to protect them against unnecessary removal. Obviously, there must be some turnover in our heritage tree population, but, in my opinion, too many are being rubber-stamped for removal and, at this rate, we will lose our precious canopy. The failure of the ordinance to curb the rate of removals is especially alarming when one considers that our heritage tree ordinance is also failing to ensure a supply of future heritage trees. Although the ordinance requires that replacement trees be planted when heritage trees are felled, there seems to be a lack of follow-up on the part of the city to ensure that ever happens. Even so, there is no protection for the trees that have yet to grow to heritage status, not even for these replacement trees.

As a 50-year resident of Menlo Park, I hope all of you, as council members and as fellow residents, find this information as troubling as I do. Therefore, I ask you all to please bear these things in mind when a heritage tree's fate comes before you and please don't hesitate to contact me for more information.

Maureen Teter

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Posted by Oh Boy!
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Dec 22, 2010 at 7:08 pm

Great - another literal treehugger telling people what they can and can't do.

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Posted by chop chop
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Jan 3, 2011 at 11:21 pm

This year, I removed two mature Monterrey pines, listed as fair/poor condition by the arborist. They weren't close to my house, but one leaned towards it and the other towards my neighbor's. The Monterreys are NOT native, they have a reputation for sudden unexpected toppling and they are my property. CALLING them 'heritage' does not make them so. So what's the big deal? Without knowledge of ANYTHING, Ms. Teter opines that we shouldn't cut our trees. How about it Ms. Teter, I come over to rearrange your furniture and tell your what to wear in the morning?

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