The lot was purchased and subdivided (with the notation that no trees would be removed) The developer removed a lovely home dating back to 1915 and another Heritage Oak that neighbors claim they never received notice from the County about.
Then another notice to remove a Heritage Oak appeared. First we wrote letters to the County Planning & Building Department in April to stop the cutting down of the Heritage Oak on this property. More than 25 people sent letters to the County. Then, thanks to several Menlo Oaks residents contributing to the appeal cost of $639.83, we filed our appeal on June 17th to stop the developer from removing a second Heritage Oak at 671 Menlo Oaks (formerly 699 Menlo Oaks).
The appeal hearing for the lone remaining Heritage Oak, surrounded now by now 4 large dwellings, will be held within approximately two months of the filing of our appeal.
Once we know the date, we hope many Menlo Oaks neighbors will attend the hearing to show County Supervisors that we want Heritage Oak ordinances enforced and improved.
Our long-term goal is to improve the County’s Heritage Oaks & Significant Tree Ordinances to be more like those in neighboring cities, especially the Palo Alto’s ordinance.
Update: November 15, 2015
We are still waiting to hear back about the hearing on the Heritage Oak. Meanwhile construction continues on the home close to it. One home on the property sold recently, and the one built close to the oak is still under construction.
Seems odd that it takes so long to get a hearing on this one tree as we filed our fees and many letters in mid-June.
This time lapse has given us time to research tree permits in the County, flaws in the development process, and learn how Palo Alto and other cities are tightening Heritage Oak & Significant Tree Ordinances to protect trees.
Update March 2, 2016
After winning our appeal to save this tree at the Planning Commission in January 2016, a potential owner of the new home at 671 Menlo Oaks filed an appeal challenging the Planning Commission’s Decision. She feared the tree would kill her children. In the meantime, the tree exhibits vibrant growth in spite of the lack of tree protection on the part of the developer and even after the developer has cut into the tree’s root system. Our answers to the appellant have gone unanswered.
We have filed several complaints this year with the County’s Building & Planning Department about the lack of tree protection and abuse of all trees on the property. These complaints result in temporary good deeds by the developer, but soon tree protection slips back to its previous deplorable state.
Update April 8, 2016
We think we will appear before the County Board of Supervisors in May or June to challenge the appeal filed against the Planning Commission’s decision. We hope interested Menlo Oaks residents will attend the hearing with us. We know there are many interested people who support MOTA’s cause in this case. In the meantime, we need your e-mails or letters supporting the value the Heritage Oaks and other Significant Trees that make Menlo Oaks the place we love and enjoy. You can just use the form on our Contact page, or you can drop letters off at 945 Peninsula Way.
Update September 20, 2016
We were unable to get our own arborist report and the new homeowner obtained an additional report as did the County. Both reports advised the tree should be removed. We appeared before the Board of Supervisors and did not oppose the removal permit. We did ask for the BOS to uphold the remediation proposed by the County–2 oaks of the same species. Because our hearing was at the end of a nearly 5 hour day of hearings, the Board of Supervisors acquiesced to the home owner’s request to only plant 1 tree. We opposed this, but in the end, the BOS gave in granting her replacement request.
Update December 1, 2016
This tree was removed in November after additional arborist reports, including one by an independent arborist hired by the County, suggested the tree was diseased and probably would experience failure in a few years. We were never able to get an arborist onto the property to get a truly independent assessment, and the tree never received any care or trimming during the past 10-12 years, including those 2 1/2 years MOTA worked to spare it from removal. The Board of Supervisors voted to grant the permit to the new home owner at the end of a extra long day of hearings on other matters. Unfortunately the new home owner only has to replace the large Heritage Oak with one small oak, not two as recommended by the County’s Planning Department. Thought the tree is gone now, and anew pool or patio will replace it, this tree served as a wake up call and resulted in new changes in how the County views and now protects its Heritage and Significant Trees.