Controversy surrounds tree removal by PG&E in SJ

July 1, 2010 7:05:09 PM PDT
PG&E says it listened to the community but some San Jose residents accuse the company of carrying out a chainsaw massacre.

A group of protesters chanted "Shame on PG&E", "The bullies are back" and "Trim don't kill" as a crew hired by PG&E took down 13 trees in two San Jose neighborhood parks. A crowd of about 30 people watched as the work was done at TJ Martin and Jeffrey Fontana Memorial Parks.

A dedicated group of residents has been working for months to try and convince PG&E to trim the trees rather than take them down completely. PG&E says it listened to community concerns and scaled back its original plan to fell 140 trees over a two-year period. On Thursday, PG&E took out 13 trees and is evaluating one more.

"We really worked hard to take into account the needs of the community but our decision is ultimately based on our primary responsibility, and that is providing safe and reliable power," a spokesperson for PG&E said.

PG&E says during the hot summer months, PG&E power lines can sag and there are obvious safety concerns when the lines get too close to trees.

Protestors say PG&E took out a number of trees that would have never come into contact with the power lines and they accuse PG&E of taking out the trees to save the cost of ongoing trimming operations. The group said they had even offered to set up a fund that could be used to pay for trimming the trees.

"It seems like we got to the point where 13 doesn't seem so bad, but to me the future is they are going to go for all 140 and just take the time to do it," Rod Carpenter said.

PG&E says it will work with the community to replant the parks with more suitable vegetation.


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