Hell has frozen over. Contra Costa Democrats and Republicans will hold a joint news conference Wednesday to encourage PG&E to work more closely with local governments in managing its landscape removal program. The event takes place May 14, at 2:30 pm, at the Len Hester Park, 1039 Hampton Dr in Concord (Bancroft & Hookston near the Iron Horse Trail).
In a joint statement obtained by Halfway To Concord, Chuck Carpenter and Becky Kohlberg, the Central Committee chairpersons respectively for the County Democratic and Republican parties, encourage PG&E to work more closely with local county and city governments and residents as PG&E works to improve pipeline safety by the clearing of trees, scrubs, and other obstacles from the pipeline’s proximity.
The PG&E program to remove trees obstruct access to gas pipelines began earlier in the year for its Pipeline Pathway project, but is currently on hold as conflicts between residents, cities, and PG&E tree removal raised opposition.
‘We are grateful for PG&E’ efforts to improve their ability to maintain, inspect and safely operate their pipeline systems in Contra Costa,’ said Democratic Central Committee Chairman Chuck Carpenter. ‘We expect the company to plan and work closely with residents, City Councils, and other government entities to carry out their effort in a way that benefits our residents and all concerned.’
‘We expect PG&E to establish a comprehensive communication plan, follow local government regulations and permitting processes and compensate cities and/or residents for the work done and landscaping removed from each site,’ added Becky Kolberg, Chair of the Republican Central Committee. ‘And we expect PG&E to return all sites to an appearance acceptable by each city.’
At the urging of Concord City Councilmenber Edi Birsan, both political parties have passed resolutions calling upon PG&E to work with local governments and their regulations to quickly complete the work and make every effort to upgrade pipeline access and safety while maintaining the beauty of each site.
In a statement made to NBC News Bay Area on April 23, PG&E spokesperson Debbie repeated PG&E’s desire to work with cities and residents. “We realize we could have done a better job communicating,” Felix said. “We are sitting down with every city. For the time being, we have paused this program. Until we have an agreement in place with each city, we are not removing any trees under this program.”
See the Resolutions by the Contra Costa Democratic and Republican Parties below.
Resolution by the Democratic Party of Contra Costa County
San Francisco East Bay municipalities, landowners, and residents are deeply concerned by the Pacific, Gas, and Electric (P,G & E) plan to clear-cut thousands of local trees on a 20 foot wide path through our communities along the routes of P,G & E gas pipelines. Now, therefore, the Democratic Party of Contra Costa County urges P,G & E:
(1) To listen to and improve communications with stakeholders;
(2) To include all stakeholders in the process;
(3) To enhance on-ground inspections;
(4) To comply with city and county tree, shrub and greenery regulations even if P,G & E believes that it is not required to do so;
(5) To work with local governments and residents to make tree-by-tree assessments and to develop compensation and mitigation measures that consider the impact of tree cutting on our environmental quality and our neighborhood property values;
(6) To make reasonable mitigation efforts – such as trimming rather than removing trees, installing in-ground barriers, or moving the pipeline; and
(7) To clear-cut our greenery ONLY as a last resort, after all stakeholders agree that it is necessary.
The Democratic Party of Contra Costa County
May 12, 2014
Whereas Pacific Gas and Electric has undertaken to remove trees, shrubs, and other landscaping above and along the routes of its gas pipelines in order to ensure access to those pipelines and;
Whereas the cities, property owners, and residents Contra Costa Cities are concerned about the appearance of their properties and streets as well as pipeline safety;
We, the Contra Costa Republican Party, urge PG&E and its subcontractors to:
1.) Establish and maintain a comprehensive communication plan with all stakeholders within the County before starting or resuming work within each city or unincorporated area;
2.) include the following information in their communication plan:
The schedule, scale, scope, and timeline, including start and completion dates, of the work to be completed;
An agreed upon assessment of the work to be completed, including efforts to mitigate complete removal of landscaping and appropriate, adequate, agreed upon compensation or replacement of removed or altered landscaping;
2.) Comply with all city and county regulations and permitting processes, even if PG&E and its subcontractors believe they are not required to do so legally;
3.) Refrain from physically removing any trees, shrubs or other landscaping until reaching an agreement with each city and property owner on the above plan.
4.) Work expeditiously once work has started to complete the work in a timely agreed upon timeframe;
5.) Make every effort to make reasonable alternative mitigation efforts, such as in-ground barriers or moving the pipeline, other than cutting and or removing trees, shrubs and other landscaping.
The Contra Costa Republican Party
Becky Kolberg, Chairman