Peninsula Progress, 1938

Newsletter published to encourage safety in Burlingame by promoting destruction of eucalpytus and pine trees on El Camino Real.

Title: Peninsula Progress
Year: 1938
Accession  no.: 89-297 NEWSLETTERS

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Published As Frequently As Conditions Demand By

J. Frank Adams


Frank Parlato

Dedicated To People’s Welfare, Safety,

Municipal Activities, Developments, Promotions,

Publicity, Advertising, Transportation,

Improvement of El Camino Real, Etc.

JULY 1938


The Peninsula Progress has been urgently requested to acknowledge receipt of those signatures appearing on the popular petitions demanding that the hazardous Eucalyptus and Pine Trees along El Camino Real, Easton Drive, East Burlingame Avenue, Southern Pacific right-of-way, and other locations, be removed and replaced by a more desirable and safer tree. The Petitioners also desire to be informed of the progress made in response to their popular petitions.

Representatives of the Burlingame Safety and Welfare Associations, obtaining the names on the petitions, have reported a very friendly reception and a keen desire, on the part of all the signatories, to participate in a community of effort to safeguard their lives and property. An extremely hazardous condition exists for those living under trees and, on account of this troublous hazard, many a sleepless night is being experienced. Frequently these storm-tossed, rotten-rooted trees cause such extreme nervousness and desperation that tax-paying citizens and others have preferred to take refuge in their basements and elsewhere rather than to risk their lives in bedrooms which might, in one fearful moment, be blotted out by tons of death-dealing eucalyptus or pine trees falling. Nor is this the only trouble these menacing trees are causing. Certain agents are informing prospective renters and buyers not only to consider any homes where eucalyptus or pine trees are in close proximity, thereby causing property values to decrease.

Five families living in the vicinity of Edgehill and El Camino Real were ordered out of their homes by City authorities, as the hazards were too great to dare allowing them to remain.

Although thousands of signatures could have been obtained, if time permitted, nearly 500 signatures on February 28, 1938, petitioned the council to put the lives of human beings ahead of the cost of removing and replacing trees. The petitioners were supported by public-spirited citizens and by many letters demanding the immediate removal of this constant, unnecessary danger to life and property.

Councilman Charles Buck states, with characteristic candor (and Councilman Buck does not want on his conscience the responsibility for unnecessary death and destruction), that he did not and would not live under the trees and did not expect anyone else to, and he went on record as favoring the immediate elimination of the hazards. Mr. Buck is a gentleman and a man of his word.

The Council appointed a committee, consisting of Councilman Charles A. Buck, Councilman Allen J. Ward, Superintendent Frank Anderson, City Engineer Cecil Longson, Horticultural Consultant Albert R. Gould, and a State Tree Expert, to immediately inspect all trees and recommend what action should be taken.

An external inspection has been made, but no trees have been bored, therefore the internal or root conditions (the most important of all) has not been determined.

Mr. Gould made a very complete report of each and every tree and recommended boring without delay. The report showed a bad condition. A very small percentage were free from defectiveness. Trees full of termites, creating a hazard not only to the tree but to the houses adjacent. Tree movement, tree rocking, poor root action, decay, top-heavy, overhangs, erosions, dead wood, etc.

A summary of Mr. Gould’s report shows approximately 482 trees to be topped, remove 498 limbs and overhang, 73 trees to be taken down. Total, 1053 cases. (The reason the total is so great is on account of numerous branches on each tree in a dangerous condition.)

Obviously, the results of the inspection should be sufficient evidence to justify the condemnation of all trees. And when boring is completed the general condition will be deplorable. Superintendent Anderson is doing all he can with the small crew he has and, in face of the great danger we are living under, his crew should be drastically increased. Mr. Gould’s report was thorough and efficient, and inasmuch as he is an experienced expert (otherwise the Council would not have engaged him) he should be employed until he has completed the job.

Since the petition was presented to the Council and the committee appointed, numerous trees [page 2] and limbs have been removed and topped and Superintendent Anderson is to be congratulated on the efficient work he has done, considering the small crew he has. Our next issue will show the number of trees and limbs that have been removed and topped, and the work accomplished by the City.

The Councilmen are gentlemen of high standing and want to do the right thing, but they have been hampered by some of the people, “not living under the trees,” fighting for preservation, who did not realize what danger we were living under, but now, after this last storm, we feel that all are in harmony and it is only a question of furnishing Superintendent Anderson sufficient help and having Mr. Gould (horticulturist and tree expert) continue his inspections without interruptions, by boring and examining the core and roots, so that the most serious cases may receive the first attention.

Some time ago, the Council decided to do something about the trees surrounding McKinley School, but the opposition was so great from those not living under the trees, the matter was dropped. Subsequently, a heavy tree fell into the McKinley School, cutting the faces of several girls, and had the tree fallen shortly before it did, many boys and girls would have been killed. Since this occurrance, all of the trees around the school have been removed, but a serious hazard remains, for inasmuch as all the trees fall to the east, the trees on El Camino Real opposite the school should be removed. This is also true all along the line, to protect pedestrians and school children on foot and in the school buses.

More than a year ago state tree expert inspected the trees from Millbrae to Mills Avenue and on El Camino Real from Bellevue to Floribunda, and they ordered a number of trees and limbs removed, doctoring others. Unfortunately, however, they did not bore for root and internal defectiveness and subsequently six heavy rootless trees came crashing down. The State officials evidently became alarmed and have had an expert boring the trees under their control, showing the results of the first fourteen out of nineteen trees bored have rotten cores and termites. There can be little or no doubt but that the roots will show a rotten condition or no roots.

The trees are old and rotten and never were intended for the purpose they have developed. When the homes located under the trees were originally purchased, the buyers thought of no danger. Quite naturally they felt the City of Burlingame would permit no hazard. The trees fall in calm as well as stormy weather and it is simply miraculous that no one has been killed as its huge trees and limbs came crashing through houses and automobiles.

The Advance Star” is to be commended for their excellent public-spirited support and courage in an effort to safeguard lives, human limbs and property.

Hundreds of our citizens and large numbers from outside out city are studiously avoiding El Camino Real on account of the hazards and autoists park on side streets.

The City claims ownership of the trees but will not pay for any damage caused by them.

You must cooperate constantly. Write to the City Council and sent a copy to “The Peninsula Progress.” Also attend their meetings.

We must succeed in making our homes safe, so we may enjoy peacefulness and happiness and do our part in having the City of Burlingame the safest and most beautiful city.

We know you would like to have y our property clean and attractive, but it can not be done under present conditions, where leaves and tree nuts are constantly dropping. Laws and vegetation will not thrive under eucalyptus trees.

Following are 17 reasons why the eucalyptus and pine trees should be removed:

1.     The roots of said trees extend into the land of petitioners and destroy the growth of vegetation, obstructing petitioners’ right to maintain laws, shrubs and flowers.

2.     The roots of said trees raise the sidewalks and obstruct petitioners’ free use thereof.

3.     The said roots absorb moisture and food value from the land of petitioners and thereby destroy the fertility of the soil.

4.     The enormous size, brittle quality and rotten roots of said eucalyptus trees are a constant menace to the lives, houses and properties of petitioners.

5.     Limbs are constantly falling from said trees and endangering the lives and damaging the roofs and houses of petitioners.

6.     Leave continually fall from said trees, covering the lawns and gardens of petitioners.

7.     Leaves and bark falling from said trees stop up the sewers and fill the gutters on the roofs of petitioners’ homes.

8.     Said eucalyptus trees give off offensive odors and are poisonous, noxious and filthy in their nature.

9.     Said trees damage petitioners’ property by lessening its value.

10.  The necessity of constantly removing rubbing caused by said trees increases the taxes of petitioners and other taxpayers of the city.

11.  Limbs and trees have frequently fallen across said El Camino Real and caused damage to persons lawfully using said highway.

12.  Petitioners are in constant danger of being held liable to parties using said highway for damages caused by said trees.

13.  Tourists avoid using said highway because of the dangerous nature of the trees.

14.  Petitioners are obstructed in their right to free passage to and from said highway because of falling limbs and rubbish and the dangerous quality of said trees.

15.  Many trees are full of termites which follow roots to petitioners’ houses, thereby destroying timbers.

16.  Many trees fell, caused by rotten roots or no roots at all.

17.  Wherefore, your petitioners pray that the Mayor and City Council of the City of Burlingame declare that said eucalyptus trees are a public nuisance, as defined by Sections 3479 and 3480 of the Civil Code of the State of California, and that the City of Burlingame, abate said public nuisance by immediately removing said eucalyptus trees.

The Peninsula Progress” was issued only after demands were made by the signatories of the popular petitions for an acknowledgement and what results were accomplished.

The Peninsula Progress” has stuck to actual facts, based on what has happened, and has no desire to reflect on anyone, neither does it wish to startle anyone, as it may be the tree conditions in front of your premises are exceptionally solid. We are depending on those having the authority to furnish a crew adequate to pushing the completion of removing the trees without further delay.


Prior to the completion of the bridges, commuting between San Francisco and the East Bay was slow and dangerous, but now that the bridges have been installed a great many San Francisco people are buying homes in the East Bay and Marin County. Why? The answer may be given in just two words: “Improved Transportation.”

We must demand an improvement in the transportation between San Francisco and San Jose. The busses are old, rough, and noisy. The electric cars roll, jerk, are noisy and rough-riding, and it is high time the Southern Pacific was giving us an electric system in keeping with the rapidly-growing communities they are serving. When prospective buyers and renters use antiquated facilities, they become tired and disgusted before they arrive at their destination. An improvement should have been made long ago and we should fight to a finish to get it.

The next issue of “The Peninsula Progress” will furnish the full details to date of issue on Trees, Transportation, Municipal Activities, Developments, “101” Highway, etc.

Please do not fail to write your letter to the Burlingame City Council 9with a copy to “The Peninsula Progress”) and give us your cooperation towards eliminating a great hazard and a decided nuisance, thereby making your home a safe and peaceful place to live.

Patronize the merchants in the locality in which you reside. You will find their goods and prices comparable to San Francisco and it is really the right thing to do.

The Peninsula Progress” will be printed in San Mateo or Santa Clara County, the districts in which it is operating.

Headquarters will be established as soon as possible. Meanwhile, kindly address Post Office Box 1001, “Broadway,” Burlingame, California.

If you are a renter, will you kindly see that your landlord (owner of property) reads this issue of “THE PENINSULA PROGRESS