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Respect for Redwoods

Original post made by Megan McCaslin on Sep 13, 2007

I'm sorry but I just don't buy it: A person's allergies - suspect at best - are so severe that two majestic redwoods must go? I question a doctor who would write such a diagnosis and I am furious at the me-first attitude of the homeowners. Aren't there other solutions to allergies - medications, shots, moving? These trees - 95" and 75" !! - deserve our respect and reverence. We must be stewards of our enviroment, not bulldozers. These trees represent what is best about just about everything in life - longevity, beauty, constancy, endurance, resilience. Where is the homeowners' sense of perspective.....should we just dispose of THEM when they're old and in the way? If the city agrees to accept this bogus excuse, it will have repercussions long after these two trees are gone. It says more about the direction of our collective mindset than I like to consider. I am appalled.

Comments (20)

Posted by Terry, a resident of Midtown
on Sep 13, 2007 at 2:37 pm

Megan, take a deep breath. They are trees. Made of wood. Just two of them. On someone's private property. Not historic, folkloric, endangered or anything else that makes them so special except they happen to be a big species. If they were maples, no one would blink. If they were eucalyptus, some people would cheer! Make yourself feel better - plant a couple of redwoods in your own front yard this afternoon.



Posted by Dauntel, a resident of Barron Park
on Sep 13, 2007 at 2:44 pm

"respect and reverence"....for trees?!

Um..I guess I missed the lecture in ethics class... when trees are "old and in the way" it probably is a good idea to dispose of them. For people on the other hand, it's probably not a good idea. Trees and people aren't the same, and don't have the same moral status. In fact, trees don't have any moral status. They're..um..trees. And no matter how much you attempt to anthropomorphize them, they're still..trees.

[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


Posted by Kevin, a resident of Professorville
on Sep 13, 2007 at 3:05 pm

If we want MORE redwoods planted in PA, then get rid of the protective tree status. Same for oaks. Why would a property owner plant protected trees? It would constraim him/her from full use of their property in the future.

CANOPY needs to get a grip. They are completely off base with respect to their protected tree ordinance. In fact, they are working against their own interests.


Posted by Marvin, a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Sep 13, 2007 at 3:11 pm

Megan--you question the allergies that the Bonomi's have and you question the honesty of the doctor that provided the note. Do you have any proof to suggest that they acted in a dishonest manner.
All I am reading in your post is innuendo and unsubstantiated accusations. [Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


Posted by janet, a resident of Crescent Park
on Sep 13, 2007 at 5:07 pm

Right on, Megan. This is sick. That doctor should be ashamed of himself. The Weekly is right, anyone who tries this stunt should have to provide concrete medical test results, which are then independently reviewed.

This whole thing is obviously bogus, re the long string of every excuse under the sun before they came up with the "medical" one.


Posted by Greeny, a resident of Community Center
on Sep 13, 2007 at 6:19 pm

I'm with Janet, every citizen who wants to interact with the city should have to provide full medical records to City officials. It may not be allergy in every case, but there always is the possible question of mental illness of citizens who want something from city hall. Who better to judge the sanity of our residents than city hall bureaucrats?

[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


Posted by Lois, a resident of Midtown
on Sep 13, 2007 at 6:47 pm

Kevin you are absolutely right. Because Redwood and Oak trees are protected I would never plant one in my yard because I couldn't take it down if I wanted to. The ordinance is a deterrent to planting Oaks and Redwoods.

Since Redwood trees are so shallow rooted and subject to crashing down in high winds I wonder if Megan is willing to pay for any damaged to life or property caused by falling redwood trees.

Personally, I believe in individual property rights; all residents should have the right to plant or remove trees on their own property.


Posted by Another Observer, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 13, 2007 at 9:31 pm

Lets ban all tree cutting, weed killing,grass cutting, etc. They are part of the natural enviroment and destroying them is bad.

Since when do people in Palo Alto have a right to control what is on their property? Only big developers like Greenbelt Alliance should have that right.


Posted by bikes2work, a resident of Santa Rita (Los Altos)
on Sep 13, 2007 at 10:19 pm

They are protected and beautiful trees. Look at a satellite or aerial map of Palo Alto and the vicinity. It is easy to do with Google or live.com. It is amazing to see the difference between Palo Alto and many of the surrounding communities. The heritage tree ordinance was written for a reason. If you don't love trees, why did you move here?

I think Megan is right. Take a bike ride down Lowell. There are redwoods all around that neighborhood. How are the Bonomis going to avoid them all? Why are the redwoods next door any less threatening to their allergies? That doctor's excuse is totally bogus. The City should demand a second opinion.


Posted by Terry, a resident of Midtown
on Sep 14, 2007 at 1:08 am

B2W, I don't know about the Bonomis and their trees, so won't speculate what they might do. But dude, bike around anywhere in PA - there a lot of trees! And not many are redwoods (and not so many oaks either, in the scheme of things). And, as others have pointed out, the ordinace protecting is typically short-sighted - not many people are going to plant a tree that they can never take down! We have lots of OTHER trees, not protected, because we are a mature, wealthy community, and, at least partly as a result, well-treed. The idea we need govt regulation to "protect the trees" seems utterly goofy to me.

And, fwiw, I didn't move here because I loved trees - if trees were what I really wanted, I'd move to the forest (or up on Skyline at least). I came for the people. And if the people want to take out a couple of trees on their property, I'm ok with it.


Posted by resident, a resident of another community
on Sep 14, 2007 at 9:46 am

Palo Alto became "well-treed" long before there were any tree protections put in place (very recently). The idea that this so-called "loophole" will cause a rush of trees to be cut down is completely illogical. And the idea that they should be protected is counter-intuitive. I agree with the earlier posts ....

"If we want MORE redwoods planted in PA, then get rid of the protective tree status. Same for oaks. Why would a property owner plant protected trees? It would constraim him/her from full use of their property in the future." FOREVER. Who among us deigns to be so perfect as to pick the exact best position for a tree forever?

"CANOPY needs to get a grip. They are completely off base with respect to their protected tree ordinance. In fact, they are working against their own interests." Well stated.

It's time to stop creating regulations based on emotions and start focusing on real problems that face the city. Get over it.






Posted by another resident/shopper, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 14, 2007 at 10:03 am

Lets have respect for property rights!!! Our country was founded based on property rights. It's one of the most important freedoms we have.

Would you or your childred go to war fighting for our freedoms then come home to find out you couldn't use your property because others in the neighborhood didn't like what you might want to do even though they may be doing it. "You can't build a house because there is a tree there"

PROTECT PROPERTY RIGHTS is a bigger issue than protecting trees.

Look at the Rickys Hyatte development where every tree in the interior was cut down.


Posted by Palo alto mom, a resident of Community Center
on Sep 14, 2007 at 10:42 am

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


Posted by An Observer, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 15, 2007 at 10:59 pm

To all the people complaing of the person who owns the redwood tree :

How many rewood trees have you planted? In none, Why not?

Why don't you buy some local land and plant a forest of them?

Got all of your money in the stock market instead?
Do you even own any property?


Posted by PA mom, a resident of Community Center
on Sep 16, 2007 at 12:06 pm

I have not planted any redwoods but I am lucky enough to have 9 heritage oak trees on our property. They are beautiful and cost me money to take care of.

I find it both silly that someone would buy a lot with trees, build a house, then decide to get their doctor [portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff] to write them a note "excusing them" from destroying them. They should not have purchased the property in the first place...


Posted by Terry, a resident of Midtown
on Sep 16, 2007 at 1:55 pm

Well, Mom, looks like they were right not to take your advice. They bought the property they wanted AND got to cut the trees down.

While I happen to think the "heritage" tree idea is kind of silly, I think the root (sorry for the pun) issue is interesting. Is the lesson here that when the city thinks (or is told by the City attorney) that it could get sued and lose, they just back down? I can think of issues where is like or hate what they did, but the driver was fear of lawsuit more than good public policy. Do others think that is the case?


Posted by Reality, a resident of South of Midtown
on Sep 16, 2007 at 2:23 pm

Redwood trees are like any other. They need to come down if they are a danger. Mine have snapped off huge branches, not once, not twice, but thrice.

Each time we were very lucky and only a car was damaged (one completely totaled!) from the impact of the falling branch.

If you try to control it by topping them, they grow several more branches that are very weak, and are more likely to fall off.

So, you top them, then have to keep paying thousands of dollars to keep topping them to keep the ones that grow from falling.

I would dearly love to remove mine, and replace them with trees that aren't so tall, brittle and potentially deadly.

I highly recommend not planting any since you can't get rid of them when they get scary.


Posted by PA mom, a resident of Community Center
on Sep 16, 2007 at 3:40 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


Posted by Marvin, a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Sep 16, 2007 at 6:20 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


Posted by Resident, a resident of another community
on Sep 16, 2007 at 10:58 pm

Reality has made a very important point. If the Weekly even bothered to read the public record, they would have reported that the very trees in question had a "number of large limbs that have fallen over the (11) years." Oops, the Weekly forgot to mention that one. (Wait, how long have they lived there? Wasn't that before any tree ordinances covering oaks or redwoods?)

How about this? Both trees had been topped. Must have overlooked that, too. And what was that about topped trees becoming even more of a problem?

Oh, and what about the insect infestation, dieback infection, and the trees cannot be repaired?

How about the neighbors on either side who said that the novelty of falling limbs was a little old? The neighbors who helped clean up the fallen limbs. The ones who said they were lucky no one was injured.

If you start to look at the facts, it should make you wonder what was actually true in the Weekly article at all. More important, you might wonder what (or who) motivated the Weekly to write an article based on so little fact.

It's truly unfortunate to see how little the public truly understands about redwood trees.


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