Burlingame's ‘Tom’ is victim of tree vandals

Although the fate of Tom the Tree, a towering eucalyptus tree growing into the intersection of Easton Drive and Cabrillo Avenue, has yet to be determined, a vandal stated the opinion “CUT HERE” in spray paint and dotted a line around the trunk of the century-old tree.

The graffiti was removed Tuesday morning after Parks and Recreation Department officials were notified.

Bob Disco, the city’s parks crew supervisor, said crew workers covered the graffiti with spray paint that matched the tree’s hue. According to Burlingame police Cmdr. Brad Floyd, the incident was not reported to police and was treated by the Parks and Recreation Department as a routine graffiti incident.

The blue gum eucalyptus tree has been the center of a hot debate over the city’s tree policy. After the City Council narrowly approved dismantling and replacing the tree in December, Mayor Terry Nagel tabled the action, saying it will be revisited after the adoption of a formal tree master plan, which is expected to happen Aug. 20.

Preservationists say cutting down a healthy tree would set a new precedent that would endanger other healthy trees. People who support cutting the tree down say it impedes the vision of drivers and pedestrians.

“The tree is so beautiful, and it’s huge,” said Corinne Pitre, a Burlingame resident on Cortez Avenue for 38 years. Mary Ann Martinez, a 47-year resident who lives on Cabrillo Avenue, said to get the axe.

bfoley@examiner.com

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