07.25 Approved Minutes

City and County of San Francisco

DEpartment of the ENvironment




Friday, July 25, 2008, 10:00 a.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 10:20 a.m.  Present:  Chair Milne, Vice-Chair Quirke, Members Blair, Cohen, Boss (10:30), Habert, Rodgers, Sherk, and Short. Excused:  Members Griswold, Hillan, Marks, Miller, Nervo, and Sustarich.


2.      Adoption of Minutes of the June 24, 2008 Urban Forestry Council Regular Meeting. (Discussion and Action) Upon Motion by Member Cohen and second by Member Blair, the June 24, 2008 Meeting Minutes were approved with an amendment to Page 10, second paragraph, to add a statement to Member Blair’s comments, that reads “At the Natural Areas Program Citizen’s Advisory Committee meeting, scientific members Dr. Joan Roughgarden and Professor Connors agreed that the sustainability of native plants is questionable.” (Explanatory Document: June 24, 2008 Approved Minutes.)


3.      Chair’s Letter to the Board of Supervisors on the proposed legislation to change the membership composition of the Urban Forestry Council. (Discussion and Possible Action). 


Chair Milne reported that at the June 24, 2008 Council meeting, the Council requested that he write a letter to the Supervisors explaining the Council’s position on the proposed membership change proposal. It was explained that the Board of Supervisors Committee did not hold a meeting on July 17 as planned, so the letter was not distributed at that time.  Chair Milne stated that he had been informed by Supervisor McGoldrick’s office that they may make additional changes to the legislation, and that he suggested that additional changes be made available to the Council for discussion at their meeting today, which did not happen.


Chair Milne reported that the next meeting on the proposed legislation is scheduled for the Board of Supervisors Government Audit and Oversight Committee on Monday, August 11, and that there wouldn’t be any additional Supervisors meetings in the month of August after August 13th because of a Board break. Chair Milne stated that he could present his letter at the August 11 meeting, which discusses: (1) the generalities of the membership proposal; (2) the experience and professionalism that Department representatives bring to the Council; (3) how five voting members would not meet the needs of the Council and Committee structure and would not achieve goals mandated by the Urban Forestry Council Ordinance; (4) the Council’s cooperation in voluntarily canceling meetings in order to reduce the number of meetings held throughout the year; (5) how alternate members would not have the required knowledge on the issues if they show up only on occasion as items can be discussed on an ongoing basis; and (6) San Francisco urban forestry policies and procedures would be decided on by only three voting members, which does not constitute adequate representation.


Member Blair reported that she had attended a Democratic County Central Committee that consists of 34 members and includes representation from Supervisors McGoldrick, Peskin and Daly.  Member Blair asked if Supervisor McGoldrick had given any thought to how that Committee functions with that many members as he is questioning how the Council can function with 15 members.


Member Cohen discussed comments made by Members Boss and Sherk asking that the Supervisors provide an answer as to what good could be achieved with this proposal and how the membership change could be better for the Council.  Chair Milne reported that they are good questions, but does not know how to work these into the letter as these questions have been previously asked with no real answer given.


Vice-Chair Quirke suggested waiting to hear about the proposed changes to the legislation before writing the final version of the letter. 


Chair Milne reported that Council Members would be advised of the hearing date as soon as it is finalized and requested that as many members as possible attend the meeting.     


4.      Chair’s Recommendation Letter to the Board of Supervisors on Urban Forestry Funding.  (Discussion) SPEAKER: Chair Milne   


Chair Milne reported that as requested by the Council at their June 24, 2008 meeting, he wrote a letter with Coordinator Hui’s assistance about the urban forestry budget in general. Chair Milne explained that the letter was sent about a month ago to the Board of Supervisors before a vote was taken, but that he did not know the result of the vote taken at that meeting.  (Explanatory Document: Member Milne Letter to Board of Supervisors re. Urban Forest Budget.)


Member Rodgers thanked Chair Milne for helping to represent the Council’s thoughts before the Board of Supervisors as it is a crucial part of the communication process.  Vice-Chair Quirke stated that his understanding was that the urban forestry budget survived intact from what was proposed by the Mayor. 


5.      Proposal for Visible Identification of Landmark Trees after Designation. (Explanatory Documents: Visible Identification of Landmark Trees Proposal, Original Graphic, Proposed Amended Graphic, and CB Visible Identification of Landmark Trees Recommendation) (Continued from the June 24, 2008 Meeting) (Discussion and Possible Action)


Chair Milne reported that the Landmark Tree Committee and Coordinator Hui have been working on preparing a proposal for visible identification of landmark trees after designation for some time and requested that the Council be given additional time to consider the proposal instead of taking action at today’s meeting. 


Member Boss reported that the Landmark Tree Committee thought that visible identification of landmark trees is important in order to provide education, awareness, and protection. Coordinator Hui reported on Member Hillan’s proposal for visible identification of landmark trees that includes four components (1) a permanent marker indicating landmark tree status; (2) an optional interpretive sign giving basic information about the tree; (3) an online register of current landmark trees; and (4) an online register of historic landmark trees.  The proposal for permanent markers and considerations for potential cost and source of funding were explained as outlined in the explanatory document Visible Identification of Landmark Trees Proposal.  Coordinator Hui reported that in her discussions with the Department’s Grant Manager about requesting funding for this proposal, it was determined that funding sources would be required to pay for (1) the actual design and creation of the plaques, and (2) for the ongoing maintenance of engraving the plaques with the landmark tree name, species, and for installation. 


Coordinator Hui reported that the original graphic that was proposed at the Landmark Tree Committee states, “Contact the Department of the Environment for more information” (Original Graphic) as the Department houses information on landmark trees.  It was explained that the graphic was changed to “City and County of San Francisco” based on members’ comments at the meeting.  Chair Milne reported that consideration can still be given to plaque terminology.


Member Blair recommended considering a form of plaque that is more eye-catching, e.g., ceramic tiles such as those seen in Union Square of native plants, or mosaics as seen in areas of San Francisco.  Chair Milne reported that decisions would have to be made based on the cost of installation as well as design. Coordinator Hui reported that the Landmark Tree Committee had considered many different materials, and that a ceramic option had been presented; however, the Committee indicated that they would prefer that the plaque be made out metal, which is a more durable material.


Member Sherk suggested adding the website name in smaller font if the plaque were to read “City and County of San Francisco” so that people could be directed to additional information.  Coordinator Hui reported that the Committee expressed concern that the website may change over time.  Member Sherk recommended that the plaque should be more directed and say, “City and County of San Francisco, the Department of the Environment.”  Coordinator Hui reported that there were Council Members that had expressed their concern with placing Department of the Environment on the plaque. Member Sherk asked if California has a state tree that could be placed on the plaque, and Coordinator Hui stated that she would research what that tree was and report back.


Member Cohen explained that the design element is part of the cost, but that most of the cost is in setting up the dye.  There are different ways that plaques are made, and the difference in how they are made affects what the minimum run is and also the per-plaque cost.  Member Cohen recommended selecting information that is not going to change over time, e.g. to consider (1) whether the program would always be called landmark tree as opposed to heritage tree, champion tree, etc.; and (2) that it would probably always be the City and County of San Francisco, but the department that houses the program could change even within the next decade.


Chair Milne reported that literary plaques in London adopted a minimalist approach for their heritage signs and don’t have anything on them except names, dates, and “lived here for six months in 1906”. 


Member Boss recommended using the more-simpler plaque form that contains core information that is not going to change, “Landmark Tree, City and County of San Francisco, and a landmark tree number.”  Member Boss explained that there would be information lacking about the tree using the simpler plaque form that may be of interest to people, e.g., tree species, landmark date, etc., which could be provided through interpretive signs, a website, or through other venues.  Member Boss suggested that the graphic be used that says “City and County of San Francisco” Proposed Amended Graphic. Member Boss also reported that someone placed a plastic sign on the Blue Elderberry on Bernal Heights Boulevard that says “San Francisco Landmark Tree”.  Coordinator Hui reported that the Deputy City Attorney has advised that nothing can be put directly on trees.  Chair Milne reported that a home owner would be able to put an interpretive sign or other graphic on a tree on their own property. 


Chair Milne reported that the Mary Ellen Pleasant trees have an ornate tile plaque that has a bio of information that was done by an organization to commemorate the trees when they were landmarked, and it is hoped that private initiatives would come along to do the same thing for other trees.  Chair Milne reported that markers may not work for backyard trees because people would start knocking on doors to see private property trees.  Member Boss stated that he felt that all backyard trees should be marked.  Coordinator Hui stated that a suggestion was made to put a triangle or arrow at the top of the plaque to aim people to the location of the tree. 


Member Short recommended that the Council consider private property landmark trees as it would apply to (1) where the marker would be placed, (2) whether there would be public acknowledgement of the marker in the public realm, (3) what that would mean to the privacy of property owners; and (4) whether property owner permission would be required to place a marker on a backyard tree.  Member Short stated that a lot of the original landmark trees are groves of trees, so it would not be feasible to put a marker on each tree, and asked the Council to determine where the marker should go.  It was explained that there is an official landmark tree book, and that each tree has a number that relates mostly to when it was landmarked, although the Chair has renumbered several trees.  Member Short suggested that plaques could be produced with numbers in advance so that as each new tree gets officially landmarked and gets its official landmark number, it would get that next numbered plaque.  It was recommended that the plaque be kept fairly basic and that it could contain only the City and County of San Francisco and the landmark number.  Member Short also discussed the possibility of having a small brass plate that could list the species and the landmark date, that would be less expensive to produce, and could be attached to each of the plaques. Member Short stated that it is important to have the program linked to the online register and to identify the long-term maintenance question of who would update and house the site. 


Coordinator Hui reported that when she researched other city landmark tree programs, most of them did not put anything on trees that were on private property because private property owners did not want to be troubled, and some of the designated trees were in fields that were inaccessible to people.


Member Blair suggested including people’s names that have recognized and cared for landmark trees.  Member Blair also suggested that since the Monterey Cypress located at the McLaren Lodge is the City’s tree, the Council should request that a Supervisor or the Recreation and Park Department Head move forward with nominating the tree for landmark status.  Member Blair also suggested that the picture that is placed on the plaque be more interesting. Chair Milne reported that the plaque has not been designed yet.  Chair Milne also reported that several people at the Recreation and Park Department have been discussing the historical significance of the Monterey Cypress and the possibility of it being landmarked.


Member Rodgers recommended that the plaque (1) be kept as simple as the one produced with the City and County of San Francisco logo; (2) be clean and elegant as possible, and (3) contain the name of the tree species and perhaps the landmark date and number.  Member Rodgers felt that the reference to the City and County of San Francisco would be sufficient enough to direct people to the internet for additional information.  Member Rodgers indicated that she likes the idea of allowing property owners to be artistic and use whatever resources they have at their disposal to embellish from the basic placard to a more descriptive narrative of the tree.   


Member Habert recommended using whatever design the Planning Department uses for landmark buildings and extending it to landmark trees.


Chair Milne recommended considering aluminum material as it is not as frequently stolen off the streets as brass, copper, or platinum because it is cheaper and lighter.  Coordinator Hui reported that she was told by a plaque maker that aluminum is very soft and would wear down quickly, but that there are ways to make blind mounts for these plaques, which would make the plaques well incorporated into the concrete that is poured around them and difficult to remove without heavy machinery. 


6.      Funding for Long-Range Urban Forestry Maintenance. (Discussion)


Chair Milne reported that he and Coordinator Hui held a meeting with the Mayor’s Director of Greening, Ms. Astrid Haryati, to request an explanation on the details of bond funding.  Due to the in-availability of a speaker on this topic for today’s Council meeting, it was requested that this item be continued to the August 26, 2008 meeting.  Chair Milne reported that the Recreation and Park Department received funding for tree maintenance in their Recreation and Park lands, which in the past the Council was told could not be done through a bond measure.  Chair Milne explained that he would like the Council to hear how this would work as the Funding Committee had been discussing ways to fund urban forest maintenance for four or five years, and there have always been obstacles to doing so.


Member Short reported that she had requested that long-term mechanisms be added to the Urban Forest Plan’s Request for Proposal, and suggested that the Council provide feedback on their findings to the Planning Department’s Master Plan group. Chair Milne reported that feedback would be provided at the time presentations are made to the Council on the Urban Forest Plan.


7.      Recommendations for Council Task Assignments for Sidewalk Pocket Park Garden {SPPG) Pilot Sites.  (Discussion) (Explanatory Document: 072508 UFC Tasks Sidewalk Pocket Park Pilot Sites) SPEAKER: Member Cohen


Member Cohen reported that the explanatory document summarizes what she had presented at the June 24, 2008 meeting and includes suggestions members made at that meeting.  Member Cohen asked Council members to provide their nominations as well as community nominations for prime sidewalk sites and listed criteria to consider.  Member Cohen asked members to research organizations and agencies that may be able to cosponsor the project as well as provide for specific contribution and in-kind donations. Members were asked to fill out the form on the other side of the page with requested information, review the timeline of tasks, and bring back suggestions to the August 26, 2008 Council meeting.


Member Short reported that there are a number of blocks each year that are targeted under the Sidewalk Improvement Repair Program (SIRP) in which property owners would be notified that they have to repair their sidewalk and would work on this effort through the City.  It was reported that the Mayor’s Office of Greening is interested in making sidewalk landscaping permits a part of that SIRP program so not only would people have the opportunity to repair their sidewalk through the City, they could have an expedited sidewalk landscaping permit process.  Member Short stated that could provide potential for overlap, and would provide the list of locations for this fiscal year to bring to the next meeting.  It was explained that the list of locations is generated by high need that usually corresponds with commercial corridors or high pedestrian traffic, which are not often great locations for true gardens.  Sometimes they are good locations for expanded sidewalk tree basins so the trees have more room and you could do some small plantings on the edges, but it may be that those are not ideal locations for these types of projects and would not correspond with these champion trees that the Council is trying to highlight.


8.     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 presented a staff report of Urban Forestry Council activities and reported on her work as follows:


·         Monthly meetings have begun with Chair Milne and the Mayor’s Director of Greening, Ms. Astrid Haryati, to provide her with updates on Council activities and concerns as well as holding discussions on City urban forestry issues.  Coordinator Hui reported that the meetings are held the first Tuesday of the month in the afternoon and asked Council Members to provide their suggestions for discussion topics. 


·         Work with Supervisor Alioto-Pier’s office in order to schedule the Council’s most recent landmark tree nominations for Board hearing (the Monterey Cypress and Manzanita).  The trees are scheduled to be heard on August 7 at the City Operations and Neighborhood Services Committee starting at 1:00 p.m.  It was reported that the Landmark Tree Committee would be hearing a new landmark tree nomination at their next meeting on August 12, which was submitted by the Department of the Environment’s Director, Jared Blumenfeld. 


·         A report was made on the success of the landmark tree tour that was held on Saturday, July 12 and that requests were made to hold a similar event next year. Work has been started on providing a self-guided landmark tree tour that would correlate with online bios.  


·         Assisted Member Hillan on the visible identification of landmark trees proposal;


·         Revising landmark tree nomination and evaluation forms for the Landmark Tree Committee who has been working on revising the criteria.  Ms. Fish had updated the criteria list based on Committee recommendations.  Further discussion is scheduled for the August 12 meeting. The Committee asked for a report back from legal counsel whether the Board of Supervisors would be required to approve proposed changes to the criteria and forms. Coordinator Hui reported that the understanding is that revisions can be made to the organization of both the forms and criteria, but that changes to the criteria language or descriptions may need to go through the Board of Supervisors because the Landmark Tree Ordinance states that the criteria is suggested by the Urban Forestry Council and adopted by the Board of Supervisors.  Coordinator Hui reported that Deputy City Attorney Cabrera stated that it could be brought to her on a case-by-case basis to make a determination.


·         Pruning Guideline edits have been finalized and sent for printing—printed and online versions would be available;


·         The Annual Pruning Workshop was held approximately six weeks ago; 62 people attended. The presenter was engaging and positive feedback was received.  Departments and agencies that sent representatives said they appreciated the workshop and look forward to the Council’s help in the future;


·         For the Urban Forestry Council’s Annual Report, surveys have been sent out to all City departments and agencies that were on a previous circulation list.  It was reported that a few of the departments and agencies have sent back replies that they declined to contribute for various reasons, and there has not been a response from several other agencies. A reply or follow-up had been sent by email to departments and organizations. It was stated that several agencies had responded, and a list of those were read. In addition, several of the surveys that had been received indicated that they appreciate the educational opportunities that are offered.   


·         The Urban Forest Plan initial kick-off meeting with the contractor, stakeholders, and the contractor’s subcontractors was held and discussions were held about scheduling workshops, on outreach, and protocols.  The team would like to interact with the Urban Forestry Council by providing monthly updates through an agenda item to be presented either by the Council Coordinator or by Mr. Andres Power, the Project Manager.  In-depth reports would be presented once they are available.


·         The Better Streets Plan is now available for review. 


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

Planning & Funding Committee, Chair, Carla Short

The next meeting is scheduled for Thursday, August 21, 2008, 4:15 p.m. at City Hall, Room 421.


Planning and Funding Committee Chair Short reported that the July Committee meeting was cancelled in efforts to reduce the number of meetings held as a Council.  It was reported that the urban forest related budget was approved as submitted by the Mayor.  There were cuts made by the Mayor’s Office to the Department of Public Work’s (DPW) tree planting budget before it was submitted to the Board of Supervisors. The original number of trees that were submitted by DPW to the Mayor to be planted as part of the goal of planting 5,000 trees a year (the goal that the Council helped set) was reduced from 1,450 trees to 870 trees, but the Board of Supervisors approved planting of 870 trees without further cuts. The contribution to the Department of the Environment for the Council staff person survived intact as well.  It was explained that there have been statements that there will probably be mid-year cuts so as the budget gets formally approved, people will start looking for savings again.  The figure heard was 5% additional mid-year cuts, but there is no indication where that would come from or what the impact on DPW’s budget or the Council’s budget may be.


Landmark Tree Committee, Chair, Mike Boss

The next meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, August 12, 2008, 4:00 p.m. at City Hall, Room 421.


Member Cohen requested a report on the landmark tree status of the Monterey Cypress, the Manzanita, and the trees in front of the Bernal Heights Library.  Coordinator Hui reported that the Monterey Cypress and the Manzanita are awaiting hearing at the Board of Supervisors as she had reported in her staff report.  Landmark Tree Committee Chair Boss reported that the trees in front of the Bernal Heights Library were approved by the Board of Supervisors. Member Cohen asked for announcements during Committee or Staff Report agenda items on status of landmark tree nominations.  Chair Milne stated that the Department of the Environment’s Landmark Tree website could also be consulted for landmark tree status.  Member Cohen also asked for announcements to be made much earlier before special events are held as she did not receive an announcement of the landmark tree tour on time to actually attend the tour.  Coordinator Hui reported that she had sent an email announcement to Council members and was planning to make an announcement during her staff report at the June 24 meeting, but was not able to present a report.


Member Short requested that a system be put in place so that she can be notified whenever a tree is nominated for landmark tree status because the Director of Public Works is required to notify the property owner as soon as temporary protection begins.  Coordinator Hui reported that she would check her notification list to make sure that Member Short is on the list as she sends out email notices for all trees that are nominated by property owners and Department heads after the Council approves the nomination.   


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


Chair Milne reported on the Mayor’s memo and Board of Supervisors Resolution requesting an annual report of members’ attendance to their appointing authority, and the criteria that three absences per year should be inquired into or reported.  Chair Milne reported that he had received an attendance report today and would be scheduling discussion of the Council’s attendance situation and procedures at the August 26 meeting.


11.New Business/Future Agenda Items. (Information and Discussion).


Member Habert invited the Council to participate in the Mission Bay Parks Festival to celebrate the opening of the newest Mission Bay park and sports courts to be held on September 20, 2008 at Mission Creek Park, located west of the 4th Street Bridge on the north and south sides of the creek.


12.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.


13.Adjournment.  The Urban Forestry Council meeting adjourned at 11:29 a.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 [email protected].


Urban Forestry Council

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: August 26, 2008

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