PG&E officials say they have identified about 280 trees in Mountain View that must be removed in order to clear the way for existing natural gas lines. About 50 of these trees have already been removed, they said.
The update on the tree removals comes after PG&E surveyed more than 1,000 trees along Mountain View's gas pipelines. Clearing obstructions away from these lines has been a priority ever since the 2010 San Bruno explosion, in which a leaking gas pipe sparked a deadly inferno in a suburban neighborhood.
Despite the public safety concerns, Mountain View residents were irritated when PG&E officials insisted that many of their backyard trees and sheds would need to be removed. It didn't help when homeowners were told they could face legal consequences if they resisted.
Following the backlash in Mountain View and other cities, the utility pledged to take a gentler approach. Last week, PG&E began removing nine trees, including two redwoods, from the 900 block of Middlefield Road.
In addition to about 220 trees on private land, PG&E officials say they are also working with the city of Mountain View to remove about 60 trees on public property.
PG&E spokesman Jeff Smith said the utility is providing replacement trees for each one that is removed.