'No spray' zone sprayed with pesticide in Menlo

City staff unclear as to how or why it happened

The patch of roadside scrub that was supposed to be set aside as a pilot "no spray" zone this winter in Menlo Park was in fact sprayed with pesticide.

City staff had no explanation. "My staff was onboard with this area as a no pesticide use zone so we're unclear who or why anyone would want to spray there," Dave Mooney, who supervises park and tree maintenance, wrote in response to questions residents raised about the project.

He added that staff is now looking at a patch along Chilco Street in Belle Haven as an alternate test site.

The experiment was meant to see whether Menlo Park could skip the pesticides in favor of alternate, non-toxic maintenance as Portola Valley and Woodside do.

Mr. Mooney scheduled the pilot project for the intersection of Oak Ave and Sand Hill Road, according to Environmental Quality Commission (EQC) minutes from Oct. 6, 2010.

Last spring, former mayor Steve Schmidt asked the City Council to stop the spraying in accordance with the city's policy of minimal or no use of pesticides. He also made a presentation to the EQC that led to the pilot project.

Saying he thought Menlo Park residents would rather see signs of spring instead of "scorched roadsides looking like Death Valley," Mr. Schmidt suggested mowing the vegetation instead.

"Dave Mooney and all his predecessors don't understand how it's done or just won't do it because they've never done it before. And because neither the Council nor the City Manager cares enough to give the maintenance staff direction to do the right thing," said Mr. Schmidt.

Howard Young, director of Public Works for Portola Valley, said the town has spent about $10,000 a year for the past four years to maintain roadside shrubbery with weed-whacking crews instead of pesticides.

"We still do use low toxicity chemicals in other places, but not the road shoulders," Mr. Young said. "Weed whacking is more expensive but provides a better product, so one really cannot compare the two fairly. Weed whacking also lets us selectively avoid killing native wildflowers."

Cost may be an issue for Menlo Park, according to Mr. Schmidt. "However, the timing of the spraying deprives road users of one of the few seasonal pleasures we Californians enjoy. They also have sprayed over running water that is destined for the creek, a big no-no for using Round-up and other herbicides."

In the past two years, Menlo Park has lost squirrels, trees, and now a no-spray zone, without public notification.

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Posted by MenloPark Mom
a resident of Menlo Park: University Heights
on Feb 1, 2011 at 2:04 pm

I guess whoever did the spraying didn't get the "Do Not Spray" messsage. They should come forward and apologize for their mistake. A protocol must be put in place so this doesn't happen again. It is also unconscionable to spray pesticides into the water- where do these people think the water goes?

Like this comment
Posted by Barbara Rubin
a resident of another community
on Feb 2, 2011 at 12:24 am

Barbara Rubin is a registered user.

The CDC tells us that pesticide exposure is ubiquitous. Modern pesticides were first invented as chemical warfare agents circa WWII and then found to be highly useful on farms. Unfortunately, even as we've seen those impacting farm owners and workers, they were transferred to our homes, offices and schools without regard for the increased hazard posed by having them indoors. Recent bans on organophosphates with their adverse neurological effects merely led to their being replaced by pesticides having similarly damaging effects.

However, these newer chemicals have less chance of being banned because we remain in the dark about their applications (as in the case of this park) since there is no duty to inform in most settings. Should you or your physician suspect exposure, there are no labs where tests can be ordered for pyrethroids, DEET, D-limonene etc. The CDC found 70% of Americans showed signs of exposure in their urine back in 2002 but those research labs don't accept physician orders for medical inquiries. Industry merely uses the absence of data to assure us that these chemicals are 'safe'.

There is no indoor pest control industry but just an extension of agribusiness beyond their areas of expertise. This is an industry waiting for the genius of true venture capitalists - the control of pests in new and safer ways around human building occupants.

Get the facts and lobby for proper bio-monitoring of all chemicals approved for sale so we can learn of their effects. Patronize companies using only safe means for controlling pests indoors and outdoor areas where children play (e.g. vinegar kills weeds). If chemicals become easier to detect, such 'errors' will be less likely to occur and all products will find their correct level and location for use.

Barbara Rubin

Web Link

Web Link

Like this comment
Posted by Jack
a resident of Woodside: Mountain Home Road
on Feb 2, 2011 at 12:35 am

These city pest & garden services are farmed out to the "non professionals" who charge towns less $$. Theu have no instructions or knowledge of what enviromental precautions are necessary. They basically do the "dirty work" so no one is held responsible when
there is a the mass poisoning of the squirrell the habitat of the burrowing owls.

Last year the bushes along the intersection in downtown Woodside were sprayed. I noticed several dead or dying humming birds who had been feeding moments before on the wild flowers during & after the bushes were sprayed. You could see the poison on their beaks and feathers.

Wouldn't it healthier to trim back bushes/weeds rather than to take the easy way out by spraying Round Up poison on bushes that are birds and animals food sources? Round Up has been classified one
of the worst poisons for the environment.

Like this comment
Posted by Annabelle
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Feb 2, 2011 at 2:28 pm

This is the same strip of bushes that "every year" grow over the sidewalk and I call repeatedly to ask them to cut it back because it apparently is not on their regularly scheduled maintenance so maybe they wanted to make sure that it grew back slowly or did not grow back at all so they would not have to do the work next year. LOL

Like this comment
Posted by Ann Marie
a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Apr 26, 2014 at 12:59 pm

I have an animal rescue on THIS STREET and it's DEADLY to my turtles.

Is there Any reason the land isn't being offered as a community garden? I know I have plenty of drought tolerant plants to share. Why don't we find out what area is so offensive and start planting our yard leftovers there.

Like this comment
Posted by Janice
a resident of Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
on Apr 26, 2014 at 2:10 pm

Please read this article fully, Web Link ,especially where it outlines that as of when this bill was passed... there is no court(legal way) to stop Monsanto (their products) being used anywhere they very well please... even on our protected lands, schools, parks etc...if those area are in any way funded by federal dollars... Its called the Monsanto Protection Act but was snuck into a Farm Bill that winds through our food system, park systems ect...Can plant and spray right next to Organic Farms and destroy them in one spray. PLEASE, its still coming up in front of Congress again and again and MUST be repealed! Do we want to lose Yosemite? All of our good Food? Keep our Families safe? Wake up and start Fighting!,CenterforfoodSafetycom,, really in your food) Netflicks FoodMatters,Fat and Starving,Forks and Knives, U-tube,- Monsanto 84min movie Roulette,"Is it Worth It?"
Web Link

Like this comment
Posted by Julie
a resident of another community
on Apr 26, 2014 at 5:40 pm

Monsanto has just been defeated in the area of food labeling in Vermont:

This from the online newsletter "Organic Bytes":

"Victory in Vermont!

Earth Day is coming up next Tuesday. This year, Mother Earth has at least one thing to celebrate—the beginning of the end of Monsanto’s evil empire.

Yesterday, Vermont passed H.112, this country’s first no-strings-attached law requiring the mandatory labeling of GMOs (genetically modified organisms), and outlawing the practice of labeling GMO-contaminated foods as “natural” or “all-natural.”

With the passage of the Vermont GMO labeling law, after 20 years of struggle, it’s time to celebrate our common victory. But as we all know, the battle for a new food and farming system, and a sustainable future has just begun.

Monsanto will likely sue Vermont. And lose. And the Gene and Junk Food Giants will still try to pass a federal law intended to strip Vermont, and every other state, of the right to pass GMO labeling laws.

But we will fight back. And we will win."

Like this comment
Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Apr 26, 2014 at 10:38 pm

You know this story is three years old, right?

Like this comment
Posted by Julie
a resident of another community
on Apr 27, 2014 at 6:33 am

I was surprised to read your post that the article could be 3 years old. I just recently received it in email. This is the source I used.

Vermont Senate Votes 26-2 for GMO Labeling
By Terri Hallenbeck
Burlington Free Press, April 15, 2014
Straight to the Source

For related articles and more information, please visit OCA's Politics and Democracy page and our Millions Against Monsanto page.

Like this comment
Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Apr 27, 2014 at 9:01 am


I wasn't talking about your post. I was referring to the story at the head of this string of posts. Look at the date.

Like this comment
Posted by Julie
a resident of another community
on Apr 27, 2014 at 11:43 am

Menlo Voter:

Wow! Yes I see the dates on the comments. Then I noticed the date of the Lead Story itself. That TOO is 3 years old!

Thanks for pointing that out.

Like this comment
Posted by Julie
a resident of another community
on Apr 27, 2014 at 12:30 pm


Re: this story: "No spray zone" sprayed with pesticide in Menlo"

This story heading sounds as if it is a recent event. It was pointed out to me that this event took place 3 years ago!
I then checked the "first posted" date which reads 2011.
The date is clearly posted, yes, and I should have noticed it, but did not...I think because the lead title sounds so immediate. Maybe the heading could have been updated to: "No spray zone" sprayed with pesticide in Menlo in 2011".

As a reader, the responsibility is mine to notice dates. I agree. As a result of what the title "announced", though, it was an easy mistake to make to assume this was a recent event. Or maybe I was just sleepy that day.

Regarding the subject of the article: I'm glad you republished it because it is a very important subject.

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

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