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Tuesday: Woodside council hears appeal of $212,500 tree-felling fine

Original post made on Jun 13, 2016

The Woodside Town Council will hear an appeal from a resident on Tuesday, June 14, requesting relief from a fine of $212,500 for having cut down 22 mature oak, bay and madrone trees without havng first obtained a tree-removal permit.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Monday, June 13, 2016, 8:14 AM

Comments (17)

Posted by tree_hugger
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jun 13, 2016 at 12:26 pm

My Libertarian leanings aside, good for Woodside. The environment is a public good and there is a mechanism for redress. One may not like delays, but there are bigger tragedies in life than having to modify plans around trees that actually add value to a property (putting aside the public benefit).

Mr. Koppl: Boooooo! Pay up sir.

Posted by UGH
a resident of Portola Valley: Central Portola Valley
on Jun 13, 2016 at 12:32 pm

So, so, so tired of these jerks moving to our area and then deciding to build monstrosities, destroying the rural character of our little towns. So many friends have moved away now, disheartened by the way Woodside has changed. After selling their (wonderful, well-maintained, well-built) homes and barns on acreage, they find that the new owners have leveled everything, and taken out trees. Plans to build essentially bunkers and hotels await.


Posted by Beth
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jun 13, 2016 at 1:01 pm

Good for you, Woodside! It's time someone representing its citizens acted on the majority's behalf. And that of the living trees and innumerable animals and critters that had their lives ruined.

For too many people, having to "get what they want!" has become too costly for all of us in this once-bucolic place and will only worsen severely if these fines are lessened.

Posted by Melanie
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Jun 13, 2016 at 1:32 pm

There have been several instances in the past when similar large fines have been reduced. I hope they stand tough on this and all future violations. If the Town Council continues to undermine these requirements, the "it's better to seek forgiveness than ask permission" mentality will persist.

Posted by holdfast
a resident of Woodside: Skywood/Skylonda
on Jun 13, 2016 at 1:46 pm

Stand your ground Woodside, once you get the rep for being easy everyone will cut and figure they will get it reduced later. Once you get a rep for being hard you will have less of these problems pop up. Many will think twice over a $200,000 fine verses a $10,000 fine, $10,000 is pocket change, make it hurt and it will stop.

Posted by Janet
a resident of Menlo Park: Stanford Weekend Acres
on Jun 13, 2016 at 2:02 pm

I hope Woodside makes them pay the full fine. It is disgusting the way people come to a beautiful place and then destroy it wholesale just to build a big house

Posted by Alan
a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Jun 13, 2016 at 2:24 pm

It's kind of amazing that he thought he could fell trees in Woodside without a permit. That's just not how it works around here ... It's called "Woodside" for a reason, not "Prairieside".

Posted by SteveC
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Jun 13, 2016 at 2:36 pm

SteveC is a registered user.

People do need to be honest. Sounds like Koppl was a liar to the town staff.

Posted by Jenson
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Jun 13, 2016 at 3:13 pm

212,000 are you kidding. Excessive and out of line. Sure he should have obtained a permit but how many of those trees are really needed. Woodside is full of houses that are over the top and bigger then then then they need to be. Can all his neighbors say they didn't do the same thing?
All those complainers are probably the same people who decided that the water restriction laws do not apply to them and watered their big lawns 4 days a week. Fight that fine and good luck.... You do need to get permits like everyone else though. Do it the right way

Posted by Rick
a resident of Woodside: Family Farm/Hidden Valley
on Jun 13, 2016 at 3:49 pm

As a resident of Woodside who believes the General Plan actually means something, I'm gratified to read the many comments in support of the significant fine imposed on this apparent scofflaw.

However, I have little confidence that the Woodside Council--one that's dominated by pro development members--has the willingness nor courage to reject the appeal. Instead, they'll work assiduously to uncover some minor procedural error committed by either the Town staff or by a Town Board, Commission or committee. Then citing a wish to avoid a potential lawsuit, they'll reduce the fine to some trivial amount. At least, that's what the Council typically does.

It's unfortunate Woodside doesn't elect Council members who respect the environment as much as they do development.

Posted by Life Long Woodside
a resident of Woodside: other
on Jun 13, 2016 at 7:28 pm

I am SICK and TIRED of people moving here and not caring to assimilate to our way of life. The people fretting over illegal immigration forget that what we really need to focus our attention on how easily it is for people to legally immigrate into Woodside. They come from other areas of California, and in many cases, even other STATES. I once met a property owner that was born in Oregon, why are they allowed to move here and buy OUR land?? Was there a community vote to allow these people in? Where is our democracy??

Also, remember, we are moving towards the end of so called private property. People need to accept that. You do not own the trees on "your" land, the community owns them. We should move to a leasehold system where the government owns every parcel and leases it out to residents. This way we can achieve the twin goals of limiting individual's free use land and limiting immigration by preventing people from outside of the community from moving here.

Posted by Menlo Voter.
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jun 13, 2016 at 8:34 pm

Menlo Voter. is a registered user.

Life long woodside:


Posted by Linda
a resident of Menlo Park: Fair Oaks
on Jun 13, 2016 at 8:51 pm

The Woodside region has a biological fabric of trees shrubs creeks and Wildlife and weather impacts. It needs to be managed and protected to maintain its integrity..... for all residents, visitors and surrounding communities.

Posted by [email protected]
a resident of another community
on Jun 13, 2016 at 9:01 pm

I used to commute through the beautiful avenue formed by those old trees and a goat farm on the other side of Woodside Road to go to Palo Alto before Mr arrogant felled all of them and another Mr. Gentleman Farmer removed the herd and planted his vineyard.
A very poor commute at present.
My community is La Honda.

Posted by Retired Realtor
a resident of Woodside: other
on Jun 14, 2016 at 8:20 am

Woodside residents need to show up at the council meeting, or this matter will be met with the same lackadaisical response the council has shown in the past to tree-cutting scofflaws.

Aerial views of the Bay Area show that our Peninsula greenbelt extends from approximately 280 west. Let's keep Woodside GREEN.

Posted by pamom
a resident of Portola Valley: Portola Valley Ranch
on Jun 14, 2016 at 8:42 am

The fines are too low. $212K to someone who wants to build an ego palace - that's just the "cost of doing business". A small percent of the total cost won't bother them. They will still cut down trees and negotiate the fine and be happy they got away with it. Fines need to actually affect the gazillionaires who build these McMansions. Maybe it should go up to $100K per tree after 3 trees illegally cut. Fines at the level MIGHT influence their decisions and change their behavior.

Posted by Woodsider Lifer
a resident of Woodside: Woodside Hills
on Jun 15, 2016 at 10:04 am

Woodsider Lifer is a registered user.

According to testimony at the town council meeting, it was far more than 22 trees removed without a permit. The vacant 3 acre parcel was purchased last year for $7,250,000 and resold at the beginning of this month. The trees were removed to create a building site and access driveway prior to flipping the property. The town council denied the appeal after hearing testimony from the appellant's attorney, civil engineer and arborist. The $212,500.00 fine stands after a unanimous vote by the town council.

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