12.11 Approved Minutes

URBAN FORESTRY COUNCIL
LANDMARK TREE COMMITTEE

 

REGULAR MEETING

APPROVED MINUTES

Tuesday, December 11, 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 Landmark Tree Committee Meeting was called to order at 4:00 p.m.  Present: Chair Boss, Members Blair and Hillan; Excused: Member Griswold and Sustarich.

 

2.      Adoption of Minutes of the November 13, 2007 Urban Forestry Council Landmark Tree Committee Regular Meeting. (Discussion and Action) Upon Motion by Member Blair and second by Chair Boss, the November 13, 2007 Meeting Minutes were approved without objection.  (Ayes:  Chair Boss, Members Blair and Hillan; Absent:  Members Griswold and Sustarich.) (Explanatory Document: Approved Minutes of the November 13, 2007 Regular Meeting.)

 

3.      Hearing on a Nomination for Landmark Tree Status. The Landmark Tree Committee will hold a hearing to determine whether the tree nominated at the following address meets the criteria for designation as a landmark tree (Discussion and Action) (Explanatory Documents:  1245 Masonic Packet)  

 

  • Blackwood Acacia Tree (Acacia melanoxylon) located at 1245 Masonic Avenue, Assessor’s Block 1244, Lot 005. 

At the conclusion of the hearing, the Landmark Tree Committee will vote on whether to approve or reject the nomination 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.

 

Chair Boss explained the nomination process stating that all three members present would have to vote the same in order to endorse or not endorse the tree for landmark tree status. The tree would be forwarded to the Urban Forestry Council to consider at their meeting on Friday, December 14. 

 

Staff Analysis:  Ms. Mei Ling Hui, Urban Forestry Council Coordinator presented her Landmark Tree Evaluation and Criteria Form and described her findings e.g. that the tree is large, of significantly advanced age, has neighborhood appreciation, planting defines neighborhood character, located in a high traffic area, and additional criteria.  It was stated that because of the tree’s size, it contributes significantly to the reduction of environmental impacts the city has to outlying areas and has positive environmental impacts in carbon sequestration and rainwater absorption.  Ms. Hui did conclude that the tree is a beautiful tree that should not be removed; however the tree’s health issues preclude it from landmark tree status.    

 

Property Owner’s Presentation, Including Outside Professional Staff:  Mr. Roy C. Leggitt, III, Consulting Arborist stated that he was hired by Mr. Stephen Haigh (the property owner at 1241-1245 Masonic Street where the tree is located) to examine the tree.  Mr. Leggitt presented a Resistograph Testing report describing the risk factors associated with the tree and recommended that the tree be removed.  Mr. Leggitt also stated that the Department of Public Works staff relayed that they had concerns about a scaffold limb that was torn out on the street side and how that would affect future limb development.  It was stated that the tree is green and healthy in terms of the foliage but without mechanical structure, a tree can be hazardous.  Mr. Leggitt described his experience as an arborist and provided a description of the tree and his experience with other Blackwood Acacia trees that tend to fail.

The Committee was encouraged to not endorse landmark tree status because the tree does not meet landmark tree criteria and because of liability and defect issues.

 

Mr. Stephen Haigh stated that he is against landmarking the tree because of documented defects by two City arborists and two independent arborists.  Mr. Haigh expressed his concern that the tree could fall over onto cars on the street and onto pedestrian traffic and described three other incidents of acacia trees falling over in the neighborhood.  It was stated that there were two hearings with the Department of Public Works (DPW) Urban Forestry staff who originally wanted to have the tree removed.  Mr. Haigh stated that he has submitted a signed petition and letters from the neighborhood asking that the tree not be landmarked and replaced with the planting of two large trees of a different species, as he indicated he would do.

 

Ms. Hui stated that the Bureau of Urban Forestry did originally allow the removal of the tree.  In her conversation with Urban Forestry staff, it was explained that the tree is not in any immediate danger of failing and if it were in danger of failing, they would remove the tree themselves.  Because of considerable neighborhood opposition to removal of the tree at the public hearing, the request for removal was revoked.  Bureau of Urban Forestry was told to examine the tree every three months to check on its condition.  Then the Board of Permit Appeals process happened and tree removal was allowed. 

 

Public Comment

 

Support of Landmarking

 

Ms. Julia Wallace, 1247-1251 Masonic Avenue property owner, described her appreciation of the tree, the tree providing shade, a wind and sound barrier, its beauty, and how new trees would not be as beautiful as this tree.  Ms. Wallace stated that there is no reason to cut this tree down at this time as it can be inspected regularly and noted that other arborists advised that it could live another 10-20 years.

 

Mr. Gabriel Berns, Ph.D.1235 Masonic Avenue, stated that he has lived in the neighborhood for 26 years and has enjoyed the presence of the tree tremendously as it shades his house, adds beauty to the neighborhood, softens the area, and provides protection against pollution and noise.  Mr. Berns stated that the property owner wanted the tree removed because he is a non-resident landlord and does not have the same appreciation.  Letters and a petition had been submitted for support of landmark status.  Mr. Berns also explained that there had been other arborist reports stating that the tree does not pose an immediate danger. Ms. Hui explained that Mr. Ed Brennan, arborist, had indicated that the tree is in overall poor condition but that his report also indicated that the tree was not likely to cause harm to the surrounding structures or to the building if it were to fail. Mr. Brennan concluded that the tree is a moderate hazard.

 

Ms. Rachel Swaby, 1237 Masonic Avenue, stated that she would not be currently residing at her residence if it were not for the tree providing a noise barrier and shelter from traffic.  Ms. Swaby described the tree’s contribution to the surrounding neighborhood and her appreciation for the tree.

 

Mr. Paul Minasian, 1233 Masonic Avenue, stated that the property owner’s motive is to remove the tree in order to build a garage.  Mr. Minasian stated that the neighborhood is the main gateway to the Haight Ashbury and if you take the trees down, the gateway to a world famous neighborhood changes.  It was stated that the tree probably would not be a liability to the property owner, and if the tree were landmarked, that the liability would be with the City.

 

Opposition to Landmark Status

 

Mr. David Grassi, Contractor for 1245 Masonic Avenue, asked Ms. Blair to recuse herself from voting because of her ongoing support for landmark status.  Mr. Grassi stated that the tree meets some of the criteria for landmark status; however, if the tree were to fall it would fall either on the street, the sidewalk or on Mr. Haigh’s house and Mr. Haigh would incur the liability.  It was indicated that Mr. Haigh’s offer to plant two trees would meet all of the neighborhoods’ requirements and concerns and would be healthy trees that would provide additional future benefits.

 

Committee Evaluation Reports

 

Member Hillan presented his Evaluation Form and described his criteria ratings concluding that there was no reason to remove the tree except for the garage project and that mitigation would affect the tree spacing, which has changed already. Member Hillan stated that he appreciates the quality of life the tree provides for dwellers, but did not feel the tree qualified for landmark status.  Member Blair discussed her Evaluation Form noting the criteria that would qualify the tree for landmark status.  It was stated that replacing the tree with other trees would not provide the same significance to the neighborhood character.  Member Blair strongly expressed her support for landmark tree status.  Chair Boss reported on his findings concluding because of the commonality, size and condition of the tree it did not meet the criteria for landmark tree status.

 

Staff Rebuttal

 

Urban Forestry Coordinator Hui stated that the tree is an exceptionally beautiful tree and agrees with neighbor’s comments about its significant presence on the block.  Ms. Hui did feel that because of the arborist reports and other comments indicating the poor health of the tree that it should not landmarked; however, she felt that it should not be removed either.

 

Property Owner Rebuttal

 

Mr. Haigh stated that the smaller tree in front of Mr. Berns’ property should be watered occasionally and indicated that the City is responsible for maintaining street trees, but had not noticed that the tree is being regularly watered. It was stated that if the tree were to be watered more frequently, they would grow taller in a shorter amount of time.  Mr. Haigh also explained that that under the appeal decision that if he were to plant two new trees, that he would be responsible for watering them which is his intention.  It was stated that in the appeal hearing, Ms. Carla Short of the Department of Public Works Urban Forestry Division noted that the existing tree did have significant structural damage.

 

 

Discussion and Action by Committee

 

Member Blair motioned to approve landmark status of the tree on 1245 Masonic Avenue without a second.  Member Hillan motioned to deny landmark status seconded by Chair Boss.  Member Blair voted no to deny landmark status (Absent:  Members Griswold and Sustarich). Neither motion passed and would be forwarded to the Urban Forestry Council without recommendation for their consideration at their December 14 meeting.  Chair Boss explained that the Committee is not voting to remove the tree by voting against landmark status.  It was reported that the tree is a significant tree, which affords the tree certain levels of protection.  However, the Urban Forestry Council is not the body that makes that determination.

 

All explanatory documents including evaluation reports, pictures, petitions, community letters, and arborist reports are provided in the link by Agenda Item 3 above.

 

4.      Landmark Tree Evaluation Criteria.  (Discussion) The Committee will continue to discuss redefining landmark tree evaluation criteria and discuss criteria used in other jurisdictions. (Continued from the November 13, 2007 Meeting) (Explanatory Documents: Original Landmark Tree Evaluation Criteria Evaluation Criteria Revised 050307 and Phytosphere Guidelines for Developing and Evaluating Tree Ordinances and Other Jurisdiction Examples)

 

Urban Forestry Council Coordinator Hui presented a packet of material that included an overview of other tree preservation programs and other cities’ nomination forms and criteria for landmark status (Explanatory Document: (PDF).  It was stated that there are two types of programs for landmark, heritage, and historic trees (1) either the program is similar to San Francisco’s where there is a set of criteria that are examined and trees are considered on an individual basis, or (2) all trees of a certain size or type, or a certain size and type together are automatically landmarked. Ms. Hui explained that climatic influences are specified in other jurisdiction’s forms, but do not appear on our forms; however other specifics are in line with other jurisdictions. Other cities also noted specific trees that were not eligible for landmark status; e.g., a certain species of acacias were on the list.

 

This agenda item was continued to Tuesday, January 8, 2008 in order for members to review explanatory documents.  

 

5.      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 Letters) (Continued from the November 13, 2007 Meeting). 

 

Urban Forestry Council Coordinator Hui presented (1) Committee members’ edited versions of the original document that added goals and included grammatical and formatting revisions and (2) a final version that included edits with the exception of adding additional goals.  Ms. Hui recommended not adding goals asking each Supervisor to nominate two trees a year as the landmark tree nomination process for 22 trees a year would be more trees than can be handled at this time.  Chair Boss supported Ms. Hui’s decision because the Committee has not yet voted on goals.  Member Blair requested that the Council consider an agenda item deciding how many trees the Council can reasonably consider in a year.  Ms. Hui suggested that this item be considered at the January Council meeting. 

 

Chair Boss motioned to adopt Ms. Hui’s final edited version for recommendation to the Urban Forestry Council, seconded by Member Hillan (AYES:  Chair Boss, Members Blair and Hillan; Absent:  Members Griswold and Sustarich).  This item would be heard at the Urban Forestry Council’s January meeting.

 

6.      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 November 13, 2007 Meeting) (Explanatory Document:  Correspondence and Examples of tags and methods)

 

Deputy City Attorney Cabrera asked the members to review Public Works Code 802(g) in order to be cognizant of not affixing something that may injure the tree.

 

Urban Forestry Council Coordinator Hui stated that she had contacted other cities inquiring about their methods for visibly identifying landmark trees.  It was reported that some cities put plaques on and others do not have visible methods.  Ms. Hui researched cost effective and non-damaging methods and presented examples of tree tags, methods for tagging trees, and a plaque by the National Arborist Association and the International Society of Arboriculture recognizing a significant tree. Member Hillan discussed having a GPS location on the web. Chair Boss explained that the objective is to determine methods to celebrate and visibly identify the tree by pedestrians and other passersby similar to historic plaques on landmark buildings. It was indicated that if you don’t know where the website is located, you would never know that it was a landmark tree.

 

Member Hillan suggested placing something in the sidewalk next to the tree.  Member Hui explained that there is no current funding and removing squares of concrete and putting a plaque on the sidewalk would be outside of financial capabilities at this time.  Ms. Hui recommended that the Council research grants to apply for.  Chair Boss recommended that a budget allocation request be made for this project.  Member Hillan suggested that the sponsor be asked to take the responsibility for establishing a plaque or other visible identification, and Ms. Hui reported that the Ordinance would have to be amended. 

 

Ms. Hui also presented examples of spikes that could be placed in the ground next to the tree in concrete or in soil and would not be expensive to reproduce.  A discussion was held about using a brass marker/benchmark similar to what is used on hiking trails.  Ms. Hui indicated she would bring a picture to the next meeting.  Chair Boss asked Ms. Hui to research arboretum and other botanical methods of labeling trees.  Member Blair suggested an educational project where children could make ceramic and mosaic designs as part of their art project class. 

 

Member Hillan was assigned to work on what should be conveyed and determine the required size.  A proposal for benchmark text would be considered at the January 8, 2007 Committee meeting.  Member Blair stated that the benchmark should include the date, landmark, and name of the tree.

Committee members were asked to send Member Hillan their ideas before the next meeting. 

 

7.      2008 Landmark Tree Committee Agenda and Documentation Notification Schedule for 2008 (Discussion and Action). The Landmark Tree Committee will discuss revising the 10-day notice requirements for agendas and documentation. 

 

Ms. Fish reported that the Committee had previously voted on a ten-day agenda and landmark tree documentation-posting schedule.  It was suggested that the requirement be amended to six calendar days before the meeting in order to meet the 60-day hearing requirement and take into account Board of Supervisors meeting schedules in which trees are nominated.  Chair Boss stated that changing the schedule would help insure that the 180-day protection status would not be lost for the tree. 

 

The Committee discussed holding meetings on dates other than Tuesdays when the Board of Supervisors meets in order for Supervisors’ representatives to be more readily available to attend meetings when sponsoring a tree.  Ms. Fish indicated that the Board of Supervisors also has Committee meetings on other days of the week which may pose a scheduling conflict. 

 

Upon Motion by Chair Boss and second by Member Hillan, the 2008 Landmark Tree Committee agenda and notification schedule was changed to six calendar days (AYES:  Chair Boss, Members Blair and Hillan; Absent:  Members Griswold and Sustarich). 

 

8.      New Business/Future Agenda Items (Information and Discussion).  A recommendation was made to place legislative aides on the agenda mailing list so they can be notified of hearings and attend meetings when sponsoring a tree.  Member Blair discussed the possibility of the Council being reduced from 15 to 7 members and asked when the Department of the Environment would discuss the proposal with the Council and when it would be appropriate to hold discussions.  Deputy City Attorney Cabrera advised that this topic should be discussed at the full Council meeting as it affects the entire Council.  Ms. Cabrera stated that in order for a membership change to take place, that there would have to be a change to the Urban Forestry Ordinance.

 

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 6:15 p.m.

 

Approved:  April 8, 2008

ĉ
Unknown user,
Nov 22, 2010, 11:45 AM
ĉ
Unknown user,
Nov 22, 2010, 11:45 AM
ċ
121107Audio.MSV
(6009k)
Unknown user,
Mar 2, 2011, 4:19 PM
Ċ
Unknown user,
Nov 22, 2010, 11:44 AM
Ċ
Unknown user,
Nov 22, 2010, 11:44 AM
Ċ
Unknown user,
Nov 22, 2010, 11:43 AM
Ċ
Unknown user,
Nov 22, 2010, 11:44 AM
ĉ
Unknown user,
Nov 22, 2010, 11:44 AM
ĉ
Unknown user,
Nov 22, 2010, 11:44 AM
ĉ
Unknown user,
Nov 22, 2010, 11:44 AM
Ċ
Unknown user,
Nov 22, 2010, 11:44 AM
Ċ
Unknown user,
Nov 22, 2010, 11:44 AM
Comments