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Appealing the removal of Redwood trees at 1000 El Camino

From: domainremoved <Scott>
Date: Mon, 6 May 2019 21:11:38 -0700

Dear Menlo Park City Council members,

This Tuesday evening is the second appeal to the city council to reverse the city staff's decision to allow the for the removal of seven Redwood trees from the city owned property located at 1000 El Camino Real. The seven trees are on a portion of the property that parallels El Camino. I am a recently termed out member of the Environmental Quality Commission (EQC) and I was chair of the meeting last month when our commission voted 4 to 3 to support city staff’s recommendation to allow the removal of those trees. There were many ideas and proposed alternatives that were discussed during that three hour meeting. All of the EQC commissioners asked many informed questions of the appellants, the building owner's specialist, property managers, civil engineer, and waterproofing contractor. We all learned much about this property and tree(s) situation. Based on the alternative proposals for saving the trees that were presented to us, I felt that the proposals would not be reasonable for the building owner or for the city as the property owner. With the information presented to me as of that evening, I voted to approve the removal of the seven Redwood trees.

That being said, I did not feel as though I had all of my questions and concerns about this process answered completely. Since that night I have reviewed over the information that was presented to the EQC and I have thought that maybe with some creative thinking that there might be other options that could work for both the building owner and the preservation of the trees. Below are some ideas that I have been thinking about since our meeting last month.

1) At the meeting I asked was it possible to determine where the cable had failed due to the fact the post tension cables are housed inside sleeves that were poured into the podium slab when the building was built. If the cable snapped in half, both halves of the cable would be pulled out from the ends of podium slab and the separation point could be determined by measuring the cables. This would then give you an approximate location of where the break occurred. By that reasoning, the approximate location of the failure of the waterproof membrane on the concrete podium slab would be known. I would think before removing the soil, the grass, the trees, and the old waterproofing membrane, it would be pragmatic to determine the location of the cable failure before repairing the waterproofing. With this in mind, the two failed cables that run parallel to El Camino could be replaced without the need to remove any landscaping.
2) Are there waterproof cables? The cables have snapped. Those will need to be replaced. Couldn’t those be replaced with waterproof cables so that this problem would not occur in the future?

3) At our meeting, one of our EQC commissioners pointed out that if only the waterproofing on the top of the podium slab needed replacing, and if there was no need for waterproofing work on the vertical walls of the garage, then the percentage of roots that would be affected by removing the soil for the waterproofing repairs on the horizontal portion would be much less. For some of the trees, especially the three that are closest to Ravenwood, they would have a substantial percenage of roots left untouched. Upon a site visit inspection of the sub-level parking garage, it is clear that the water that is penetrating through the concrete block wall is down near the east or south end of the wall (nearest Jeffery’s restaurant). This water damage appears to be directly below the top of the vertical wall of the stairwell leading to the upper parking area. Based on a visually tour of the garage alone, it looks like the need to do vertical waterproof repairs on the entire wall may not be necessary.

4) The Coast Live Oak that is to the West or North side of the group of three Redwood trees is about the same distance from the podium as the Redwood trees. If a minimum of three feet of soil needs to be removed beyond the end of the slab to install the waterproofing, how is it that this tree is not in jeopardy of dying due to damage cause by root removal when the Redwood trees are listed as vulnerable? I am not asking about stability, I am asking about longevity. If the applicant is saying they can save the oak tree which is approximately the same distance from the slab why can’t they save the Redwoods?

I have thought about this issue many times since that EQC meeting in March and I have an idea. If the podium slab must be waterproofed and unless another alternative is adopted, the cables will need to be replaced.

I suggest;

        a) Do this project in phases, determine where the breaks in the cable are before any vegetation is removed. Replace the cables with new waterproof material.

        b) Waterproof the top of the podium slab but not the entire length of the vertical wall.

        c) Take the same care of protecting the roots of the Redwood trees that is going to be used to protect the Coast Live Oak.

        d) Lastly, the trees are in two groups, one group of four located to the east of this stretch of El Camino, and another group of three, that is located closest to Ravenswood. The group of four is closer to the slab than the group of three. Maybe a compromise could be obtained where the group of four trees might be removed due to their closer proximity to the podium slab. They are also in the general area of the visual leaking of the concrete block wall in the garage below. But it would make sense to save the group of three for they are further away from the slab and no visible leaking on the block wall below. That way there would be no need to repair the waterproofing on the block wall below. If the oak tree can be saved then it is reasonable that these three trees can be saved as well.

Thank you,
Scott Marshall
Received on Mon May 06 2019 - 21:06:31 PDT

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