January 4, 2016
Finally, after six months of waiting, The San Mateo Planning Commissioners has set a hearing date for the remaining heritage oak at 671 Menlo Oaks Drive. At this hearing they will review the permit and our appeal before they decide whether this oak tree should survive. The date for the hearing is WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 13 AT 9 A.M. It will be at the Board of Supervisors Chambers, 400 County Center, Redwood City.
How You Can Help Now
- We need as many concerned neighbors as possible to attend the appeal hearing, whether you’re interested in speaking or not. If you need a ride, let us know (650-327-5207).
- If you can’t attend, we hope you will draft a letter we can take with us to the meeting. It should reflect your thoughts about the importance of saving this particular tree, the value of heritage and significant trees to Menlo Oaks, better enforcement of tree protection plans by the County, better notification about tree permits, alternatives to destroying these trees, or the need for the County to have its own arborist. A letter of any length or your presence shows the County that Voters care about this issue.
Letters can be e-mailed to Judy Horst at firstname.lastname@example.org or dropped off on the front porch at 945 Peninsula Way.
Activities During The Past Six Months
We want to bring you up to date on the work that’s been done to preserve old growth heritage trees of Menlo Oaks that provide our unique neighborhood with privacy, reduced noise and filtered, healthier air to breathe.
As you may remember, last year a subdivision was granted for the acre+ parcel at the corner of Colby & Menlo Oaks. The request stated that no trees would be destroyed during development. During the first phase of construction, a large and healthy heritage oak was taken down without much notice and no discussion, to the distress of nearby neighbors. When the second phase was underway, another permit was filed to remove a second heritage oak which many of us thought should be saved, and a large group of neighbors contributed money for the filing fee and wrote letters to the County to appeal the permit.
During the waiting period for this hearing, we formed Menlo Oaks Tree Advocacy (MOTA), menlooaks-mota.org.
- We were fortunate to be able to get advice and council from the executive director of Canopy, the non-profit organization in Palo Alto dedicated to urban forest care.
- We also had a lengthy consultation with David Dockter who is the Managing Arborist for the City of Palo Alto and author of the Tree Technical Manual which is considered to be the standard for communities on the Peninsula.
- After their input, we met with the developer of 671/699 Menlo Oaks to urge protection of all remaining trees, including the Heritage Oak.
- We also met with the Director and other officials of the San Mateo County Building & Planning Department.
The Heritage Oak at 671 Menlo Oaks is alive with new growth and continues to provide shade and an important privacy barrier between the new house and the neighbors who share property lines. The developer made the decision to build right up to the roots and position a chimney just below the branches. In talking with several arborists, some advised us that with normal tree maintenance and trimming this oak could survive. Still other arborists expressed concerns about poor form, disease and potential liability rather than the preservation of the tree. For those of us living in Menlo Oaks, some trees do have problems and are poorly formed. We simply hire an arborist to take care of them, and that’s what we hope will happen to this Heritage Oak.
Let us know if you can attend the hearing, or send us your letters by Tuesday night if you want to let the County know how you feel about this Heritage Oak ad our neighborhood. Thank you for your support.
Menlo Oaks Tree Advocacy
John Danforth, Dorothy Fadiman, Janet Goff,
Judy Horst, Anne Kortlander, Remona Murray and others