City and County of San Francisco
DEpartment of the ENvironment
Thursday, June 19, 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
2. Approval of Minutes of the May 15, 2008 Urban Forestry Council Planning and Funding Committee Regular Meeting. (Explanatory document: Upon Motion by Member Milne and second by Member Habert, the May 15, 2008 Meeting Minutes were approved without objection (Absent: Members Marks and Miller) (Discussion and Action)
3. Information Gathering for the Urban Forestry Council’s Annual Report. (Explanatory Document: Annual Report Survey Form) (Discussion)
Coordinator Hui reported that the survey form was used for the 2004 and 2005 Annual Reports. It was explained that 2005 was the last time an Annual Report was completed and in 2006 the Urban Forest Plan was submitted in its place. Chair Short recommended including a cover sheet with the survey form that clearly states its intended purpose, how the data is going to be used, and to indicate that the Urban Forestry Council is required to submit an Annual Report to the Board of Supervisors with this information. A suggestion was made to offer to send a copy back to the reporting agencies for editing or review.
Member Milne stated that there had been reluctance on the part of agencies in the past to complete the survey form, and that a number of agencies had not responded to the request for information. Member Milne stated that the objective was to get a list of departments with urban forestry activities and to keep it up to date. Member Sherk suggested using bullets so agencies don’t have to write a large dissertation. Coordinator Hui reported that there were a variation of formats used to respond in the past--some agencies replied with bullets; some handwritten; others with narrative, etc. Chair Short recommended adding a question to the survey that asks whether there is anything that agencies would like the Urban Forestry Council to tackle on their behalf since the survey is being sent to agencies that have something to do with urban forest management in San Francisco.
Member Quirke recommended reviewing reports that the previous Coordinator prepared. It was suggested that a possibility could be to send out the last Annual Report with the new questionnaire to provide people an example of what the Annual Report looks like.
Coordinator Hui asked that Council members representing City departments provide her with a contact person to send the form to and contacts at other agencies if they have that information. Chair Short stated that she would provide a list of agencies that she thinks should be contacted.
Ms. Wuerfel stated that narrative can be difficult to respond to and that agencies would be more likely to reply if they were provided with a template of the top ten questions, checkboxes, and one narrative asking what the Council can do for them. It was also recommended that (1) a contact person be identified; (2) getting more fastidious with requests in the future; and (3) that the cover letter be written in a way that people are less intimidated by the data, letting them know that if the data is not received, we can’t move forward with funding for maintenance, and to encourage them to fill out the form. Coordinator Hui responded that a checkbox system may be easier to fill out, but may not provide enough specific information about urban forest programs.
Council Member Carolyn Blair stated that she agrees with Ms. Wuerfel that the form should be as easy to fill out as possible and provide guidance. It was stated that the landmark tree criteria evaluation form could serve as an effective example.
Member Sherk recommended providing a choice of filling out the questions in either a simple narrative or bullet form. Chair Short suggested that the form contain a combination of checkboxes and narrative similar to the landmark tree criteria evaluation form, but indicated that some fields may be appropriate for checkboxes and others may require narrative. Chair Short and Member Sherk offered to work with Coordinator Hui to create a new draft of the cover letter and survey form.
Member Quirke left at this time.
4. 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 (Explanatory Document: Draft Resolution File 2008-04-UFC and Amended versions Drafts 1 and 2) (Continued from the May 15, 2008 Meeting) (Discussion and Action)
Member Sherk reported that she had reworked the original draft resolution into two versions based on comments from the May 15, 2008 meeting and explained revisions and differences between both drafts. Member Sherk described the project, its opportunities, educational programs, and current activities. It was explained that the purpose of this Resolution would be for the Urban Forestry Council to advocate for this type of consciousness to happen in the City with different City agencies. Member Sherk stated that she feels this Resolution would be good for the Council to support as the Council is charged with calling attention to the urban forest canopy and wants to have more opportunities to create educational programs around trees and ecological systems.
Member Milne distributed a new version of the Resolution for consideration (Explanatory Document: 061908 Islais Creek Revised Draft Resolution) and Committee members provided their comments on wording revisions, discussed the emphasis on the project promoting native trees versus non-natives, and recommended highlighting the importance of the stewardship of trees, etc. Chair Short stated that from the last meeting, a number of people were not comfortable supporting a very specific project, but were in support of the concept to frame the watershed and using it as an educational opportunity.
Council Member Blair on behalf of the San Francisco Tree Council expressed concern about the Tree Council recommending the Resolution if it doesn’t mention preservation of existing non-native trees. Ms. Blair asked whether the Council would want to recommend the Resolution when it is supposed to be inclusive of all trees, and this Resolution is limiting to only a few non-native trees. It was asked what kind of educational message is being sent about all other trees if only natives would be promoted. Ms. Blair stated that she would like to support opening and transforming the watershed, but the Resolution should not take a particular stand on any particular species or tree and be all inclusive as is the urban forest.
Member Milne stated that it is not the Council’s task to micromanage the project, and that there are appropriate native trees that could be included in this idea, and that is what he tried to relay in his version of the Resolution. Ms. Blair suggested adding something about preservation of existing trees. Member Sherk stated that a whereas clause could be added that existing trees whether native or non-native would be respected. Member Sherk added that in this plan it is more appropriate to use native trees because it would call attention to the ecological place, and that the plan does not call for taking out existing trees. Member Habert stated that it is commendable to connect people to the natural environment and suggested planting whatever works, whether it is native or not. Coordinator Hui discussed reasons why the Council can not support the concept of using only native trees in all of Islais Creek because it may interfere with other projects in the area that may use non-natives.
Mr. Brian Donovan stated that he is a 7th & 8th grade science teacher and explained that it is a great educational opportunity for kids to learn about the ecology of the California area and its native environment and how it may have existed before all of the concrete. As a teacher it allows you to walk along the watershed and describe plant communities and adaptations within these plant communities. For a lot of these kids especially in this area where there is not a lot of access to open space, it provides a conceptual frame and a view of what they are connected to on some level. Mr. Donovan felt that as an educator, it would be important to plant natives in those areas. Ms. Blair asked how it would affect insects and birds that rely on non-native trees. Mr. Donovan stated that you would not ruin insect communities and other plants by planting native trees across riparian zones.
Ms. Nancy Wuerfel stated that Member Milne’s Resolution covers the concerns that she expressed at the May meeting that this is an Urban Forestry Council with a broader base. Member Milne was commended for stating that what Member Sherk does in her own working plans and activities is a step separate from what is most generically supportable for a Council of this type. Ms. Wuerfel stated that bringing in non-native trees may address neighborhood concerns and would be inclusive of what the Council may support.
Upon Motion by Chair Short and Member Sherk Member Milne’s Resolution was approved with amendments for recommendation to the Urban Forestry Council for consideration at their June 24 meeting without objection (Absent: Members Marks, Miller and Quirke) (Explanatory Document: Amended Resolution 061908).
5. Landmark Tree Work Potential Add-Back Budget Request to Board of Supervisors. (Discussion)
Coordinator Hui stated that the Committee asked that consideration be given to the possibility of requesting an add-back based on Ms. Wuerfel’s recommendations at the May meeting. Coordinator Hui reported that nowhere in the Urban Forestry Council Ordinance does it say that any agency has to contribute at all and a certain amount. Chair Short explained that the add-back can come directly from the Board of Supervisors through a general fund add-back and not as a directive from any particular agency. Coordinator Hui reported that she does not believe that any Department of the Environment program area currently receives general fund money. Chair Short explained that the add-back would be specific to the Council operating expenses, but would not dictate the budget.
Coordinator Hui explained that the Landmark Tree Ordinance legislates the Urban Forestry Council’s involvement in the landmark tree process. It was reported that the Deputy City Attorney advised that the Council could write a letter, pass a Resolution, or the Chair could talk to the Board President. Member Milne reported that he consulted with Member Quirke about sending a letter that would contain budget generalities and specifics as a first step, and advised that this topic would be on the Council’s June 24 agenda. Chair Short stated that if the Public Works Code legislates the participation of the Council, then the Council should exist and have the funding to fulfill that legislative role, and a request for funding should be included in the letter. Coordinator Hui reported that the Deputy City Attorney also reported that there are other Commissions and Councils that have work plans legislated to them and report to the Board of Supervisors that they cannot do the work with their current funding allocation and that funding has to be allocated or the work has to be taken away. Coordinator Hui reported that the budget would be passed on June 29.
6. New Business/Future Agenda Items (Discussion). New business and future agenda items were not discussed due to a loss of quorum.
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 Planning and Funding Committee meeting adjourned at 5:30 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: August 21, 2008