February 25 2014 Urban Forestry Council Meeting Approved Minutes


Tuesday, February 25, 2014, 6:00 p.m.

City Hall, Room 416
One Dr. Carlton B. Goodlett Jr. Place
San Francisco, CA 94102

Council Members: Dan Flanagan (Chair), Malcolm Hillan, Rose Hillson, Dan Kida, John Leffingwell, William Most, Sandy Sherwin, Carla Short (Department of Public Works), Andrew Sullivan, and Jon Swae (San Francisco Planning Department). Advisory Members: Mike Barrow (San Francisco Public Utilities Commission); Phil Ginsburg/Ana Alvarez/Christopher Campbell/Lisa Wayne (San Francisco Recreation and Park Department); San Francisco Redevelopment Agency (Vacant); Golden Gate National Recreation Area (Vacant)

Order of Business

1. Call to Order and Roll Call.  The Urban Forestry Council meeting convened at 6:05 p.m.  Present:  Council Members Flanagan, Hillan (6:35 p.m.), Hillson, Kida, Leffingwell, Most, Sherwin, Short, Sullivan, Swae and Wayne; Excused:  Member Barrow.

2. Adoption of Minutes of the December 13, 2013 Urban Forestry Council Meeting. (Explanatory Document:  December 13, 2013 Draft Minutes) (Discussion and Action) Upon Motion by Council Member Flanagan, second by Council Member Hillson, the December 13, 2013 Meeting Minutes were approved without objection. (AYES:  Members Flanagan, Hillson, Kida, Leffingwell, Most, Sherwin, Short, Sullivan and Swae; Absent:  Member Hillan)

3. Public Comment:  Members of the public may address the Council on matters that are within the Council’s jurisdiction and are not on today’s agenda.

Ms. Anastasia Glikshtern spoke in opposition to San Francisco’s Natural Areas Program and Significant Natural Resource Areas Management Plans that would propose cutting 18,500 trees for the purpose of restoration of grasslands and scrub habitat.  She presented a letter from Distinguished Professor of Evolution and Ecology at U.C. Davis, Arthur M. Shapiro, in which he discusses the Natural Areas Program Draft Environmental Impact Report and opposition to San Francisco considering major expenditures directed toward “restoration ecology.” (Reference Explanatory Document)

Council Secretary Fish read public comment received from Ms. Dee Seligman asking that the December 13, 2013 Meeting Minutes be amended to reflect what she had originally stated at the October 22, 2013 Council meeting as follows: “Currently Chapter 12 of Environment Code says Recreation and Park and GGNRA are non-voting members but that Chapter 12 rules cannot supersede what Policy 13 says about protection of natural resource areas.  This means that Recreation and Park Department could vote on Urban Forestry Council but the Council would have no say over the natural areas!”
The Council Chair suggested that the February 25, 2014 meeting minutes reflect Ms. Seligman’s clarification instead of the option to bring back the October 22 or December 13 meeting minutes for amendment.

4. Election of Interim Urban Forestry Council Vice-Chair. (Discussion and Action)  Upon Motion by Member Flanagan, second by Member Swae, Member Short was elected Interim Vice-Chair until the election scheduled for the May 23 Council meeting.  Member Short accepted the nomination. (AYES:  Members Flanagan, Hillson, Kida, Leffingwell, Most, Sherwin, Short, Sullivan and Swae; Absent:  Member Hillan)

5. Review and Approval of Draft Resolution 2014-03-UFC Commending Urban Forestry Council Member Larry Costello for his service to the Urban Forestry Council.  (Explanatory Document:  Draft Resolution) (Discussion and Action)  This agenda item was continued to the March 28, 2014 Council meeting.

6. Green Connections Project. The Council will hear an informational presentation on the Planning Department’s Green Connections Project including the final network and plant list/database. (Explanatory Document:  Green Connections Presentation, Green Connections Network Map and Citywide Plant List) Sponsor: Council Member Jon Swae; Speaker: Kearstin Dischinger, Policy Planner, Planning Department. (Informational Presentation and Discussion)

Policy Planner Kearstin Dischinger presented on the Green Connections Project, “a special street or path that connects people to parks, open spaces, and the waterfront while enhancing the ecology of the street environment.”  Project goals include public health goals to increase active transportation to parks, sustainability to enhance urban ecology, and livability, to support neighborhood stewardship and livability.  She reported that the project is nearing completion of a two-year planning process and presented a draft version of the Plan. 

Ms. Dischinger presented an example of an existing streetscape and how it would be envisioned through the Green Connections project.  Topics of discussion included key project deliverables, the planning process, project team and partnerships, the Green Connections network, the design toolkit, ecology guides for route-specific information, citywide plant and community resource lists, and concept design.  Ms. Dischinger discussed how Green Connections will be implemented and provided city-led and community-led examples.  Planning Department plans are to present the project to the Planning Commission in early March and then to be part of the Recreation and Open Space adoption process at the end of March for incorporation into the General Plan.  (Reference Presentation)  Council members discussed project plans, prioritization of tasks and costs.  A request was made to add San Francisco’s Recommended Street Tree List into the plan database.

7. Mt. Sutro Forest.  The Council will hear a presentation from the Sutro Stewards on current management plans for the Mt. Sutro Forest.  Sponsor: Council Chair Dan Flanagan; Speaker: Craig Dawson, Executive Director of Sutro Stewards. (Informational Presentation and Discussion)

Sutro Stewards Executive Director Craig Dawson presented on Mt. Sutro Forest’s cultural value, its history, the role it has played in San Francisco, and efforts to conserve the area.  He discussed UCSF’s 2001 Mount Sutro Open Space Reserve Management Plan, the Draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR) published in 2013, and opposition to the alternate plan to revise the Draft EIR that he believes will negatively affect the health of Mt. Sutro’s urban forest, its wildlife habitat, biodiversity, and conservation efforts.  He suggested that the Council consider writing a letter to the UCSF Board of Regents stating opposition to an alternate Draft EIR based on concerns expressed at today’s meeting.  Council Members held a discussion and collaborated with Mr. Dawson on UCSF policies, the process, and current plans for the new proposed Draft EIR.

The Council directed the Planning and Policy Committee to consider an appropriate response at its March 4, 2014 meeting.

Explanatory Documents:  UCSF November 2013 Community Meeting Powerpoint Presentation; 2013 Draft Environmental Impact Report; 2001 Mt. Sutro Reserve Plan; UCSF Sutro FAQ; Sutro Hazard Reduction Questions and Answers; and UCSF Sutro Information Sheet, Mt. Sutro 2013 Draft EIR link http://campusplanning.ucsf.edu/pdf/Mount_Sutro_EIR_1-16-13_with_Appendices.pdf.

Public Comment:

Mr. Paul Roeder, San Francisco resident, stated that Sutro Forest is a 120 year old hand-planted eucalyptus forest of now naturalized trees and diverse understory.  It has evolved and developed many characteristics of a cloud forest at sea level, a rare eco type, possibly the only one of its classification in the world.  He stated that the original Management Plan for Sutro Forest was intended to be a native plant restoration project disguised as a forest restoration project.  The Plan projected heavy-handed management calling for initial removal of up to 30,000 trees of the 45,000 tree forest.  Tree separation is now roughly 6 feet on center; those dimensions would be increased from 25 to 35 feet separation of the trees.  Tree removal would be followed by yearly application of herbicides to tree stumps and other non native plants.  Because of the nature of the root system, the toxins would migrate to remaining trees and shrubs.  Eventually the forest would be gone. Eucalyptus trees are a significant element of our City’s diverse urban forest including the Sutro Forest and are rooted in our history.  Efforts to preserve native plants species should not include destruction of healthy trees including UCSF’s.  San Franciscans including UCSF should adopt an inclusive view of nature where native and non-natives are naturalized as part of the evolving global biosphere.  In an age of global climate change, every tree counts.  A light hand to management is necessary.  The forest should be a natural self regulating self sustaining place. 

Mr. Roeder spoke In support of UCSF’s decision not to use herbicides in the current plan and encouraged the City to follow.  He stated that the number of trees to be removed is significantly lower in this proposal.  The scope of the tree removal should be decided by use of test plots similar to the proposal in the original plan.  Mr. Roeder discussed the surprise that has been expressed to UCSF’s revised Management Plan, but stated that there has been growing local opposition to any UCSF plan by the citizens.  He suggested that UCSF be told that citizens are thankful they have stopped going in one direction, but that some portions of the new direction are not good, such as destroying the 25 acres.  He suggested that UCSF not do any plan and start all over.

Mr. Christopher Campbell, San Francisco resident,  thanked Mr. Dawson for  Sutro Steward’s  volunteer work clearing trails which have improved recreational opportunities and the safety of the area that was once impenetrable and has provided better accessibility in case of fire hazards.  He discussed the overall decline of the health of the Sutro Forest and what is believed to be a beetle infestation.  Mr. Campbell discussed UCSF’s letter explaining the change of plan that resulted from a consultation with a professional arborist whose opinion was that the current plan is consistent with best management practices of wooded areas and urban environments in addressing fire hazards.   Mr. Campbell stated that UCSF’s concern with the safety of San Francisco should include addressing the health of the forest as a whole, identifying best management practices, and addressing trees that are unhealthy and pose safety hazards because they are within a 100 foot contact of trails. He encouraged Council Members to visit and inspect the conditions at Mt. Sutro.

Ms. Anastasia Glikshtern stated that it is not known why UCSF has changed their decision to implement the original plan, but that there had been overwhelming opposition by the neighborhood and citizens of San Francisco expressed at a meeting.  She stated that the new plan is a part of the old plan but on a smaller area.  Ms. Glikshtern spoke in support of the new Plan’s efforts to not use Tier 1 and 2 herbicides and remove fewer trees, but was opposed to replacing what is currently there with native plants.  She suggested inviting Save Sutro and/or San Francisco Forest Alliance to the Planning and Policy Committee meeting so that opposite viewpoints may be heard.   An explanatory document “Scientist Warning of Health Hazards of Monsanto’s Herbicide Receives Threats” was received.

8. Review and Approval of Draft Resolution File 2014-02-UFC recommending amendments to the Urban Forestry Council Ordinance Membership and Meeting Schedule Requirements.  (Explanatory Document:  Approved Resolution 002-14-UFC) (Discussion and Action)  Upon Motion by Member Sherwin, second by Member Sullivan, the Draft Resolution recommending amendments to the Urban Forestry Council Ordinance membership and meeting schedule requirements was approved without objection.  The Resolution would be forwarded to the Board of Supervisors for further action. (AYES:  Members Flanagan, Hillan, Hillson, Kida, Leffingwell, Most, Sherwin, Short, Sullivan and Swae)

9. Review and Approval of Draft Resolution File No. 2014-01-UFC endorsing the Urban Forest Master Plan, Phase One, Street Trees. (Explanatory Document:  Approved Resolution 001-14-UFC) Sponsor and Speaker:  Member Jon Swae (Discussion and Action)

Public Comment: 

Council Coordinator Mei Ling Hui reported on public comment received by Commission on the Environment Commissioner Ruth Gravanis requesting that the Council consider not taking an endorsement vote until after public comments have been incorporated.  Additional comments and suggestions on the Urban Forest Plan are included in the Public Comment document received. (Reference Explanatory Document)

Mr. Frank Mason stated that the Resolution does not mention the twenty-year cost and any action to be taken after the twentieth year.  He discussed problems and time constraints he experienced with reviewing the approximate ninety-page document and another sixty pages of finance information.  Mr. Mason stated that he concluded that the Plan ranges from $500 million to $875 million depending on the range by yearly basis and lacks adequate resources and political commitment that makes the necessary financial choices for the city.  Mr. Mason urged that the Urban Forest Plan include an opt-out provision for seniors, disabled, and those that are home bound so that they are not responsible for the daily maintenance of the tree basin and fallen leaves.   Mr. Mason urged the City to get the back log in order before embarking in future programs.

Member Swae proposed that the Council proceed with the endorsement of the Draft Plan with the understanding that there would be changes made through comments received and further discussion.  The Council would then be asked to endorse the Final Plan at a future date. Upon Motion by Council Chair Flanagan, second by member Leffingwell, the Resolution endorsing the Draft Urban Forest Master Plan Phase One, Street Trees was approved with amendments. (AYES:  Members Flanagan, Hillan, Hillson, Kida, Leffingwell, Most, Sherwin, Short, Sullivan and Swae)

10. Review and Approval of the 2014 Recommended Street Tree List and Draft Resolution 2014-04-UFC Approving the List.  (Explanatory Document:  Draft 2014 Recommended Street Tree List and Draft Resolution) (Discussion and Action)  This agenda item was continued to the March 28, 2014 Urban Forestry Council meeting.

11. AB 32 Cap-and-Trade Investment Plan. The Urban Forestry Council will discuss the Investment Plan and the Governor’s proposal for Fiscal Year 2014-2015 as it relates to urban forestry work and identify recommendations to include in a letter to the California Senate Budget and Fiscal Review Committee. (Explanatory Documents: Cap-and-Trade Program Overview Factsheet from Air Resources Board:  http://www.arb.ca.gov/newsrel/2011/cap_trade_overview.pdf and California ReLeaf letter to California Senate: http://californiareleaf.org/wp-content/uploads/2009/07/SB-42-CA-ReLeaf-Support-if-Amend.pdf and Environmental Protection Chapter of Governor Brown’s 2014-15 Full Budget Summary) (Discussion and Action)

Council Coordinator Mei Ling Hui reported on the Governor’s AB32 proposal for Fiscal Year 2014-15 and proposal that $15 million of the total fund be allocated to CalFire to administer community and urban forestry programs. 

Upon Motion by Council Member Sherwin, second by Member Hillson, the Council voted to support that the Council Chair and one other member hold a meeting with Senator Mark Leno, Chair of the Budget Committee, to relay that the Urban Forestry Council endorses the Governor’s AB32 Cap-and-Trade Investment Plan budget proposal that CalFire manage the administration of $15 million for the community urban forestry program.  This approval would be subject to information received by the Department of the Environment on its proposal for allocation of AB32 funds.  The Council Coordinator was asked to relay to the Department of the Environment that the Council would be speaking to Senator Leno only on the $15 million directed toward the urban forestry program and would not be related to the request to be made by the Department of the Environment.  (AYES:  Members Flanagan, Hillan, Hillson, Kida, Leffingwell, Most, Sherwin, Short, Sullivan and Swae)

12. Mayor George Christopher Tree on Geary Boulevard.  The Council will hear a presentation on a New Zealand Christmas Tree planted by Mayor George Christopher located on Geary Boulevard as it relates to the Geary Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) Project.  (Explanatory Documents: Mayor George Christopher and Geary Median Greening Project and Geary BRT Presentation) Sponsor/Speaker: Council Member Rose Hillson (Informational Presentation and Discussion)

Council Member Rose Hillson provided an overview of Mayor George Christopher’s background and involvement in political and social issues and his involvement in the second largest greening project after Golden Gate Park, the greening of Geary Boulevard, referred to as the “Great Wide Way”.   She discussed Mayor Christopher’s involvement in the planting of the first New Zealand Christmas tree in 1959 on the Geary median between 12th Avenue and Funston in the Richmond District and the historical significance of the tree.  Member Hillson reported that this tree would be affected by the Geary Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) System project and asked that the Council consider ways to save the tree that is important to the district.  Member Hillson would report back to the Council after future discussions with Mr. Chester Fung, Project Manager of the Geary BRT project. 

13. Staff Report.  Council Coordinator Hui reported on Arbor Day activities on March 15 and asked for Council input on projects and activities for the Arbor Day fair.  She reported that there is a landmark tree for review to be scheduled for an April Landmark Tree Ad Hoc Committee meeting.  Chair Flanagan appointed Members Short, Swae and Kida to the Committee.

14. New Business/Future Agenda Items. (Information and Discussion) Planning and Policy Committee Chair Sullivan reported on discussions held at the February Planning and Policy Committee meeting on Arbor Day activities and urged Council Members to participate.  Member Short suggested scheduling a tree tour on Earth Day.  Funding Committee Chair Most reported that Coordinator Hui is working on recruiting membership for the proposed grant coordinating council.  Member Hillson reported that the Counsel packet includes information on the Mayor’s Tree List and asked for Council member input into an activity for the Tree Walk and selection of tree species.  A discussion will be held on this topic at the March 4, 2014 Planning and Policy Committee meeting.

15. Public Comment:  Members of the public may address the Council on matters that are within the Council’s jurisdiction and are not on today’s agenda.  There was no public comment at this time.

16. Adjournment.  The Urban Forestry Council meeting adjourned at 8:16 p.m.

The next meeting of the Urban Forestry Council is scheduled for Friday, March 28, 2014 at 8:30 a.m., Room 416, San Francisco City Hall.

Copies of explanatory documents are available to the public at (1) the Department of Environment, 1455 Market Street, Suite 1200, San Francisco, California 94103 between the hours of 9 a.m. and 5 p.m.  Photo identification is required for access to the building; (2) upon request to the Council Secretary at the above address or telephone number 415-355-3709 or via e-mail at [email protected] within three business days of a meeting. Explanatory documents may also be available at the Council’s meeting or agenda website
http://www.sfenvironment.org/about/taskforce/urban-forestry-council/agendas as attachments with each agenda or meeting minutes. Meeting audios can be accessed at the following weblink https://sites.google.com/a/sfenvironment.org/commission/urban-forestry-council/urban-forestry-council-and-committee-meeting-audios.

Urban Forestry Council
San Francisco Department of the Environment
City and County of San Francisco
1455 Market Street, Suite 1200, San Francisco, CA 94103

Approved:  March 28. 2014