08.14 Approved Minutes

City and County of San Francisco

DEpartment of the ENvironment






Tuesday, August 14, 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, and Mark Sustarich                                                                  


1.      Call to Order and Roll Call. The meeting was called to order at 4:05 p.m.  Present:  Chair Boss, Members Blair, Griswold and Sustarich.


2.      Adoption of Minutes of the May 8, 2007 Urban Forestry Council Landmark Tree Committee Regular Meeting (Discussion and Action). Upon Motion by Chair Boss and second by Member Sustarich, the May 8, 2007 Meeting Minutes were approved (AYES: Chair Boss, Members Blair, Griswold and Sustarich) (Explanatory Document: Draft Minutes of the May 8, 2007 Regular Meeting.)


3.      Coast Live Oak Tree at 4124 – 23rd Street. The Landmark Tree Committee will discuss and vote to recommend their findings to substantiate the property owner’s landmark tree nomination at this site (Discussion and Action) (Explanatory Document:  Nomination Form)

SPONSOR & SPEAKER:  Council Chair Terry Milne


Council Chair Milne introduced the property owner and nominator of the landmark tree nomination, Mr. Robert Call.  It was explained that this tree was originally nominated by Supervisor Dufty’s office, but the statutory time limit for the hearing to take place had expired without further action.  However, since the property owner has now nominated the tree, the City Attorney’s Office has advised that the Urban Forestry Council is able to hold a hearing.  Chair Milne requested that the Landmark Tree Committee/Urban Forestry Council provide written findings to the Board of Supervisors on how this tree would qualify for landmark tree status.  


Mr. Robert Call reported that he has lived at 4124 – 23rd Street for 20 years and believes the tree is approximately 100 years old.  The tree covers all of his backyard and the adjoining property’s. The adjoining property owner is in the process of doing construction work that may affect the health of the tree.  Mr. Call had requested that Supervisor Dufty nominate the tree for landmark status, which he did, but it was never acted upon.  A meeting was held at the site where the tree is located with Department of Public Work representatives, the Department of Building Inspection, and the adjoining property owner, at which time everyone agreed that the tree should be protected. 


Mr. Call was asked to describe why the tree merits landmark tree status.  Mr. Call stated that the tree is a privacy screen, bird habitat, is a great tree and should be preserved.  Pictures from different vantage points were distributed to the members.  It was stated that the tree is visible and notable from several locations.  


Chair Boss reported that he had visited the tree and purely on the basis of its size and species, it is worthy of landmark tree status and that he would support its nomination. He suggested to Mr. Call that letters or a petition showing neighborhood support for the tree would add credibility to the nomination.  Chair Boss also suggested that providing written documentation from arborists, if available, stating the approximate age and size of the tree would add credibility to the nomination.  It was stated that the pictures on the tree’s visibility from so many diverse and far away places serve as support and recommended that the pictures be included.


Council Chair Milne asked if there is an estimate on the geometry of where the property line is, where the neighbor’s construction is, and where the tree is.  Mr. Call stated that the tree is about eight feet from his side of the property line.  It was explained that the adjoining property owner wanted to trench from property line to property line, which he did not do; however, significant trenching has been done against the adjoining property owner’s own landscape designs and arborist’s advice.  Mr. Call stated that most of the significant roots are on his property, but that there are significant roots that extend onto the adjoining property owner’s. Council Chair Milne indicated that it sounds as if the viability of the tree might not be threatened at this point.  Mr. Call stated that the Native Oak Society advised not to disturb the roots in order to preserve the health of the tree.  Chair Boss stated that the subject of trenching would be irrelevant to the landmark quality of the tree.    


Upon Motion by Chair Boss and second by Member Sustarich, the Landmark Tree Committee approved the nomination of the coast live oak tree located at 4124 – 23rd Street for landmark tree status with findings that include:  (1) it is an uncommon species in San Francisco, (2) significantly large with a majestic canopy, (3) as a species native to San Francisco, this tree has natural historical value, (5) high visibility, (6) character-defining form, and (7) as a native species, it is an important wildlife habitat.  An Urban Forestry Council landmark tree hearing will be scheduled for August 28 at 5:30 p.m., in Room 416, City Hall.   (AYES:  Chair Boss, Members Griswold and Sustarich; Absent:  Member Blair.)  Member Blair left the meeting at 4:40 p.m. before the vote on approval of landmark tree nomination. 


Mr. Call stated that he may not be available to attend the meeting.  Chair Boss asked Mr. Call to submit supporting documentation to the Council Secretary before the meeting.  Council Chair Milne advised that proxies have spoken at previous landmark tree hearings in place of the property owner.


4.      Landmark Tree Evaluation Criteria.  The Committee will continue to discuss redefining landmark tree evaluation criteria and possibly vote on making recommendations to the Urban Forestry Council. (Discussion and Possible Action)  (Continued from the May 8, 2007 Meeting) (Explanatory Documents: Landmark Tree Evaluation Criteria Revised 050307 and Phytosphere Guidelines for Developing and Evaluating Tree Ordinances http://www.phytosphere.com/treeord/heritage.htm.)


Chair Boss stated that he had recommended this agenda item because he was having a difficult time applying the criteria to how a tree would qualify for landmark status.  It was stated that there is a large discrepancy on the importance of the criteria and recommended that the language and how the criteria is being used be revisited.  Member Griswold stated that the Committee should review the attributes that they would consider when judging a tree for landmark status; e.g., would it be size, rarity, its’ significant location, perhaps a significant event?  Member Griswold stated that fundamental questions should be answered.  Chair Boss requested that Committee members before the next Landmark Tree Committee meeting research examples and guidelines of other municipality’s actions specific to trees.    


5.      Outreach Plan for Landmarking of Trees (Discussion).  Chair Boss stated that at the last Landmark Tree Committee meeting there was consensus that it would be beneficial to do outreach, as the Committee has not been presented with many trees to review.  It was agreed that the Committee did not want to extend the outreach to the entire population of San Francisco for fear that it might bring up too many controversial property dispute issues, and that the outreach should be through letters directed to the Board of Supervisors, Department Heads, the Planning Commission and Landmarks Preservation Advisory Board.  The letter would send a message that trees are a wonderful resource in the City, they are something that we should be celebrating, and since you have the power to formally nominate worthy trees, we would like you to consider the trees in your area or jurisdiction, and send them to the Council to consider.  Member Sustarich agreed to work on a draft for review at the next meeting.  Member Griswold suggested sending a letter to the Presidio Trust and Golden Gate National Recreation Area within its San Francisco boundaries and asked if nominations would be accepted from those lands.  Council Chair Milne stated that he would consult with the Deputy City Attorney.   


6.      New Business/Future Agenda Items (Information and Discussion).  Chair Boss stated that the Board of Supervisors has submitted an intent to nominate four trees, two Flowering Ash trees located at 500 Cortland Street; one remarkable Moreton Bay Fig tree at 3555 Cesar Chavez Street in the property of St. Luke’s Hospital; and a San Francisco native tree, Blue Elderberry, located at Folsom Street and Bernal Heights Boulevard that is visible to all cars from the downtown side and is a remnant of the natural forest in San Francisco.  Council Chair Milne recommended flagging the Elderberry tree so Council Members are able to readily locate it as there is no address. 


Council Chair Milne reported that there is a fire suppression meeting on August 15 at the Bernal heights Neighborhood Center and that they may be discussing cutting down trees on “The Hill” because they believe it may be a fire danger. Council Chair Milne stated that he asked Supervisor Ammiano’s office for a better official description of the location of the Moreton Bay Fig tree, as it is right beside the Bancroft Library historic marker and on the property of St. Luke’s Hospital. 


Chair Boss recommended that a future agenda item for the next meeting be a discussion on identification of landmark tree status after designation; e.g., an official registry or a landmark tree plaque placed on the tree. 


Council Chair Milne reported that the Council at their next meeting would be considering additional members to Committees and restructuring of Committees.  It was suggested that administrative actions be accelerated because the Committee structure may change.


7.      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. 


8.      Adjournment.  The Landmark Tree Committee meeting adjourned at 5:20 p.m.


The next Landmark Tree Committee meeting will be held on Tuesday, September 11, 2007 at 4:00 p.m., Room 421, City Hall.



Respectfully submitted by,


Monica Fish

Council Secretary


Approved: October 9, 2007

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