10.10 Approved Minutes







Thursday, October 10, 2006, 4:00 P.M.


City Hall, Room 421

One Dr. Carlton B. Goodlett Place

San Francisco, CA 


COMMITTEE MEMBERS:  Carolyn Blair, Mike Boss, Steve Griswold, David Habert, and Mark Sustarich


Urban Forestry Council Associate:  Grace Ma


Council Secretary:  Monica Fish



1.      CALL TO ORDER AND ROLL CALL.  The meeting was called to order at 4:05 p.m.  Present:  Members Blair, Boss and Sustarich; Excused:  Members Griswold and Habert.  Deputy City Attorney Catharine Barnes introduced Deputy City Attorney Alicia Cabrera, legal counsel for the Urban Forestry Council.


2.      DISCUSSION: The Council Chair, Terry Milne, will discuss selection of Chair for the Landmark Tree Committee. 


Council Chair Milne reported that the Committee Chair’s responsibilities would include conducting Landmark Tree Committee meetings and presenting a verbal Committee Report to the full Council at their monthly meetings.  In addition, the Chair would present a full report on any landmarking items heard before the Committee that would be transferred and voted on at the full Council.  Chair Milne indicated that a written report would not be required.  Deputy City Attorney Barnes advised that the landmark tree public hearing would be heard at the Committee level within 60 days of the nomination.  The Committee would then make a report to the full Council who then has to take an action based on the report within 90 days of a nomination. 


Member Boss asked whether the Chair is required to be familiar with Roberts Rules of Order or if support would be given.  Chair Milne recommended that the Council Secretary provide assistance in this effort.  The Task Force Secretary offered to provide assistance and a copy of the City Attorney’s Good Government Guide, An Overview of the Laws Governing the Conduct of Public Officials, and meeting prompts to the Chair.  It was also advised that the City offers a yearly Sunshine Ordinance Training that is open to the public.  Deputy City Attorney Barnes stated that Deputy City Attorney Cabrera would be attending meetings and providing advice for as long as needed.


Member Blair expressed her concern with controversial issues that may arise at the Committee and recommended a member with public relations experience, e.g. Member Griswold for Chair.  Member Boss volunteered if Member Griswold would not be interested.    Council Chair Milne requested that the Task Force Secretary contact Member Griswold and ask if he would be interested in being Chair.  An announcement will be made at the next Council meeting.


Member Boss inquired about Ms. Kong’s letter suing the action of the Urban Forestry Council and related individuals associated with landmarking the tree on her property and asked if members would be faced with individual liability.  Deputy City Attorney Barnes indicated that she drafted a response to Ms. Kong stating that the Urban Forestry Council was providing their recommendation to the Board of Supervisors as an Advisory Council, and she could pursue her point of view with the Board of Supervisors.  Members who are acting in their responsibility as a City official are represented by the City Attorney’s Office and are not personally liable unless they commit an illegal act and are acting in something other than in the scope of their assigned responsibility.  Such complaints would be treated as a suit against the City.


3.      DISCUSSION and POSSIBLE ACTION: The Landmark Tree Committee discussed and voted on establishing operating procedures.


Chair Milne explained that the required landmark tree hearing would be held at the Landmark Tree Committee and not at the full Council.  The Committee would recommend to the full Council to approve a landmark, deny a landmark, or make no recommendation.  Landmark tree recommendations that are affirmed or denied would be sent to the Council on a consent calendar so a second hearing would not have to take place at the full Council.  If the Committee had no recommendation, the item would have to be heard again at the full Council and could not be included on the consent calendar.  Using the consent calendar method, the public can have an opportunity to testify at the full Council if they have new information or could not attend the Landmark Tree Committee meeting.  Deputy City Attorney Barnes advised that the public has to have an opportunity to provide public comment.  Items can be pulled off the consent calendar as required.  


Council Chair Milne advised that the Chair would make a report indicating a description of the tree, discussion at the Committee, and how the Committee voted.  The Council would then send their advisory vote on to the Board of Supervisors for their action.  It was suggested that all Council members be responsible for looking at the trees before a vote is taken at the full Council and be made aware of nominated trees at the time of nomination.   


The Council Secretary advised that the Planning and Policy Committee members agreed that any City agency with jurisdiction for the nominated tree should submit agency evaluation forms to the Committee.


Member Blair requested that (1) Landmark tree nominations be listed under the “Hot Topics” section of the San Francisco Environment website; and (2) evaluation forms be typed.


Member Boss stated that he did not feel the evaluation forms should be completed by Committee members as part of the information could not be assessed.  It was indicated that the Urban Forestry Council Associate should be evaluating all of the criteria and providing the information to the Committee Members.  It was stated that Committee Members’ would add comments to the evaluation forms at the time of the site visit. 


Deputy City Attorney Barnes advised of the following main points: 


§         The Landmark Tree Ordinance specifies that trees must be nominated by the Board of Supervisors, the Planning Commission, City department/agency heads or private property owners.


§         The hearing would take place at the Committee level, but the decision is with the full Council.  It was recommended that the Committee prepare draft findings that would go to the full Council and the Council could adopt the written findings or make revisions. 


§         The Landmark Committee’s quorum consists of three member votes.  The Committee can vote to recommend, vote to recommend against, or not have an action.  It was suggested that all members’ input be made available or heard at the Council.


§         The process starts with the Department of the Environment staff receiving a nomination form, scheduling a Landmark Tree Committee hearing within 60 days of the completed nomination, and determining whether the tree qualifies for landmark status pursuant to adopted designation criteria. 


§         The full Council has 90 days after the nomination to forward a recommendation to the Board.  If the Urban Forestry Council determined that a tree was not eligible for landmark status, the process would stop at the full Council and would not go to the Board of Supervisors.  If the Council did not submit written findings within 90 days of the nomination it would be considered a failed nomination, and the Board of Supervisors can then take action. If the Council votes for landmark status, the vote is advisory and the Board has the final say.  The Council determines rejection, but not acceptance.  If findings are not issued, the Board can adopt their own findings.


§         Once a tree is nominated, the tree has 180 days of protection and cannot be removed unless it is a hazard.  The Board can adopt a resolution to extend tree protection for an additional ninety days.


§         The Board of Supervisors may have another hearing at their Committee level at their discretion. 


Upon Motion by Member Blair and second by Member Boss with no objection, the following operating procedures were adopted with no objection: 


§         Committee members would receive an agenda, nomination forms, San Francisco Environment’s Urban Forester evaluation forms, relevant paperwork that includes arguments in support or not in support, homeowners’ comments, and expert reports ten working days before the meeting. 


§         The public and nominating entities would be advised to submit documentation electronically or by mail so it is received thirteen working days before the meeting so the Committee can receive the information within the ten day timeframe in order for proper consideration to be taken.  The public and nominating entities would be advised that in order for their issue to be considered properly, documentation should be received within this timeframe.


§         Agendas would be posted ten working days before the meeting. 


§         At the time of nomination, the Department of the Environment’s Urban Forester would prepare a notification letter to the property owner advising them of the nomination, hearing date, and timeline for submitting documentation.  A set of instructions would be sent along with the notification letter.  The property owner should be given the opportunity to request additional time or the next hearing date if required.


§         A yearly schedule of Landmark Tree hearings would be posted on San Francisco Environment’s website with required dates to submit documentation for each meeting.


§         The Landmark Tree Committee will create written instructions to advise the public about the nomination, hearing, and paperwork requirements, and the instructions will be posted on the Department of the Environment’s website.


§         All nominated trees would be added to the San Francisco Environment’s website at the time of nomination.


§         If nomination forms are received e.g. nine days before the meeting, the nominations would be heard at the following Landmark Tree Committee meeting. 


§         The Committee would use the same process as San Francisco Environment’s Urban Forester to request property owner consent to conduct a site visit.


§         Committee members agreed to prepare their own field evaluation forms that could be brought to the Landmark Tree Committee meeting and discussed at that time. 


§         The Landmark Tree Committee would create a recommended process to submit to City agencies/department heads/officials.  It was recommended that not too many trees be nominated at one time so that the Committee can have adequate time to properly evaluate trees. 


4.      DISCUSSION: New Business.  Member Blair recommended that the Board of Supervisors be asked to nominate a tree from their district on Arbor Day (March) to heighten awareness of the event. 


5.      FUTURE AGENDA ITEMS.  The next meeting of the Landmark Tree Committee is on November 14, 2006 at 4:00 p.m., in Room 421, City Hall.  Future agenda items included (1) Committee to approve the letter to the property owner that Urban Forestry Council Associate Ma would be requested to write and then forward to the full Council for approval; (2) possibly establish further criteria on nomination and evaluation forms after a field test; (3) create instructions for members of the public as to what to expect at meetings, e.g. staff report first, then property owner to speak, etc. .  


6.      PUBLIC COMMENT:  Members of the public may address the Committee on matters that are within the Committee’s jurisdiction and are not on today’s agenda.  There was no public comment at this time.


7.      ADJOURNMENT.  The Landmark Tree Committee meeting adjourned at 6:10 p.m.

Respectfully Submitted by,
Monica Fish, Council Secretary


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