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New golf course to uproot 500 trees in the Baylands

Original post made on Jun 27, 2013

An ambitious overhaul of Palo Alto's golf course in the Baylands scored another victory Wednesday night when the city's planning commissioners gave the project a nod of endorsement despite concerns about a proposed gym at the golf course site and a planned removal of 500 trees.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Thursday, June 27, 2013, 9:39 AM

Comments (50)

Posted by CrescentParkAnon., a resident of Crescent Park
on Jun 27, 2013 at 10:37 am

> "I think it has no place there in the Baylands," Panelli said, noting that the area is zoned for open space. "I just can't get my head around that."

Yes ... and why is this being done ?

Is there any kind of vision statement from our city government as to what it is they are supposed to be working towards in the future in Palo Alto. Do local people have absolutely no consideration and development just goes on and on not matter what? That does not seem like a city government that is doing a good job to me, or its job at all - unless it is to be bribed into complicity.


Posted by PolicySage, a resident of Barron Park
on Jun 27, 2013 at 10:48 am

It must be very frustrating for those interested in the importance of the urban canopy to see trees being sacrificed to suit the desires of golfing enthusiasts.


Posted by mzmiranda, a resident of Menlo Park
on Jun 27, 2013 at 10:51 am

Who stands to profit from the gym? Where's the money? I don't understand who wouid drive out there to use a gym. Let's have some transparency here.

Whose idea is the gym?

Who profits?

Who would be served?


Posted by anon, a resident of Evergreen Park
on Jun 27, 2013 at 10:52 am

Was there any discussion about plans to trade the 7+ acres adjacent to foot hill park that was gifted by a family to the city to be added to Foothill park (and adjacent to Mr. Arrillaga's property in the Hills) to Mr. Arrillaga?

He has proposed the city give him the 7+ acres in trade for constructing soccer fields and the "shell" of the gym that are proposed for the golf course site.


Posted by observer, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jun 27, 2013 at 10:56 am

The entire project is a disaster waiting to happen. OK, create the three playing fields and remove the trees there. But, upgrade the golf course; don't redo it. And, forget the gym. No room. Plus, does anyone ever consider the increased traffic, parking problems and polution created by these proposals?


Posted by CrescentParkAnon., a resident of Crescent Park
on Jun 27, 2013 at 10:58 am

Anything out in the Baylands is an ugly inferior mess thanks to the Palo Alto airport.

Can anyone imagine Palo Alto as an outstanding golf course ... Pebble Beach, Spyglass Hill, Torrey Pines ..... Palo Alto .... LOL!

Like they say in capitalism, golf is not the highest best use of our bay-front property, ESPECIALLY BECAUSE A FRICKIN AIRPLANE IS FLYING OVER JUST ABOUT EVERY MINUTE OR TWO.

It is over-emphasizing golf which whatever in Palo Alto happens, Palo Alto is not going to be the center of golf in the Bay Area SO - it is not worth sacrificing our environment to make changes which would be stupid - except someone has to the money to grease the skids and force it through.

Building places where you are intending to enjoy outdoor activities right next to an airport that generates hearing damaging noise for nearly the whole day is nothing short of idiotic.


Posted by Anon, a resident of Evergreen Park
on Jun 27, 2013 at 11:00 am

It would be interesting to know what the value of the soccer fields and the "shell" of a building ( which may be in an inappropriate location ) is compared to the 7+ acres that a family left ( in their will i think ?? ) to be added to a Foothill park that the city staff is planning on trading away.

Parkland in PA can only be changed to another purpose (undedicated) by a majority vote of residents.


Posted by Here come the bulldozers, a resident of Crescent Park
on Jun 27, 2013 at 11:05 am

Commission Chair Eduardo Martinez shared the concerns but voted for the project anyway.
500 trees to be removed to make space for construction.
The city seems corrupt from top to bottom.


Posted by Wayne Martin, a resident of Fairmeadow
on Jun 27, 2013 at 11:12 am

A gym? Why is this crazy idea getting traction?

This whole process is out-of-control.


Posted by anon, a resident of Evergreen Park
on Jun 27, 2013 at 11:26 am

Not sure if the family that left the land, nearly 8 acres, to the city to be added to Foothill Park knew Mr. Arrillaga; but seems like if they wanted to gift the land to a neighbor they would have done so..... Hope there are some survivors to see that the final wishes are respected.


Posted by anon2, a resident of Green Acres
on Jun 27, 2013 at 12:03 pm

@policysage,
And meanwhile, not a peep about the 90 fruit trees and 2 giant oaks that will come out as a result of the Maybell fiasco. (Suddenly, those 2 giant oaks are not healthy enough to be saved, conveniently the ones the developer most needs to disappear.)

Neighbors have been asking the City to turn the Maybell property into a low-traffic Community Orchard/park, and help relocate the planned project to a more transit-friendly location. (Referendum signature gathering starts Saturday, I think.)


Posted by Paul Losch, a resident of Community Center
on Jun 27, 2013 at 12:27 pm

Paul Losch is a registered user.

Think of the Baylands as a recreational complex. Baseball field, softball field, golf course, playing fields for soccer, lacrosse and the like, plus a gym where the old PASCO trash trucks used to be parked, directly adjacent to the baseball field, and across Geng Road from the 10 acres of land proposed in the golf course re-design.

There is no question that Palo Alto suffers from a shortage of playing fields and gym space. That set of problems is well documented, and has been that way for years, despite some improvements.

There also is no question that as a built-out community, the options for where to add new recreational facilities are limited at best. It would be great to get a new gym west of Hiway 101, and just where would the space for such a facility be?

Imagine a recreational complex that provides venues for the numerous and growing demands for different athletic endeavors Palo Altans, kids and adults. The alternative? An unacceptable status quo. Someone who questions the merits of this concept should offer up another approach, not merely pooh pooh what is being discussed.


Posted by the_punnisher, a resident of Mountain View
on Jun 27, 2013 at 12:37 pm

the_punnisher is a registered user.

Solve two problems at once! Listen to the late George Carlin's " Golf Courses for the homeless "!

Web Link


( warning: explicit dialog )

Several TRUTHS about the history of Palo Alto are mentioned in the dialog. Some I've mentioned before on this forum.


Posted by Incredulous, a resident of Meadow Park
on Jun 27, 2013 at 12:56 pm

500 trees killed? That's insane? Who bribed whom?


Posted by oh please, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 27, 2013 at 1:02 pm

No one complained when they destroyed all those trees in the way of the new Mitchell Park Library.


Posted by Tulach Ard!, a resident of Stanford
on Jun 27, 2013 at 1:04 pm

This is a really bad idea, and it may be ( probably is) illegal.

Several years ago, a San Jose developer wanted badly to build a golf course and condos in Alviso, in the Don Edwards Open Space Bird Refuge. he offered a lot of money, way more that the marshy land was worth. But the city of SJ, Santa Clara County, and even the state of CA governments stopped the developer from doing it, and threatened him with monumental fines that even HE could not afford.

Once an area becomes "open space". It can never be developed. Period. The end.


Posted by Paul Losch, a resident of Community Center
on Jun 27, 2013 at 1:18 pm

Paul Losch is a registered user.

I have one additional observation about open space. A place that has been a parking lot for garbage trucks and is adjoined by office buildings on two of its three sides is not a pristine spot, and it does no have any trees. We can do better with that lot.


Posted by Hmmm, a resident of East Palo Alto
on Jun 27, 2013 at 1:20 pm

Anyone else appreciating the irony of a golf course planner named Forrest?

It's projects like these that are rife w/environmental concerns - which affect people beyond city limits. It's hard to balance recreational needs of a growth area w/environmental necessities, but removing such a high number of trees makes it more difficult. Obviously, the trees have been neglected, making it easier to decide to remove them. Why weren't they taken care of previously? 10 years is a long time for the new trees to make a needed difference in the area.

Kudos to the JPA for the habitat restoration - seeing that in various areas of the baylands is wonderful.

This project sounds mixed - some good stuff, some bad - resulting in what the "VIPs" are hoping to have - an ego boost based on the Wow factor & more crowding, more cars. Why must every recreation area be constantly crowded w/people to be considered of value? Is this Palo Alto feeling left in the dust by Menlo's recreational "improvements"?


Posted by Robert, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 27, 2013 at 2:00 pm

Another worse-than-worthless project approved by the Planning Commission. Destroying 500 trees so that golfers can whack their little spheres on a more modern course?! What this shows is that Palo Alto, completely in love with itself, has really not come very far at all in developing a consciousness that values unspoiled nature as important to our psychic and spiritual well-being. This town is being destroyed by more and more dense development day after day, bringing more and more frayed nerves, more and more traffic, requiring new parking structures, which means either (a) tearing down existing buildings that may have some character and replacing them with faceless sterile parking structures, or (b) building on hitherto undeveloped land.
It's enough to make one vomit.


Posted by PA Resident, a resident of Los Altos
on Jun 27, 2013 at 2:21 pm

Who benefits from the gym? Everyone. People get healthier, less medical bills, lower insurance, people are happier being healthier.


Posted by CrescentParkAnon., a resident of Crescent Park
on Jun 27, 2013 at 2:21 pm

IT WOULD BE A GREAT IDEA TO LOOK AT USING THE BAYLANDS FOR RECREATION, I'VE BEEN SAYING THAT HERE FOR A LONG TIME NOW.

HOWEVER - PUTTING A RECREATIONAL FACILITY WHERE THERE IS A SEWAGE TREATMENT FACILITY THAT STINKS AND AN AIRPORT THAT PUTS AIRPLANES CONSTANTLY OVERHEAD DOES NOT COMPUTE.

GET RID OF THE AIRPORT, THAT IS A START TOWARDS SOME KIND OF RATIONALITY.

START TO TAKE CARE OF THE BAYLANDS AND PUT SOME RANGERS OUT THERE SO PEOPLE CAN BE SAFE.

A GOLF COURSE IS A WATER INTENSIVE BUST IN TERMS OF RECREATION AND EVEN STILL PALO ALTO GOLF IS A POOR USE OF LAND IN TERMS OF USAGE FOR THE AVERAGE PALO ALTAN.

WHEN PAUL LOSCH IS SAYING RECREATION HE MEANS BUSINESS REALLY, THAT'S ALL.


Posted by Elliott, a resident of Professorville
on Jun 27, 2013 at 2:26 pm

The City has to do what it knows how to do. And, we all know the City really knows how to cut trees.


Posted by Paul Losch, a resident of Community Center
on Jun 27, 2013 at 2:36 pm

Paul Losch is a registered user.

CPA,

The sewage treatment plant and the airport have many issues that attend them, definitely affects the golf course, as they have for years.

A bona fide recreational complex along Geng Road, close to HiWay 101, presents different issues that IMHO must be distinguished from issues around things further along Embarcadero Road.


Posted by Stan, a resident of Southgate
on Jun 27, 2013 at 3:11 pm

Only Paul Losch seems the voice of reason on this topic.

I sincerely doubt the negative opinions offered on this and other Palo Alto Online topics represent the feelings of a vast majority of Palo Altans. I believe consistent voting results and in-depth surveys by the City Auditor deliver a more balanced, and favorable, message.


Posted by Ex-Pat, a resident of Mountain View
on Jun 27, 2013 at 3:16 pm

We moved to Mountain View (cheaper too)


Posted by boscoli, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jun 27, 2013 at 3:33 pm

For the Baylands to have any any recreational and environmental value, the airport must be shut down. Its shutdown is also absolutely necessary if Palo Alto is ever to regain its soul.


Posted by Brian, a resident of Evergreen Park
on Jun 27, 2013 at 4:24 pm

I want to speak to one comment I saw several times on this thread. Gym space in Palo Alto is quite limited compared to needs. For several years, I have been associated with the main youth basketball league (NJB) in Palo Alto. The main problem we have had during that time is finding gym space for practices and games. For a couple of those years, we actually had to lease a few nights a week at Canada College; many people had to travel there for practices. We also use the Mid Peninsula HS gym in Menlo Park/East PA. Our gym space at the middle schools is expensive, and is often canceled at the last minute by competing uses. Of course, there are many other teams (school and non-school) competing for the available space in winter, especially volleyball. I also want to make the point (because I know the people on PAOnline will comment negatively) that all (well, at least 98%) of the kids who are in PANJB are Palo Alto children. During games on Sundays, they will be playing teams from surrounding areas.


Posted by Brian, a resident of Evergreen Park
on Jun 27, 2013 at 4:35 pm

I should have mentioned that PA NJB generally has 40-45 10-member teams for kids in grades 3-8.


Posted by anon2, a resident of Green Acres
on Jun 27, 2013 at 4:36 pm

@ Brian,
Is way out at the Baylands really the best, most environmentally friendly place to put a gym? Just asking...


Posted by Nora Charles, a resident of Stanford
on Jun 27, 2013 at 5:03 pm

Hmmmm,
That name IS ironic indeed!

The war on trees in Palo Alto continues. This is just sickening.


Posted by sad, a resident of Palo Verde
on Jun 27, 2013 at 5:06 pm

What I read about the trees, albeit not complete, was that there are "X" iconic and healthy trees, the remaining are in poor health or at the end of their lifetime. Of those "X", 80% will be retained.
It would be nice to know what that "X" is and compare it to the 500 other trees that would be removed.
Also, 500 sounds like a huge number, but where and how big are they? I don't believe, but would like to know for sure, that the 500 are all 50+ feet, 3-foot diameter trees. Most are possibly much smaller. I think the key issue is not that 500 will be removed, but how many and where will be replaced? Trees appropriate to the bayland, tidal marsh, windy environment? It does not mean that it will be barren.
Finally, what is most troubling to me is that there are so many people who have been frustrated by the city for so long that they immediately think the worst of any project - incompetent, corrupt, bribery, give-away, worse than worthless, destroyed by development, vomit, etc were all used to describe this. How sad. PLEASE - I am not saying your feelings are invalid. Only that a potentially large segment of our citizens are so negatively polarized. We seem to have become a microcosm of the Senate and House. Yet I myself and not sure how to make it beter.


Posted by Ira, a resident of Monroe Park
on Jun 27, 2013 at 5:52 pm

There is no war on trees in Palo Alto, where we have more trees than most communities. The number of trees is not even the most important metric; the square feet of leaf space might be a better number to discuss. All trees are not equal. Trying to save a sick tree planted in an inappropriate habitat is futile. If the trees can be replaced with equivalents in more suitable locations then I am in favor of it.


Posted by Bobbie, a resident of Esther Clark Park
on Jun 27, 2013 at 5:54 pm

It's OK if they replace the failing trees with all new trees that will do better. Or is it just money trees they're after?


Posted by David , a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 27, 2013 at 7:21 pm

The soil growing conditions at the golf course do not allow for many significantly large trees. The tree's roots grow down into the bay salt and kill those species that don't tolerate these salts. Replacing the trees is a great option and will allow the designers to place appropriate trees in correct locations. The typical ratio for mitigation is 3:1 or 4:1. This means that 1,500 to 2,000 trees must be replanted. There is no way that a smaller golf course can accommodate this quantity. Looking for other locations like the foothills is a great idea and will benefit our open space preserves and parks. For all the nay sayers, the golf course has lost MANY trees in the last 10-20 years during wet and windy conditions of winter. No one complained when Mother Nature removed all those years ago (100+).


Posted by David , a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 27, 2013 at 7:21 pm

The soil growing conditions at the golf course do not allow for many significantly large trees. The tree's roots grow down into the bay salt and kill those species that don't tolerate these salts. Replacing the trees is a great option and will allow the designers to place appropriate trees in correct locations. The typical ratio for mitigation is 3:1 or 4:1. This means that 1,500 to 2,000 trees must be replanted. There is no way that a smaller golf course can accommodate this quantity. Looking for other locations like the foothills is a great idea and will benefit our open space preserves and parks. For all the nay sayers, the golf course has lost MANY trees in the last 10-20 years during wet and windy conditions of winter. No one complained when Mother Nature removed all those years ago (100+).


Posted by Trees are more important, a resident of Midtown
on Jun 27, 2013 at 7:34 pm

Trees are good. People are evil. The most important thing I n palo alto are trees. Trees should never be removed for any reason , no matter what the condition of the tree or th danger it ay present. If a tree falls and crushes a child or a home-- it is the child or homes fault for being in the wrong location.


Posted by jk, a resident of University South
on Jun 28, 2013 at 2:29 am

I always thought walking through the Baylands in its quiet and subtle habitat was like seeing an impressionist landscape painting. I was reminded of Claude Monet. That was plenty Wow enough for me.


Posted by musical, a resident of Palo Verde
on Jun 28, 2013 at 4:11 am

I enjoy the Baylands also, except it's closed and off-limits half the time, like between sunset and sunrise.


Posted by CrescentParkAnon., a resident of Crescent Park
on Jun 28, 2013 at 4:19 am

Speaking about the Palo Alto ethos concerning trees, and most of the government policies, there is no real logic, metrics, goals or mission statement by which to measure actions - that is why the city government is bad and can get away with all this nonsense.

On the one hand, if anyone in Palo Alto wants to get rid of a tree and they go to get permission they are told that most trees are heritage trees and must remain in place.

Unless it's the city, and they can clear cut vast swaths of the city, for their own motives, or in support or some other interests that never gets revealed. They can declare trees sick and cut them down.

The city's policy's seems overtly braindead - calculatedly, so there is nothing anyone can point to as having been violated in letter or spirit and the public has no power and no recourse.

We like trees, but even stuff we like must be managed. I don't begrudge some of the work the city has done on trees. Along San Antonio Avenue it looked bleak and was hot and too bright to drive, but that area needed a change - it seemed necessary and it is being landscaped and starting to grow in.

Chopping up California street, well - maybe not so much ... it's pretty bad.

But some of the trees in Palo Alto are TOO big. I have a giant sequoia tree just to the south of my house that leaves most of my front yard and roof in the shadows all day. It makes solar power on my roof impossible. That tree and some others should go, but if you leave it up to people I guess the city thinks we will cut down all the trees.

Trees are more important than people, unless you are the city and then money is more important than trees, or anything else.

Has anyone gone out there and walked around? Go out there with a friend and take a walk one day. See if you can hold a conversation over the noise of the planes taking off and landing. I was out there the other morning and a plane was going by once every minute or two almost the whole time I was there. I really do not understand what fun people get from going out to the Palo Alto range and playing golf?

Mountain View did pretty well in the 80's building Shoreline Park ... and Palo Alto's bay front still looks like a dump - but we do not even get the benefits of having the dump there any longer.


Posted by curmudgeon, a resident of Downtown North
on Jun 28, 2013 at 9:29 am

"The alternative?"

Close the airport and open the land for the community.


Posted by Rhymer Robbie, a resident of Evergreen Park
on Jun 28, 2013 at 9:46 pm

Stoopid beyond belief! Who would go so far out of their way to attend a gym in the Baylands?? Who in the world wants to p,ay golf on a course with so much overhead noise?

Get real, get smart, and nip this loser in the bud!


Posted by Paul Losch, a resident of Community Center
on Jun 29, 2013 at 8:03 am

Regarding a potential gym...

Is driving to the Baylands better or worse than going out of town? That is what is going on right now.

I rest my case.


Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 29, 2013 at 10:48 am

I presume the gym is a basketball gym and not a fitness center?

The more adult facilities that can be moved to the Baylands the more the local facilities will be available for our kids who can bike there.

If we are serious about making the Baylands a center for athletics, then we need to make it more of an attractive option. A coffee shop at the very least, but a small restaurant would be great. I know that the snack shack used by Babe Ruth provides snacks to raise money, but unless every group can organize a snack shack team, then we need a better option with regular hours. It is quite interesting that with the golf course, car dealerships, airport and many office complexes that there isn't already a Starbucks out there anyway.


Posted by Samuel, a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Jun 29, 2013 at 1:47 pm

This stinks of corruption.


Posted by Anonymous, a resident of Evergreen Park
on Jun 30, 2013 at 11:37 am

If you guys don't stop removing trees, then Palo Alto it's going to have to change it's name because it won't be applicable to this area without trees.


Posted by Not a good smell, a resident of Crescent Park
on Jun 30, 2013 at 11:58 am

Funny how plans for development suddenly discover that trees are "diseased."
What's diseased is the moneymaking mentality that's running the show. The obsession with development is truly a mental obsession.
Just because the planners wear sincere masks doesn't mean there isn't money behind the mask.
Samuel said it right:This stinks of corruption.


Posted by Paul Losch, a resident of Community Center
on Jun 30, 2013 at 8:19 pm

Paul Losch is a registered user.

Where's the corruption? I can see neglect by those responsible for the golf course over the years not dealing with dying and inappropriate trees, and to suggest that is corrupt as the golf course is re-designed is disingenuous.

This golf course re-design is being done to make sure that SF Creek does not back up the way it did during the El Nino storm of 15 years ago, 1998. Millions of dollars of damage to property. Homes ruined.

My main complaint is why has it taken so long? I guess we have another 85 years before the next hundred year storm.


Posted by Ken, a resident of Barron Park
on Jul 1, 2013 at 2:09 pm

If 500 trees are to be removed, why the heck is one eucalyptus being spared? The eucalyptus tree is non-native and extremely messy. It is also very flammable and prone to falling down in a storm. Take that invasive tree out and replace it with a beautiful California native.


Posted by Sigh, a resident of East Palo Alto
on Jul 2, 2013 at 11:07 am

More traffic to cope with when going to and from home.... Sigh......


Posted by Robert, a resident of another community
on Jul 3, 2013 at 1:52 pm

Caveat: I am a golfer and do not live in Palo Alto. Perhaps you consider these "strike one" and "strike two," but I'll try to be as objective as possible.

First off, read the report. Most people are freaking out over the "500 trees are going to be cut down" when many of those trees are a mess and not in good shape. In addition, for the expansion of the creek (to try to prevent disastrous flooding), many of those trees have to go, as they border the creek. The new design requires a TON less water, and will have modern computer-controlled equipment to ensure there's less water waste.

On the golf side, I only play Palo Alto a couple times a year (at best) - I play about 40 total rounds a year. Why? The course is awful. No imagination and not well maintained. The only reason I play it occasionally is because it's cheap. I'm willing to spend more money on a better course, particularly one with the proposed design. No "serious" golfer plays Palo Alto because of the reasons above and that it's not challenging. Many courses in the area are packed, even with higher prices than Palo Alto and that's because they're interesting, challenging, and well-maintained. Check out Poplar in San Mateo as an example of a well-run, busy course.

Yes, a golf course is a luxury item, but an excellent golf course can be a good money-maker for the city. Build it and they will come.


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