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Neighbors and SFPUC: Move oak tree?

 

Granny might have to move. Tree advocates and San Francisco Public Utilities Commission officials met Tuesday to discuss how to save the 65-foot-tall heritage oak tree standing in the way of the Hetch Hetchy pipeline.

The centuries-old oak sits in the middle of a site at 827 15th Avenue in North Fair Oaks that's designated for a pipeline meant to carry water from the Hetch Hetchy as part of a $4.6 billion seismic improvement project.

Granny almost came down earlier this month on short notice. But after the neighborhood organized a protest, the SFPUC ensconced the tree within an "avoidance area" and directed its contractor, Mountain Cascade, to stop work within that boundary for now.

Mediated by a liaison from Supervisor Rose Jacobs-Gibson's staff, the May 24 meeting proceeded after a squabble over whether the press, which had been invited by the tree's advocates, would be allowed to attend what was ostensibly a public meeting.

SFPUC project manager Joseph Ortiz brought everyone up to date on what options have already been considered. The commission looked at ways to preserve Granny that even surprised the advocates, such as moving the tree 600 to 700 feet away from the pipe. That remains on the table, as does the option of tunneling under the tree, which would cost an estimated $430,000.

Contractors continue to explore how far the oak's root system extends and whether the roots are wrapping around the two water pipes already installed nearby, which affects the viability of either choice.

"It might not seem like it, but I've lost a lot of sleep over this tree," said Matt Horowitz, a project arborist. "It tears me up."

One option -- running the pipe above ground and over the tree roots -- won't work, according to Mr. Ortiz and Mr. Horowitz, because of weight. At 2,000 pounds per foot, the pipe would require a mammoth support structure and the combined weight would smash Granny's roots.

The neighbors expressed their understanding of how critical the pipeline project is, while remaining cautiously optimistic that both sides will figure out a solution.

"The tree is not going to stand in the way of water for citizens," Charles Berkstresser said. Granny sits at the edge of his backyard; if the tree gets moved, it might end up much closer to his house -- an option he said he could live with, provided there's enough room for both home and oak.

The SFPUC and neighbors will meet again in a couple weeks after the root investigation and cost evaluations are finished.

Comments

1 person likes this
Posted by The sage
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on May 25, 2011 at 12:31 pm

Hey Almanac - how about a picture of the tree in question?


Like this comment
Posted by Kelly Brennan
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on May 25, 2011 at 12:35 pm

In a perfect world I hope we would do whatever required, regardless of costs, to save this beautiful heritage tree. But, given budgetary constraints that are our reality, I'd halt the research of tunneling, etc. to spare this tree and use the funds to save an restore an entire park: Flood Park. We have to prioritize and make tough choice choices that will be unpopular with some or many.


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Posted by Fred
a resident of Menlo Park: Fair Oaks
on May 25, 2011 at 3:09 pm

If this tree catches sudden oak death, affecting others just a few miles away, all this extra trouble will be for nothing. The tree in in an easement anyhow. Tough choice, but, oak does convert to very clean heat and falls within the index of Spare the Air smoke index. Romantic ideas cost money, so take up a collection from the tree huggers.


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Posted by Shawn
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on May 25, 2011 at 5:35 pm

For those that are saddened by the fact that sometimes you can't save everything, even a beautiful oak tree, why not take a collection and plant many more baby Ganny trees elsewhere.


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Posted by Tree guy
a resident of Menlo Park: Fair Oaks
on May 25, 2011 at 5:52 pm

Re Fred's comment about Sudden Oak Death. This tree is a Valley Oak, which is not susceptible to SOD.


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Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on May 25, 2011 at 7:38 pm

Oaks do not transplant well. They have about a 50% chance normally, but the larger they are the harder they are to transplant. this is a stupid idea. Put two off-sets in the pipe to go around the tree. It's not that complicated.


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Posted by sadfsf
a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on May 25, 2011 at 7:42 pm

why was my post deleted?
MV: remove the tree, it's not that complicated.


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Posted by sadfsf
a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on May 25, 2011 at 7:44 pm

[Post repetitive.]


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Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on May 25, 2011 at 9:57 pm

[Post removed. Please discuss the topic instead of attacking posters.]


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Posted by Mike Galvin
a resident of another community
on May 26, 2011 at 5:22 am

Dr Tony Mucciardi has developed a tool called the Tree Radar Unit (Web Link). It is an application of Ground Penetrating Radar adapted and calibrated to map tree roots underground (it can differentiate between roots and pipes, rebar, etc., largely based on water content of the object in question). I would suggest having a consulting arborist scan the roots using TRU so the depth and extent of the root system can be mapped. This would help create the most cost-effective strategy for tunnelling or lifting. I have used this tool many times and it is excellent, but being in Washington, DC am a bit far away to be of assistance. You have many excellent consultants locally. Thank you for efforts to save this tree. Mike Galvin, Registered Consulting Arborist #432, Casey Trees


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Posted by sadfsf
a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on May 26, 2011 at 1:59 pm

How about this simple idea: Remove the tree root system, replace with a concrete foundation, and preserve the tree with this Web Link and


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Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on May 26, 2011 at 7:11 pm

How about they reroute the pipeline slightly instead of killing the tree?


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Posted by POGO
a resident of Woodside: other
on May 26, 2011 at 8:25 pm

MV -

You know what they say about wrestling with a pig.


Like this comment
Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on May 27, 2011 at 7:06 am

Good point POGO


Like this comment
Posted by Hmmm
a resident of another community
on May 27, 2011 at 4:58 pm

Is this rocket surgery of some kind? Sheesh, it's not even tree surgery! Just go around it.


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

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