With bitter spats erupting over dog parks, playgrounds, and even the very definition of “semi-rural,” it is little wonder that stirred-up locals have started a digital and analog petition questioning the forthcoming removal of dozens of venerable trees along the Lafayette-Moraga Trail.
The Pacific Gas & Electric Company (aka, the people who keep the lights on for about 99 percent of us in Lamorinda) says removing the trees is essential to the preservation of its gas pipeline – which happens to run under all those trees, not to mention joggers, bikers, and pretty close to more than a few homes.
The utility, still smarting from the scathing it received in the wake of the catastrophic explosion and firestorm which killed eight people and injured dozens more after a PG&E pipeline rupture in San Bruno in 2010, had embarked on a statewide project to clear trees and other obstacles which might block an emergency response in the event of another disaster.
That project is now focused on Lafayette, with 272 trees marked for removal – a “short-list” from what was once a much longer roster of trees to be culled. But, this being Lafayette with a lot of people moving here because trees were so much a part of our landscape, a group formed to challenge PG&E’s plan.
Almost 1,300 locals, many of them living adjacent to the popular walking trail or with old-growth Oaks on their property or nearby, have taken the fight online with a petition questioning the trimming and demanding concessions.
The group, which calls itself Save Lafayette Trees, has approached the city, the utility, and the East Bay Regional Park District and demanded to know which trees have been tagged for removal, and for clarification of owner’s rights regarding their removal if they happen to be growing on private property.
The city has asked PG&E to answer resident’s questions at a future meeting and the utility is, a spokesman said, currently reaching out to individually affected residents now that the short list of 272 trees has been formalized.