SFPUC stops work around heritage oak

Granny safe until June 6

A meeting with San Mateo County left the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC) reviewing options for sparing a 65-foot-tall heritage oak tree known as "Granny."

The centuries-old tree sits in the middle of a site in unincorporated Menlo Park designated for a planned water pipeline meant to carry water from the Hetch Hetchy, part of a $4.6 billion seismic improvement project.

For now, the agency has ensconced the tree within an "avoidance area" at 827 15th Ave., and directed its contractor, Mountain Cascade, to stop work within that boundary.

Ed Harrington, SFPUC general manager, told the county in a letter on Wednesday (May 18) that he personally promised the zone around the tree would, in fact, be avoided until June 6 at the earliest. That gives the agency enough time to review the arborist report and evaluate the cost of alternatives to removing the tree, he said.

SFPUC spokeswoman Maureen Barry described the meeting with the county as "very cordial." At issue was whether the agency would be subject to the county's heritage tree ordinance. The SFPUC is claiming immunity as a public agency.

The neighbors agreed to meet with agency representatives, but still want at least two weeks' notice before the tree is brought down, according to Mary Ann Mullen, who organized the campaign to save Granny.

They continue to pursue a temporary restraining order, Ms. Mullen said.

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Like this comment
Posted by Lisa Sousa
a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on May 19, 2011 at 2:14 pm

Public agencies shouldn't be exempt from ordinances! The city of menlo park is part of the public being served by ced agency, and should therefore be subject to any and all ordinances. by any city.

Like this comment
Posted by Interested
a resident of another community
on May 19, 2011 at 6:15 pm

Hope when the big one comes and there's no water ,your all sitting around that tree singining Kumbya. You have to love California

Like this comment
Posted by sadfsf
a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on May 20, 2011 at 12:05 am

this is quite dissapointing. loud minority messing it up for everyone else. DESTROY THAT TREE!!!!

Like this comment
Posted by Will B
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on May 20, 2011 at 12:57 pm

It is so bizarre that Menlo Park, Atherton, PA, Woodside, PV, all these communties around here, all have ordinances re. taking "heritage" trees down and the SFPUC doesn't give a rats patootie about this tree! Are they jealous cuz they don't have great big 'ol trees up in SF? Oh, and by the way, to the writer from BelleHaven neighborhood, who poured sour milk on your Wheaties this morning??? "DESTROY THAT TREE!!!!" Are you nuts?

Like this comment
Posted by sadfsf
a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on May 20, 2011 at 2:06 pm

its disgusting that all the rich people spend so much resources protecting "heritage" while poor people like us need all the resources available to sustain basic living conditions. if you love trees so much stop using wood products, stop using paper, don't have a fireplace, don't have a bbq, and don't request paper bags at the grocery instead of plastic. they are cutting down trees elsewhere to provide the life you have. Why is "granny" better than any other tree? [Portion removed; see terms of use]

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