Palo Alto, CA – The construction of subdivision improvements by developer McNellis Partners for Alma Plaza (3445 Alma Street), including clearing, grading and utility work, is in progress and included the removal of nine trees today adjacent to the Stanford Villa Apartments. The subdivision plans approved by the City Council in January of 2009 identified tree removal as being necessary to make way for this private development project. Project approval included about 20 trees to be planted in the general vicinity as those removed.
Residents at Stanford Villa Apartments called the City this morning to express their concern about the pending removal of nine trees. Curtis Williams, Director of Planning and Community Environment, and Dave Dockter, the City's Planning Arborist, quickly arrived on scene and met with neighbors, property owner John E. McNellis and his contractor W.L. Butler Construction, Inc., before any trees were removed.
All parties agreed that a follow-up meeting would be scheduled in a few weeks with City staff, neighbors, the Alma Plaza owner and his landscape architect to determine how the approved landscaping can be enhanced to help mitigate residents’ concerns about removal of the trees resulting in less shade and screening from the development. Possible options include increasing the size of the replacement trees to be planted, reevaluating the types of trees used, and accelerating the timing of planting to afford more growth in advance of building on the site. The trees were removed later in the morning.
“The Planning Arborist and I reviewed the plans and confirmed that there is no practical way to preserve the trees, given the constraints of parking and placement of utilities that are now being installed along the northernmost property boundary near the Stanford Villa Apartments,” said Curtis Williams, Director Planning and Community Environment.“
Five of the trees (carob trees) have been severely topped in the past to avoid interference with utility lines overhead. The remaining four trees (ash) were generally healthy but were in a location that was required necessary for major utility connections and parking. One large oak tree on the site (in a separate location) is fenced and protected from construction.
Staff expects that the building plans for the commercial buildings (including the grocery market) will be submitted within three months and that a permit may be issued by the end of the year.