Sebastopol rallies around the bunya bunya tree
Sebastopol’s landmark tree at the corner of Morris Street and Sebastopol Avenue is not a native, but it has stood for so many generations as landmark that many were upset that it might have to go. There will be a meeting about it at 4 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 16, at Sebastopol City Hall.
It is a bunya bunya tree from Australia, and there has been speculation for years that it was planted by Luther Burbank. In Australia, the tree is apparently considered sacred by the Aborigines.
Sebastopol’s bunya bunya is 80 feet tall and male, so there is no danger from falling pine cones, but it is so old and has such a developed root system that the Barlow Project may be forced to cut it down to make room for a pedestrian crossing.
“This was discovered late in construction when they first went to start construction on the crossing,” said Sebastopol Planner Kenyon Webster.
The developers tried to get approval to cut the tree on Jan. 2, but the Tree Board of the Planning Department ruled there wasn’t enough public notice given and continued the item to Jan. 16.
According to Yolanda Lopez, a representative of the Barlow, owner Barney Aldridge is heartbroken. “He loves the tree. We’d love it if we could get the city and CalTrans to push back and relax their standards somewhat. We’ve had the city engineer, our engineer, a landscape architect and an arborist out there to look at it.”
Unless someone comes up with a solution at the Jan. 16 meeting, it appears it’s bye bye bunya bunya, and the end of a living Sebastopol landmark.