tv [untitled] June 19, 2011 6:30am-7:00am PDT
revenues will be used or spent on this project. for this reason, no fees other than the building permit fees and fees for staff time will be required from bart for this project here we have members from both the port and bart to answer questions -- for this project. we have members from both the port and bart to answer questions. supervisor avalos: thank you. appreciate your presentation, and we will open this up for public comment. seeing none, we will close public comment. this, we can move forward with recommendations as well. madam clerk, if you could please call item three. oh, we can move this forward as a committee report, yes. thank you.
>> item three, hearing on the functions and status of the department of public works street tree program, including but not limited to the roles and responsibilities of the department, regarding street trees, planting and maintenance plans, status of partnerships outside agencies and individuals, and the sustainability of the program. supervisor avalos: thank you. this hearing i had called earlier this year. it was based on conversations i have had with the director and dpw staff about proposed changes to the street maintenance program. i saw the changes that were being proposed as part of just our budget deficit and our struggles to maintain a level of services that meets our needs here in san francisco. the street tree program i know
has undergone a series of cuts over the past -- i would say six years. and the ability of the city to maintain street trees has been compromised greatly because of that. yet, at the same time, we have, i think, a real responsibility to maintain our trees around the city, especially in light of air quality and efforts to beautify our neighborhoods and make them cleaner. so i would like to call this hearing so we can hear what the proposed changes are. also, if dpw has the ability to touch upon what the actual staffing changes have been over the years in the street tree program. that would be great to hear. i expect we will hear a lot from people around the city who have concerns about the potential loss of staffing and maintenance
of the street tree program. the alternative that has been proposed is that property owners will have greater responsibility for maintaining trees on the sidewalks in front of their homes. that is also not something that i think is realistic in terms of being on top of that and the city being on top of homeowners and perhaps having a program that will work. also, since it will not work, i worry we will not have an ability to maintain our trees whatsoever. i will let dpw present. we will have questions, and then we will go on to more questions from the public as well. >> good morning, supervisors. joining me today, we have quite a number of staff.
i do have a presentation that i would like to share with the board that will explain the situation we have facing us at this time. and why we have put forth this proposal. dpw, under article 16 of the public works code, has jurisdiction of all trees in the public right of way and is charged to realize the benefits of trees over san franciscans. dpw believes a healthy urban forest enhances our quality of life and reduces water, air, and noise pollution. management includes planning, planting, maintenance, and removal of trees on the public
right of way. we care for public trees and enforce the code for privately maintaining trees. because of public cuts, -- of funding cuts, dpw is not able to care for all the trees which are currently our responsibility. we believe transfer of maintenance responsibility to property owners, while not ideal, is necessary to meet our responsibility under the urban forestry ordinance. you can see for the next chart, they are currently over 100,000 trees planted on our sidewalks. of the 100,000, 65,000 are currently privately maintain by property owners. under dpw's jurisdiction, we have 27,800 that the department has been maintaining in addition to the 7500 trees that are on
the medians. the proposal is to transfer 23,700 trees to private property owners. supervisor avalos: just a question on the $65,000 number on privately maintained street tree. where are those generally located? is that on the sidewalk or sidewalk and street? >> the 65,000 trees that property owners are maintaining now are in front of the property or on the side. supervisor avalos: of the
65,000, just an estimate or percentage, how many of those trees in front of people's property -- how many homeowners or property owners know they are responsible for those trees? like, what percentage of the homeowners to have trees in front of their homes would expect to have responsibilities? >> i would not say i know the percentage, but i know our department does go out regularly to investigate a safety hazard a tree may be closing. it is recommended that trees be pruned every three to five years. with our current resources, our cycle has increased to a 10 to 12 year cycle for maintaining
many of the trees. dpw's resources for tree maintenance continue to decline, and i will show you in a graph from 2007 to where we are now and kind of where we are headed. lack of maintenance of these trees threatens safety of property, including sidewalk damage. we had 19 arborists and headed to 2011-2012 budget. we are reducing staff to seven arborists. the graph shows that as we reduce -- as we decline in staffing, we see an increase in the tree maintenance cycle. we are headed to a 15-year maintenance cycle.
what i would like to note on the graph is the optimum tree care cycle is the green line, which the letters are covering. the green line is between two and four. that is the optimum. over the last five years, we actually have not had the right amount of resources to maintain these trees on a regular cycle. supervisor avalos: is this 19 fte's in 2007-2008 -- is that the highest count you have had for a tree maintenance, or if you go further back, what would you say would be the trend going backwards? >> i would say before 2007, about 19 tree care staff has been about the level. what happened over that time is the department along with the
city leadership has promoted an increased the number of trees in the right of way through several programs. the purpose of tree maintenance transfer is to align dpw's assets with the available resources, to allocate responsibility to property owners. what we have now is about 60,000 property owners are actually maintaining trees in front of their houses, and you have another 23,000 or so that the city is maintaining. provide caretaker for trees and to protect public safety. the urban forestry ordinance -- that is a public works code
800-814. i would like to highlight a couple of responsibility for maintenance of these trees. section 8 05 in particular. it reads, "it shall be the duty of the owner of lots or portions of lots immediately of birding on or adjacent to any street to maintain such a street tree. the duties shall include both routine and major maintenance of the street trees. b reads "the department may determine to undertake the regular routine and/or major maintenance of certain street trees to promote consistency in the maintenance of trees." e read, "the director may
determine to relinquish responsibility for seven trees or portrays prior to release pushing maintenance, responsibilities, the part michelle perform all necessary major tree maintenance as of the day designated by the director. all maintenance and tree- related maintenance shall be the responsibility of the property owner." those are the three items in the public works co we would like to highlight today. supervisor avalos: do you know how many other jurisdictions have similar rules and laws are rowntree maintenance -- and around tree maintenance that give responsibility to the property owner? >> a few years ago, that responsibility was turned over to property owners.
there are other municipalities that have property owners be responsible for their trees. supervisor avalos: do you know what is happening in oakland? >> i'm not sure how much of the trees are property owner and how much are city. >> they both have landskip assessment districts. so property owners pay a special tax every year, and the city has maintenance responsibilities for i believe all the trees and sidewalks. supervisor avalos: would you say that is generally how this is covered in places around the state of california, or do you think it is part of our general fund effort?
>> it is a whole mix of things. there's a special california code creating landscaping and lighting district. there are a number of municipalities that have those. there are some districts, some municipalities have parcel taxes dedicated to trees. there are some places where it is part of the general fund responsibility. some places are largely private responsibilities except for trees that are fronting public buildings. in california, it is a whole hodgepodge. outside of california, it is mostly municipal responsibility. i grew up in minneapolis. all the trees were maintained by the park board. all the street trees. the cardboard had their own tax levy liked the school district does. they could levy property taxes in order to pay for this things, but that is not an option in
california. supervisor avalos: ok, thank you. appreciate that. >> the tree maintenance plan, the plan is to relinquish 3700 healthy, recently approved, or established trees to property owners over seven years. 3400 trees are ready to relinquish in the first part of this fiscal year. that is from now to december. the day after december, 6000 trees a year would be made ready for relinquishment with necessary maintenance. so before we can turn over a tree to a property owner, we do have to make sure the tree is in good health and that the tree is actually prove healthy and the sidewalks are actually in good condition.
supervisor avalos: how what a property owner know that their tree is not already in their responsibility, and which ones are actually the responsibility of the city that will be transferred in the city, and which ones are their own responsibility? i think that is generally not well known. >> there's a whole process of hosting the tree, informing the property owner of the city's intent to relinquish the tree, and there is a whole process that the agency would go through. supervisor avalos: i guess i understand there would be that information as provided, but i would think a lot of property owners do not know whether their tree falls currently under their responsibility or is already under their responsibility or is currently under the responsibility of the city that they will be transferred. i think that is a common -- >> i can show you in one of the slides here, they are scattered
all around the city, and i can show you where the 2300 or so trees are and how they overlap. it is all over the city. those trees -- the property owners -- those were trees that the city took responsibility for or planted under certain corridors, and some of those trees are fronting private property. >> i know we have organizations that do tree planting, and there's a whole robust effort to plant trees in our neighborhoods, and over the past, i would say, three years i have been really paying attention, there have been a lot of trees planted in the excelsior. that is in district 11, which i represent. but 23,000 trees that will be transferred -- are those trees that were earlier planted by the city, or was it planted by an
organization or a combination -- >> it was mostly a combination of trees that were planted by both friends of urban forest, dpw, or even in some cases [inaudible] this will be the formal process of turning [inaudible] supervisor avalos: ok. >> [inaudible] what you see on the screen is a map of where privately maintained trees are all around the city. you can see they are all over the city in almost all the neighborhoods. we do have private property owners maintaining the trees.
supervisor avalos: it looks like a forest. i wish it was like that. that would be great. >> it should be all green or more green. we're working towards. what you see here, trees that are currently maintained by dpw. in some of these neighborhoods, a good number of these trees were a good part of the trees for tomorrow. you can see quite a number of trees were planted. you can have quite a number of trees along the a lot, gary, and some of the trees they -- along balboa, gary, and some of the trees there. you can see some of the major
corridors, there were trees that were planted. also, south of market, we would like quite a number of trees. those are some of the areas. and, of course, western addition. the south of market area, you see quite a few trees. those are the areas the city is currently maintaining. supervisor avalos: within this map, i would imagine there are certain areas that dpw tends to focus on more than others, or is that generally spread out? >> in general, due to our resources, i would say we do have certain corridors that we routinely maintain, but there are many other locations where we are responding to safety consent requests. supervisor avalos: another question -- you mentioned your
staffing levels now -- he said it is 7 you currently have that are -- >> we are going to 7. we will be in the next budget cycle, we will be reducing the crew from 19 to 7. supervisor avalos: how much would a crew cost? >> a little under $500,000. supervisor avalos: what happens when we have a big storm and a bunch of trees are knocked over or damaged in a short time, and we need to, like, in a matter of hours clear the streets and help a lot of trees? how do you wrap up your staffing to deal with those crises? >> in preparation of a storm, our artists are on the call, and we actually do have several
trees that have fallen on the cars, on overhead lights, and staff goes out and clears those trees. those trees are fronting private property. supervisor avalos: currently, if we have a big storm, is it all in 11 fte's and called on that day to clear the streets? >> it all depends. the last huge storm we had was -- april -- february 17, i think. that storm had two ships, people coming in.
a lot of the tree cutting and -- supervisor avalos: we go down to seven fte's, does that even a compromise our ability to respond to -- i imagine it would. >> [inaudible] better to be able to respond. we have had storms in the past several years where we have had to bring in a huge number of staff to clear streets. sometimes we are three or four days behind to remove many of the fallen trees. supervisor avalos: ok, thank you. >> the transport process itself, i'm going to take us through step-by-step what is involved. to transfer