Will 'Tom the Tree' get the ax?

As the ax comes closer to stumping storied Tom the Tree on Easton Drive, some city officials are wondering whether the drawn-out debate will become an issue during campaign season.

“Everything in Burlingame is political. Even the weather is political,” said Mayor Terry Nagel, who failed to garner support Monday night for turning Easton Drive into a one-way street — a move meant to save the towering century-old eucalyptus tree that has encroached upon the Easton Drive-Cabrillo Avenue intersection. On Monday, the council took no action.

During the council meeting, as Nagel pushed for the one-way street alternative, she found herself on the receiving end of heavy criticism due to an open letter she released the previous week that outlined her views on the tree — a tactic Councilman Russ Cohen called “not good government.” Cohen and Nagel will be defending their seats in the November election.

“This particular issue has illustrated very clearly how each councilmember goes about problem solving,” said Cohen, who wants Tom preserved.

The tree’s destiny has been debated for more than two years.

The council agreed to cut the tree down in December, but after a public outcry, Nagel agreed in January to delay its removal and explore other alternatives, such as realigning Easton Drive around the tree, which also did not win council support.

Nagel said Tuesday that because the split council “will not support any compromise,” she will endorse Tom’s removal and replacement at the June 4 council meeting.

She also has called on community activists to form a nonprofit group that could collect grants to fund future tree projects.

“I feel an urgency to resolve this continuing debate as expeditiously aspossible,” Nagel said.

Challengers Peter Comaroto and Jerry Deal both said Tuesday a resolution on the tree is overdue. Deal said the council should have adopted a general reforestation plan before deciding on Tom.

“The council, through their inactivity has made [trees] a political issue,” said Deal, who attended the Monday meeting. “I’ve talked to a number of people who didn’t really mind whether to take it down [or to leave it], but they were frustrated by how it’s been handled.”

Lori Bainton, a 10-year Easton Drive resident, supports making the road one-way westbound. She said the trees are the reason she moved there.

bfoley@examiner.com


What should Burlingame do about Tom the Tree?

Share your comments below.

Bay Area NewsLocal

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

Protesters turn out Sunday in San Francisco for second day in a row

“To me, it’s everyone’s breaking point,” said Chris Jackson, who handed out water to fellow demonstrators.

Businesses slam proposed COVID-19 worker rehire law as too ‘burdensome’

Supervisor Mar’s legislation would require employers to take back staff at same pay

Curfew to remain in effect Monday night in SF; dozens arrested from Sunday protests

Police chief estimates as many as 6,000 took part in demonstrations

San Francisco mayor calls in 200 law enforcement officers from California to enforce curfew

Mayor London Breed said Sunday morning that she made the request last night as first responders answered calls to dozens of fires and vandalism

Photos: San Francisco businesses clean up the damage: protesters march peacefully

Here are some images from San Francisco on Sunday as businesses began… Continue reading

Most Read