News Release News Release The City of Palo Alto
Communications Department
250 Hamilton Ave
Palo Alto, CA 94301


PRESS RELEASE 08/13/2010
Subject :

Developer to Remove Nine Street Trees on Lytton and Bryant to Build Two-story Underground Garage
Contact : Mike Sartor, Assistant Director of Public Works    650-329-2270
Palo Alto, CA – The construction of building improvements by developers Michael and Charlie King of King Asset Management on private property at 265 Lytton, the former Spago restaurant, owned by 505 Hamilton Avenue Partners, LP, will result in the removal of nine City street trees along Lytton and Bryant Streets during the week of August 23, 2010. The existing street trees are not expected to survive the excavation and construction activity related to this project, according to the Arborist's report submitted with the ARB application. The construction project, which includes new office space and a two-story underground parking garage, went through the City’s design review process including a public hearing with the Architectural Review Board (ARB) in September of 2009.

"The existing street trees are liquidambars and camphors, which cause pedestrian hazards along the sidewalk from overgrowth that obstructs a portion of the sidewalk, large roots that push up the sidewalk and conflict with nearby utilities, and the spiky seed pods of the liquidambars that drop everywhere," said Mike Sartor, Assistant Director of Public Works. “In fact, we no longer plant either of these tree species as street trees anymore because they cause significant damage to sidewalks and adjacent infrastructure.”

The trees slated for removal are five camphor trees along the Lytton frontage and three liquidambar trees and one Tree of Heaven (an invasive species that took root on its own) along the Bryant frontage of the development at 265 Lytton. The trees are apparently in good health; however, because the construction will remove a significant amount of their root systems, none are expected to survive.

An independent arborist hired by the developer, as well as Dave Dockter, the City's Planning Arborist, and Eric Krebs, the Public Works Arborist, confirmed that there was no practical way to preserve the trees given the scope of the construction project. 

The replacement trees will be four cimmaron ash trees along Lytton and three chinese elm (evergreen) trees along Bryant. Following the recommendation of Dockter, the City worked with the applicant’s engineer to modify the tree removal and replacement plan to include the unique measure of requiring "Silva Cells" to be installed around each new tree to facilitate and encourage accelerated tree growth and downward root growth. The new trees were selected to easily adapt to the restricted growing space available for street trees, offer a similar tree canopy shape as trees in the vicinity, avoid sidewalk upheaval from roots, eliminate conflict with buried utility lines, and reduce sidewalk obstruction from foliage overgrowth. 

Public Works posted 14-day tree removal notices for the nine public street trees bordering the property. There has not been any comment on the removal since the 14 day notices were posted. The notice period ends Friday August 20 and the trees will removed soon thereafter. 

For more information, call Mike Sartor, Assistant Director of Public Works, at (650) 329-2270 or visit to view the City’s Tree Removal Policy.

Go to to view the report about this project from the September 24, 2009, Special Meeting of the Architectural Review Board.