12.12 Approved Minutes

City and County of San Francisco

DEpartment of the ENvironment




Friday, December 12, 2008, 10:00 a.m.

City Hall, Room 400  

One Dr. Carlton B. Goodlett Place

San Francisco, CA 94102


Order of Business


1.      Call to Order and Roll Call.  The Urban Forestry Council meeting convened at 10:10 a.m.  Voting Members Present: Chair Milne, Members Blair, Boss, Cohen, D’Agostino, and Hillan; Voting Members Excused:  Members LeBeau and Sherk; Voting Members Absent:  Members Rodgers and Short; Advisory Members Present:  Member Sustarich; Advisory Members Absent: Members Habert and Nervo.   


2.      Adoption of Minutes of the October 28, 2008 Urban Forestry Council Regular Meeting. Upon Motion by Member Hillan and second by Member Blair, the October 28, 2008 Meeting Minutes were approved without objection (AYES:  Chair Milne, Members Blair, Boss, Cohen, D’Agostino and Hillan) (Absent:  Members LeBeau, Rodgers, Sherk and Short) (Explanatory Document: October 28, 2008 Approved Minutes)  (Discussion and Action)


3.      Introduction of New Council Members. (Discussion)  Chair Milne reported on current Council voting and advisory membership and welcomed new members Maria D’Agostino and Naomi LeBeau. Member D’Agostino introduced herself and discussed her interest and work in the urban forest as a planting manager for the Friends of the Urban Forest, then the San Francisco Bureau of Urban Forestry, and now as the Urban Forestry Specialist for the City of Redwood City.  Member Blair welcomed new and reappointed members and thanked (1) the six progressive members of the Board of Supervisors for reappointing her, (2) Mr. John Rizzo, the San Francisco Tree Council’s original Board director member and a Sierra Club member of the Director’s Committee of the San Francisco Bay Group and San Francisco Bay Chapter, and (3) all of the members who have supported her and the work that the Tree Council has done to preserve trees.


4.      Hearing on Nomination for Landmark Tree Status. The Council will hold a hearing to determine whether the following tree meets the criteria for designation as a landmark tree. (Discussion and Action)


California Buckeye (Aesculus Californica), behind 757 Pennsylvania Street, Assessor’s Block 4168, Lot 11. (Explanatory Documents:  Landmark Tree Committee Members and Staff Evaluation Forms
, Written Summary; Board of Supervisors Resolution 431-08 and Landmark Tree Nomination Packet).

At the conclusion of the hearing, the Council will vote on whether to approve or reject the nomination 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


Chair Milne announced that the agenda has listed the block number as 416B based on the resolution, but the material shows that it is 4168, and requested a correction on subsequent documentation.


Member Boss reported that the Landmark Tree Committee held a meeting and unanimously recommended landmark tree status of this tree to the Council.  The Council’s and Board of Supervisor’s landmark tree endorsement process was explained.  Member Boss reported on the merits of the tree as presented in the written summary that includes:


·        The tree is an uncommon, possibly rare tree in San Francisco

·        The tree was quite a large specimen for this species with a huge canopy spread and great trunk girth

·        The tree appeared to be quite old, though no estimation of age was postulated

·        The tree was of natural historical significance as being a likely genetic and possibly naturally-occurring remnant of the original San Francisco forest.  California Buckeyes are native to Potrero Hill, and this specimen is quite possibly a progeny of these locally-native trees.  California Buckeyes were also used by the Ohlone Indians for fishing and for food.

·        The tree is in a high traffic area, is accessible from a public right of way and is very visible from the station platform as well as from the train.

·        The tree provided habitat and food for multiple varieties of wildlife, including indigenous species

·        The tree was a prominent landscape feature occurring in an area of low tree density.

·        The tree was profiled, with a photo, in the publication “A History of Potrero Hill” by Peter Linenthal and Abigail Johnston

·        The tree has a striking character; despite obvious abuse and structural problems, much of the tree appears sound, and is not a hazard.


Public Comment:  Mr. George Slack stated that he is the property owner of 757 Pennsylvania Street, and that the tree actually overhangs on his property.  Mr. Slack expressed his support for landmarking the tree and inquired about maintenance pruning.  Council members reported that the tree would need regular maintenance pruning. 


Coordinator Hui reported that the tree is on Joint Powers Board state property so City landmarking regulations may not apply; hence, a City permit may not be required if they wanted to remove the tree.


Upon Motion by Member Hillan and second by Member D’Agostino, the California Buckeye located behind 757 Pennsylvania Street was approved for recommendation to the Board of Supervisors for landmark tree status ((AYES: Chair Milne, Members Blair, Boss, Cohen, D’Agostino and Hillan) (Absent: Members LeBeau, Rodgers, Sherk and Short).  (Explanatory Document:  Approved Resolution 010-08-UFC 757 Pennsylvania Street )


5.      Urban Forest Plan Budget Cut-- Discussion on how to restore funds for completion of the Urban Forest Plan.  (Discussion)


Chair Milne reported that the Planning Department’s process for creating and integrating the Urban Forest Plan into the City’s General Plan has been cut out of their budget because of the City’s budget reductions. It was explained that the Planning Department had already hired a consultant and held two or three stakeholder meetings to formulate how the Plan could be integrated into the City’s General Plan, but work has now stopped.  Council Members discussed strategies for recovering funding to move forward.


Member Cohen discussed the President elect’s promise to infuse urban areas and cities with funding for public works programs and how that might relate to urban forestry related efforts.  Member Cohen suggested that the Department of the Environment and the Council prepare a proposal to not only integrate the Plan, but to actually enlarge the scope to include creating jobs on projects, e.g. the pilot to create pocket park gardens, etc.


Member Blair (1) reported that she had attended the Planning Commission meeting to request funding for implementation of the Urban Forest Plan into the General Plan, and the Chair suggested hiring a pro-bono consultant; (2) inquired with the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission whether they could fund the implementation of the Urban Forest Plan; (3) recommended reduction of funding by hiring only the main consultant, EDAW that would consult with qualified members of the Urban Forestry Council; (4) suggested that the existing Urban Forest Plan created by HortScience and approved by the Council in 2005 be recommended to the Board of Supervisors for approval with the intent that work would be resumed by the Planning Department when funding becomes available.  Chair Milne reported that the future process for implementation of an Urban Forest Plan would continue to be reviewed.  Member Sustarich reported that he would inquire with the PUC whether funding would be available, but is unclear whether funding is required to finish the plan or to integrate it into the General Plan.


Coordinator Hui reported that she has participated in meetings with the Planning Department to determine how to proceed, e.g., reduce the scope of work for less money, determine what has been worked on already, etc.  It was explained that there would be additional meetings scheduled on moving forward with the Plan and a future report would be provided to the Council.


6.      Recreation and Park Department Tree Removals at Park Presidio-- Discussion/advice on how to preserve large mature trees at Park Presidio.  (Explanatory Document: HortScience/Park Presidio Tree Assessment) (Discussion)   Speakers: Member Blair and Ms. Jeanne McWalters, Park Presidio Neighbor


Member Blair requested that Recreation and Park Department Acting Director, Jared Blumenfeld, send a department representative to regularly inform Council members of tree activity in public parks, especially as it relates to tree removal.  Member Blair expressed her concern with park trees being removed without public notice and with HortScience’s report’s reference for the need to remove 50 or 70 trees that are described as an immediate hazard.  Member Blair indicated that she is happy to report that trees will not be removed because of a lack of funding. Member Blair also expressed her concern that larger trees are being replaced with trees that are much smaller and of unequal value.  Chair Milne discussed Recreation and Park Department’s concern with dangerous trees and lack of funding to address the situation and the regulation that a 30-day public notice be posted when removing park trees.


Statement by Ms. Jeanne McWalters, Funston Avenue resident regarding Park Presidio Boulevard Tree Study and Recreation and Park Department’s plans to remove trees and shrubs:


Hello, I’m Jeanne McWalters and I’m here to voice my concern about the Park Presidio tree study recently commissioned by the Recreation and Park Department earlier in 2008.  Our family has owned our two buildings on Funston Avenue for over 86 years.  I’d like to say first that I am in complete support of the removal or trimming back of any dangerous tree that threatens human life or property. 


However, I am also here to say that I am concerned about the sheer scope of the study and that, if used as a blueprint in the future, we stand to lose much more than the 50 trees that are deemed dangerous.  To us and many residents, that represents more unhealthy noise, particulate matter and pollution, wind, lowered property values and a far-reaching impact, especially with a poor effort at reforestation with larger, fast-growing sized shrubs and trees.


For example, on page 11, HortScience says that there are 692 trees that are “unsuitable to preserve” which represents 40% of the lower and upper canopy on my block alone; on page 18, he recommends the removal of “small or invasive species like myoporum and pittosporum” and on page 19 recommends the experimentation of the “ability of existing shrubs to regenerate following pruning to the ground”.  On page 9, he explains that he counted groups of species as just one tree, thus increasing the number of removals to the 1,000’s.  


Finally, aside from the actual impacts to our tree canopy described above, many of us are troubled by the lack of public notice about this plan.  Democracy can be inconvenient, but people who live along Park Presidio Boulevard have a right to know about their greenbelt.  Many people who came to the meeting were disappointed that the meeting place was changed at the very last minute, causing many residents to go back home and miss this important meeting.


Ms. McWalters distributed an article on “Air Pollution and Heart Disease: Recent Developments” (Explanatory Document: Article). 


Coordinator Hui reported on the high hazard rating of the 50 trees that were being considered for removal and discussed Recreation and Park Department’s reasons for replacing these trees with smaller trees, e.g., smaller trees root and grow better and will grow faster over time than a larger tree. Member Sustarich reported that tree crews are under budgeted and under staffed to do much more than hazard abatement at this time, and would probably not have the ability to work on a large-scale tree removal project. 


Member D’Agostino discussed the integrity of HortScience’s work and potential liability for the Recreation and Park Department if hazardous trees are not removed. It was explained that the value and suitability of the recommendations for replanting and removal of understory are being considered in order to determine best management practices for the Park Presidio. 


Member Cohen discussed past restoration practices by the Recreation and Park Department where experiments were performed on large swaths of area instead of a smaller area. It was stated that even though HortScience is respected, their report can still be questioned and other assessment programs that discuss different methodologies for caring of older/larger trees should be considered.  Member Cohen suggested that (1) targets such as bus stops and benches near larger trees could be moved instead of removing the tree; and (2) replacing large trees with a small tree that will have a large stature would be more acceptable than replacing it with a small tree that will have a small stature.  


Member Hillan (1) thanked Coordinator Hui for stating her perspective on planting of younger trees and smaller trees as having great value in the ultimate development of the form and structure of the root system and how that would make better use of resources; (2) commended the Recreation and Park Department for commissioning the HortScience assessment that provides a rational guide; (3) agreed that hazardous trees should be considered for removal to preserve property, human health, and safety; (4) has observed that the Recreation and Park Department has always performed reasonable assessments and used good judgment in their work in the past; and (5) did not agree that moving benches and bus stops would be a viable alternative for tree preservation.


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 provided updates on the monthly meeting with the Mayor’s Office; landmark tree nominations, certificates, criteria and outreach; Urban Forestry Council appointments; the Urban Forest Plan; Green Christmas program; arborist certification exam preparation course, and tree planting activities in the Bayview.  Additional information can be referenced in the Explanatory Document: Staff Report) 


8.      Committee Reports: (Informational Reports and Discussion)

Planning & Funding Committee, Chair, Carla Short

The next meeting is scheduled for Thursday, December 18, 2008, 4:15 p.m. at City Hall, Room 421.  A Planning and Funding Committee report was not provided at this time.
Landmark Tree Committee, Chair, Mike Boss
The next meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, January 13, 2009, 4:00 p.m. at City Hall, Room 421.  Char Boss indicated that there was no additional report to make other than the Committee’s endorsement of landmark tree status for the California Buckeye tree located behind 757 Pennsylvania discussed earlier in the meeting.


9.      Chair’s Announcements: Terry Milne, Chair, Urban Forestry Council (Information and Discussion). Chair Milne announced that he is looking forward to hearing additional landmark tree nominations in the future.  No additional announcements were made at this time.


10.  New Business/Future Agenda Items.  (Information and Discussion).  Member D’Agostino (1) asked that the Council consider different meeting times in the future; (2) expressed her interest in serving on a Committee; and (3) requested that the Council do additional outreach of new members in the future. Chair Milne requested that the Council Secretary report back at the next meeting with City Hall room availability and explained that Committee membership and structure would be considered once the full Council is appointed.  Member Blair asked that Jared Blumenfeld, Acting Director of Recreation and Park Department, request that the Council’s Recreation and Park Department advisory member inform Council members of large tree projects and move forward on landmarking a tree in our public parks.  Chair Milne reported that the tree at McLaren Lodge in Golden Gate Park is being targeted for landmark tree status.  Coordinator Hui reported that the Council Bylaws would have to be amended to change the structure of the Planning and Funding Committee as it now requires more members than a quorum of the Council.  Member Boss requested a status report on the revised landmark tree evaluation forms.  Coordinator Hui reported that the forms have not yet been introduced at the Board of Supervisors and would probably be scheduled after the holidays in January.


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.  Ms. Anne Eng, Department of the Environment Environmental Justice Program Manager, reported on the Department of Environment’s budget process for the next fiscal year and how it affects the Council.  It was explained that the budget would be submitted to the Director within the next couple of weeks, and a global budget would be put together in January.  Requests would be made to City agencies in the amount of $80,000 to $90,000 to support staff salaries, benefits and overhead.  Ms. Eng described Department fundraising efforts and the request to the Mayor’s Office to attain federal government stimulus monies for urban forestry activities as identified by the Council.   Member Blair asked if funding could be allocated toward implementation of the Urban Forest Plan into the General Plan.  Coordinator Hui reported that meetings have been scheduled on implementation of the Urban Forest Plan and a review is being done on ways to move forward regardless of the availability of funding.


12.  Adjournment.  The Urban Forestry Council adjourned at 11:30 a.m.


Copies of explanatory documents are available to the public at the Department of Environment, 11 Grove Street, San Francisco, California between the hours of 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., upon request to the Council Secretary at the above address or telephone number 415-355-3709 or via e-mail at [email protected]. Explanatory documents are also available at the Council’s meeting or agenda website https://sites.google.com/a/sfenvironment.org/commission/urban-forestry-council/2010-meetings as attachments with each agenda or meeting minutes.


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:  January 23, 2009


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