By Stuart Soffer
Is it easier to get a permit to remove 62 trees than 1 tree in Menlo Park?Uploaded: Nov 12, 2013
Menlo Park has a heritage tree ordinance to preserve the stock of healthy trees from premature extraction. Portions of the ordinance were contentious in the past when reducing the objective thresholds to be considered a 'heritage' tree.
The usual course of action for residents to get a permit for removing a heritage tree is via the Environmental Quality Commission (EQC). However for safety issues and emergencies the city arborist can approve a permit for issuance over the counter at city hall.
However, larger development projects also have the step of Planning Commission review. Last week the planning commission reviewed a request to remove 62 up on Sharon Park Drive apartments. Since this application was primarily for building renovations, the approval of tree removals went first the EQC, then to the planning commission.
From my experience the Planning Commission assures that there is a replacement plan as part of the landscaping. The removal of trees is coupled with one-for-one 'replacement.'
I suspect it's easier to remove 62 as part of a large redevelopment project than one tree. Menlo Park once publicized a list of permits granted and denied, but this is no longer on the city's web site.
Is it easier to remove 62 trees or 1?
What's your experience?
Speaking of trees, another tree topic is the forestation of El Camino. Over 12 years ago then Councilmember Chuck Kinney launched a privately funded effort called Trees For Menlo to plant trees along the sidewalks and center island of El Camino, from Palo Alto to Atherton. A few weeks ago driving towards Atherton I remarked on how great the section from Oak Grove to Valparaiso looked, planted trees now approaching mature growth.
Results on other blocks of El Camino have been good, but less dramatic. At the time some shop owners didn't want the trees in front of their establishments because it could block signage. However the opportunity to visibly enhance El Camino returns with the new applications for El Camino development.