While I can relate to the commission's reluctance to press the issue after it already extracted a few (albeit minor) concessions from Greystar, "too late" is hardly an excuse, given that the commission knew about the trees and received objections from the public long before. After all, it is the Environmental Review Commission's duty to mitigate the environmental impacts of new developments, and negotiating for a small publicly accessible lawn with a few remaining heritage trees hardly softens the blow of removing all other existing trees. While the developer will plant new trees, even upon maturity (which takes years) they will hardly replace existing canopy, and the redwood trees will be lost forever.
It is no secret that there is a shortage of housing in Mountain View and the Bay Area as a whole. Aside from questionable public benefit of yet another unaffordable upscale apartment complex with no planned below-market-rate units, we are not opposed to building housing instead of old office, retail, and storage buildings. But please spare the trees, especially when we are fortunate enough to have so many of them at one site. New housing must be accompanied by adding new parks, schools, roads, and public transportation. With so many mature heritage trees at a site, it's a shame not to leave them as a small park or a public walkway/bike path and figure out how to build around them, even if that means allowing taller buildings elsewhere. Such a plan would also have another benefit of mitigating stormwater runoff. No need to look very far for an example of a housing complex that artfully blends meandering pedestrian walkways among mature trees with high-density residential development — visit the Old Mill complex at 49 Showers Drive.
I urge the city of Mountain View to listen to the residents and revise the plan for the old Safeway site. Please step in and work with the developer to creatively rearrange proposed residential buildings in order to save most of the existing trees on this site. Given the project's scale and budget, it is not too much to ask. Please also prioritize saving existing mature trees at any future construction projects throughout the city before it's too late.
I also encourage everyone to send comments to the city and sign the petition at https://tinyurl.com/heritagetrees.
Valentin Abramzon is a resident of Showers Court.
This story contains 543 words.
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