In response to this high-handed behavior, in the early morning of Nov. 7 a small group of us set out to block their entrance to our little road — until the promises we had been given were kept. We had warned them that this would happen, and so several sheriff's deputies' cars arrived to assure that things remained peaceful. And finally the PG&E folks who had made the plans showed up belatedly — while the tree-cutting crews parked nearby with saws at the ready. This was hardly the level of thoughtful participation we had anticipated. The word "railroading" comes to mind.
And so as I write the saws are working PG&E's will on our trees.
This is all a bit of theater of course. PG&E, having been badly burned by past misbehavior, is making a desperate show of doing something to increase safety. But in the rush it's unclear whether their actions are fully rational. In particular, we wonder why no attention was ever paid to the alternative of undergrounding the wires as has been done in many other places. That alternative was apparently summarily dismissed. But the cost of placing new poles, removing trees, stringing wires, and the perpetual cost of maintaining exposed wiring is also substantial, and no comparison was ever done.
In summary, PG&E's panicky behavior in response to the tragedies their past misbehavior has produced, is, as always, flawed. Let this be a warning to other communities facing similarly stupid behavior: Stay on your toes, and early on force PG&E to consider all possible alternatives. They've proven that they aren't capable of it without citizen pressure.
Severo Ornstein, a pioneering computer scientist, has lived on Bear Gulch Road in Woodside since 1984.
This story contains 478 words.
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