02.24 Approved Minutes

City and County of San Francisco

DEpartment of the ENvironment




Tuesday, February 24, 2009, 5:30 p.m.

City Hall, Room 416  

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 5:32 p.m.  Voting Members Present: Members Blair, Boss, Cohen, D’Agostino (5:45), Hillan, Rodgers, Sherk, Short and Vargas; Voting Members Excused: Members LeBeau; (1 Vacant); Advisory Member Present: Member Sustarich; Advisory Member Excused:  Member Nervo. Member Boss was Acting Chair for this meeting and welcomed Member Vargas, the newest member to the Council.  Member Boss also reported that the Rules Committee has appointed Terry Milne to the Council and his nomination is tentatively scheduled to be heard at the Board of Supervisors meeting on March 3.


2.        Adoption of Minutes of the January 23, 2009 Urban Forestry Council Regular Meeting. (Discussion and Action) Upon Motion by Member Cohen and second by Member Short, the January 23, 2009 Meeting Minutes were approved without objection (Absent:  Member D’Agostino and LeBeau) (Explanatory Document:  January 23, 2009 Approved Minutes). Member Cohen stated that she prefers the longer minutes that were prepared before the reduction of staff time for this effort.


3.        Nomination and Election of Council Chair and Vice-Chair.  (Discussion and Action)  Upon Motion by Member HIllan and second by Member Blair, nomination and election of Chair and Vice-Chair was continued to the March 27, 2009 meeting when full Council membership has been selected.


4.        Consideration and Approval of Amendments to the Urban Forestry Council Bylaws to change the meeting times, number of Council members, and quorum requirements.  (Explanatory Documents:  Notice of Proposed Amendment to Bylaws, Approved Resolution Amending Bylaws and Amended Bylaws 022409) (Discussion and Action).  Ms. Fish reported that the Bylaws notice was issued, posted, and distributed to Council Members and the public as required by the Council Bylaws Article XI at least ten days before today’s meeting.  The proposed amendments would reflect the Council’s membership and quorum requirements based on amendments made to the Urban Forestry Council Ordinance, Article 12 of the Environment Code and would change the Council’s Friday meeting start times to 8:30 a.m. and the Tuesday meeting start times to 6:00 p.m. as requested.


Member Rodgers inquired about setting meeting ending times and meeting room availability.  Ms. Fish reported that there is no additional group scheduled for a meeting after 5:00 p.m. for the Tuesday meeting and would check the Friday meeting schedule to see how long the meeting room would be available.  Member Blair cited her reasons for opposition to the Friday morning time change which included attaining quorum requirements and the possibility that City officials and members of the public would not be able to attend at that time.  Coordinator Hui explained that presentations could be scheduled later in the meeting to accommodate the work schedules of speakers.  Members Sherk and Sustarich reported that they would also prefer the Friday meeting time to remain at 10:00 a.m.  Member Cohen stated that it is important to select whatever works best for the Council and the public.  Members Hillan and Short spoke in support of the meeting time change and stated that even though one Council member requested the time change, many of the Council members support the request. Other Council members in attendance reported that they could accommodate either meeting times.  Members Blair, Boss, and Hillan requested that meetings starting at 6:00 p.m. adjourn by 8:00 p.m.  


Public Comment:  Mr. Terry Milne stated that consideration should be given to how the Council’s interaction with the public would be fostered by the meeting time chosen.


Upon Motion by Member Hillan and second by Member D’Agostino, Resolution File No. 2009-01-UFC was approved--Friday meetings would convene at 8:30 a.m. and Tuesday meetings would convene at 6:00 p.m.  (AYES: Members Boss, Cohen, D’Agostino, Hillan, Rodgers, Short, and Vargas; NOES:  Members Blair and Sherk; Absent:  Member LeBeau; One Vacant).  (Explanatory Document:  Approved Resolution No. 001-09-UFC Amending Bylaws)


5.        Urban Forestry Council Committee Structure and Selection of Members. Sponsor and Speakers:  Members Boss and Short  (Discussion and Action)


Member Boss reported that legal opinion indicated that only voting members of the Council can be voting members of the Committee and as a result, the Committee structure would have to be reviewed again because of the Council’s new membership composition. Member Boss recommended that this agenda item be voted on at the next meeting once the full Council is configured.  Members discussed whether it would be valuable to retain a Landmark Tree Committee to evaluate trees or to streamline the process for members of the public and consider the expense of the City by reducing the number of meetings and holding a hearing at the full Council only. 


Member Hillan discussed the value of holding Landmark Tree hearings at the Committee level as a way to minimize what is done at the Council level.  Member Rodgers recommended that more work be done at the Council level during the time of the City’s budget difficulties but suggested that other committees be cut before the Landmark Tree Committee as it adds value to her decision to landmark trees.  Member Cohen discussed the amount of detail that is discussed at the Committee level and how it saves time at the Council level. It was explained that the Committees play an important role, and expressed her concerned when infrastructure is pulled away and has to be rebuilt.  Member Hillan suggested that Committee attendees could be responsible for producing meeting minutes to relieve staff of the effort.  Member Boss recommended holding Landmark Tree meetings only when trees are to be considered.  Ms. Fish recommended changing the Landmark Tree Committee to an Ad Hoc Committee to meet as required so cancelled meeting notices would not have to be posted.  Coordinator Hui explained that the Bylaws would have to be amended to support this change.  Member Rodgers reported that meetings that are not regularly scheduled would require a longer noticing period and asked staff to report back on these requirements at the next meeting.


Member Short requested a report on whether the Planning and Funding Committee could include non-voting members.  A discussion was held on the feasibility of the Planning and Funding Committee turning into a Working Group and legal requirements for posting agendas, recording minutes, meeting, and quorum requirements.  Member Short reported that the Planning and Funding Committee has been unable to meet because of its current membership and changes to the Council composition and that would continue until this issue has been resolved.  Member Rodgers recommended drafting Bylaws to support the proposal discussed today to be considered at the March 27, 2009 meeting and if required, the Council could propose amendments.


This agenda item was continued to the March 27, 2009 meeting for discussion and possible action.  A Bylaws Amendment Notice would be published before the next meeting.   


6.        Annual Review and Approval of Resolution Adopting the Recommended Street Tree List for 2009. (Explanatory Documents:  Draft Resolution and Recommended Street Tree List) (Discussion and Action)


Coordinator Hui reported that the Council’s Bylaws require review and adoption of a Recommended Street Tree List annually. It was explained that the first time the Recommended Street Tree List was adopted was in 2006 and that no revisions have been made since that time.  Member Short reported that Council Member Emeritus Larry Costello spearheaded the effort to create the list, and a working group of Mr. Doug Wildman, Friends of the Urban Forest, and Member Short sent the list to a number of other groups and arborists for feedback, and the Planning Committee recommended adopting it to the full Council.  Member Short reported that the idea was to unify recommendations made primarily by the City and Friends of the Urban Forest, the two primary tree planting agencies. 


Member Sherk stated that she is interested in seeing more California native trees added to the list.  Member Blair asked if the lemon scented eucalyptus on Mission and Sixteenth could be added to the list.  Member Cohen recommended adding an “N” for native tree by the particular tree to help identify the native trees on the list.  Member Boss stated that the list could be adopted for this year and additions could be recommended for adoption next year.


Public Comment:  Mr. Richard Ingraham stated that at one time he was a Professor Emeritus of Biology, Genetics.  Mr. Ingraham reported that a neighbor planted a large tree that obstructed his view, and discussed the 1990 tree plan that called for small and medium size trees to be planted with open canopies.  Mr. Ingraham recommended visiting the Botanical Gardens for tree recommendations but indicated that there is no perfect street tree, and there would be a lot of work for arborists in future years. It was recommended that consideration be given to future generations of trees and to not limit selection to what is only available in this area. It was also explained that there are trees available with genetic engineering that could be introduced.  Mr. Ingraham reported that he has created a collection of books that he is going to give to University of California as a resource about the merits and demerits of trees and stated that when a resident plants a tree they should be knowledgeable of what that it is going to entail in the future.  Mr. Ingraham would be giving a talk in Glen Park about street trees. Member Boss recommended that Mr. Ingraham submit a list of trees that he would recommend that could be considered for inclusion in the list for next year. 


Upon Motion by Member Short, and second by Member Cohen, the Resolution 002-09-UFC adopting the Recommended Street Tree List for 2009 was approved.  Member Short suggested that the Planning and Funding Working Group or Committee discuss revisions at a future meeting. (AYES: Members Blair, Boss, Cohen, D’Agostino, Hillan, Rodgers, Short, and Vargas; Absent:  Members LeBeau and Sherk; One Vacant)   


7.        Recommendations for Improvements to the Urban Forestry Council Website. Sponsor and Speaker: Member Blair (Discussion and Possible Action)


Member Blair reported that the Urban Forestry Council is listed under Policy on the Department of the Environment’s website, and even though the Council creates policy, it is also an advisory council that offers valuable educational tools in order to improve the urban forest.  It was explained that the website should be a user-friendly resource and a quick reference to answer frequently answered questions for the public, City departments, officials, and the Board of Supervisors.  The public’s number one question is about cost, who is responsible for uplifted sidewalks, and who is responsible for pruning, trimming trees, and tree planting. 


Member Blair reported that Mr. Lawrence Grodeska, Internet Communications Coordinator for the Department of the Environment, stated that the website organization is designed to showcase the environmental programs of San Francisco and provide information on how San Francisco residents and businesses can participate in those programs.  Consequently, in promoting these programs there is not much web content that is strictly educational, and he looks forward to hearing recommendations. 


Member Blair stated that she finds it difficult to find information on the Council’s website that readily offers the public and City officials more of a quick reference to public education and frequently asked questions. It was suggested that the Board of Supervisors also be provided with a hard copy of relevant information. Member Blair stated that she felt that the Department of Public Work’s website is well handled for the most part, and that Redwood City’s website has a quick link to frequently asked questions.


Coordinator Hui reported that she had spoken to Mr. Grodeska and it was explained that there are defined ways to interact with the website. The website is built so content changes can be recommended as opposed to structure changes.  Member Short explained that all questions that Member Blair would like answered falls under DPW jurisdiction and some are well addressed and some are not.  DPW is working on a frequently asked questions page and it makes sense for the Department of the Environment to link to that site from the Council’s webpage.  It was explained that having too much duplication on each site does not make sense.  Member Short stated that based on the number of calls received from most City agencies and the Board of Supervisors, they start with DPW for questions and if DPW is not the right resource for street trees, they are directed to the right agency. 


Member D’Agostino reported that a link to DPW’s website would be useful on the Recreation and Park Department’s website since they also receive questions about trees frequently.  Coordinator Hui reported that the Department of the Environment’s website contains a link to the DPW website.  Member Blair reported that one of the Supervisor’s aides accessed Canada’s site to find a list of the benefits of trees instead of accessing the City sites and stated that the website is not user-friendly and hopes for improvements.  Coordinator Hui asked Member Blair to prepare specific suggestions for Mr. Grodeska to address.


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. (Explanatory Document:  Staff Report Distributed in Council meeting) (Informational Report and Discussion)


Coordinator Hui distributed a staff report at the Council meeting and provided updates on:

  • Status of the monthly meeting held with the Mayor’s Office Director of Greening today;
  • Mr. Milne was recommended for appointment to the Council by the Rules Committee and his appointment would be voted on by the Board of Supervisors at their next meeting;
  • Proposed landmark tree nomination for the California Buckeye was heard at the Board of Supervisors Committee yesterday and should go to the full Board next week and become a landmark within two weeks;
  • Discussed the recyclability content of paper that has been secured for the landmark tree certificate;
  • Landmark tree criteria revisions were introduced two weeks ago at the Board of Supervisors and is on the agenda for today’s meeting,
  • The New York City restoration project has consulted Coordinator Hui on San Francisco’s landmark tree program to be used as a model for their landmark tree program;
  • The owner of the Landmark Tree Monterey Cypress located at 2626 Vallejo Street reported on potential root damage to the tree from new construction that her neighbor is proposing.  Coordinator Hui reported on DPW’s work to resolve the issue;
  • The Better Streets Plan has posted feedback received on the Plan on their website and is moving forward with an Environmental Review.  The Council has not made comments to post on this plan.  Discussion of this item was recommended for next month’s meeting;
  • Arbor Day Planning meetings have been completed and presenters for the Resource Fair are being sought;
  • Urban Forest Art Projects, and
  • Submission of grant applications for funding to support the San Francisco Tree Map project and planting fruit trees in private backyards or other privately maintained areas. 

Additional details can be accessed with the explanatory documents.


Member Blair stated that the Tenderloin National Forest, a non-profit organization, may be interested in accessing fruit trees for planting and may be interested in participating in the Resource Fair.  Member Cohen inquired about discussions with the Mayor’s Office and reported that she could make available a book that talks about every feature of every sustainable recycled paper that is available for the landmark tree certificate.  Coordinator Hui reported that she would print the certificate on three types of paper that she would have the Council review next month. 


Coordinator Hui reported that the discussions with the Mayor’s Director of Greening included the Urban Forest Art Projects, scheduling a meeting on the Urban Forest Plan with the Department of the Environment and the Planning Department in order to move the Plan forward, and Arbor Day planning.  Member Cohen reported on her concern with the health of the sycamore trees planted in front of the Civic Center that Coordinator Hui indicated she would provide a report on at the next meeting.  Member Blair recommended emphasizing preservation and protection of existing trees as a topic for the Urban Forest Art Project.


Member Cohen requested the Council’s participation on a pilot site for a pocket park garden being planned for Arbor Day.  It was explained that there will be collaboration with the PTA at Sunset Elementary School and there are plans for a demonstration garden, removing concrete, and doing understory sidewalk pocket park garden work.  Member Cohen asked members for their involvement with planting and pruning, and indicated there would be a good opportunity for publicity surrounding best practices for street trees.


Public Comment:  Mr. Terry Milne stated that the meeting with the Mayor’s Office was mostly informative on topics that Coordinator Hui had summarized.


9.        Committee Reports: (Informational Reports and Discussion)

Planning & Funding Committee, Chair, Carla Short

Committee Chair Short reported that the Committee has not been meeting because of a lack of members. The next meeting is scheduled for Thursday, March 19, 2009, 4:15 p.m. at City Hall, Room 421.  This meeting would be cancelled because of a lack of Committee membership. 

Landmark Tree Committee, Chair, Mike Boss.  Committee Chair Boss reported that the Committee has not been meeting because there have not been trees to consider.

The next meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, March 10, 2009, 4:00 p.m. at City Hall, Room 421. 


10.  Chair’s Announcements: Chair, Urban Forestry Council (Information and Discussion).  There were no announcements made at this time.


11.  New Business/Future Agenda Items. (Information and Discussion).  Coordinator Hui recommended Council input into the Better Streets Plan for discussion at the next meeting.  Member Blair reported that the San Francisco Tree Council has been attending Mt. Sutro meetings and expressed her concern with a proposal to clear or thin most of the forest.  Member Blair stated that she would recommend this issue as a future agenda item. Member Vargas requested introduction of new members as a future agenda item.


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 7:28 p.m.


Explanatory documents are available to the public at the Department of the Environment, 11 Grove Street, San Francisco, California between the hours of 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., by clicking on the attachments with each agenda or meeting minutes, 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:  March 27, 2009

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