Peninsula's Granny Spared

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Associated Press
    This is not Granny, but it is an oak tree.

    A centuries-old oak tree in San Mateo County in the path of a $4.6  billion water system upgrade will be preserved thanks to an agreement reached  between neighbors, the county and the San Francisco Public Utilities  Commission.

        The tree, which North Fair Oaks neighbors nicknamed "Granny" and  is estimated to be at least 150 years old, stands in the path of a project to  upgrade the Hetch Hetchy water delivery system so that more than two million  Bay Area residents will have a safe water supply in the event of a major  earthquake.     Negotiations to preserve the valley oak reached an impasse in  August, but on Monday the SFPUC, the county and neighbors jointly announced  that public money will be spent to tunnel beneath the tree's roots to allow  the construction of the new water supply pipeline to move forward.
        "We believe that the preservation of this oak tree fits into the  county's future proposed use of the space," SFPUC General Manager Ed  Harrington said in a statement.
        The agreement calls for the possible future creation of a public  park. He said, "This solution represents a win for everyone involved."
        The SFPUC had been in discussions with neighborhood residents  since May, but it was only in the last few weeks that the county presented a  draft environmental review of the public park proposal.
        "San Mateo County is always identifying creative opportunities  that expand our public open spaces," Supervisor Rose Jacobs Gibson said.
        Ron Van Theil, a neighborhood representative, said that residents  were satisfied by the solution.
        "The neighbors who have worked long and hard during the last four  months had one ultimate goal: to identify the least invasive option to  preserve this irreplaceable natural resource while ensuring water for this  important project," Van Theil said.
        Tunnel work will commence this fall after crews complete boring  under U.S. Highway 101 as part of the seismic improvement project.