Menlo Park: 99 heritage trees face ax


The fate of 99 of Menlo Park's heritage trees could be decided at the city's Environmental Quality Commission meeting on Wednesday, Aug. 31.

The commission will review proposals to cut down 59 heritage trees at the Greenheart site at 1300 El Camino Real, 39 trees at Sharon Green Apartments, and one tree on San Mateo Drive.

Heritage trees are generally those with a trunk diameter of 15 inches or more; for native California oaks, the standard is 10 inches or more.

The commission will meet at 6:30 p.m. at City Hall at 701 Laurel St., and has allocated an hour to each of the three proposals in this order: San Mateo Drive, Sharon Green Apartments and the Greenheart site.

Greenheart site

Greenheart Land Co. plans to build 420,000 square feet of office, housing and retail at 1300 El Camino Real and has proposed to cut down all trees on its 6.4-acre site.

The developer has proposed to replace the heritage trees with 120 new trees, according to a staff report.

Sharon Park Drive

The commission will review landscape plans at the Sharon Green Apartments in Menlo Park that would cut down 39 heritage trees, according to a staff report.

The complex contains 296 apartments on about 15 acres at 350 Sharon Drive. In December 2015, the complex was sold by Essex Property Trust to Maximus Real Estate and an affiliate of Deutsche Asset and Wealth Management for $245 million, or the equivalent of $828,000 per unit, which could be a record on the Peninsula.

Plans by the owners to renovate the buildings and extensively rework landscaping on the site have been submitted to the city of Menlo Park, and will go before the Planning Commission.

Drawings show the exteriors of the buildings will be redone. Changes involving landscaping include the addition of a sports court, a clubhouse pool area, a backyard garden, an open space grassy area, and a "children's adventure park."

Andrew Kennard, who lives in the complex and is a biophysics researcher at Stanford, has asked the owners to reconsider the landscaping plans. He said that the trees in the apartment complex helped him connect to his neighbors recently.

"At a recent resident barbecue, I got to know a family with two bright children by marveling with them at a leaf from one of these trees under my field microscope. It was wonderful to be able to excite the children with the love of nature in their own backyard, and the tree was central to our coming together as neighbors."

San Mateo Drive

A coast redwood heritage tree, situated close to a fence at 1080 San Mateo Drive, has been recommended for removal by a forester and an engineer, and a permit to do so was approved by the city arborist in April.

The tree allegedly was causing damage to a garage slab and encroaching on a neighbor's fence and pool, according to a staff report.

The decision to grant the permit was appealed in June by Horace and Betsy Nash and also signed by Sally Cole, all of whom are residents of the 1200 block of Santa Cruz Avenue. They sought to have the permit to cut the tree down revoked.

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4 people like this
Posted by Calypso41
a resident of another community
on Aug 31, 2016 at 12:42 pm

Calypso41 is a registered user.

I really hope the trees are not cut down. This complex has won awards for its landscaping in the past, and the oaks are beautiful reminders of what all of Sharon Heights must have looked like.

2 people like this
Posted by Judy Horst
a resident of Menlo Park: Menlo Oaks
on Aug 31, 2016 at 5:34 pm

99 Heritage trees????? I just learned of this. It's egregious, and should be stopped! Why have an oak or any tree as the symbol of the Menlo Park when the City doesn't respect old-growth trees. Maybe the City should change its name to Menlo Plains. Time to stand up to this kind of irresponsible action, particularly since trees are on the front lines in the fight against climate change, and cutting them will release carbon dioxide into the air, and the trees won't be there to continue doing the job they do to remove it from the air we breath. In a drought like we are suffering through, it doesn't make sense to remove old trees and then replace them with younger trees requiring much more water. This is just stupid.

Like this comment
Posted by EQC Meeting Location
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Aug 31, 2016 at 5:48 pm

Tonight’s EQC meeting has been moved to the Oak Room in the City’s Recreation Center in order to accommodate more people. There will be signs up at the original room location.

Please come and speak for the trees.

2 people like this
Posted by Environmental Destruction
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Aug 31, 2016 at 6:00 pm

Environmental Quality Commission? Don't you mean the Environmental Destruction Commission? For the longest time Menlo Park identified itself as a Tree City. Now, it calls itself the Home of Innovation. The definition of innovation is to have new ideas and methods. Clear cutting trees to put up buildings is the opposite of innovative -- it's an old idea whose time has passed. A tired, bad, old, wasteful idea.

Come on, City Council and Commission members. You can't insist on a more progressive way to develop around the natural topography? You're going to allow developers to cut down trees that are drought resistant and provide a canopy of shade that filters pollution, and have been standing for 200 or more years. They can make a profit without raping the land to squeeze every last cent out of it. What a loss for our community -- shameful.

1 person likes this
Posted by Tree Hugger
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Aug 31, 2016 at 6:27 pm

I detest the removal of real heritage trees, which I see happening all over Menlo Park. Too often the city allows removal of native oaks for convenience or preference, rubber stamping recommendations for arborists who will of course recommend whatever the people paying them want.

But most of the so-called heritage trees cited in the article are low value trees. The Greenheart site has no trees of value anymore -- after the owners allowed the two large redwoods by El Camino to die. Most or perhaps all of the trees at Sharon Green aren't even native, with the most obvious being Monterey pines that are near the end of their lives anyway. The redwood on San Mateo is poorly situated, and never should have been planted so close to a residence.

You can easily check most of this out using street view on Google maps.

I agree with the spirit of the comments that precede mine, but I urge others to check out the facts before reacting so negatively. The real crimes against our trees aren't part of any of these plans, but rather the single instances all over the city that occur day in and day out.

1 person likes this
Posted by Last Minute
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Aug 31, 2016 at 7:26 pm

Why do these things always get reported at the last minute? Couldn't this have been posted a few days in advance?

2 people like this
Posted by Ed
a resident of another community
on Aug 31, 2016 at 7:55 pm

Some things never change in Menlo Park. Follow the trail cash from the City to the wood chipper. Have any Heritage trees ever survived a well funded applicant?

- I used to live in Menlo Park

Like this comment
Posted by Outcome?
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Sep 1, 2016 at 3:01 pm

What is the fate of the 99 trees?

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

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