Archive for February, 2011

PG&E removes and trims trees in both parks

On the 28th of February, PG&E fulfilled their agreement with our Association, by removing 7 trees and trimming others.  PG&E spokesperson, Kamran Rasheed said that the trees in the parks will be reevaluated next year.

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Update to extending PG&E tower in Fontana Park

UPDATE: As you can see by the photo, the new microwave dishes were installed without requiring the extension of the tower.  Apparently no further public hearings were required.  See the letter of protest MFPA has sent to the City of San Jose’s Director of the Planning and Building Dept.

A public hearing was held Wednesday, Oct 13 @ 6:30 p.m. in the City Council Chambers at City Hall.  It was proposed to extend this tower an additional 10 ft and add 3 more panel antennae and 3 more microwave dishes to the extension.

Local neighborhood residents, Vince Piazzisi, Arthur Gilmore, & Jean LaMarca, spoke at the hearing.  According to Jean LaMarca, the Clearwire contractor deferred the item about the wireless Permit to another meeting date.    The Planning commission and City attorney want to review ordinances, etc. more thoroughly before making a decision.  The Clearwire representative talked with them after the meeting and said she would like to meet with neighbors.  Mrs. LaMarca said “she was cordial and ready to address our concerns”.  The next hearing will be on the Nov. 17th agenda.  Here is the video link of the Oct 13th hearing.  After arriving at the website, go to where it says “Jump To…” on the left of the page, then select item 4b. CP10-015. Wireless – Conditional Use Permit.  The local neighborhood residents are heard speaking starting at the 38:20 minute mark.

High winds knock down 2 trees & damage 1

Sometime during the night of the 23rd or morning of the 24th, high winds knocked down two Plum trees and a branch off of a Golden Rain tree in Jeffrey Fontana Park across from the dog park.  The Golden Rain tree looked like it could have been saved but apparently the City crew felt differently and cut it down.  Too bad the wind didn’t knock down all the dead ones in the park.


Trees marked for removal by the end of Feb. 2011

Map locations for trees to be removed

Note:  The red +‘s indicate trees that were removed on 1 July 2010.

MFPA comes to an Agreement with PG&E

On February 16, 2011, representatives from PG&E and Martin-Fontana Parks Association met and reached an agreement on the phase 2 winter removals, trimming, and plans for the parks under the high tension power lines.

Originally, PG&E had decided to remove 16 trees by the end of February. After three meetings with PG&E, the number of removals was reduced to 7 trees. By the end of this month PG&E will have crews out and working in the parks. (All trees, on these lists, are identified by a numbered medallion attached to them, and in addition, those marked for removal have a yellow caution ribbon strung around them).

Trees in list C will have their growth monitored and evaluated throughout the year.

A.        These trees will be removed:

#2        Flowering Plum                          TJ Martin West

#5        Sycamore                                     TJ Martin East

#14      Flowering Plum                         Fontana West

#18      Holly Oak                                     Fontana West

#19      Three Coastal Live Oaks*     Fontana West

*The three Coastal Live Oaks are on the Villa’s fence line near the dog parks. We have since learned that they play a vital role as part of a privacy and sound screen for Villas neighbors. We will work to mitigate their removal by planting new shrubbery if the trees cannot be topped or trimmed.  See photos.

B.        These trees will be trimmed and/or topped:

#1                    Pine                                    TJ Martin West

#6                   Liquid Amber                 TJ Martin East

#7, 8,9,12   Sycamores                       TJ Martin East

#20                Golden Rain                    Fontana West

C.        The following trees were placed on watch/monitor list:

#3                    Flowering Plum            TJ Martin West

#10 & 11        Pistachios                       TJ Martin East

#15                  Coastal Live Oak          Fontana

#16 & 17        Crepe Myrtles              Fontana

2 Crepe Myrtles (no numbers)        Fontana

MFPA Negotiating Team Update

Dear Neighbors

This coming Wednesday our MFPA Negotiating Team will meet with PG&E representatives to discuss their list of trees to be trimmed and cut.  This will be our third meeting with them since December 2010.

PG&E submitted a list of 26 trees for cutting or trimming at the our third meeting on February 1st.  MFPA agreed with PG&E on 16 of the trees which were marked for trimming or topping.  The following topics are the results of our agreements with PG&E to this point:

1.  We have agreed that three trees in TJ Martin and Jeffrey Fontana Parks should be cut.  These trees are by the Villas fence and are growing as very tall wild bushes.  The trees to be cut have been tagged and have a “caution” tape around their trunks.

2.  Five trees originally marked for removal by PG&E will be left alone.  Three are healthy, two are dead or dying.

3.  On private land near the park, one tree will be removed and two others trimmed or topped.  We have told PG&E to notify the property owners to ensure they can comment on their plans.

4. They will be trimming/topping six trees in our two parks.

We disagree on a list of ten trees still marked for removal by  PG&E later this month.

We are using actual tree and wire measurement data to determine which trees, if any, are a threat to the power lines that cannot be remedied by pruning.  Based on our study so far, we believe there are two trees of the 10 trees that may be candidates for removal.

We believe the use of our data will present a strong case to PG&E to either monitor or prune most of the trees slated for cutting, since there is no safety issue involved at this time.  If they override our recommendation, it may be appropriate for the community to rise up and express our position, just as we did last year, saving Tree #13.

In parallel with this effort we are keeping the City Parks Department and Councilmember Pyle’s office informed.

In summary, instead of removing the 140 trees PG&E identified for cutting last year, they are methodically removing trees from our parks in smaller numbers.  Each year they will evaluate the trees to decide which to cut.  Each year we have to constantly remind them that these are parks, trees belong here, pruning should be the first recourse and cutting the last resort.

We will give you an update with the final outcome when negotiations with PG&E are concluded.  If you have any questions/comments, please contact me.  Thank you.


Linda Wilson


Martin – Fontana Park Association

A year ago on Feb. 11th, 2010

Over a year ago PG&E informed the community that 140 trees would be removed from TJ Martin & Jeffrey Fontana Parks.  We were told it was because of possible power outages due to wire clearances from the trees.  At that meeting many of the residents were outraged by such short notice and by the unnecessary destruction of these healthy trees.  A total of 62 trees were scheduled to be removed from March 22nd to the 25th.

Go back and watch the video from ABC News, Residents fight PG&E to save trees near power lines.

Thanks to community involvement, park walk throughs, and the many meetings MFPA has had with PG&E, a total of only 13 trees have been removed since that first meeting on 11 Feb. 2010.  In addition, our “Heart of the Park”, Tree 13, was saved from the axe.

A Message from MFPA’s President, Linda Wilson

New officers for the Association were elected at the Jan. 22 General Membership meeting. With the new Board of Directors in place, we are ready to continue our work of protecting the trees in our parks through negotiations with PG&E. The negotiating process has been underway since December 2010, and continued, with the Negotiation Team meeting with PG&E on February 1st.  For 2011, approximately twenty trees are under review and discussion. Throughout this process, we remain committed to our guiding principle of “Trim, don’t Cut”.

In our discussions with PG&E we are striving to reach agreement on a long-term plan for the trees in the parks covering a three to five-year span, and establish criteria for tree removal that reflects the park’s unique “Community Use” status versus the open space zero tolerance stand developed by PG&E.

Other goals of this Board of Directors for 2011 include:

  • Efforts to protect the trees are our first priority.
  • Continuing to build membership. Our strength lies in our numbers as we talk with PG&E and the City of San Jose.
  • Producing a quarterly Newsletter beginning with a February edition.
  • Pursuing grant opportunities to fund enhancement and restoration efforts.
  • Continuing our efforts to protect Tree #13. We reached a one year agreement with PG&E to save the tree until August, 2011. We will work to make this a permanent agreement.
  • Developing a master plan for enhancing and beautifying our parks
  • Working with Councilmember Pyle’s District 10 office and City Park’s Department to further enhance our parks.