HEY, WHO CUT THE TREES? ... The final throes of city work removing trees along University Avenue is finally beginning this month, after arborists deferred the work so that the removals could come closer to the replanting of the trees. The city's contractor, West Coast Arborists, began removing trees along University Avenue — between Middlefield Road and San Francisquito Creek — near the East Palo Alto border on Dec. 4, and if all goes well, they'll be done Dec. 16. If you're hoping to sleep during the weekdays, think again. The workers will be out bright and early, 7 a.m., and finish at 5 p.m. Efforts will be taken not to create traffic problems, according to the city. Twenty-five of the trees along the corridor have been marked for execution, most of them Southern Magnolias, and all of them are dead, dying, decayed or poorly located. Eleven of the trees will be replaced.
OFFICER OFFERINGS ... Christmas is less than three weeks away, and in East Palo Alto, Santa Claus may be wearing a uniform. The East Palo Alto Police Department is asking for new or unwrapped toys, gift cards or monetary donations for needy families in East Palo Alto. The donations can be mailed to Officer Veronica Barries at the East Palo Alto Police Department, located at 141 Demeter St., up until Dec. 20. Contributions are tax-deductible. Presumably officers will not be slipping down the chimney to deliver these gifts themselves — that'd be a violation of the Fourth Amendment.
BRIGHT MINDS ... Palo Alto High School student Sidhanth Venkatasubramaniam, Gunn High School student Emily Wang and Castilleja School students Ayesha Bajwa and Smriti Pramanick are among 15 Californians named regional finalists in the Siemens Competition in Math, Science & Technology. The Siemens Foundation, which administers the competition, called them "the brightest high school minds in contention for the nation's most coveted teen science prize." The foundation will announce individual and team winners Tuesday, Dec. 10, presenting them with scholarships ranging from $10,000 to $100,000.
FRANCO'S FILM ... Palo Alto native James Franco's collection of short stories, aptly titled "Palo Alto," has been picked up by New York-based distributor Tribeca Film, which is targeting theatrical release of the movie for spring 2014. The first film by Gia Coppola, granddaughter of legendary filmmaker Francis Ford Coppola, follows three storylines: one about a young girl's relationships with her soccer coach (Franco, creepy) and her stoner boyfriend, another about a promiscuous young woman, and a third about the stoner and his wild friend.