City and County of San Francisco
DEpartment of the ENvironment
URBAN FORESTRY COUNCIL
PLANNING & FUNDING COMMITTEE
Thursday, May 21, 2009, 4:15 p.m.
City Hall, Room 421, One Dr. Carlton B. Goodlett Place
San Francisco, CA 94102
COMMITTEE MEMBERS: Carla Short (Chair), Naomi LeBeau, Terry Milne, AnMarie Rodgers, Bonnie Ora Sherk
Order of Business
1. Call to Order and Roll Call. The Planning and Funding Committee meeting convened at 4:40 p.m. Present: Chair Short, Members Milne and Sherk; Excused: Members LeBeau and Rodgers.
2. Approval of Minutes of the April 16, 2009 Urban Forestry Council Planning and Funding Committee Regular Meeting. (Discussion and Action) Upon Motion by Member Milne and second by Member Sherk, the April 16, 2009 Meeting Minutes were approved without objection (AYES: Chair Short, Members Milne and Sherk; Absent: Members LeBeau and Rodgers) (Explanatory Document: April 16, 2009 Approved Minutes)
3. 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.
4. Increasing Fines for Tree Damage for “Commercial Gain.” (Discussion) Chair Short reported that the Deputy City Attorney and the Council would be discussing this agenda item at the Council’s May 22 meeting. It was explained that it is unlikely that the Code can be changed to increase the fine which starts at $1489 per tree. Chair Short explained that it would be beneficial if the value of the tree were known before the damage occurred, but most often when dealing with an excessive pruning case, the value of the tree is not known before the damage occurs. Chair Short stated that it would be more feasible to focus on education and information instead of issuing bigger fines so that trees are not damaged in the first place.
Member Sherk recommended that university interns be asked to prepare a study/inventory of the current urban forest, in particular significant trees, so their value can be assessed. Interns could be issued college credit for their work on the project. Council Coordinator Hui reported that the Department of Environment submitted a grant for a tree map project that would include this type of information. Coordinator Hui explained that employing university interns would require funding for management and maintenance, and that her work for the Council exceeds what is presently allocated by existing funding. In addition, it would require space to house interns which is not currently available at the Department. Member Milne stated that it is a good idea that is worth exploring, and that it is a possibility that the Council could contribute somehow. Member Sherk stated that it is a good opportunity for the Council to actually develop constructive programs that are going to be useful for the City as it relates to the urban forest, and asked that the Council consider future programs to call attention to these issues.
5. Programs for Establishing a Citywide Tree Pruning and Maintenance Company List. (Discussion)
Chair Short stated that the Deputy City Attorney would be providing advice on this agenda topic at the Friday, May 22 Council meeting. It was explained that there is a lot of resistance to having a voluntary compliance program, and alternatives would be considered at tomorrow’s meeting.
6. Review of the Annual Urban Forest Report Survey. The Committee will review and make recommendations to improve the survey and accompanying cover letter which is used to gather data for the annual Urban Forest Report. (Explanatory Documents: Questionnaire Cover Letter and Questionnaire Template) (Discussion and Possible Action)
Committee members reviewed the 2008 cover letter and questionnaire that would be issued at the end of this fiscal year to all relevant agencies that have responsibility for trees. Coordinator Hui reported that the cover letter would be addressed directly to the agency director and or staff who would be in charge of filling out the survey. A generic letter would be issued if a staff person was not available. It was explained that several agencies did not respond last year and the best information available was used, some of which was pulled together from public hearings. Committee members recommended that (1) stronger language be used in the cover letter that specifies the requirement for completing the survey; (2) to inquire what if any significant changes have taken place since last year’s report; (3) formatting changes be applied to the letter and survey; and (4) Council review the draft report once responses have been received.
7. Urban Forestry Council Budget. The Committee will discuss the state of the Urban Forestry Council budget for Fiscal Year 2009-2010. (Discussion)
Coordinator Hui reported that support of the Urban Forestry Council’s program amounts to approximately $100,000 annually, all of which includes staff time. This amount does not include funding for the annual pruning workshop or landmark tree tour. It was explained that a request was made for $25,000 from each agency that is supported by the Council, which includes the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC), Planning, Redevelopment, Department of Public Works, Recreation and Park, and a small amount from the Airport. Member Sherk recommended asking other agencies for additional funding such as the Port, Health Department, and School District and donations from private individuals. Chair Short recommended seeking advice from the Deputy City Attorney and the Department of the Environment whether it would be legal to approach other agencies and private individuals for funding/donations. Coordinator Hui reported that there may be a threshold amount for private donations and explained the Board of Supervisors accept and expend grant approval process.
Coordinator Hui reported that funding agencies did not provide the full amount of $25,000 last year because the Board cut the contribution to approximately $17,500 due to budgetary shortfalls. Coordinator Hui stated that it is expected that the Recreation and Park Department would allocate $5,000; the Airport $1,000, and there is a possibility of receiving $22,356 from the Department of Public Works and possibly $25,000 from the PUC. Funding is not expected from the Planning Department or the Redevelopment Agency, so the total expected is $55,356, which is roughly half of what is needed to provide staffing. This shortfall would mean that the remaining time for the Coordinator position would be allocated to the Environmental Justice program as much as funding allows. It was also explained that the Council Secretary’s time is cut down already, and the $100,000 does not include funding for her support. Potential consequences discussed include staffing of only one Urban Forestry Council meeting per month and no staffing for Planning and Funding and Landmark Tree Committee meetings.
Committee members discussed the possibility of lobbying the Supervisors in order to provide funding, appear at budget meetings of funding agencies and the Board of Supervisors, and send letters of support for Council funding to funding agencies, the Board of Supervisors and Mayor. Coordinator Hui reported that the Department issues an annual letter to contributing agencies requesting funding. Member Sherk recommended asking the media to support the relevance of the Council. Member Sherk also recommended that the Council prepare a self-assessment as to its relevance. Chair Short recommended that the Council Chair talk with members of the Board, attend budget hearings, and prepare a letter to Board members reporting on how the city benefits from the Council’s existence and how it cannot function without funding.
8. New Business/Future Agenda Items. (Discussion). Future agenda items for the June 18th meeting include a discussion of the Council’s relevance, direction, self assessment, and required financial support.
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 Planning and Funding Committee adjourned at 5:42 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: June 18, 2009