Jun 7 2016

Sycamore Tree Saved: Approval and Denial at Planning Commission

At the Planning Commission’s meeting on May 9, 2016, the commissioners reviewed proposed changes to houses in Piedmont, considering their effect on the neighborhood and the city. The Planning Commision meets once a month to make sure that individuals who modify their residences don’t change Piedmont’s image or feel. On May 9th, two families house modifications were reviewed.

The residents at 122 Monte Ave were proposing building a new multiple car garage under their house. Trellises were being proposed to hide this new addition, but one neighbor objected saying that this garage would look unsightly and that someone pulling out of it may scrape his car. The Commission approved this addition, but suggested that pavers be introduced to reduce the hardscape.

However, another proposal for 132 Hillside Ave was denied. The residents of 132 Hillside wanted to increase the footprint of their guest house and of their main house. This would require the removal of one of the sycamore trees.

Multiple neighbors spoke out and said that these additions would greatly increase the bulk of the house and obscure views from their houses. The neighbors did not want their names mentioned.

I spoke at this point, expressing my concern that one of the sycamore trees was to be removed. I think that sycamore trees are a major part of Piedmont and characterize the city and it would be wasteful and unsightly to destroy an old tree for a larger garage.

The Planning Commission denied the proposal because they too thought that the sycamore tree should be preserved and the house would become too bulky after the additions.

After the meeting, I interviewed the architect for the 132 Hillside proposal, Gary Parsons, and he explained that many plans get denied and that he would rather see the plans denied than see the relationships between the neighbors ruined. He intended to revisit the plans with the owners and perhaps modify the drawings.

By Oliver Hsu, Piedmont High School Senior

Editors’ Note: Opinions expressed are those of the author.

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