By Kiet Do

MENLO PARK (KPIX 5) — A group of local activists has once again called attention to a cluster of redwood trees in Menlo Park, holding an Earth Day protest Monday as a last-ditch effort to try to block the plan to cut them down.

The activists have filed an appeal with the City of Menlo Park, to protest a permit that would allow the removal of seven 80-foot tall redwoods at Menlo Park Office Center at 1000 El Camino Real. The trees are nearly 40 years old.

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“I’m feeling positive and hopeful. I’m feeling hopeful,” said environmental activist Judy Rocchio, who hopes to raise awareness ahead of the May 7 city council meeting where the appeal faces a final vote before the council.

“I feel like if we can get a turnout, a big turnout of all the people to support this, the council won’t have much choice but to say yes to save the trees,” said Rocchio.

Water has begun seeping through the walls of the office center, and the building’s owner says the most feasible repair would be to dig a trench along the opposite side of the wall. In the process, the roots of the trees would be severed, weakening the trees, and making them prone to collapse.

Matt Matteson, co-owner of the office center, spoke to KPIX 5 earlier this month about the situation.

“I’m really very disappointed that we have to do this,” said Matteson on April 1st. “It’s a life safety issue. We have to protect the occupants of the building. And these seven trees are unfortunately located right where we need to get to do these repairs.”

Matteson plans to plant other heritage trees with less invasive roots, and points to dozens of other heritage trees that remain on the property. Matteson removing the seven trees was a decision that was not made lightly.

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“I planted these trees 37 years ago, I’ve been caring for them ever since. But to assert that I’m somehow uncaring about them isn’t true,” Matteson says.

Rocchio disputes the claim that the trees need to be cut down to remedy the water intrusion to the building.

“The property owner says the trees need to be removed so that they can make repairs, but the trees are not the cause of the damage to the building,” Rocchio said. “The problem is an inherent structural design flaw in the owner’s original plan. There are solutions that would not require the removal of these majestic redwoods.”

The activists are also encouraging residents to attend the May 7th Menlo Park City Council meeting on where the fate of the trees will be decided.


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