San Anselmo council grants reprieve for heritage oak tree
A heritage white valley oak tree in San Anselmo received a stay of execution Tuesday night.The San Anselmo Town Council delayed a decision on whether to allow Michiko Conklin, the homeowner at 134 Madrone Ave., to cut down the tree on her property. Conklin says the roots of the 300-year-old oak are undermining the foundation of her house.
Public Works Director Sean Condry granted Conklin permission to fell the tree, but Conklin's neighbor, Linda Jensen, appealed the decision to the Town Council. Jensen, who went door to door passing out flyers to alert the neighborhood about the meeting, said more than a dozen people spoke Tuesday night in favor of preserving the oak.
"There was one 7-year-old girl whowas awesome," Jensen said.
Conklin said she was surprised that the council didn't reject Jensen's appeal "because my situation had met the letter of the law."
"I guess they feel they need more information," Conklin said.
Conklin has also submitted plans to add a bedroom on the side of the house where the oak is now located, but she said that has nothing to do with her decision to remove the tree. Councilman Jeff Kroot recused himself from the public hearing because he was hired by Conklin to serve as the architect for the project, which is currently on hold.
Ray Moritz, a certified tree risk assessor engaged by Jensen, has challenged the conclusions of Conklin's structural engineer, Karl Beckmann and her arborist, Louie Brunn of Marin County Arborists.
Conklin said on Tuesday night the council asked her "to get another arborist and engineer to confirm what information we already have."
Town Manager Debra Stutsman said the council wants more information about the viability and expense of bridging the foundation over the tree roots, what impact there would be to other oaks in the area if the front portion of the yard is paved over as part of the proposed building project and how immediate a threat the roots pose. No date has been set for the council to revisit the issue.
Jensen fears that if Conklin cuts down her tree that it will damage four white valley oaks on her property, since the roots are intermingled.
"I don't want them to die," Jensen said.
Conklin said, "I don't really know what I'm going to do at this point. I don't think I've had enough time to digest the whole situation."
Contact Richard Halstead via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org