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.