04.22 Approved Minutes

City and County of San Francisco

DEpartment of the ENvironment

URBAN  FORESTRY COUNCIL REGULAR MEETING

APPROVED MINUTES

 

Tuesday, April 22, 2008, 5:30 p.m.

City Hall, Room 400  

One Dr. Carlton B. Goodlett Place

San Francisco, CA 94102

 

1.        Call to Order and Roll Call.  The Urban Forestry Council Meeting was called to order at 5:38 p.m.   Present:  Chair Milne, Members Blair, Boss, Cohen, Habert (5:45), Nervo, Miller, Quirke, Rodgers, Sherk, and Short; Excused:  Members Griswold, Hillan, Marks, and Sustarich.

 

2.        Adoption of Minutes of the March 28, 2008 Urban Forestry Council Regular Meeting.  Upon Motion by Member Cohen and second by Member Blair, the Meeting Minutes were approved without objection (Absent: Members Habert, Griswold, Hillan, Marks, and Sustarich) (Explanatory Document: Approved Minutes of the March 28, 2008 Regular Meeting) (Discussion and Action).

 

3.        Hearing on Nominations for Landmark Tree Status. The Council will hold a hearing to determine whether the following trees meet the criteria for designation as landmark trees (Discussion and Action):

 

At the conclusion of the hearing, the Council will vote on whether to approve or reject the nominations and shall adopt written findings to support its decision.  The Council will forward approved nominations to the Board of Supervisors for further consideration.

 PRESENTER: Landmark Tree Committee Chair Mike Boss

 

Monterey Cypress (Cupressus macrocarpa, located at 2626 Vallejo Street, Assessor’s Block 0953, Lot 006.

 

Chair Milne described the Landmark Tree Ordinance process for designating trees for landmark tree status in San Francisco.  It was explained that the Landmark Tree Committee hears details and specifics of the case and makes recommendations to the Urban Forestry Council.  Chair Milne indicated that the Chair of the Landmark Tree Committee would make a report and then the nominee and the public would be given an opportunity to provide comment.

 

Member Boss, Chair of the Landmark Tree Committee stated that one of three actions the Council can take after the hearing are to (1) vote to recommend that this nomination be approved for landmark tree status to be forwarded to the Board of Supervisors; (2) vote not to recommend, in which case the nomination goes no further; or (3) take no action by a split vote, and it would still go to the Board of Supervisors without recommendation.  It was explained that the Council has no official power other than to stop a nomination.   

 

Member Boss reported that the Landmark Tree Committee met on April 8th to consider the landmark nomination of the Monterey Cypress at 2626 Vallejo Street and voted unanimously (4-0) to recommend landmark tree status.  Written findings of the Committee were presented to the Council (Explanatory Document:  Written Findings).   It was explained that the tree had a couple of potentially unusual features; the pruning habit was not typical, and the tree had a low branching habit but was not considered to be a hazard.  The Committee found that the Monterey Cypress was not the most spectacular Monterey Cypress in the city, is not the biggest and oldest, but is still significant or unique enough to qualify the tree for landmark status.

 

Property Owner and Nominator:  Ms. Harriet Heyman described the neighbors and her discontent with the original aesthetic of the tree when the property was first purchased and described the subsequent pruning that was accomplished in order to make the tree presentable.  Ms. Heyman expressed her neighbors and her happiness with the current appearance of the tree and indicated it is a central design feature of her garden.

 

Upon Motion by Member Rodgers and second by Member Cohen, the Monterey Cypress at 2626 Vallejo Street was recommended for landmark tree status with Landmark Tree Committee findings to forward to the Board of Supervisors (AYES: Chair Milne, Members Blair, Boss, Cohen, Habert, Nervo, Miller, Quirke, Rodgers, Sherk, and Short) (Absent: Members Griswold, Hillan, Marks, and Sustarich).  (Explanatory Document: Final Resolution Packet).

 

Howell’s Manzanita (Manzanita hispidula), located at 115 Parker Avenue, Assessor’s Block 1064, Lot 002.

 

Member Boss stated that the presence of the Manzanita at 115 Parker Avenue before the Council challenges standards and assumptions of the Landmark Tree Ordinance which includes the basic understanding of what is a tree, what does large mean, and what the intent of the Ordinance is.  It was explained that the definition of a tree as defined by City Code, which was adopted in the Ordinance, is vague and after preliminary discussions and considerations of the Landmark Tree Committee, it would not be unreasonable to conclude that there is no precise definition that could or should be applied to the term tree.  The actual definition is that a tree is any large perennial plant having a woody trunk or trunks, branches and leaves.  There is an addendum that it also includes palms because the trunk of a palm tree is technically not wood. 

 

Member Boss asked the Council to consider in their deliberation in this particular case what would separate a tree from a shrub.  It was recommended that this subject be considered by the Landmark Tree Committee and the Urban Forestry Council at a future time.  It was explained that aside from any technical definitions of a tree, there are other considerations such as what the Board of Supervisors intent was when drafting this ordinance, what do the people of San Francisco generally consider a tree to be, what would be the ramifications of the work of the Council and other agencies within the city in general if a broader versus a narrower definition of a tree were to be used. 

 

Member Boss discussed the rarity of the tree and the Landmark Tree Committee Written Findings as described in the Explanatory Document.  It was reported that the Committee’s vote was split two to two and was forwarded to the Council without recommendation.

 

Property Owner and Nominator:  Ms. Rose Hillson described the Manzanita as a rare and unique tree in her backyard that sits in the center of the rear lot line of her property.  It was explained that Ms. Hillson’s side yard is open to the street and is visible from the street. Ms. Hillson reported that the Manzanita is rare and is the only one in San Francisco based on the DNA evidence her scientists have been working on.  It was reported that the Manzanita relates to the cemeteries in the area and has ethnic appreciation as the native civilization had used the Manzanita for food, wood for making houses, and dyes to color their basketry.  The Manzanita is visible from the rear with at least six neighbors able to view it.  It defines neighborhood character from its association with cemeteries that used to be in the area.  The tree is in great health and is an important habitat plant for birds and insects. The tree has good position, has character defining form, and is a beautiful native specimen.  It was explained that the primary owner was a Laurel Hill Cemetery laborer and gardener, and if he had planted the Manzanita when he started gardening, which was in 1900, that would have made the plant 108 years old, but no one really knows its age.

 

Public Comment

 

Mr. Roy Leggitt, Consulting Arborist, spoke in support of landmarking the Manzanita and indicated that the plant was “tree like” and does not see any problem with it being a tree as it has a single trunk. Mr. Leggitt indicated that he does not see the trunk not being vertical as an issue as there are many trees that do not have vertical trunks.  The potential for this plant is for it to grow more and be in compliance with the large size criteria of a tree.  It was stated that because the Manzanita is the only one of its kind, it should be considered for landmark tree nomination.  Mr. Leggitt indicated that it is biologically healthy and does not see problems with the tree.  It has a full balanced canopy of foliage and is vigorously growing. 

 

Mr. Tom Parker, Professor of Biology, San Francisco State University, coauthor for the “Treatment of Manzanitas” for the Floor of America and the New Jepson Manual.  Mr. Parker stated that Member Boss prepared an excellent summary and added that the plant has not been completely identified yet and is potentially a new species or way out of its range but would be normal for the City.  It is definitely not a plant that is in cultivation that you can go to a nursery and purchase, and suspects that it is native to the location.  It was stated that Laurel Hills Cemetery was the type locality for Manzanitas in the city.

 

Mr. Mike Vasey, Lecturer at San Francisco State University and a biologist that has been studying this group for many years.  Mr. Vasey thanked Member Boss for an excellent summary of the discussion at the Landmark Tree Committee. It was stated that this Manzanita is a great mystery that is an individual shrub, tree or specimen that occurred at Laurel Hills Cemetery, an area where another species endemic to San Francisco is extinct, the Franciscan Manzanita.  Mr. Vasey appreciates Ms. Hillson’s efforts to conserve the specimen and supports landmarking the Manzanita as it is truly a unique entity. Mr. Vasey indicated that they would eventually make a determination as to how to recognize it, but indicated that the additional protection and recognition of a unique legacy of our natural heritage is worthy from this group.

 

Member Cohen reported that the intent of the Landmark Tree Ordinance which she had spent a lot of time working on was to define a tree in the broadest sense, and stated that landmark status would protect the Manzanita in the future if property owners were to change. Member Short stated that the Council was talking about whether it should define the urban forest and whether understory plantings as part of the urban forest should be considered.  Member Short and Member Boss recommended that the Council discuss broadening definitions of a landmark tree in the future. 

 

Upon Motion by Member Blair and second by Member Cohen, the Manzanita at 115 Parker Avenue was recommended for landmark tree status with Landmark Tree Committee findings to the Board of Supervisors (AYES: Members Blair, Boss, Cohen, Habert, Nervo, Miller, Quirke, Rodgers, Sherk, and Short) (NOE:  Chair Milne) (Absent: Members Griswold, Hillan, Marks, and Sustarich) (Explanatory Document:  Final Resolution Packet).

 

4.      Election of Urban Forestry Council Officers (Chair and Vice-Chair) (Discussion and Action). Chair Milne reported that as called for in the Council Bylaws, nominations for Chair and Vice-Chair were held in March and elections are to be held in April.  Nominations that were made at the March Council meeting were for Chair Milne (Chair) and Vice-Chair Quirke (Vice-Chair).  Upon Motion by Member Boss and second by Member Rodgers, Chair Milne was reappointed as Chair without objection. Upon Motion by Member Boss and second by Member Rodgers, Vice-Chair Quirke was reappointed as Vice-Chair without objection. (Absent: Members Griswold, Hillan, Marks, and Sustarich.)

 

5.      Approval of Documents for Notification of Landmark Tree Hearings and Discussion of Amendments to Public Works Code Section 810 on Landmark Trees. The Council shall discuss Ordinance Amendments approved by the Board of Supervisors on March 25, 2008 and vote on draft notification documents approved by the Landmark Tree Committee (Explanatory Documents: Ordinance amending Public Works Code Section 810, Draft Landmark Tree Hearing Notices) (Discussion and Action).

 

Chair Milne reported that the Ordinance amendments to Public Works Code Section 810 is to streamline and speed up the landmark tree process and to create a notification process for landmark tree property owners and adjacent neighbors that includes posting notices on the four corners of the block of a street tree nomination.

 

Chair Milne presented an amendment of the whole to the letter.  Member Blair recommended that the Council’s name appear on top of the letter. Member Rodgers suggested that if the Department of the Environment has the resources available, to refer people for information to staff members that could translate the letter in languages such as Cantonese, Mandarin and Spanish.  

 

Upon Motion by Member Blair and second by Vice-Chair Quirke the Amendment of the Whole Letter as presented by Chair Milne was approved with an addition of Urban Forestry Council at the top of the page without objection.  Upon Motion by Member Blair and second by Member Nervo the Landmark Tree Hearing Notice was approved without objection (Absent: Members Griswold, Hillan, Marks, Short, and Sustarich).

 

6.      Ordinance amending the San Francisco Environment Code by amending Section 1202 to reconstitute the membership of the Urban Forestry Council to five members (Continued Discussion from the March 28, 2008 Meeting).

SPONSOR/SPEAKER:  Chair Milne

 

Chair Milne reported that a few Council members, the Council Coordinator, two of Supervisor McGoldrick’s staff members, and two Department of the Environment staff members met with Supervisor McGoldrick, the sponsor of the Ordinance. It was explained that the Supervisor is interested in reducing the number of members on the Council by not including Department members. Chair Milne reported that the Council’s Resolution on this subject was transmitted to the Board of Supervisors and at this time, the legislation was before the Rules Committee and continued to the Call of the Chair.  Supervisor McGoldrick asked for suggestions for an amendment from meeting attendees, but there was no conclusion at that time. It was reported that the legislation would have to go back to the Rules Committee in an amended form to be considered. 

 

Member Miller indicated that other Supervisors may not be in agreement with the proposed amendment and stated that the main concern was member attendance.  Member Miller asked Council members to take responsibility for their attendance at meetings and to step down if they are not able to meet attendance requirements and make the Council a priority.  Member Cohen discussed the history of the creation of the Council and reasons for its present infrastructure.  Member Cohen felt that reducing the membership would be a detriment to the mission of the Council. Chair Boss also felt that attendance issues had to be addressed.  Deputy City Attorney Cabrera stated that the Council has an attendance policy with a reporting requirement. Ms. Fish indicated that the Council Secretary is required to produce an annual attendance report to submit to the Board of Supervisors and Mayor. Member Miller suggested that the Chair or Vice-Chair talk to Council members that have missed many meetings to discuss their commitment.      

 

7.      Staff Report.  Staff will provide updates on Urban Forestry Council administrative and programmatic operations relating to research, planning, funding, outreach, and other related activities (Informational Report and Discussion).

 

Coordinator Hui reported on the following activities:

 

·        A landmark tree map has been created which is now included in the Department of the Environment’s landmark tree web page.

·        The landmark tree page has been updated and additional updates would be made as requested by Council members.

·        Work is being done to gather images of all landmark trees.

·        The draft noticing requirements that were approved by the Landmark Tree Committee and edited and approved today were noticed for this meeting today--sample reports of the addresses notices were sent to are available. Looking for Supervisors to introduce these new landmark trees.

·        A presentation was given to the Landmarks Preservation Advisory Board (LPAB) on the landmark tree program and ordinance on April 16 which Chair Milne attended.  The LPAB asked about a set of trees that they may pursue landmarking in the courtyard near the band shell in Golden Gate Park.

·        Mr. Andres Power, Project Manager for the Urban Forest Plan, Planning Department indicated that a contractor has been chosen.  Ms. Hui is requesting that he make a future presentation either to the Council or the Planning and Funding Committee.

·        The Pruning Guide edits have been submitted and edits are being worked on.

·        A new revised copy of the pruning guide should be printed within the next couple of months.

·        An arborist has been secured for the Annual Pruning Workshop.  The lecture will be held at the Koret Auditorium on June 12 for city staff only.

·        An arborist training class will be offered for people studying to take the arborist certification exam that will run for six weeks this fall on Thursday nights in the Eco Center at 11 Grove St.--there is a cost to attend.

·        Trees were given away to Macy’s for Earth Day.

·        The Mayor’s Office Greening Director has agreed to speak with the Council tentatively next month. 

 

Member Blair asked if the Department had funding available to put signs on buses to preserve our few last landmark or heritage trees. Ms. Hui reported that the Council does not have the budget at this time and indicated that one of the objectives in the coming year is fundraising. Member Cohen recommended that the pruning workshop be also taught in Spanish.

 

8.      Committee Reports: (Informational Reports and Discussion).

Planning & Funding Committee, Chair, Carla Short

The next meeting is scheduled for May 15, 2008 at 4:15 p.m. at City Hall, Room 421.

 

Member Short was not in attendance to issue a report.  Chair Milne announced that there was no meeting in April.

 

Landmark Tree Committee, Chair, Mike Boss

The next meeting is scheduled for May 13, 2008 at 4:00 p.m. at City Hall, Room 421.

 

Chair Boss had no further business to report.

 

9.      Chair’s Announcements: Terry Milne, Chair, Urban Forestry Council (Information and Discussion).

 

·        Chair Milne announced that the Council is expecting the Mayor’s Office Director of Greening to make a presentation at the May meeting.  It was also announced that this upcoming Saturday is National Arbor Day celebrated in all the other 49 states.  Chair Milne asked the Deputy City Attorney how long it would take to have a hearing on 100 trees if there were to be a nomination on the trees in the courtyard of Golden Gate Park.  Deputy City Attorney Cabrera advised that the Ordinance requires that each individual tree have a separate nomination and be considered separately. Chair Milne stated that amendments to the current legislation could be suggested in order to revise these requirements.

 

10.  New Business/Future Agenda Items (Information and Discussion).  Member Cohen reported on her concern that every tree at the Filbert Street Steps and adjacent steps has been topped from the top of the steps to the bottom.  Chair Milne stated that an investigation would be done and a report made at the next meeting.  Member Boss suggested that the Council consider how to hold a hearing on multiple trees at the next meeting.  Chair Milne recommended that a report be issued at the next meeting after discussions with others on how to accomplish this rather than have a separate agenda item.

 

11.  Public Comment:  Members of the public may address the Council on matters that are within the Council’s jurisdiction and are not on today’s agenda.  There was no public comment at this time.

 

12.  Adjournment.  The Urban Forestry Council meeting adjourned at 7:21 p.m.

 

Copies of explanatory documents are available to the public at Department of Environment, 11 Grove Street, San Francisco, California between the hours of 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., by clicking on the links by each agenda item above, or upon request to the Council Secretary at the address listed below, telephone number 415-355-3709, or via e-mail at Monica.Fish@Sfgov.org.

San Francisco Department of the Environment

City and County of San Francisco, 11 Grove Street, San Francisco, CA 94102

 

Respectfully submitted by,

Monica Fish, Council Secretary

 

Approved: May 23, 2008   

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