Menlo Park commission votes to cut down 7 trees despite pleas to save the redwoods

The Menlo Park Environmental Quality Commission voted 4-3 Wednesday to deny an appeal to cut down seven redwood trees despite passionate pleas to save them.

Community members pleaded with the City of Menlo Park to save the coastal redwoods, located on the grounds of an office building at 1000 El Camino Real in the heart of the city. The property owner said the trees need to be removed for safety reasons.

Menlo Park resident Jen Mazzon was among those appealing to the city to save the majestic redwoods.

“In Menlo Park alone, we lost 700 heritage trees,” said Mazzon. “In California we've lost millions of trees to drought.”

Property owners said the building, completed in 1983, has damage to its structural foundation and the trees are in the way of repairs. More specifically, the trees' roots are located on the ceiling of an underground parking garage where there's visible water intrusion. 

“There’s a water membrane that protects the structural slab itself,” said Property Owner Matt Matteson. “Water can't get into the structural slab or the structural components which are steel or it will rust.”

Matteson said his family planted the trees 37 years ago. His conclusion for tree removal is based on science and engineering.

“This is really a life safety issue,” said Mattson. “It’s predicated on making sure the occupants of the building will be safe and the building be structurally sound.”

76 trees of all kinds are on the property. Matteson said the redwood trees along Ravenswood Avenue will be saved. In place of the seven trees cut down, 14 new trees will be planted.

“Symbols are important,” said Steve Pursell of Menlo Park. “Symbols send a message. Menlo Park has a symbol and we all know it it's a symbol of a tree.”

Still, many tree lovers voiced their emotional attachment. In fact, a group called the Raging Granny's did so in the form of song. They said the redwoods are invaluable, providing beauty and at a time with concerns of climate change absorb carbon dioxide.

“Please let's stand with trees and preserve the environmental quality of Menlo Park,” said Judy Rocchio of Menlo Park.