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RE: Agenda Item #D-2 Council Meeting Date 8/26/14

From: Quirion, Jesse T <"Quirion,>
Date: Mon, 25 Aug 2014 09:18:30 -0700


Thank you for your email and concern for the City’s tree canopy.

The City trees are trimmed on a 5-year cycle. The cork oak in front of your home was trimmed in November, 2006 and September, 2011. The City’s contractor, West Coast Arborists, Inc., follows the standards set forth by the International Society of Arboriculture Pruning Standards (Best Management Practices), the ANSI A300 Standards and the City of Menlo Park Maintenance Standards. The City Arborist determines if the pruning is in accordance with the above standards. The City Arborist meets with the pruning crew each morning to discuss the day’s work locations and checks on the work performed at the end of the day. If the work performed does not meet the standards, payment is withheld until the job is complete.

In addition to the City’s contractor, the City Arborist also supervises the City’s tree crew, which is available to perform tree maintenance in between the 5-year pruning cycle. If you have concerns about your street tree, you can notify the City Arborist who will inspect the tree and oversee any required maintenance. Cyclical pruning by the contractor is one cost effective method utilized by the City to maintain the long-term health of the urban forest. The City Arborist, Brian Henry, is available to answer any specific questions you may have about your tree and can be reached via email at bphenry_at_(domainremoved)

Jesse T. Quirion
Interim Public Works Director
City of Menlo Park
E: jtquirion_at_(domainremoved)
P: 650-330-6744

-----Original Message-----
From: Britt von Thaden [mailto:bvonthaden_at_(domainremoved)
Sent: Sunday, August 24, 2014 4:08 PM
Cc: McIntyre, Alex D
Subject: Agenda Item #D-2 Council Meeting Date 8/26/14

Dear Mayor and Council Members,

Agenda Item D-2 is for annual tree maintenance services to be provided by West Coast Arborists, Inc. The Staff Report indicates that these services are to include tree trimming and aesthetic pruning in accordance with standards of the Western Chapter of the International Society of Arboriculture (ISA). How does the City evaluate the quality and performance of this work? Is a program in place that identifies a tree pruning and shaping schedule as guidance for the contractor? Are pruning objectives clearly stated as recommended by ISA? Is a random number of trees within each zone of the Landscaping District selected, without contractor knowledge of which trees are selected, and pre-and post-trimming comparisons conducted?

I have an approximately 20 year old, city-planted cork oak in front of my house, and I must say I'm underwhelmed at the level of service that has been performed on the tree by the City and its contractors since its planting. I recall one year, maybe about 10 years ago, I observed a tree crew in my neighborhood conducting what appeared to be a drive-by snip snip on city trees each lasting a few minutes. Upon inspection of my oak, I observed maybe a half dozen cuts were made by the tree crew. Other than this event and the removal of a tree limb damaged by the now-mechanized garbage collection trucks, I can recall no city or contractor performed maintenance on the tree.

The ISA stresses the importance of establishing a strong scaffold structure when a tree is young, which commonly results in the need for less corrective pruning in the future. As well, objectives in maintaining tree health appropriately include reducing the density of live branches that increase light levels below, reduce wind resistance and improve aesthetics.

This summer, city council approved an increase in the tree assessment fee rate. Whether the lack of trimming to my oak tree is a city program issue or a contractor performance issue, I would like to see and feel that our assessment fees are utilized appropriately for the long-term health of our heritage trees.


Britt von Thaden
1011 Berkeley Avenue
Received on Mon Aug 25 2014 - 09:14:43 PDT

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