Someone has decided to make a political and/or environmental statement by protesting the planned removal of a large tree on the site where the new Novato city administrative offices will be constructed over the next 13 months.
The tree, on a strip of city-owned land just off Cain Lane, is one of two large trees that will be taken down next week to make room for the new home for city employees.
The parking lot between the long-closed Novato Community House and the businesses along Grant Avenue will be turned into a corporation yard next week and construction workers will start by excavating to make the underground parking garage for the 19,000-square-foot building.
Possibly inspired by the Dr. Seuss character who "speaks for the trees!," the protester tacked up a sign that makes references to missing the tree when it is turned into firewood.
Artist renderings of the revamped civic center area — Novato City Hall, the old community house, the police station and the new offices — show more trees being planted just off the Novato City Green. Several existing smaller trees are to be dug up and replanted elsewhere on city property, Skinner said. Two large ones, a sweetgum and a blue oak, are to come down.
City engineer Julian Skinner said "no parking" signs are now at the civic center lot across the street from the Novato Police Department, with the effective date starting Monday. Temporary fencing will be erected and construction crews will start bringing in heavy equipment, he said.
A month ago, the Novato City Council awarded a $10.4 million deal to the San Leandro-based Sausal Corporation to build new city offices. The project will bring all city workers to the Old Town area — following guidelines mentioned in the city's general plan — following a nine-year absence. A dilapidated cluster of buildings were all red-tagged by the fire marshal in 2004.
The city has been working for several years to find a way out of a cost-prohibitive lease at the at 75 Rowland Way. In September 2013, the lease will jump from about $650,000 annually to about $750,000. If all goes well with the construction schedule, the new offices would open just prior to that increase.
(Editor's note: Thanks to Michael Prichard of for sharing the photos.)