Do-Over Says County In Trees Removal Flap

COUNTY’S PLAN TO REMOVE HAZARDOUS TREES FROM SL CREEK RAISES THE IRE OF NEIGHBORS
By STEVEN TAVARES
The Citizen

SAN LEANDRO The Alameda County Public Works Agency apologized to a group of San Leandro residents angered by the county’s lack of transparency regarding a plan to fell over 40 trees in San Leandro Creek. A day later he says the county is suspending the controversial Hazard Trees Removal Project and renewing the process to include more public involvement.

“I have decided that it would be better to re-start a new process that will better engage community members along the creek,” said the Alameda Public Works Department Director Daniel Woldesenbet.

The communities of St. Mary’s Avenue, Huff Avenue and Cary Drive will be invited to separate meetings to discuss the removal of certain non-native Eucalyptus along with trees deemed to be hazardous in the future, said Woldesenbet.

Residents in supporting both sides of the growing issue over the removal of trees in San Leandro Creek, which snakes through the city, voiced concern and often times anger over the plan. The county says the impression they received from affected residents communicated support for the plan to cut 42 trees in different locations along the creek.

“In the past we heard a lot more from those who would like the trees removed, and assumed that it was the desire of the overall community,” he said. “However, from what we heard last night, that assumption was not entirely correct.” Some of those residents voiced agreement with the county officials present at the San Leandro Library Wednesday night, saying they feared falling broken branches and root systems damaging their homes.

Others disagreed with the county’s contention the plan was only a program to remove dangerous damaged or leaning trees from the area, while a few preferred the privacy and the beauty of the trees over any future problems. One woman asserted removing the trees in our elderly parent’s backyard would “kill them” since they both suffer from dementia.

Much of the reason for the confusion on both side is the lack of transparency leading up to the county accepting bids for the contract to cut the trees, opponents say. San Leandro resident Gary Molitor is one of the most ardent critics of the county’s plan and his email to locals last month significantly raised the profile of the proposal. The county now claims the plan Molitor circulated, calling for the removal of up to 1,000 trees, was out-of-date. People around the St. Mary Avenue say they only became aware of the plan when workmen were seen surveying the trees around their homes. Some say a few of those men abruptly climbed over fences into private properties startling many residents.

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