Eucalyptus along Avenue Cabrillo

The eucalyptus trees along the median at Avenue Cabrillo in El Granada are among those targeted for eventual removal. Adam Pardee / Review

After residents called for immediate action to mitigate fire risk in El Granada, San Mateo County is set to spend $500,000 of Measure K funding to remove up to 220 eucalyptus trees in the medians in El Granada.

If the funds are approved at the county’s budget hearing this week, the project could begin within the next two months and be completed by the end of the year, county Department of Public Works Deputy Director Khoa Vo said in a presentation to the Midcoast Community Council last week.

The first priority would be removing all 44 trees in the circular “C-1” and “C-2” zones along Avenue Cabrillo at the Columbus Street and The Alameda intersections. The county would pay contractors to cut down the trees, haul off the remnants, grind down the stumps and cover the medians with mulch. Then, contractors would move to the “R” zones, first removing branches that hang over roadways followed by any dead limbs that are two inches or wider. If funds remain, the next priority would be thinning dense clusters of trees within the “R” zones.

Vo said leaders from Cal Fire, the Parks Department, and the Department of Public Works worked together to map and prioritize zones that would be more critical in stopping progress of a fire from moving from Quarry Park into the main avenues of El Granada.

“If there is no break, the fire would continue on its path from the park through the community,” Vo said. “Just based on that evaluation, and looking at aerials, we felt and we believe this would be the best area to address in terms of reducing the potential of fire.”

Vo said contractors estimate that it may take two to three days and $10,000 to remove each tree. After the trees are gone, the area would be seeded with native plants and covered with mulch.

The funding is a one-time source, but it’s not the only project in the works for fire prevention in Quarry Park. County Parks has dedicated $1.2 million to fuel management on 218 acres of Quarry Park in the next five years, and the San Mateo Resource Conservation District is spearheading a fuel management study of the entire community.

While some MCC members worried about the aesthetics of clearing trees from the neighborhood, most agreed that fire prevention is more important than the visual impact on El Granada. The one-time funding would not cover ongoing maintenance of the medians or future replanting.

“Personally, I don't care about the aesthetics,” MCC member Gregg Dieguez said. “I want the fire safety first. I would like to see every dime spent on reducing the fire risk.”

Although Granada Community Services District has a contract to use the median space for parks and recreation facilities, GCSD leaders said at the MCC meeting that the district doesn’t have jurisdiction over the spaces and wouldn’t be responsible for replanting or maintaining them.

“Unless we can find the connection to recreation and parks, it will be difficult to find a way for GCSD to play a role here,” said Barbara Dye, who serves on the GCSD board but spoke at the meeting as a resident of El Granada.

Sarah Wright is the deputy editor for the Review. She reports on unincorporated San Mateo County and local schools. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Foreign Service from Georgetown University and has worked in policy and communications in Washington, D.C.

(6) comments


I lived on the Alameda in the 1970's. Those tree roots invaded/clogged the sewer main lines and my landlady Suzanne had her car smashed by a limb. The insurance company refused to pay. But they do smell good and are very beautiful. Native shrubs have evolved to reproduce via burn cycles. There are no native trees to the area. Not the Monterey pine and not the Monterey cypress. This area, until recent pre-tract home/colonization was chaparral, wetlands and coastal prairie


After surviving several severe fire seasons in California, I'm applauding this decision. Several members of my family lost their homes in fires in the past few years, due in part to the kindling - trees - surrounding their homes and neighborhoods. I have walked through this area many times, and can imagine a beautifully-planted median strip, where folks can still take their walks, inspired by the beauty of newly-planted native/compatible gardens. I know that change is often difficult for us, and perhaps those trees are part of good memories for some residents, but some changes can be positive.

here ya' go

“ and can imagine a beautifully-planted median strip, where folks can still take their walks, inspired by the beauty of newly-planted native/compatible gardens.”

>>>It is a great thought. Thing is, it’s not part of the plan.

Dan Stegink

Large waths of SMC's Parks system are Eucalyptus trees. You could walk from Half Moon Bay up to Daly City or to the other side of the bay without ever being more than twelve feet from a eucaluyptus.

here ya' go

“Why stop there?!” said the gophers.


For fire safety, it is an excellent idea.

For removing an invasive non-indigenous tree that is difficult to contain, it is also an excellent idea.

For removing a driving risk of falling limbs or falling trees, it is also an excellent idea. I know a woman who experienced a tree falling on their car and her husband died and she sustained neck and back injuries.

For the bird and other species that use this tree, there are plenty of other locations. Great Horned Owls love eucalyptus trees, but they have many other choices that are not in roadway medians.

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.

More Stories