Last night, the Albany City Council adopted a resolution opposing the "Richardson Grove Improvement Project," a Caltrans construction project slated to begin in 2011.
It would mean cutting down 54 trees from Richardson Grove Park to widen a 1.1-mile stretch of Highway 101 for large trucks to pass through safely. According to Caltrans publications, the project wouldn't cut down old-growth redwoods — the largest tree to be removed is seven inches in diameter.
In June, a group of individuals and environmental groups filed a lawsuit in San Francisco Superior Court to prevent the project. The complaint calls it "a case of trucks versus trees" and says the project violates the California Environmental Quality Act, or CEQA. The plaintiffs say the project would be devastating, cutting or damaging the roots of old-growth redwoods much larger than those slated to be removed.
In Albany, Councilman Robert Lieber introduced the resolution, calling for the council to "speak up and protect our beautiful State Park." A number of speakers from around the Bay Area spoke in support of the resolution.
Councilwoman Peggy Thomsen called it a "feel-good and symbolic gesture." She said she would abstain and take personal action instead. She would send letters urging the governor to stop the project and encouraged others to do the same.
"We've often been the first city to take a stand," said Mayor Joanne Wile. She proposed adopting the resolution, and the council approved it with a 3-0-2 vote (with Thomsen and Farid Javandel abstaining). The council also resolved to send a letter to other Alameda County cities to make them aware of the issue.