11.13 Approved Minutes

City and County of San Francisco

DEpartment of the ENvironment

URBAN FORESTRY COUNCIL
LANDMARK TREE COMMITTEE

 

REGULAR MEETING

APPROVED MINUTES

Tuesday, November 13, 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, Malcolm Hillan, Mark Sustarich                                                                   

ORDER OF BUSINESS 

1.      Call to Order and Roll Call.  The Urban Forestry Council Meeting was called to order at 4:10 p.m.  Present: Chair Boss, Members Blair, Griswold (4:20 p.m.) and Sustarich; Absent: Member Hillan.

 

2.      Adoption of Minutes of the October 9, 2007 Urban Forestry Council Landmark Tree Committee Regular Meeting (Discussion and Action). Upon Motion by Member Blair and second by Member Sustarich, the October 9, 2007 Meeting Minutes were approved (AYES: Chair Boss, Members Blair and Sustarich; Absent: Members Hillan and Griswold) (Explanatory Document: Approved Minutes of the October 9, 2007 Regular Meeting).

 

3.      Hearing on Nominations for Landmark Tree Status. The Landmark Tree Committee will hold a hearing to determine whether the trees nominated at the following addresses meet the criteria for designation as landmark trees.  At the conclusion of the hearing, the Landmark Tree Committee will vote on whether to approve or reject the nominations and shall adopt written findings to support its decision to forward to the Urban Forestry Council.  The Council will forward approved nominations to the Board of Supervisors for further consideration. Explanatory Documents Received/Distributed in Committee Meeting:  Tree Evaluation Forms, pictures, neighborhood support.

 

Blue Elderberry Tree (Sambucus Mexicana) located at Folsom Street and Bernal Heights Boulevard in the Bernal Heights Natural Area (Assessor’s Block 5548, Lot 002) (Explanatory Document:  Board of Supervisors Draft Resolution of intent to nominate and Nomination Packet).

 

Staff Analysis:  Ms. Hui reported that the tree is deciduous and is overgrown with some blackberry so is not at its most impressive stage at this time.  Information contained in the Evaluation Form describing the tree’s rarity, age, size, historical association, ethnic appreciation and other relevant categories was discussed.  Ms. Hui recommended this tree for landmark status based on the habitat it is able to provide, its rarity in San Francisco, and that it is a native tree.  It was stated that this area is a good application for this type of tree and should be preserved.  Additional information can be found in the evaluation form explanatory document. 

 

Committee Evaluations: Member Sustarich reported that the Blue Elderberry is a native tree, mature specimen, and has decay that is in the nature of elderberry trees.  It was stated that the blackberry should be cleared around the tree so a more thorough inspection of the trunk could be done and in order to make it more presentable.  Member Blair stated that the tree does not look very impressive and noted that the tree does have some decay.

 

Chair Boss reported on his findings on the Blue Elderberry that include: (1) it could be considered a rare tree, as there are not a large number in San Francisco; (2) the tree is a significantly large elderberry much older than the average for the species; (3) Blue Elderberry is not a large tree to begin with so you would not get one with the impressive nature as larger trees; (4) the tree is a naturally occurring remnant, one of the few in San Francisco’s natural forest; (5) it is most likely of native stock from the original forest in San Francisco; (6)  the tree is currently in a deciduous state,  typical of its natural state at this time of year, and that in his estimation trees are just as beautiful in the deciduous state as their leafy state; (7) suggested that pruning or trying to improve the tree not be done in order to preserve its natural form with the exception of removing the blackberry; and (8) the tree is highly visible and accessible.  Chair Boss strongly recommended landmark nomination.       

 

Upon Motion by Chair Boss and second by Member Sustarich, the Blue Elderberry Tree (Sambucus Mexicana) located at Folsom Street and Bernal Heights Boulevard in the Bernal Heights Natural Area (Assessor’s Block 5548, Lot 002) was approved for landmark tree status recommendation to the Council (AYES:  Chair Boss, Members Blair, Griswold and Sustarich; Absent:  Member Hillan).  The recommendation for approval and a written summary would be forwarded to the Urban Forestry Council to consider at their December 14 meeting.

 

Moreton Bay Fig tree (Ficus macrophylla) located at 3555 Cesar Chavez Street (Assessor’s Block 6575, Lot 002).  (Explanatory Document: Board of Supervisors Draft Resolution of intent to nominate and Nomination Packet)

 

Staff Analysis:  Ms. Hui reported that there are two other trees of this species and potential size in Golden Gate Park, but this is the largest and most outstanding specimen in San Francisco.  Evaluation criteria contained in the Evaluation Form describing the tree’s rarity, age, size, historical association, ethnic appreciation, profiled in a publication or other media, and other relevant categories were discussed.  Ms. Hui strongly recommended this tree for landmark status.  Pictures and additional information are contained in the explanatory document above.

 

Committee Evaluations:  Members Blair and Sustarich discussed information contained in their evaluation forms.  The North West Bernal Alliance letter in support of landmark status was brought to attention. Member Boss discussed his evaluation of the tree and requested that any additional correspondence showing neighborhood appreciation be included in the nomination packet.  Chair Boss stated that the tree is one of the most spectacular trees in San Francisco and strongly recommended landmark tree status. (See explanatory documents for additional information.)

 

Public Comment:  Urban Forestry Council Chair Milne stated that he believes that the tree had been pruned approximately two and a half weeks ago.  It was recommended that the tree location state that it is located on the Valencia Street side of St. Luke’s Hospital, 3555 Cesar Chavez Street. The Council Secretary stated that she would reflect the location on the Urban Forestry Council Resolution.  Deputy City Attorney Cabrera stated that the nomination form should also reflect this location.  Council Chair Milne stated that he would discuss the location change with the nominator.

 

Upon Motion by Chair Boss and second by Member Blair, the Moreton Bay Fig tree (Ficus macrophylla) located at 3555 Cesar Chavez Street (Assessor’s Block 6575, Lot 002 was approved for landmark tree status recommendation to the Council (AYES:  Chair Boss, Members Blair, Griswold and Sustarich; Absent:  Member Hillan).  The recommendation for approval and a written summary would be forwarded to the Urban Forestry Council to consider at their December 14 meeting.

 

Two Flowering Ash trees (Fraxinus ornus) located at 500 Cortland Street in front of the Bernal Heights Library (Assessor’s Block 5707, Lot 027). (Explanatory Document: Board of Supervisors Draft Resolution of intent to nominate and Nomination Packet)

 

Staff Analysis:  Ms. Hui reported that the two trees are deciduous so are not very impressive at this time.  Evaluation criteria contained in the Evaluation Form describing the tree’s rarity, age, size, historical association, ethnic appreciation, and other relevant categories were discussed and pictures were presented.  

 

Deputy City Attorney Cabrera stated that the nominator had introduced the two trees as one Resolution, and the Landmark Tree Ordinance requires that each tree would require their own individual nomination. The Committee can consider and discuss the trees together, but each tree has to have an individual nomination. It was stated that the Council could create two resolutions, and the Deputy City Attorney would create two separate ordinances for the Board to consider if the trees were to be nominated.

 

Committee Evaluations:  Member Sustarich presented an evaluation form and discussed evaluation criteria contained in the form (see explanatory document above).  Member Blair stated that she had observed the tree and noticed that there was some decay.  It was stated that The Trees of San Francisco lists two other flowering ash trees on Cole Street and that the nominated trees may not be the best of their species.   Member Boss stated that the trees are not in perfect health and recommended improvements; e.g. the tree basin should be widened, lights removed.  It was stated that there may be historical association with the Bernal Heights Library and stressed the rarity as a significant factor for landmark status. 

 

Chair Boss/second by Member Griswold motioned to approve the two Flowering Ash trees (Fraxinus ornus) located at 500 Cortland Street in front of the Bernal Heights Library (Assessor’s Block 5707, Lot 027). The tree was not approved for landmark tree status recommendation to the Council based on a tie vote (AYES:  Chair Boss and Griswold; NOES:  Members Blair and Griswold; Absent:  Member Hillan).  The Committee’s action would be forwarded along with a written summary to the Urban Forestry Council to consider at their December 14 meeting.

 

4.      Landmark Tree Initiation of the mature blue gum (Eucalyptus globulus) trees located at 1661 Octavia Street (Assessor's Block 647 lot 002) (Discussion and Action).  The Committee will discuss the trees’ current landmark designation and vote on a future action (Explanatory Documents: Board of Supervisors Resolution).

 

Ms. Hui reported that Supervisor Maxwell’s aide had indicated that Supervisor Maxwell is aware that these trees had been landmarked by the Department of Public Works and does not feel any need to move forward for landmark status again.  Deputy City Attorney Cabrera stated that the trees had been landmarked in February of 1996 under Section 810 of the Public Works Code so the tree still has the same protections as if it were landmarked today. It was stated that there are no legal reasons to landmark the tree; however, if the Council wants to landmark the tree and take it through the process, that is a policy decision for the Council to make.

 

Public Comment:  Council Chair Milne reported that these trees were originally proposed for landmarking in 1972 and were stamped as structures of merit in 1974 by the Planning Commission and Landmarks Preservation Advisory Board before they were landmarked in 1996.

 

Chair Boss recommended that ordinances approving landmark status of all of the trees be sent to the Board of Supervisors as well as a letter explaining that the trees had been previously landmarked in 1996.  Upon Motion by Chair Boss and second by Member Sustarich, it was recommended that the Urban Forestry Council consider directing staff to write a letter to the Board of Supervisors that the mature blue gum trees at 1661 Octavia Street had been previously landmarked.  Ordinances approving landmark status of the trees would be included as attachments to the letter (AYES:  Chair Boss, Members Blair, Griswold and Sustarich; Absent:  Member Hillan).  

 

5.      California Urban Forest Conference Summary (Informational Report and Discussion).

SPEAKER:  Chair Mike Boss

 

Chair Boss stated that the conference was a wonderful event and commended the conference organizers, Mr. Doug Wildman and Friends of the Urban Forest. It was stated that most notably, Ms. Gillian Gillett gave a presentation on permeable landscaping of sidewalks and street medians. Chair Boss suggested that Committee members visit an example on Guerrero Street and San Jose Avenue that has very few trees and is a good reminder that the urban forest is more than just the trees but it is the whole environmental aspect of storm water recharge and the role that herbaceous and other plants play to keep that system active.  Ms. Hui stated that Ms. Gillett had indicated that their idea is to widen the sidewalk so street trees can be planted. 

 

Member Sustarich reported that he had attended the conference and that a tour of San Francisco parks was held where Mr. John Thomas gave insight of a landscape architect’s perspective.  In addition, a presentation was given on using GIS for tree mapping.  Ms. Hui reported that she had started to work on www.Sftreemap.org with the program coordinator.  It was stated that other cities had indicated their interest in the program, and it is being developed as open-source software.  Autodesk had contributed $40,000 in development of the software and in staff time.  Member Sustarich stated that the Chief Forester from Los Angeles, Mr. George Gonzalez stated that Los Angeles would be having 50 tree planting functions a month.  Activities include (1) events to show people how to plant their trees and select the right tree location, (2) neighborhood outreach; and (3) a workshop day to give people trees for planting.                            

 

6.      Landmark Tree Evaluation Criteria.  The Committee will continue to discuss redefining landmark tree evaluation criteria and discuss criteria used in other jurisdictions. (Continued from the October 9, 2007 Meeting) (Explanatory Documents: Original Landmark Tree Evaluation Criteria, Evaluation Criteria Revised 050307 and Phytosphere Guidelines for Developing and Evaluating Tree Ordinances http://www.phytosphere.com/treeord/heritage.htm.) (Discussion).

 

Chair Boss stated that he did not have information to share from the conference on this topic, but would be reviewing criteria used in other jurisdictions such as Palo Alto.  It was stated that Palo Alto has heritage trees instead of landmark trees and protects three native species of trees automatically, the coast live oak, valley oak and redwood.   This agenda item was continued to the December 11, 2007 meeting in order to study models from other jurisdictions and to refine the criteria.  Ms. Hui stated that she would do additional research and bring examples to the next meeting.

 

7.      Landmark Tree Nomination Process  (Informational Presentation and Discussion) (Explanatory Documents:  Nomination Process)  

SPEAKER:  Mei Ling Hui, Urban Forestry Council Environmental Assistant

 

Ms. Hui discussed the landmark tree nomination process flowchart that includes three basic steps, e.g., the nomination, Urban Forestry Council review, and Board of Supervisors review. For both the homeowner and department head nominations, paperwork is filled out and turned in for Landmark Tree Committee/Urban Forestry Council review.  For Board of Supervisors nominations, one supervisor will introduce a resolution of intent to nominate that would be heard at the full Board or at Committee.  If the full Board votes to approve the intent to nominate, it is forwarded to the Landmark Tree Committee/Urban Forestry Council for review. If the nomination is assigned to the Board without Committee reference, the whole Board has to vote yes in order for it to move to the Council; otherwise, it is assigned to Committee.  Usually a nomination is assigned to Committee, and if approved moves to the full Board, and then to the Landmark Tree Committee/Urban Forestry Council for review. If either the Committee or the full Board disapproves a nomination that does not mean the nomination cannot be reentered. Until it gets to the Council and we deny it, the wait of three years to re-nominate does not take effect.  If a nomination is not passed at a Board Committee, a Supervisor can continuously re-nominate it again until it passes.  If the Urban Forestry Council disapproves a nomination or if the Board of Supervisors disapproves a nomination after the Council sends the nomination, then it has to wait another three years before nomination. 

 

Chair Boss clarified that the Council has to disapprove the nomination for the nomination process to end, effectively causing the tree to be denied landmark status.  If the Council approves a tree nomination, it goes to the Board of Supervisors.  If the Council does not have a recommendation, it still goes to the Board of Supervisors.  Ms. Hui stated there are three actions (1) approve the nomination and it is sent to the Board; (2) disapprove with a majority vote and the tree nomination is denied—there will be no further action and it can’t get nominated again for three years; or (3) a split vote is not a majority vote so the findings will still go to the Board of Supervisors without recommendation. 

 

Member Blair stated that she believes that if the Council approves or denies a nomination, it goes back to the Board of Supervisors.  Chair Boss stated that if the Council disapproves a nomination, it does not go to the Board of Supervisors.  If the Council approves or does not have a recommendation, findings would be forwarded to the Board. If the Council disapproves the nomination, designation is denied and can’t be considered again for three years.  Ms. Hui stated that if the Council approves a nomination or fails to forward findings, it is then either assigned to Board Committee or goes to the full Board without Committee reference.  If the full Board disapproves the nomination, then the designation is denied and the tree can’t be nominated again for three years.  If the Board approves the nomination and it is passed on first reading, and then the next week they hear it again and it passes on second and final reading—the nomination is approved.  Ms. Hui reported that the Landmarks Preservation Advisory Board and Planning Commission have not yet set their protocol for the landmark tree nomination process.      

 

8.      Outreach Plan for Landmarking of Trees. The Committee will vote to approve a final outreach letter to the Board of Supervisors, Department Heads, the Planning Commission, and Landmarks Preservation Advisory Board requesting that they consider trees in their jurisdiction for landmark status (Discussion and Action) (Explanatory Document:  Draft Outreach Letter) (Continued from the October 9, 2007 Meeting). 

 

Ms. Hui reported that Members Blair and Cohen provided edits to the outreach letter presented for review. Member Boss recommended that a link to the landmark tree process be added to the letter. Council members and staff provided additional edits.  A revised letter would be forwarded to Committee members to provide additional comments, and a final would be brought back to the Landmark Tree Committee for review and approval at their December 11 meeting.

 

9.      Visible Identification of Landmark Trees after Designation. The Landmark Tree Committee will discuss methods for visibly identifying trees that have received landmark tree status (Discussion) (Continued discussion from the October 9, 2007 Meeting).

 

Chair Boss stated that his concern is that without visible identification, landmark trees could inadvertently be damaged by a tree contractor, property owner, or someone else that would have no way of knowing that the tree is a landmark. It was stated that historic buildings have a plaque on them and everybody can see and read about it.  Chair Boss asked the Committee to consider ways of making the public aware by reviewing types of markings to place on the trees that would be inexpensive, non-damaging, and secure. It was recommended that other municipalities be consulted for their ideas.  Committee members provided various recommendations and were asked to send in their suggestions to Ms. Hui to consider at the December 11 meeting.  Member Griswold suggested referencing a book or a website that had a list or map of San Francisco landmark trees.  Ms. Hui stated that (1) the Department of Public Works maintains a book, Landmark Trees in San Francisco and (2) the www.sftreemap.org will have a separate icon designation for all landmark trees.  Member Boss recommended that the Planning & Funding Committee discuss budget considerations for this project.  Continued to the December 11 meeting.

 

10.  New Business/Future Agenda Items (Information and Discussion).  The Council Secretary asked for the Committee to reconsider the effectiveness of the Landmark Tree Committee’s 10-day agenda and documentation notification schedule in the case of a tree being nominated by the Board a week before the meeting.  This issue would be scheduled for discussion and action at the next meeting in order to reconsider the notification schedule.  Ms. Hui reported that the Board of Supervisors approved the 25th Street Coast Live Oak tree for landmark tree status at their meeting today.

 

11.  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.

 

12.  Adjournment.  The Landmark Tree Committee meeting adjourned at 6:07 p.m.

 

 

Respectfully submitted by,

Monica Fish

Council Secretary

 

Approved: December 11, 2007

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