July 9 2014 Landmark Tree Committee Meeting Draft Minutes


Wednesday, July 9, 2014, 2:00 p.m.
City Hall, Room 421
One Dr. Carlton B. Goodlett Jr. Place
San Francisco, CA 94102

COMMITTEE MEMBERS:  Rose Hillson (Chair), Malcolm Hillan, Dan Kida, Carla Short, Jon Swae
STAFF:  Mei Ling Hui
CITY ATTORNEY:  Zachary Porianda

Order of Business

1. Call to Order and Roll Call. The Landmark Tree Committee meeting convened at 2:10 p.m.  Present:  Members Hillson, Hillan, Short and Swae.  Absent: Kida.  Staff: Ms. Hui, not present.  City Attorney: Zachary Porianda, present.  Chair Hillson ascertained quorum.

2. Approval of Minutes of the May 1, 2014 Urban forestry Council Landmark Tree Committee Special Meeting. Explanatory Document: May 1, 2014 Draft Minutes) (Discussion and Action).

Upon Motion by Member Hillan, second by Member Swae, the May 1, 2014 Draft Minutes were approved without objection (AYES: Members Hillson, Hillan, Short and Swae).

3. Hearing on Nominations for Landmark Tree Status.  The Landmark Tree Committee will hold a hearing to determine whether the trees nominated at the following location meet the criteria for designation as landmark trees. (Discussion and Action)

Leyland’s Cypress (#1 & #2) (Cupressocyparis leylandii aka Cuprocyparis x leylandii), located at 38 Newman Street, Assessor’s Block 5715, Lot 014, San Francisco, CA.  (Explanatory Documents: Nomination Form, Committee and Staff Evaluation Forms, Tree Images, Arborist Report)

Ms. Jaylan Turkkan, property owner of 38 Newman, submitted her nominations for two Leyland cypresses for potential landmarking.  She stated that she purchased her home about 1-1/2 years ago and the large and beautiful trees have offered her enjoyment and privacy.  She said that the trees are special and large.  She said they are the only trees visible from Holly Park.  The arborist’s report states that the trees are not rare but they are, to her, unusually large; and that for her, coming from the eastcoast, they are significantly large.  She stated that birds were seen nesting in them.  She wants these trees to be recognized for the specialness of what they are.  She feels the trees help with wind, noise and privacy control.  Though there is no specific history or cultural value, she added that her next door neighbor planted the trees about 40 years ago.

Chair Hillson read into the record findings from Ms. Hui’s (UFC staff) report for each cypress tree.

Member Short opined that both trees were of a common species, not advanced in age nor of distinguished form but in good condition.  She noted, however, that there was a grade change at the rear adjacent property; and for findings in the historical category, there were none known.  The rest of the findings she said were the same as described below for both trees except to note that the right (#2) tree has co-dominant leaders and could be a structural issue or one that is not favorable for landmarking.  For the environmental findings, the trees were part of a prominent landscape feature being visible from the street below (Bennington), in an area of moderate tree density and with likely habitat for wildlife.  The erosion control and wind or sound barrier findings were also stated as negative.  Culturally, there appeared no indication of neighborhood appreciation, cultural appreciation except for what the property owner stated.  Member Short left blank the finding for “contribution to neighborhood character.”  She stated that they were not landmark quality.

Member Hillan opted to not go through each evaluation point on the forms for each of the trees.  He stated that the features for landmarkability were not possessed by either of the trees and that pursing landmarking was misguided.  He distributed a color photo of the trees to indicate that more than 50% of the tree overhung the rear neighbor and this could pose a problem.  He felt the trees are not landmark worthy.

Member Swae stated that the specimens were common, large, in good health, were prominent landscape features being visible to a number of houses, were in an area of moderate tree density of 12%, were important for wildlife habitat with the hummingbirds and contributed to neighborhood character to the Bernal Heights area.  Member Swae stated that although the trees were beautiful, they were not exceptional examples for landmarking.

Chair Hillson opined that she was in agreement with the rest of the Committee members.  She stated that she put together a chart to look at all responses and based on facts from the members’ reports, found only two areas that were positive for landmarking:  1) the trees are in good condition; and 2) they are medium to large in size.  She stated that all the other findings categories including rarity, historical, environmental and cultural did not make the landmarking levels but that they were good trees and thanked Ms. Turkkan for submitting her nominations.

Member Hillan motioned to not recommend both cypresses as landmark trees to the full Urban Forestry Council, seconded by Member Short.  Roll call vote to not landmark both trees was taken -- AYES:  Swae, Short, Hillan, Hillson.  NAYES: None.

Motion passed 4-0 to not recommend to landmark both Leyland cypress trees to the full Council.

Ms. Turkkan gave a brief opinion regarding Member Hillan’s remarks in his evaluation report on the waste of committee / staff time being expended on inappropriate nominations.  She offered a suggestion that perhaps staff / committee would better guide the public in regards to the process of what will occur with landmark tree nominations.  She asked for more guidance and stated that she was not meaning to take up any more of the staff’s and committee’s time.  She stated that private property tree nominations were not likely to pass based on what she has experienced.  She stated that she could withdraw her nominations if the process was going to further waste people’s time.

Member Hillan responded to Ms. Turkkan by stating that withdrawal of the nominations would not be necessary as this was the end of the process for these trees and no additional time will be expended for these trees due to the vote outcome.  Member Hillan stated that it was not a matter of trees being on private or public property that determines the landmarkability of trees and that the determining factors as to what makes a tree landmarkable have been a discussion point in the past with the Committee.  He stated that there were issues of using the ordinance for property protection vs. tree protection and preservation and for trees that are sincerely eligible for landmark status.  He stated that Ms. Turkkan’s cypress trees were far out of the ballpark for landmark consideration.

Member Short added that it was not meant to say Ms. Turkkan’s nominations were a waste of time.  She stated that the ordinance should not be used to stop development that may take place and the ordinance should not be abused.  The ordinance was to have the property owner protect his own tree.  The challenge was to strike a careful balance to not dissuade people from not nominating trees for landmark status yet landmark only those trees with the landmarkable level qualities.

Ms. Turkkan suggested that perhaps one person could do an initial lookover and decide.  Chair Hillson responded by stating that having one person decide may be a problematic due to different opinions on the Committee.  Chair Hillson stated that perhaps a pre-application review was needed.

Discussion ensued as to the possibility of the staff providing more information to the public on the intent of the landmark tree process, on the ordinance, to clarify things to the public and to guide them better.

4. Ideas for Visible Identification and Marking of Landmark Trees.  Committee Members will discuss ideas for marking landmark trees for the purpose of visible identification. (Discussion)

Chair Hillson asked the Members what types of marking they think would work for landmark trees.  Member Short stated that discussion in past meetings ruled out bronze or brass or metals due to their being good targets for theft.  The topic of concrete stamps was brought up in the past.

Chair Hillson stated she has done a bit of research on concrete stamps.  She distributed copies of a list of three firms who could do concrete stamps.  All firms are based in California; and she stated that she would need some assistance to research / call the two other firms or others can also look into this should the Committee choose to go with concrete stamps.  The firms on Chair Hillson’s list were:  Proline Decorative Concrete Systems, Matcrete, and Infinity Stamps Inc.

She said the pricing was difficult to obtain after calling Proline because everything depended on the size, the distribution setup of the company, the design and the quantity.  So in order to get any definitive pricing, a decision on the design would first be needed.  Chair Hillson stated she researched past LTC meeting minutes and agendas and found a document which depicted a circle and possibly an oak tree in the middle that was discussed long ago, and she asked if that kind of design would work.

Member Short expressed her view that the stamps could possibly be in the sidewalk but it was uncertain what would occur for those landmarked trees that did not have a sidewalk next to them but were in the 
medians.  She also asked how trees in rear yards would be handled and thought that perhaps, they, too, may get a stamp in the front sidewalk.  Member Short mentioned that all work would have to be done to DPW standards and even the depth of the stamp would need to be ascertained.  Member Short added that there needs to be permits for these.  Member Short would look into the DPW requirements to see if the concrete stamping technique would be feasible.

Member Hillan asked about the installers, whether they would have to be union workers, whether there could be use of the apprentices – who would do the work.  Member Hillan also suggested to put the “QR code” possibly in the concrete.  Member Short thought about having the QR code on small aluminum pieces.  Member Hillson stated that although there are not that many landmark trees, and although aluminum was cheap, the metal can still be stolen for the small recycle value they have.  Member Hillan stated that he would look into someone who may know about the use of the QR code for outdoor settings as he knows someone who may be familiar with those.

Member Short mentioned that it would be good to have ideas on way-finding signs.

Member Swae mentioned that for the SF Giants, there are bricks with letters etched into them with what appeared to be black ink.  Chair Hillson stated that if the bricks were of the regular clay material, they would not last too long and that granite would be better but that would be very expensive.

The Committee members thought it would be good to look into what other cities do with their trees.

This item will be a rolling item on the agenda (call of the Chair).

5. New Business / Future Agenda Items.  (Information and Discussion).  None.

6. 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 were no members of the public present at this time.

7. Adjournment.  The Landmark Tree Committee meeting adjourned at 2:51 p.m.

Minutes written and submitted by Chair Hillson.

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., (2) or may be available at the Landmark Tree Committee Meeting website http://www.sfenvironment.org/about/taskforce/urban-forestry-council/agendas posted with each agenda or meeting minutes, or 3) upon request to the Council Secretary at the above address, telephone number 415-355-3709, or via e-mail at [email protected] Audio recordings of all meetings can be accessed at the following website https://sites.google.com/a/sfenvironment.org/commission/urban-forestry-council/urban-forestry-council-and-committee-meeting-audios.