04.10 Approved Minutes

City and County of San Francisco

DEpartment of the ENvironment






Tuesday, April 10, 2007, 4:00 P.M.


City Hall, Room 421

One Dr. Carlton B. Goodlett Place

San Francisco, CA



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


Urban Forestry Specialist:  Grace Ma


Council Secretary:  Monica Fish


1.      CALL TO ORDER AND ROLL CALL. The Landmark Tree Committee meeting was called to order at 4:06 p.m.  Present:  Members Boss, Blair and Sustarich; Excused:  Members Griswold and Habert.


2.      ACTION: Adoption of Minutes of the March 13, 2007 Urban Forestry Council Landmark Tree Committee Regular Meeting.  Upon Motion by Member Sustarich and second by Member Blair, the March 13, 2007 Meeting Minutes were approved without objection (Absent:  Members Griswold and Habert).  (Explanatory Document: Approved Minutes of the March 13, 2007 Regular Meeting.)


3.      DISCUSSION and POSSIBLE ACTION:  Public Outreach Letters for Landmarking of Trees (Continued from the March 13, 2007 Meeting).  Committee Members will review and possibly vote to approve for recommendation to the Urban Forestry Council two outreach letters, one addressed to the Board of Supervisors and Department Heads and one addressed to San Francisco Residents. 


This item was continued to the May 8, 2007 Meeting.


4.      DISCUSSION and POSSIBLE ACTION:  Landmark Tree Nomination Form.  The Committee considered and voted on revisions to the Landmark Tree Nomination Form to recommend to the Urban Forestry Council (Continued from the March 13, 2007 Meeting) (Explanatory Documents: Nomination Form and Revised Nomination Form April07).


Chair Boss stated that the Urban Forestry Council approved the revised Landmark Tree Evaluation Criteria form at their February meeting and requested that the Committee consider modifying the Landmark Tree Nomination Form to be in sync with the Landmark Tree Evaluation Criteria and the Landmark Tree Evaluation Form.  The Committee discussed the April07 Revised Nomination Form modifications (see Revised Nomination Form explanatory document above).


Upon Motion by Member Sustarich and second by Member Blair, the April 07 Revised Nomination form was approved with a revision to add a place for the identity of the member of the public who requested an authorized nominator to nominate a tree (AYES: Chair Boss, Members Blair and Sustarich; Absent:  Members Griswold and Habert).  The revised Nomination Form will be forwarded to the Urban Forestry Council for discussion and vote at their April 23 meeting.


5.      DISCUSSION and POSSIBLE ACTION:  Landmark Tree Evaluation Criteria.  The Committee discussed redefining landmark tree evaluation criteria and continued this item to their May 8, 2007 meeting for further discussion (Explanatory Document.  Evaluation Criteria).


Urban Forestry Specialist Ma reported that the City Attorney’s Office had advised that landmark tree nomination criteria have to be substantiated through research and/or documentation.      


Chair Boss stated that as a member of the Landmark Tree Committee, he has had difficulty applying and evaluating landmark tree nominations using the current evaluation criteria and recommended changes listed in the criteria fields below. It was indicated that of particular concern is that there is propensity towards hearsay without substantiation by documentation or other means.  The Committee members discussed the current criteria fields as follows:


Rare.  Replace the language “Also consider rarity in California, North America, world” with “Also consider rarity in a region of San Francisco (neighborhood or ecological zone).”  Member Blair asked to eliminate “Uncommon” and “Common” terms.  Chair Boss explained that the entire forestry and botanical fields describe plants/trees as rare, common, or uncommon.  Member Sustarich suggested using the term “Rarity” instead of “Rare.” 


Committee members discussed how rarity can be measured.  It was indicated that there is no accepted statistical model as to what trees are common or uncommon in San Francisco and to prevent hearsay from ruling the process, the advice of a knowledgeable professional or some other data would be necessary.  It was indicated that a current reliable study of San Francisco trees would assist this process; however, none exists.  Urban Forestry Specialist Ma stated that the UFORE report data collected in 2004 contains an estimated tree inventory.  Chair Boss advised that the UFORE report contains general information but specifics are deemed inaccurate.


Size.  No comments were made on the size field.


Age.  Delete “Significantly advanced age for this species (known or estimated)” as the only methods available to know the tree age would be destructive to the tree. A discussion was held on including fields that indicate the tree’s life cycle, e.g. juvenile, mature, or senescent, and to add “State age if known by providing documentation.”  Committee members stated that documentation such as a photograph, owner documentation, or other record could be a basis to substantiate the age. 


Historical Association.  Delete “cultural” from the sentence “Related to a historic or cultural…”


Ethnic appreciation.  Change title to “Cultural, Ethnic or Religious Appreciation.” 


Neighborhood appreciation:  Sentence following the title should read “Multiple neighbors appreciate tree as shown by indicators such as letters of support, petition, testimony, outdoor gatherings, celebrations adjacent or related to tree, etc.


Planting defines neighborhood character.  Member Blair requested a future discussion on landmarking groupings of trees.


Profiled in a publication or other media.  This field was determined to be fine as is.


High traffic area. Change the title to “Traffic calming value” and the description to “The tree is located in an area of high volume of vehicular, pedestrian or bike traffic with a potential traffic calming effect.”


Low tree density.  This field was determined to be fine as is.


Extends between multiple properties.  Irrelevant topic—eliminate.


Accessible from public right of way.  Change the title to include “Visible or” before “Accessible” and the description from “High visibility” to “High visibility and/or access from public property”.


Important wildlife habitat.  The description should include “This tree has a known relationship with a particular wildlife species and provides food, shelter, and nesting.”


Interdependent group of trees.  This field was determined to be fine as is.


Erosion control.  This field was determined to be fine as is.


Wind or sound barrier:  This field was determined to be fine as is.


Prominent landscape feature.  This field was determined to be fine as is.


Character defining form.  This field was determined to be fine as is.


Tree condition.  This field was determined to be fine as is.


This agenda item was continued to the May 8 meeting so that additional members could be part of the discussion and vote.  A copy of the Landmark Tree Evaluation Criteria with recommended revisions will be presented at the May 8 meeting for review.


6.      DISCUSSION and POSSIBLE ACTION:  Landmark Tree Committee Agenda and Documentation Due Dates.  The Committee discussed and voted to revise current agenda and documentation due dates. 


Urban Forestry Specialist Ma reported that she is not always able to honor the ten day documentation due date requirement because in the case of landmark tree nominations, access to backyards is not available and documentation/public outreach correspondence is not received.  Chair Boss stated that he would like to receive the landmark tree nomination forms in advance in order to have time to do a site visit, but that it would be acceptable to utilize standard requirements for sending out the agenda and other documentation.


Upon Motion by Chair Boss and second by Member Sustarich the current meeting agenda and documentation ten-day due date requirements were revised to standard noticing requirements, and the nomination forms would maintain the ten-calendar day due date requirement. (AYES:  Chair Boss, Members Blair and Sustarich) (Absent: Members Habert and Griswold.)


7.      DISCUSSION:   Landmark Tree Resolution Written Findings and Supporting Documentation.  Committee Members will discuss how to fulfill the requirement for substantiating Landmark Tree Resolution Findings with factual data for transmittal to the Clerk of the Board’s Office.


Urban Forestry Specialist Ma reported that the City Attorney’s Office had advised that the Urban Forestry Council’s Landmark Tree Resolution written findings have to be substantiated by fact, not just observations or hearsay. No other specific instructions were issued by the City Attorney’s Office.


Chair Boss asked that the Deputy City Attorney be invited to the May 8 meeting to provide additional information.  Continued to the May 8 meeting.


8.      INFORMATION and DISCUSSION: New Business.  Urban Forestry Specialist Ma reported that Supervisor McGoldrick’s Office is proposing a notification requirement for the Landmark Tree program.  The proposal is that all property owners within a 300-foot radius of a landmark tree nomination be notified that a tree is being nominated and that there will be public hearings related to the tree.  Ms. Ma stated that the Planning Department is administering this type of notification for certain kinds of permits and has an architect/developer of the project create the radius either in-house or hires a private company to mail notices.  Ms. Ma indicated that she has inquired with the Planning Department about the time, cost, and staffing to administer the notification process.  A discussion will be held with the Environment Department Director on this issue.

Chair Boss reported that the City is planning to cut down landmark quality trees because of an infrastructure project in Bernal Heights on Mayflower Street.  Four large eucalyptus trees including a 3 ½ foot diameter eucalyptus out of a total of 15 trees would be cut down.  It was stated that Mayflower Street is one of the last remaining dirt roads in the City and possibly the only tree-lined dirt road.  Chair Boss indicated that the trees are a very prominent landscape feature and that he is working to petition the Board of Permit Appeals to reverse a hearing that went against saving the trees.  It was reported that the trees are under the Department of Public Work’s jurisdiction and that a tree hearing had been held on this issue.  


9.      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.


10.  ADJOURNMENT.  The Landmark Tree Committee Meeting adjourned at 6:28 p.m.



The next Landmark Tree Committee meeting will be held on Tuesday, May 8, 2007 at 4:00 p.m., Room 421, City Hall.


Respectfully submitted by,



Monica Fish

Council Secretary



Approved:  May 8, 2007

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