The owner of the CitiBank building on the corner of California Avenue and El Camino Real has withdrawn his permit to have two mature redwoods cut down, Mike Sartor, City of Palo Alto public works director, said Tuesday.
The two stately, 2.5-foot-diameter trees are located near the parking lot behind Citibank, which sits on the south corner of El Camino Real and California Avenue. Notices appeared on Nov. 14 informing the public that the trees were scheduled to be taken down by the Public Works Department no sooner than Nov. 28.
The city issued the removal permit after learning that conditions met the Palo Alto tree ordinance. The trees and their roots had caused cracks in the building foundation and walls, had broken a water line, were lifting the public sidewalk, and were likely to make things worse as the trees continued to grow, city officials noted in a Nov. 15 press release.
The trees were to be replaced as part of an overall landscaping and parking reconfiguration for the site, city officials said.
A residents' group, Friends of California Avenue, sent a protest letter by email to city officials, which kicked into gear a requirement for the property owner to hold public-outreach meetings. The issue could have been heard before the City Council, Sartor said.
On Monday, Nov. 19, city officials met with the property owner and an engineer, Sartor said. After exploring their options, the owner indicated that a water line that was damaged by the trees' roots would be relocated, and a gas-service line would also be moved with assistance from the city, he said.
The owner will still need to get a street-work permit from the building department, he said.
Tree removal is a sensitive issue along California Avenue since more than 50 mature street trees were cut down in September 2009 in the retail district, with little warning to businesses and residents. Even though new trees were planned as replacements, public outrage ensued at the trees' sudden disappearance. City leaders vowed to institute policies that would prevent a repeat incident.
City officials rescinded the permit on Nov. 15 to allow staff to explore safety issues and alternatives to tree removal.