Neighbors demand Lafayette protect 272 trees from PG&E

PG&E plans to cut down 272 trees in Lafayette as part of a project to allow first responders better access to gas transmission lines in emergencies.

PG&E has come to an agreement with city officials, but the project is angering residents.

Steven Falk, the city manager, tells KTVU the majority of the trees to be taken down are at the Lafayette Moraga trail.

Some are at the reservoir and some are on private property.

All of this is not sitting well with people who live nearby.

Oaks, pines and some redwood trees line the popular Lafayette Moraga trail.
"Trees add beauty to everything," says Laurence Londono who uses this trail everyday, "I chose to walk here because it's pretty."
"It's a coastal oak. It's probably 100-150 years old. It's been here a long time," says Michael Dawson as he points to a large tree along the recreation rail.

The homeowner says the tree is among the 272 PG&E wants to cut down.

City officials reached an agreement with PG&E earlier this month as part of the utility's project to improve first responders ' access to underground gas transmission lines in the event of emergencies and protect pipelines from damage.

"When PG&E first approached the city, the list was 1,000 trees and we were able to work with the utility to lower that to just 272 although that still remains a big number," says Falk.
A big number that is not acceptable to Dawson.

"I wish they would have involved the public with that process because when that deal was announced at city council, it was signed and now they call it done deal," says Dawson.
He says he started an online petition. As of Wednesday night, it had more than 500 supporters.

People who frequent the trail question the necessity of cutting down trees.

"I doubt that it's 100 percent necessary for sure," says Zack Stevens, a neighbor.
PG&E says public safety is paramount.
"The analogy I like to use is why you can't park in front of a fire hydrant. It's the same principal as why you can't have trees shrubs or other objects on top of gas transmission lines. It prevents emergency responders to have the quick access in order to make the public safe," says Jeff Smith with PG&E.
"It would be the same for me to say down the road sometime, I might get a I'm going to take out all my teeth," says Dawson.
"There's always alternatives. PG&E needs to be talking to the homeowners and coming up with a solution that works for both ...both sides," says Londono who lives nearby and uses the trail everyday.
City leaders tell KTVU they've asked PG&E to meet with the community to address concerns, but no date has been set yet.

As for the trees on private property that may pose a hazard, PG&E says it is reaching out to those homeowners to work out an agreement.