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Friday, April 13, 2018

The Tattler Presents the Document The City Doesn't Want You To See

To the Emeryville City Council:
Here's the Document Your Staff 
is Withholding From You

In a surprising turn of events, the Emeryville Planning Department has opted to withhold a critical document from the City Council as the Council decides whether to cut down publicly owned street trees on Horton Street, a move that is counter to the Department’s charge to provide pertinent and accurate information to the Council so they can make informed decisions. The document entitled Trees at Old Sherwin Williams Site, was written by SBCA Tree Consulting, the City’s official arborist and commissioned by the Council to determine the health of the street trees bordering the future Sherwin Williams apartment housing development. However the Planning Department feels the Council should not be able to see their own document as they decide the fate of the people’s street trees and so they have left it out of the packet slated for Tuesday’s Council meeting.  
Realizing the importance of transparency and objectivity in City Council decisions, especially those that impact the public’s assets so directly, the Tattler hereby presents to the City Council the document the Planning Department doesn’t want them to see.  

This valuable document will inform the Council the majority of the trees in question are found to be healthy, the opposite of what the staff told the Planning Commission at their March 15th meeting as reported by the Tattler on April 6th.

Even though they didn’t provide the document at the time, the Planning Department staff told the Planning Commission at the March 15th meeting, the health of the trees at the Sherwin site should be considered as that body weighed in on cutting them.  Another consideration brought to the Commission by the staff was whether there is room under the street to underground overhead utility wires or if they should put the wires under the sidewalk making saving the trees more expensive.  Regardless, the staff told the Planning Commissioners the health of the trees is not good and a majority of Commissioners used the poor health as the primary reason for their vote to cut the trees.  The staff never did inform the Planning Commission the arborist had found the trees to be healthy.  

The Planning Department staff has prepared their report for the City Council Tuesday advising them to cut all the trees but they once again have left out the document that proves the trees are healthy.  The newest arborist report the staff did include in the Council’s packet doesn’t report on the health of the trees but rather just gives their monetary value; money the developer normally would have to reimburse to the City as determined by Emeryville's Urban Forestry Ordinance but which the staff incidentally is recommending waiving.

Sherwin Street Trees Also
Informatively,  the Planning staff also recommended to allow the developer to cut down two existing trees on Sherwin Street, trees in no way impacted with under grounding of utility wires. At a December 14th 2017 Planning Commission meeting, the staff said the trees should be cut down regardless but in the case of these Sherwin Street trees, the reasons presented were: A more unified look could be had if all the new trees along the street were lollipops of the same size and species, better soil would be provided and that “significant sidewalk displacement” is presented by both trees (even though new sidewalks will be poured by the developer).  Working within a theme, the staff saw fit to leave out the fact that the official arborist report only noted “sidewalk uplift” with one tree, the other displaying “minor sidewalk uplift”.
Following staff's recommendation, in addition to the waiver of fees recommended for cutting the Horton Street trees, the Planning Commission also voted to cut down the trees on Sherwin Street and waive the fees that would normally be levied there as well.

It is hoped the City Council will make good use of their own arborist’s document meant to gauge the health of the trees the staff is recommending be cut down. 

From City Arborist Report 'Trees at the Old Sherwin Williams Site':
The staff says the decision makers should know about the health of the street trees but they told
them the trees are "unhealthy" regardless that 12 of the 14 in question are fair to good health.


  1. Good job Tattler. Nice that you obtained their own document to hang 'em with. I just made a comment on the E'Ville Eye about how the Editor there likes to use copy and paste technique to highlight stuff from people with something to sell. The opposite of the Tattler where digging for incriminating documents is the mode of the day. I expect I'll be censored or banned from the EE after my on the mark comment.

    1. Yes, I imagine you will be blocked. That's what our good friend Rob Arias does. He blocks people that are critical of him. He blocked me long ago. A journalist that can't take criticism or be held to account for his content. That's not much of a journalist as you said earlier (presuming you are the same Anonymous). Thanks for the comment.

    2. It's an exaggeration to say Rob is only copy and paste. He wrote a few lines of original copy to support the failed Superintendent of the Schools as an intro to the School District press release he posted. He writes about stuff he's passionate about like for instance he does his own favorable food reviews for Emeryville businesses. And he writes hard hitting stories against working poor people , the homeless and Emeryville's Minimum Wage Ordinance. So you can see it's not all copy and paste over there at that center of crack investigative journalism.

  2. Thanks for this story. The credibility of the planning dept is shot with this nice piece of investigative journalism. It's obvious the staff has an agenda and they don't want to give the city council any info that would have a tendency to steer the council towards saving the trees. I don't see how the staff can recover from what you have proven here. Good job Tattler. Keep fighting back!

  3. The sidewalk definitely has been displaced in multiple locations and is a hazard for walking. More than half those trees are dead or ailing.

    1. If you know more than SBCA Tree Consultants about tree health as you imply you do, then you should apply at City Hall to take over the contract. Will you charge the same or less than SBCA charges? We're always looking for better taxpayer value. Let me ask, where did you receive your diploma? Should we tell SBCA to pack it up and vamoose?

  4. How does a report about the health of the trees in 2014 (which reports the health as not so great) tell us anything about the health of the trees in 2018?

    There are plenty of people pushing up daisies today whose health was "fair" in 2014. Just drive down the street (in 2018, not in your DeLorean time machine), and compare the trees on the east and west sides of the street. The west side is mostly dead or near dead and the east side is thriving.

    You never cease to amaze with your tendency to misrepresent facts to suit your personal whims. If the "the city doesn't want you to see" that document, maybe it's because it would be incredibly stupid to base a decision in 2018 on data from 2014 that was already showing that the trees had problems.

    Nurse: "Doctor, there's a patient here who says he's very ill, maybe dying! What should we do?"

    Dr. Tattler: "Quick, get his medical records from 4 years ago stat."

    Nurse: "Here you go doctor. What do they say?"

    Dr. Tattler: "Just as I thought. He was 'fair' in 2014. Tell that weasel he's not sick and he's definitely not dying. Kick him out. Kick him out now!"

    Nurse: "I believe he's dead."

    Dr. Tattler: "He never looked more alive! The scandal! The withholding of information! The cover-up! The science deniers!! In 2014, he was most definitely 'fair'. It says so right here in the report everyone tried to prevent us from seeing, but which I uncovered!"

    Nurse: "Should I get the mop?"

    1. That’s a pretty long winded way of saying we should place all our trust in the City Hall staff and the developers who’s interests they’re representing. Don’t trust the Tattler who “misrepresents the facts” to suit its editor’s “whims”, instead trust the developers and the staff you say.
      What whims might those be?
      On one side you’ve got those who stand to gain materially by lying and the other who don’t stand to so gain. So who’s side do you, Mr Anonymous gravitate towards? The side who’ll benefit by lying. That’s pretty illuminating as to your critical thinking skills…or lack thereof. But pay no mind, let’s move on.

      Remember, it’s not the Tattler that told the people of Emeryville the trees in question are unhealthy, it was the (well paid) staff. But how do they know that? Is there expert testimony they can point to to support that? You seem to be aware that public policy should be measurable and not capricious, hence your outrage at the old document prepared by the tree experts being presented by the Tattler in this story. You’re implying there’s some newer source of information from the experts about the health of the people’s trees. What do the experts say about that? Is there a newer document where the experts weigh in on the health of the trees? The answer is no. There’s only one document that tells us the health of the trees and that’s the Dec 2014 document.
      And that document says the trees are in fair to good health (all but two).

      How do those that would materially benefit (and their sycophants at City Hall) by cutting them down spin that? They say they trees are unhealthy. What’s the Tattler have to do with this? The Tattler reported the facts to you. What would you have a news source do? Lie and side with those who would materially benefit by cutting down the people’s trees? If that’s what you expect, the news source you trust to lie on behalf of the corporations wishing to degrade the public commons? Then you’re reading the wrong Emeryville news source. May I suggest the E’Ville Eye for you? It’s editor, Rob Arias takes the side of those who want to profit from extracting from the public commons without compensating the public: it’s the site that comforts the comfortable. You’re clearly reading the wrong news site.

      But back to your complaint; you say it’s stupid for the politicians (and the citizens) to learn about the health of the people’s trees from the document they commissioned that was prepared to answer that question and instead get the information how exactly? Should they just trust the developers who want to cut the people’s trees, those who would increase their profit margin by cutting the trees? Again, you’re reading the wrong news site. Go to the E’Ville Eye for the pro-business slant you so desperately crave. The Tattler reported the facts…the facts you don’t like.

    2. And again as I said to you before, if you have information the official arborists of the City of Emeryville are wrong and that you're the one that knows about the true health of trees, then you should submit your resume to the City. I want good value for my tax dollars and presumably, you'll present your credentials to the City Manager and she'll be blown away by your awesome tree knowledge prowess. The arborists at SBCA Tree Consultants only have Masters Degrees in tree science. It sounds like your expertise can bury those silly Masters Degree holders at SBCA Good luck! Let's help the developer out and cut those darn trees!