We need your help immediately! On Monday, August 17, 7:30 PM (but may be earlier or later), Palo Alto City Council (rescheduled from this week) will decide on the neighbors’ appeal of the Development Department’s approval of a two story house with a large, deep basement at 2353 Webster. Construction of this basement, as proposed, risks damage and possibly death to the 300+ year old legally protected oak tree at the back of the property.
The construction of the proposed 10-foot deep basement at this location, where the groundwater level is high, would necessitate dewatering, the pumping out of groundwater in order to build below ground surface. Drilling the dewatering wells will damage the canopy and roots, while dewatering will stress the tree from sustained loss of soil moisture on which the tree depends.
We are not asking for any change in the 2,953 square foot above ground floor area , footprint, or location of the residence. And, while the safest alternative is to simply not build a basement so as to minimize mechanical disturbance within the critical root zone, a basement may be acceptable under appropriate conditions.
We request that:
- The City not allow this magnificent 300-year old oak tree, in the prime of its life, to be cut down under any circumstances
- If a basement is constructed:
- Limit the basement floor surface to a maximum depth of 8’ 0” below ground surface. Dewatering will not be required if the bottom of the excavation is sufficiently above the water table (and you have a good and careful architect and contractor). A basement deeper than 8’ will almost certainly require dewatering, however, the applicant will need to determine the depth of the basement that can be constructed without requiring dewatering.
- No groundwater shall be discharged to either the storm drains or sanitary sewer. Any incidental groundwater discharged onsite shall be outside the critical root zone, so as to not increase risk to the heritage oak.
Please let Council members know that you are counting on them and City Staff to uphold the objectives of Palo Alto’s Tree Protection Plan and Dewatering Ordinance, and that you agree with Save Palo Alto’s Groundwater’s proposals for protecting this community treasure.
Comments from residents are critically important. The Staff Report (page 4) states “if the applicant were to propose to remove the Valley Oak tree, the application would be processed administratively” City Staff would then issue a permit to cut the tree down!