School's Annex hurts Oak Trees

Richard Thompson lives in Berkeley during the summer. Respond to him at [email protected]





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Many thanks to Diana Dunkelberger for her article on the proposed expansion of the Goldman School of Public Policy ("Plans for Annex Upset Residents," Aug. 8). Several residents of Cloyne Court, the property which is next to the Goldman School, spoke at the public hearing.

All of us are reconciled to the project, although some of us oppose the footprint of the project as being too large.

We want the construction to begin at a civilized hour, and we endorse measures that would mitigate the noise and dust. My own particular concern is that the oak trees on both properties be saved.

If Michael Nacht, Dean of the Goldman School of Public Policy, plans to remove the oak trees from the hill adjacent to the former Beta Theta Pi House in order to add an annex, he needs to brush up on some strategy.

Removing or damaging oak trees, particularly in the wake of the state of emergency with regard to Sudden Oak Tree Death in Marin County, is a serious undertaking.

The oaks are some of the most picturesque trees on the site and on Cloyne Court.

The oaks lend beauty and charm to the natural and man-made landscape, enhancing the value of property by 30 percent and adding to the distinctive and unique character of the Berkeley area (in which they are indigenous).

Damage to the root system or other parts of the tree may occur by operation of equipment or machinery, or by paving, changing the natural grade, trenching or excavating within the protected zone of an oak tree.

The term "protected zone" should mean that area within the drip-line of an oak tree and extending there from to a point at least five feet outside the drip line, or 15 feet from the trunks of a tree, whichever distance is greater.

A plan for protecting oak trees on the site during and after development shall include the following.

1. That the trees on the site plan be physically identified by number on a tag affixed to the north side of the tree in a manner preserving the health and viability of the tree.

2. Identification of those trees shown on the site plan which may be classified as heritage oak trees. Heritage oak trees are either of the following - any oak tree measuring 36 inches or more in diameter, measured four and a half feet above the natural grade, or any oak tree having significant historical or cultural importance to the community.

3. Evaluation of the health of each tree.

4. Recommendations to improve tree health, such as insect or disease control, pruning and fertilization.

5. The installation of chain link fencing not less than four feet in height around the protected zone of trees shown on the site plan.

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