Neighbors who are trying to save a centuries-old valley oak tree from being cut down to make way for a multibillion-dollar San Francisco Public Utilities Commission project through San Mateo County are "cautiously optimistic" after meeting with agency officials on Tuesday.
Residents of North Fair Oaks met with SFPUC representatives to discuss alternatives to cutting down the tree they nicknamed "Granny," which stands in the path of a $4.6 billion seismic upgrade of the Hetch Hetchy water delivery system.
Neighborhood spokeswoman Mary Ann Mullen said Wednesday that the SFPUC has pledged to continue to research the cost of boring a tunnel beneath the tree's roots that would save the tree and preserve the seismic stability of
the new water pipeline being installed in the area.
"A lot of things need to be considered before any action can be taken," Mullen said.
Resident Wayne Cruz said the meeting was encouraging and called it "the first little step" toward saving the tree, which two arborists independently estimated to be more than 250 years old.
On May 18, SFPUC general manager Ed Harrington sent a letter to residents of 14th and 15th avenues saying that construction around the tree would be halted while he personally evaluates the situation, and that work would not be allowed to start up again before June 6.
The SFPUC had previously argued that removing the tree completely was the only way to protect the integrity of the seismic upgrade.