News

Atherton council promises to try to save civic center trees

Up to 13 healthy heritage trees might go as part of project

After learning that as many as 13 healthy heritage trees could be cut down to make way for the construction of a new civic center in Atherton, the City Council on Nov. 15 asked the town to try to figure out ways to save more of the trees now growing on the site.

Longtime Atherton resident Nancy Grove told the council the trees are valuable for more than just their appearance, sequestering as much as 100 pounds of carbon a year. "I really think that this is an important matter," she said. "Some of these oaks may have antedated the first white settlers in the Bay Area."

The trees must be removed to make way for a new library, town and police offices, and a council chamber.

A heritage tree is 48 inches or more in circumference measured 4 feet above the ground.

On Oct. 25, the town's Planning Commission approved a permit to remove 18 heritage trees for the project. Five of those trees are unhealthy and must be removed, but five other trees could possibly be saved, the Planning Commission said. The town may also be able to move some trees to new locations.

Help sustain the local news you depend on.

Your contribution matters. Become a member today.

Join

Council members asked the town to look at how it might save as many of the trees as possible, taking into consideration the costs for any redesign of the civic center plans that would be needed to accommodate them.

Kristi Waldron reminded the council that an oak is the town's symbol. "We are the communal owners of this project," she said. "We are a tree town."

Betsy Colby, a member of the independent Atherton Tree Committee, said some of the trees set for removal are as much as 200 years old. The list of trees on the site includes 35 heritage oaks, with 15 slated for removal, she said.

Denise Kupperman, who is also part of the tree committee, urged the town to look at ways to save the trees. "There are ways to mitigate construction," she said. "It might cost a little bit more, but there are ways of preserving these trees."

Councilman Rick DeGolia said some of the trees that are to be removed are "spectacular." However, he said, to save some of them, "we'd have to move the building."

Stay informed

Get the latest local news and information sent straight to your inbox.

Stay informed

Get the latest local news and information sent straight to your inbox.

Councilman Bill Widmer said that although saving the trees could impact the project's schedule and cost, "I think there are some alternative things" that could be done.

Mayor Mike Lempres agreed. "I think we do want to reconsider this," he said, adding that the trees "are all valuable."

The council also came to agreements with two neighbors whose fences, it was found when the town surveyed its property for the project, are actually on town property. Both neighbors agreed to allow the town to build 8-foot fences along the actual property line. One neighbor will be allowed to keep an existing hedge in lieu of the fence after signing an easement agreement with the town.

--

Follow AlmanacNews.com and The Almanac on Twitter @almanacnews, Facebook and on Instagram @almanacnews for breaking news, local events, photos, videos and more.

Atherton council promises to try to save civic center trees

Up to 13 healthy heritage trees might go as part of project

by Barbara Wood / Almanac

Uploaded: Mon, Nov 20, 2017, 11:44 am

After learning that as many as 13 healthy heritage trees could be cut down to make way for the construction of a new civic center in Atherton, the City Council on Nov. 15 asked the town to try to figure out ways to save more of the trees now growing on the site.

Longtime Atherton resident Nancy Grove told the council the trees are valuable for more than just their appearance, sequestering as much as 100 pounds of carbon a year. "I really think that this is an important matter," she said. "Some of these oaks may have antedated the first white settlers in the Bay Area."

The trees must be removed to make way for a new library, town and police offices, and a council chamber.

A heritage tree is 48 inches or more in circumference measured 4 feet above the ground.

On Oct. 25, the town's Planning Commission approved a permit to remove 18 heritage trees for the project. Five of those trees are unhealthy and must be removed, but five other trees could possibly be saved, the Planning Commission said. The town may also be able to move some trees to new locations.

Council members asked the town to look at how it might save as many of the trees as possible, taking into consideration the costs for any redesign of the civic center plans that would be needed to accommodate them.

Kristi Waldron reminded the council that an oak is the town's symbol. "We are the communal owners of this project," she said. "We are a tree town."

Betsy Colby, a member of the independent Atherton Tree Committee, said some of the trees set for removal are as much as 200 years old. The list of trees on the site includes 35 heritage oaks, with 15 slated for removal, she said.

Denise Kupperman, who is also part of the tree committee, urged the town to look at ways to save the trees. "There are ways to mitigate construction," she said. "It might cost a little bit more, but there are ways of preserving these trees."

Councilman Rick DeGolia said some of the trees that are to be removed are "spectacular." However, he said, to save some of them, "we'd have to move the building."

Councilman Bill Widmer said that although saving the trees could impact the project's schedule and cost, "I think there are some alternative things" that could be done.

Mayor Mike Lempres agreed. "I think we do want to reconsider this," he said, adding that the trees "are all valuable."

The council also came to agreements with two neighbors whose fences, it was found when the town surveyed its property for the project, are actually on town property. Both neighbors agreed to allow the town to build 8-foot fences along the actual property line. One neighbor will be allowed to keep an existing hedge in lieu of the fence after signing an easement agreement with the town.

--

Comments

Rules?
Atherton: other
on Nov 20, 2017 at 12:00 pm
Rules?, Atherton: other
on Nov 20, 2017 at 12:00 pm

Same rules should apply to building a new town center as apply to any Atherton TAX PAYER building a home. If the home is too big for the lot, and trees need to be cut, the answer is "NO".

So apply the same rules to save these trees as would be applied if the trees were on the lot of a TAX PAYER and SCALE DOWN THIS TOWN CENTER to a size that won't impact the trees, and, MORE IMPORTANTLY, the TOWN CAN AFFORD.

(See the recent parcel tax vote for a reference on what voters expect).


Get on with it
Atherton: Lloyden Park
on Nov 21, 2017 at 9:47 am
Get on with it, Atherton: Lloyden Park
on Nov 21, 2017 at 9:47 am

I love our majestic oaks as much as anybody else, but please, let's get on with construction. Take reasonable measures to save as many as you can, but PLEASE AVOID GOING BACK TO THE DRAWING BOARD with another redesign of the buildings. Keep in mind that this new civic center is likely to outlive some of the older heritage trees. Build what is planned, relocate the trees that are able, and replant liberally to make up for those that aren't.


Apple
Atherton: other
on Nov 21, 2017 at 11:26 am
Apple, Atherton: other
on Nov 21, 2017 at 11:26 am

@Rules

The new civic center is nearly the same square footage as the current civic center. The space has been consolidated into a single building, rather than spread across numerous buildings as it is now.

If you want the square footage spread out over smaller buildings to save heritage trees, the cost would increase considerably. You can save the trees and increase costs *OR* you can cut down a few heritage trees and save millions. Which one do you want?

Based on the parcel tax vote, the voters want to save costs.

If you want a smaller civic center in general, you would have to rent office space outside of Atherton to accommodate all city services. Short term, you would save costs. Long term, you would pay more. Office rents on the peninsula are rising very fast and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future.


Rent
Atherton: other
on Nov 21, 2017 at 11:56 am
Rent, Atherton: other
on Nov 21, 2017 at 11:56 am

Apple, sure let’s start by eliminating the gymnasium for police that’s part of the current plan and let them (not the town) pay for 24 Hour Fitness memberships if they want to work out.


Apple
Atherton: other
on Nov 21, 2017 at 3:32 pm
Apple, Atherton: other
on Nov 21, 2017 at 3:32 pm

@Rent

The police can't use 24 Hour Fitness for several reasons. 1) They don't allow some law enforcement tactical training exercises there. 2) The police can't respond to emergencies quickly when they get the call when located in another city. 3) Hiring police officers is a competitive market. The more amenities Atherton offer employees, the less costly it is to hire them.


Ratherton
Atherton: other
on Nov 22, 2017 at 10:37 pm
Ratherton, Atherton: other
on Nov 22, 2017 at 10:37 pm

If we'd finally shift our police services over to the sheriff's department, we could maintain a sheriff's sub-station in the new civic center, ax the gymnasium from the pans, and keep the trees.


More misdirection
Atherton: other
on Nov 23, 2017 at 8:25 am
More misdirection, Atherton: other
on Nov 23, 2017 at 8:25 am

@Apple – You know that having a gym is not required for police officers in California. Training is different than a gym. Training can be done in many places, including the park. You know this because on the one hand, your post seems to suggest it's mandatory, yet you conclude by admitting it's a hiring inducement, which clearly implies not everyone offers it. Atherton police officers are paid quite well, especially relative to the risks of the particular job in Atherton. We don't need to build a $55M town center as a hiring inducement.


Don't miss out on the discussion!
Sign up to be notified of new comments on this topic.

Post a comment

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