03.20 Approved Minutes

City and County of San Francisco

DEpartment of the ENvironment




Thursday, March 20, 2008, 4:15 p.m.

City Hall, Room 421, One Dr. Carlton B. Goodlett Place

San Francisco, CA 94102


COMMITTEE MEMBERS:  Carla Short (Chair), David Habert, Milton Marks, Lena Miller, Terry Milne, Kelly Quirke, Bonnie Ora Sherk


Order of Business

1.     Call to Order and Roll Call.  The Planning and Funding Committee meeting was called to order at 4:25 p.m.  Present:  Chair Short, Habert (4:40), Marks, Miller, Milne, Quirke (4:30), Sherk.


2.      Approval of Minutes of the February 21, 2008 Urban Forestry Council Planning and Funding Committee Regular Meeting (Discussion and Action) Upon Motion by Chair Short and second by Member Marks, the February 21, 2008 Meeting Minutes were approved without objection (AYES:  Chair Short, Members Marks, Miller, Milne, and Sherk; Absent:  Members Habert and Quirke). (Explanatory document: Approved Minutes of the February 21, 2008 Meeting).


3.      Resolution to Support Framing Islais Creek Watershed in Conjunction with all City Agencies involved with transforming streets, streetscapes, and other open spaces in and around the Islais Creek Watershed.  Recommendation to the Full Council to approve the Resolution (Discussion and Action). (Explanatory Documents:  Draft Resolution File 2008-04-UFC and Bernal Nature Walk Flyer)

                                                                      SPONSOR/SPEAKER:  Member Sherk


Deputy City Attorney Cabrera and Chair Short requested a continuance of this item to the next Planning and Funding Committee meeting on April 17, 2008 in order for legal counsel to provide a legal opinion on issues raised on this agenda item.


4.      Urban Forestry Council budget and update on City budget proposals and cuts that may affect urban forestry funding (Discussion).

 SPONSOR:  Chair Short


Chair Short reported that all City departments were asked in February to submit budgets that represent 8% cuts from last year’s budgets, and City departments were recently asked to make 8% cuts in salaries.  It was explained that many City departments that have urban forestry units (Recreation and Park Department, Public Utilities Commission, Department of Public Works) would be facing layoffs and cuts. Chair Short explained that the goal would be to not fill vacant positions rather than to lay off existing people, but the new projections are quite bad in terms of revenue and because of the state’s projected shortfalls.  Chair Short reported that she does not have information on how budget cuts would affect the Council, but that it would not be a promising year for requesting additional support from the City.  It was stated that many of these agencies are already short staffed in urban forestry, so there would be a potential impact on the urban forest as a result. Maintenance would be increasingly deferred and greening initiatives that were supported in the past may be cut as well. 


Member Marks asked when proposed reductions would have to be reported.  Chair Short stated that the initial 8% cuts were made when the February budget was submitted and she had heard today that the salary cuts had been formally requested.  The Mayor’s Office is currently reviewing the budget, but she does not have exact dates.  Member Milne asked if budget cuts would affect all City agencies.  Chair Short stated that all city agencies have been asked to cut their budgets.  It is hoped that personnel won’t be affected, but budget personnel indicated that layoffs are likely.  Chair Short reported that the Department of Public Works has three vacancies (Urban Forestry Inspectors that make decisions about tree permitting, evaluating the health of trees) within the Bureau of Urban Forestry that are likely to not be filled.   


Public Comment


Ms. Nancy Wuerfel stated that she is a fan of the Urban Forestry Council and has knowledge about the Council’s history, budget, and lack of funding.  Ms. Wuerfel asked whether the Council knows what their current budget is and stressed the importance of the Coordinator to the Council.  An excerpt of the Urban Forestry Ordinance that created the Council was read that states that the Coordinator is essential in order to implement the intent of the legislation.  Ms. Wuerfel stated that the Coordinator’s position cannot be cut and wants to make sure that members understand that.  It was also stated that the Ordinance calls for a Coordinator to devote 100% of their staff time to Council activities. 


Ms. Wuerfel requested that the Committee/Council review the urban forestry program budget priorities and make recommendations about urban forestry funding requirements to the Mayor, Board of Supervisors, and affected City departments and Commissions.  The Council was urged to create a Resolution that urges the Mayor not to cut any urban forestry positions in any departments because of current understaffing, and state that there are plenty of other areas in each department that can sustain cuts.  Ms. Wuerfel explained that the Council will not get what they want without a direct request. 


Ms. Wuerfel encouraged the Council to review their options as outlined in the Urban Forestry Ordinance and request that the Department of the Environment ask departments for the $25,000 that they had previously been contributing in order to reach the $150,000 level previously received from the six departments and to keep up with inflation. 


Member Marks responded that the Department of the Environment had requested $25,000 from each of the City departments that had been contributing to the Council, but the $25,000 amount had been reduced by departments. Member Marks indicated that he did not have knowledge of how departments were asked and any more detail on what their responses were.    


Chair Short stated that last year the funding was not cut by the departments; it was cut by the Mayor and the Board of Supervisors.  This year, they were told they could not increase funding and had to start from 8% reduction from baseline.  It was explained that the Department of Public Works is a big department with different pools of money that are obligated by bonds and other funding directed towards specific activities. Chair Short stated that the Bureau of Urban Forestry is the entity that contributes to the Department of the Environment and was requested to submit baseline cuts in addition to the overall Department. 


Urban Forestry Council Member Blair stated that when she attended one of the Council meetings, it was stated that the Department of the Environment could not ask for any additional funding because the Council did not have any projects.  Member Milne explained that discussion was about the requirement that grant funding could only be awarded for specific projects.


Urban Forestry Council Coordinator Hui reported that the Department’s Environmental Justice section funds a third of her staff position, and she is supposed to allocate a third of her time to doing environmental justice work.  Ms. Hui reported that she spends more than two-thirds of her time on urban forestry work at this time and responded to Member Mark’s question that if her full salary was allocated to urban forestry work, she would work with the Department of the Environment’s urban forestry program full-time to support the work that the Council is trying to achieve. Ms. Hui also reported that she spent a lot of time justifying a request for $25,000 from each department for an urban forestry allocation.


5.      Urban Forestry Council Prioritized Work Plan for 2008.  Selection of priority work plan items. (Explanatory Document:  Work Plan Items 2008) (Discussion and Possible Action). 


Planning Committee Members prioritized Work Plan items into A (first priority); B (second priority) and C (third priority) categories to present to the Council at their March 28, 2008 meeting as shown in the Explanatory Document:  Prioritized List of Work Plan Items.


Public Comment:  Ms. Nancy Wuerfel complimented Committee Members on their discussion and provided recommendations on work plan items that include:


·        Work Plan Item:  involvement in large public projects that have impact on the urban forest so that trees are protected during development either by private property owners or developers.” Ms. Wuerfel suggested that the Department of Building Inspection (DBI) should be the enforcement unit that makes sure trees are protected during development and suggested inviting DBI’s Director to a meeting to discuss this issue. 


·        Work Plan Item: “Crocker Amazon and other park projects to install artificial turf play fields that resulted and would result in a loss of trees…” Ms. Wuerfel reported on Senate Bill (SB) 1277 that would require the state to conduct Environmental Impact Reports (EIR’s) on the efficacy of using artificial turf and would involve the state department that oversees toxics.  Ms. Wuerfel suggested that the Council research the environmental and health impacts of using artificial turf as there may be leech problems into the water or adjacent trees.  It was stated that this issue should be put on the priority list to follow that state law and be a topic that influences future Council conversations.


·        Work Plan Item:  Raise awareness and funding to maintain trees that are being planted and exist in the City under City agency management.” Ms. Wuerfel stated that this item is a top priority above an A that each department has a maintenance budget for trees.  It was stated that this item is as important as requesting adequate funding for this group. Ms. Wuerfel suggested asking the Controller’s office to create a new index code for this work plan item. 


·        Work Plan Item: “Recommend that the Board of Supervisors nominate a certain number of trees per year (and per district) for landmark status.”  Ms. Wuerfel recommended encouraging each City department to nominate one tree a year.


·        Work Plan Item: “Look into the feasibility of requiring a certification for anyone who works on a tree under City jurisdiction.”  Ms. Wuerfel suggested providing training courses so that labor unions and other organizations would accept the idea more readily.   


·        Work Plan Item: “Create a citizen public outreach campaign on an annual or two-year basis to heighten awareness of what the public’s role should be in relation to the urban forest.”  Ms. Wuerfel stated that the idea of public outreach and public training and maintenance are all related.  A recommendation was made to publicize, possibly through the Mayor’s Office, a seasonal outlook with the public as it relates to maintenance and appreciation for trees.


Ms. Wuerfel stated that adequate funding should be Priority A for the Council and that there should be a baseline set where the urban forestry budget can’t fall below.


Ms. Blair discussed Saratoga’s program for protection of trees during construction that requires a deposit to be held prior to construction and for five years after construction is completed. Ms. Blair provided recommendations for expansion of the Recommended Street Tree List so trees that don’t have such a tremendous root system can be selected in order to not harm the sidewalk.  Ms. Blair stated that she agrees with requiring certification for anyone that works on trees, but thinks it may be a problem legally.  It was stated that the City is losing trees because of a lack of enforcement and discussed establishing bonds or fees to pay for enforcement staff positions. 


6.      New Business/Future Agenda Items.  (Discussion).  Chair Short stated that Agenda Item 3 Resolution to Support Framing Islais Creek Watershed and a budget update would be scheduled for the April 17, 2008 meeting. 


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. 


Ms. Julia Brashares, SF Parks Trust and volunteer for Alemany Farm, spoke in support of Member Sherk's vision for Islais Creek in relation to the Resolution to support framing Islais Creek Watershed.  Ms. Brashares stated that Alemany Farm Manager, Mr. Jason Mark, could not be here today and asked her to provide comments in support of Member Sherk's overall vision for the Islais Creek watershed. Ms. Brashares reported that Alemany Farm is interested in this item because they are part of the Islais Creek watershed, on the southern slope of Bernal Heights and have been discussing the watershed with Member Sherk. Mr. Mark asked that Ms. Brashares state to the Committee that the Alemany Farm volunteer group is supportive of Member Sherk's work and her overall vision for the watershed and acknowledge that it is a big asset for the City to have this watershed that Alemany Farm is part of.  Ms. Brashares applauds efforts to initiate more public interest in the watershed and more community involvement. Two meetings have been held with Member Sherk and Recreation and Park Department staff regarding Phase 1 of the framing of the watershed and Alemany Farm volunteer group's site plans. Alemany Farm does have concerns about some aspects of Phase 1, but overall are supportive and enthusiastic about working with Member Sherk.


8.      Adjournment.  The Planning and Funding Committee meeting adjourned at 5:50 p.m.

Urban Forestry Council

San Francisco Department of the Environment

City and County of San Francisco, 11 Grove Street, San Francisco, CA 94102


Respectfully submitted by,

Monica Fish, Council Secretary


Approved:  May 15, 2008


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