Archive for the ‘Tree Data’ Category

What’s the sag? Pizzo has the answers!

City of San Jose Park naming system - Copy

Folks- Back in 2010, when residents and park users questioned PG&E’s need to remove trees from the T.J. Martin and J. Fontana Parks, Martin-Fontana Parks Association formed. One of our early purchases was a laser-range finder equal to that used by the PG&E Contractor for measuring cable heights, tree heights and clearances. Obtaining this device was invaluable! We were able to confirm/question measurements used by PG&E to justify their safety concerns for this power corridor. I want to share with you a set of data, taken over the last month or so, showing the heights of those power cables, the ones that traverse the lengths of our two parks.

  (Click here for a chart of the data)

The data are the height, in feet, from the ground to the cable, at the lowest point of sag, midway between the towers. You may know that we have 6 spans (tower-to-tower) in our two parks. Using a laser range-finder we have measured the height from ground to the cable ONLY for the lowest of the three-stacked, vertical cables on each arm of the tower; and only to measure the height of one pair of cables (the southernmost ones) on each tower. There are three-towers at each span; and six transmission lines per arm, and two sets of three-high, vertically stacked lines.

Just so you know, the ground is uneven, with elevations and depressions existing throughout the park. But, we always made the measurements from the same point. The towers are of different heights also. That is why the height measurements must be made from the same location each time and this is reflected in the data.

The measurements do have error, even though this is a laser range-finder. I would guess that any one reading has an error of plus or minus 1-foot.  They were taken on different days, at different times; and the day-time temperatures varied accordingly. The temperature range was, maybe, from 77 to 101 degrees Fahrenheit.

So now, look at the data, for one span, for a given line, and for the various days, times and temperatures. How much variation do you see? Remember, the line sag will depend on how much power is being consumed and the ambient temperature. I would say that ambient temperature is really not a big factor! We will continue to monitor things during the winter and will have some lower temperature data come December/January.

These data seriously question the need to have trees no more than 17 foot at maturity. It would be interesting to calculate which has the greater likelihood: a 17 foot tree jumping up out of the ground and giving a high-five to the 230 KV transmission cable, or the cable sagging down to touch the top of the tree! MFPA is looking in to this calculation!

😉 Pat Pizzo   lightning_storm_2

Vegetation Management Best Practices

Chairman Jon Wellinghoff Statement

Chairman Jon Wellinghoff

Chairman Jon Wellinghoff

June 21, 2012
Docket No. IN12-16-000
Item No. A-3

“A recurring cause in this and many blackouts has been vegetation-related outages. Environmental issues, property rights and cost, among other things, play an important role in every company’s vegetation management program. In my view, the most successful vegetation management program have, as one of the core elements, a strategy to engage the property owners in an adequate, timely and forthright manner and to work cooperatively with those property owners.

For example, it is important to give the property owner sufficient notice about the impending activity including the type of vegetation management that is planned – for instance trimming or herbicide application. In some cases, a company may get the property owner to agree to the planned action by simply switching methodologies say from herbicide application to trimming.

Successful vegetation management programs also help property owners maintain and even enhance the environmental benefits and aesthetics of the right-of-way while ensuring sufficient clearance between the vegetation and energized conductors. For example, trees that are expected to grow into the transmission lines are removed and replaced with lower growing native species that provide a shelter for indigenous wildlife. Another practice that property owners appreciate is a small tree voucher program that allows them to select smaller trees from nurseries to replace the larger trees that are removed from the right-of-way. These efforts may even help persuade property owners to allow vegetation management outside of both jurisdictional facilities and the existing right-of-ways.

The current reliability standard FAC-003 requires both a formal transmission vegetation management plan and an annual plan for vegetation management work. I believe that companies should make these plans available to the public, including the affected landowners, by posting them on their website.

I urge all companies to include these components in their vegetation management programs.

As a final point, we continue to receive complaints that utilities are clear-cutting right-of-ways in order to comply with reliability standard FAC-003. In some cases, reliability standard FAC-003 has been cited as the reason for clear-cutting even when it does not apply, e.g. transmission lines below 200 kV and distribution lines. The standard only requires that a minimum clearance be maintained and does not prescribe the methodology that utilities are required to use. Companies should not misrepresent the reason for the vegetation action by overstating the requirements or applicability of the standard.”

Jon Wellinghoff is the Chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, or FERC.


Some observations by Pat Pizzo

Pat Pizzo

Pat Pizzo

Some observations of the T.J. Martin, Guadalupe Oak Grove and J. Fontana Parks:

My name is Pat Pizzo and I spend some hours in these parks since 2010 as part of the Martin-Fontana Parks Association (MFPA) and I wish to share some observations.   These are my personal observations and do not necessarily reflect the views of MFPA or its executive board.

Our parks are connected; and events in one may influence events in the other.  That is why I have included Guadalupe Oak Grove Park.

For the rest of Pat’s comments click here.


Our City Forest reminds us that hot weather means thirsty trees!

The next week is supposed to be a scorcher, so be sure to keep hydrated and don’t forget about your trees too!  In the summer, the need for water increases, so be sure sure and check the soil at the base of the tree to make sure it has enough moisture.  This is especially important for trees under three years old.

For those looking to help water more than just your own trees, Our City Forest (OCF) is looking for watering volunteers during these hot summer months!  Get outside, have some fun in the sun, and make sure that San Jose’s trees get plenty to drink this summer!

For more information on watering, please call Julian at 408-998-7337 x 118, or email him at

Tree Trimming done on 25 June

From our inception as a nonprofit in 2010, we have worked to achieve an agreement with the City of San Jose to let us fund a tree-trimming program in our parks using the City’s contractor.  With an agreement between the City’s Parks, Recreation and Neighborhood Services Dept. and Martin-Fontana Parks Association, we have now achieved this milestone.

One of our park managers has gone through both parks with the city contractor to identify those trees that needed trimming and shaping for health and appearances. For this first round of trimming, twelve trees were trimmed on Tuesday, June 25.

Four of those trees identified were action items in our last round of discussions with PG&E last March. The contractor trimmed and shaped both the Blue Oak just west of the end of the dog park & another one that shades the Jeffrey Fontana Memorial bench area.  They also trimmed back the branches on the southern side of each tree nearest the overhead power lines and removed any dead wood.  The four Golden Rain trees near the tot lot were trimmed and shaped .

Click on the maps below to see their locations:

Here are photos of the trees:

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Thanks to your generous donations and membership support, we now have the funding, ability, and the access to keep them trimmed.

We are not the greenest but we are number two

Lets keep planting those trees!

Negotiations with PG&E concluded for 2013

Coast Live Oak #14 being removed.

Coast Live Oak #14 being removed.

For the 2013 year, PG&E replaced the negotiating team (with whom we had worked since 2010), with two new personnel.  This meant starting from scratch.  We entered this year’s discussions with the new team who chose not to follow the previously schedule or plan of discussions used in the past.

On Feb. 14, the new PG&E lead negotiator met with us in both parks with a list of 10 trees to be removed the first part of March.  We agreed with the removal of two of the trees, and campaigned to save the remaining eight.  PG&E offered to give three trees a reprieve, but insisted on removing the other five.  MFPA President Linda Wilson and Vice President Mike Kalashian then met with District 10 Councilman Johnny Khamis who was very willing to provide help.

After discussions with a PG&E source, who had worked with Nancy Pyle in 2010, and both Councilman Khamis and the Senior Program Manager in charge of Transmission Vegetation Management South at PG&E, MFPA was able to achieve the following results:


  • PG&E removed a Chinese Pistache tree from TJ Martin Park and a Coast Live Oak from Jeffrey Fontana Park in March.  Both were located under the center of the 230 kv lines.
  • In August, PG&E will trim 2 Blue Oaks in Jeffrey Fontana Park that had been slated for removal in 2013, and agreed to trim them annually as needed.
  • Regretfully, in last year’s discussions, we had agreed to the removal of 2 Golden Rain trees in Fontana in 2014.  PG&E donated 18 new trees in 2012 to mitigate this loss.
  • Three multi-trunked crepe myrtles PG&E had slated for removal were placed on a year to year watch and monitor list.   MFPA growth charts for the last four years have shown that these trees have not grown any higher and are not likely to do so in the future.
  • This December PG&E will follow the original time line and procedure of discussions used in the past for their 2014 review of the park trees.


Our Spring of 2013 Newsletter is here

Spring Newsletter

Click on Newsletter for pages 1 thru 4.

Annual MFPA General Membership Meeting

Sat, January 26th, from 10:30 am to 11:45 am

at the

Villas of Alamaden Clubhouse*

2012 marked another year of activities in the TJ Martin & Jeffrey Fontana Parks.  Negotiations with PG&E resulted in the removal of only one tree this past year, a mature Holm Oak in Fontana Park, along with some volunteer scrub oaks across for Tree 13.

We invite you to attend our third annual General Membership Meeting on Saturday, January 26th, 2013.  The slate of officers for 2013 will be formally elected and members will learn about the latest 2013 PG&E negotiations and hear about the park restoration and enhancement activities being planned for 2013.

Enjoy refreshments and meet your neighbors.

*You will be greeted by a person at the Villas entrance on Meridian who will open the gate and give directions to the clubhouse.

Be sure to check out the latest Master Plan Update for our Parks

Original Photo by Janna Pauser, October 2012 (altered)

Original Photo by Janna Pauser, October 2012 (altered)

We want to give Patrick Pizzo, Larry Sasscer, Dave Poeschel, and Sunny Wagstaff, a big ‘Thank You’ for all their hard work getting this published.