Council set for final vote on Mayfield project

The City Council may finally approve the large, 250-unit housing project at 100 Mayfield Avenue Tuesday evening, though concerns remain about the hundreds of trees that will be planted in the project.

As the Voice reported last month, the project was given the OK by the city's zoning administrator May 18, setting the stage for approval by a City Council that has expressed support for the latest iteration of the project. It was scaled down from 438 units to 258 by new developer, Summit Land Partners, after the previous developer, Toll Brothers, opted not to buy the property after receiving approval for 438 units in 2008.

While the controversies over density and traffic have subsided, concerns remain over trees. To make way for the homes, 56 mature trees and 158 heritage trees would be removed, many of which are redwoods native to California.

Summit is making an effort to save many of the redwoods, and is even moving a number of them to create a sense of enclosure in one of the development's parks. But many tree lovers are up in arms because the 613 new trees that will be planted are non-native and not drought-tolerant, they say. This has lead to numerous letters sent to the council and even a petition opposing the loss of native trees signed by 36 people.

"I am deeply concerned about the loss of habitat and displacement from the loss of the redwoods but worse yet cannot fathom why there are no CA natives on the Proposed Tree list and how this will affect the habitat and ecosystem in this area for generations to come," writes resident Elaine Lou. "The landscape architect firm hired for this project who live in and are based out of SF expressed the importance of a drought tolerant plant list to comply with regulations but (in my honest opinion) seem to have limited understanding about the Santa Clara Valley land climate and are seemingly apprehensive about how to include CA native trees in the housing development landscape."

Arborist Dave Muffly also expressed concern in an email sent to the council.

"You can also say that I was shocked by the almost total lack of drought tolerance among the trees selected," Muffly wrote. "If irrigation dependent species like these are used the overall greenness and sustainability of the project is radically reduced. In a drought defined climate like ours the use of irrigation dependent species should be accurately labeled a 'brown' or actively anti-sustainability practice."

Last month City Planner Melinda Denis said the new project will follow new city regulations for water conservation and landscaping, likely saving significant quantities of water.

Summit is proposing 613 new trees for the site. Summit will also relocate 58 large redwood trees from the site.

The 3.62-acre park space is slightly larger than the the 3.59-acres the council approved in 2008. It is also relatively generous in size. At the lower housing density Summit proposes, the city's park space requirement would only be 1.59 acres, Denis said.

The council meeting begins at 6:30 p.m. in the City Council chambers in City Hall at 500 Castro St.


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Posted by Rex
a resident of Monta Loma
on Jun 21, 2011 at 2:29 pm

You can thank HP for giving up substantial land value through the development agreement with the City in order to get this property off their books - HP paid dearly for this at a greatly reduced land price and that is why this project is proceeding. If this were an individual, they'd be bankrupt and therein lies the problem - diminished competition and increased costs which makes the words "affordable housing" meaningless. My children need market rate affordable housing, not subsidized housing or more trees for that matter! Thankly they do not qualify for subsidized because of their jobs and work ethic yet they face the same challenges as everyone else.

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Posted by gc
a resident of Sylvan Park
on Jul 9, 2011 at 10:17 am

From a redwood info site....
If you absolutely have to have a redwood tree, consider the costs of maintaining it, and be sure your homeowner's liability insurance will pay for the damage it will do. There's a reason they're in the parks.

WARNING! Even though a redwood is an awesome tree, Sequoia is NOT a good choice for a suburban lot if you wish to remain a good neighbor. Even in average soil it will quickly overwhelm the surrounding area.

The year-round heavy shade will not allow grass to grow and landscaping will be limited to shade-loving plants such as ferns. Winters underneath a redwood tree are cold and wet. Redwoods control the growth of other plants around them by 'bombing' them -- dropping chunks of wood and branches on competing plants (and your house.) The area around a mature redwood resembles a war zone. It is not possible to leave the paths in the redwood parks without having to clamber over the mess on the ground. The redwood is also by nature a messy tree, dropping a third of its branchlets each year as it renews them, clogging gutters and drains.

Its roots are very efficient at removing nutrients from your and your neighbor's soil. They are shallow and extend many feet from the tree, damaging foundations, driveways and cracking water and drain pipes. Many years after a tree's removal, the existing roots will continue to send up sprouts in the surrounding landscaping.

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