The rare chimera coast redwood tree standing in the way of SMART's train plans may have found a new home.
The Cotati City Council on Tuesday night will vote on a resolution to accept the tree from Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit, select a replanting site from two potential spots and commit to watering and protecting the tree while it reestablishes itself.
SMART, however, hasn't yet decided whether it will allow the relocation of the 52-foot-tall tree that has lived for nearly seven decades about 15 feet from the existing railroad tracks at East Cotati Avenue.
The Sonoma-Marin rail agency's representatives said they are still gathering additional information on options for the tree.
Tom Stapleton, a former Sonoma County arborist who has led efforts to save the tree, said he submitted three bids to SMART for relocation. He declined to reveal the cost ranges or the names of the companies that offered bids.
SMART spokeswoman Carolyn Glendening said the bids are still being evaluated. She didn't say whether SMART would agree to pay for the move.
Cotati officials have been open to taking custody of the tree and have chosen two possible sites it could be replanted: Helen Putnam Park or the Veronda-Falletti Ranch, which is across the street from City Hall at East School Street and West Sierra Avenue.
City staff members recommended the Veronda-Falletti property, which is already fenced and may require only minor additional temporary fencing to protect the tree from livestock that graze in the open space. That location would require extension of irrigation lines, though, which Putnam Park would not.
After the tree becomes established, the city plans to install an interpretive sign explaining the tree and its history. Cotati said its costs amount to less than $10,000 and would come from developers' park fees.
SMART hasn't set a timeframe for a decision on relocating the tree.
Last summer, SMART moved a second, passing track to the area, which put the tree within the safety zone of the commuter trains the agency plans to begin running in 2016.
Arborists and preservationists raised alarms, arguing that such chlorophyll-deficient redwoods are exceedingly rare, even more so with chimeras, which exhibit both albino and normal foliage on the same branch.
They have argued that felling the tree &#8211; which may be one of only a handful in existence &#8211; could destroy invaluable scientific potential.
Stapleton said the Cotati tree is the only known mature chimera to have produced both male and female cones. Removing the tree would destroy the ability to study the reproductive structure of the chimera's seeds. He said efforts to propagate the tree from cuttings have been unsuccessful.
SMART officials said their analysis shows rail construction would damage the tree and destabilize it, making it a fall hazard in wind. It would also be too close to the planned tracks to meet federal safety guidelines.
But faced with public support for the tree, the agency promised last month to hold off on cutting it down to gather more information.
The tree stands alone between a block wall and the railroad tracks. Neighbors say it has been there since at least 1947.
Tree lovers have embraced the redwood &#8211; some literally &#8211; and started a Facebook page to support its rescue. An online petition on Change.org had almost 500 signatures as of Friday afternoon.