Letter to the Editor: Sudden Oak Death Affecting Belmont's Trees

Belmont resident Burce Glassner is concerned about the health of the community's live oaks.

Dear Editor;

We’ve heard several recent news reports about “sudden oak death,” a tree disease moving along the N. California Coast and currently affecting all counties from Sonoma south to Monterey.  Concerned about the live oaks on our upper hillside, and also planning new landscaping in front of our home, I did some online research… and the results are alarming.  This is a big deal.

The disease affects and kills virtually all native coastal oak species.  It’s spreading rapidly and may destroy virtually the entire native oak forests, including parklands in Marin and Big Sur as well as oaks in our own “urban border” landscaping. 

A California Oak Mortality Task Force has been formed and offers considerable information on the disease, symptoms and treatment.  I’m including a link to this information below.  Here are a few key facts:

  1. The pathogen that causes Sudden Oak Death is Phytophthora ramorum, a water fungus which spreads via spores carried by rainwater and can also be spread by passing animals and people, firewood and cleared brush.
  2. The fungus spores spread onto oaks in splashing raindrops from many types of nearby trees and shrubs which are not affected (as yet) but serve as hosts and transmitters.
  3. The Phytophthora ramorum fungus is identical to the disease affecting European rhododendrons - in Europe, P. ramorum has been identified on nursery plants in Germany, Spain, France, Poland, Belgium, Sweden, Italy, the Netherlands, and the U.K. 
  4. The first visible symptom of Sudden Death Oak infection is a seeping red-brown liquid on the tree trunk – but certain diagnosis requires a trained arborist and a state laboratory test.
  5. There is currently no cure – but an effective preventative treatment, Agri-Fos,  was approved by the California Department of Pesticide Regulation in October 2003. It must be used prior to infection to be fully effective.

Here is URL of the very informative California Oak Mortality Task Force site – including a list of arborists who have been formally trained in the disease diagnosis and Agri-Fos treatment:  http://www.suddenoakdeath.org/

Hopefully, this will get us started on protecting our own oaks… and the beautiful wooded character of our community.


Bruce Glassner


Alvy Singer December 06, 2012 at 06:28 PM
Concerned Belmont Taxpayer, What do you feel about saving the trees in Belmont? Should they start a spraying program to preserve the oak trees? It sounds like you don't have the experience to run for city council so how about rely on the city council then as they have experience? So you don't own a business, you work for companies on the Peninsula and San Jose. What type of work do you do? How has all of these other than CSUS projects that Belmont turned down affected you and your family? It sounds like you work for companies, and don't own a business, so why would you be angry if they turn down a small business? What about traffic on Ralston trying to get to your job? Do you go up Ralston to 280 in the morning commute usually. Why would you not appreciate Coralin's perspective that helps prevent traffic on your way to work?
Alvy Singer December 06, 2012 at 06:29 PM
Concerned Belmont Taxpayer - I agree with you that the streets are crumbling and we need to do something. What street do you live on? What condition is it and what do you feel needs to be done?
Concerned Belmont Taxpayer December 07, 2012 at 01:25 AM
rmondell, the whole traffic argument was a red herring. THERE WERE FOUR PROFESSIONAL TRAFFIC STUDIES DONE. ALL OF THEM SAID THE TRAFFIC WOULD INCREASE BY A VERY SMALL PERCENTAGE. The traffic problems in Belmont are down by the 101/El Camino/Ralston Avenue interchange, not on the upper part of Ralston by Hallmark. If you are upset about traffic take it up with Oracle. CSUS was a very small private school grades 6 - 8 with 240 students...Look there is really nothing else to say Belmont blew it and if people do not agree with the type of decision making we have in Belmont...people need to get involved, pay attention and vote. WE COULD HAVE USED THE $1 MILLION DONATION TO FIX THE ROADS IN BELMONT AND THE $250,000 TO FIX THE INTERSECTION AT DAVIS DRIVE.
Alvy Singer December 08, 2012 at 03:54 AM
Concerned Belmont Taxpayer It sounded like a lot of money that could have been used to fix the roads. I recall Coralin mentioning that the Dept of Education would have grabbed a lot of the money and very little would have been available for roads etc. However I agree with you that at some point the roads have to be repaved. What street do you live on? It sounds really in bad shape and if you paid a lot for your house during the housing bubble, I can see why you would be pissed. Why not take some pictures?
Michael Williams December 18, 2012 at 12:00 AM
Thanks, Alvy, for actually addressing the issue of protecting our oak trees. It appears we have some angry, obsessive and bullying neighbors... perhaps they would benefit from sitting under one of our beautiful oaks and relaxing some sphincters. I don't really understand the burning need for more businesses here. We've found that most of our weekly shopping can be done here in town... and all we could possibly need is readily accessible in San Carlos, Redwood City and San Mateo. We seem to have have a wealth of excellent schools, both public and private at all levels... and the students we've seen are particularly well-behaved. Our Belmont city government is very well organized and delivers very high quality services. Our police, firemen and EMTs are extremely professional and effective. Our mayor and city council members seem to have been engaged, concerned, thoughtful and responsive on several recent issues. Their only sin seems to be not agreeing with a handful of residents and their shrill demands. That's the inherent problem with democracy. You don't always get what you want.


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