Burlingame may decide fate of Tom the Tree tonight

A tree grows in Burlingame, and not just on the side of the road, presenting a controversial problem to a city known for tree preservation.

The Burlingame City Council will discuss the contentious issue of a burly eucalyptus tree — “Tom the Tree” — who after an estimated 70 to 100 years of life by the side of 1800 Easton Drive has decided to extend his roots under the roadway.

“It presents a safety concern,” Burlingame Asst. Public Works Director Syed Murtuza said. The root has pushed a hump of concrete up into the roadway, taking away a portion of one lane, according to Murtuza.

“Traffic has to go into the opposite lane to avoid the hump, making it effectively a one-lane road,” Murtuza said.

But a number of residents have come forward opposing the tree's removal, and Burlingame's longtime status as a Tree City, USA community – so named by the National Arbor Day Foundation for its commitment to “community forestry” -further complicates matters,according to Murtuza.

“This is a very sensitive and very controversial issue in Burlingame,” Murtuza said.

After the Public Works Department petitioned to have the tree removed, the City Council moved to have a reforestation plan drafted and since has been reviewing alternative proposals.

The City Council “may make a final decision,” Murtuza said, when it meets again tonight for further discussion and input from the public.

The meeting begins at 7 p.m. in the council chamber at City Hall, 501 Primrose Road, Burlingame.

— Bay City News

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