November 16, 2010
1. Call to Order and Roll Call
Present Commissioners, Susanna Russo, Sally Stephens, Pam
Hemphill, Geneva Page, Philip
Gerrie, Andrea Brooks, Jack Aldrige DVM, Kat Brown – ACC, John
2. General Public Comment
No public comment.
3. Approval of Draft Minutes for October 14, 2010
No Commission nor public comment.
Minutes approved unanimously.
4. Chairperson’s report and opening remarks
Comr. Stephens – Welcomes Officer Denny from the Vicious and Dangerous Dog unit of the SFPD.
Joint Zoo meeting in December will be probably on the 15th.
Comr. Gerrie – Will there be another working group meeting
with the zoo?
Comr. Stephens – There will be but no date is set yet.
No public comment
5. Unfinished Business
possible action to table indefinitely
the issue of whether or not
to mandate a no-kill policy in
Comr. Brooks – In May we voted to table this item for three
months, if only then to touch base
about the issue. We had discussed the item for apx. 18 months. In May we left it without a Commissioner
willing to take on the issue and lead it. I propose that we table the item
Comr. Stephens – Tabling it indefinitely means that it can be brought up again if
conditions change. That happened with the cat declaw ban. The ban was tabled
several years ago and was brought up last year when the State passed a law that
would stop any City from passing such a law unless it took effect before Jan of
2010. Tabling doesn’t mean it can never
be brought back. Conditions can
change or a Commissioner can
decide to take it on.
Comr. Brooks – Move to table this item indefinitely
5 A)Public Comment
Nadine May – San Francisco animals are dying and people are
looking the other way. Nothing is being done. The coalition is not
effective because several groups
within the coalition want to stymie any real discussion. State law states it is
against the law to euthanize any healthy animal. So ACC, and any other shelter in the State, are breaking the law every time a healthy,
treatable animal is euthanized. That State Civil Code is 1834.4. We need
legislation in this City to save animals. No point to wait. Urge Commission to
vote. Support no-kill legislation. Commission does not need to work on
details. Supervisors and City
attorneys can work on that.
Justin Pinkerton – Fix San Francisco – Supports statements
from previous speaker. Commission has had many speakers on this issue. There
are plenty of reasons to vote for legislation. The coalition was started as an alternative to legislation
but it is not an effective
Shanti – Many other solutions to make SF a more humane city.
One would be birth control.
Another, public education.
Another, enforcing breeding regulation laws. Just because shelters are crowded
is not a reason for euthanizing animals.
Lana Bajsel -
It would be a disservice for this Commission to table no-kill. Agrees with
Justin that the coalition has not moved as fast as was hoped. It has focused on
the intake of animals into the shelter environment. That is a long term project. Coalition is not addressing
at-risk animals perishing in City shelters.. There are short and long term solutions. Encourages Commission to take action to
address the crisis of why healthy
adoptable animals are still being killed. And why ACC relies so heavily
on rescue groups to get them out alive.
Kim Durney – Grateful Dogs Rescue – This issue has been discussed by this Commission for two years. Time to take a moral
stand and establish a no-kill policy.
There will never be enough people nor money to do it but other cities
managed to do it. City needs to have no-kill as its policy.
Cynthia Cox – Fixsanfrancisco.org – Has attended most ACWC
meetings in the last two years. Only issue this Commission sent to the Board,
in those two years, was a ban on de-clawing of cats. Volunteered with SPCA for
16 years until they dropped their behavior program. Later volunteered at ACC
for 15 months. Left in March
because of the heartbreak of adoptable cats being killed. Wish that I could have taken the 589
cats killed at ACC in 2007/8 , the 541 cats killed at ACC in 2008/9., and the
498 cats killed in 2009/10. Was able to rescue two that would have been killed
because they had ringworm.
L-Danyielle Yacabucci – feral cat advocate – Would like to
see the word “indefinitely” removed
from the proposal. Finds it insulting. Would like to see more effort
from ACC and SPCA to solve the
problem. Frustrated that this Commission is dropping the issue. Animals are
Martha Hoffman – Supports comments from previous
Rosalind Lord – Animal Advocacy Working Group – Killing animals in shelters
should be banned and the ban should go into effect immediately.
Karen – ACC volunteer – Asks that Commission continue
considering no-kill, in the name of the animals at ACC that won’t make it out
Susan Wheeler – Feral cat volunteer – Important SF develop a
road map towards no-kill. As important now as it was three years ago. Great suggestions
have been made in the many months of discussion to bring about
no-kill. If we can’t have legislation, let’s do things piece-meal. The Animal Coalition is just dealing with issues by themselves.
It doesn’t have any guiding principles.
The guiding principles is
no-kill. Statements which support
no-kill are, “Shelter animals have a right to live”, “Feral cats have a right
to their lives and habitats”, “Animals, rescuers, and the public have a right
to expect that animal protection
organizations and animal shelters to do everything in their power to promote,
protect, and advocate for the lives of animals”, “ Animal protection groups ,
rescue groups, and no-kill
shelters have a right to take into custody animals that would otherwise be
killed by animal shelters”,
“Taxpayers and community members have a right to have their
government spend tax money on
programs and services who purpose
is to save and enhance the lives of all animals”, “Taxpayers and community members have a right to
full and complete disclosure on
how animal shelters operate”. SF still has a lot to do.
Kathleen McGarr – Fix San Francisco & ACC small animal volunteer – You
have been chosen to sit in these
seats to be the voice of the community on behalf of the animals . You heard for almost two and half years countless members of the community come and speak to you and voice their
desire. Shockingly, if one stops 10 people, randomly, on the streets and ask
them if SF is no-kill they will all say that of course we are. We are not. The community doesn’t realize
that. They will know with
education. If more people knew the truth, more people would come to these
meetings. You would hear more of
the community’s voice. You need to vote on this and not let it fade away.
Evan Elias –
feral cat volunteer SPCA –
When starting to volunteer in
2000, SPCA was a no-kill shelter. SPCA is no longer a no-kill shelter. Unsure
why. Economics? A change in
power? We were no-kill. We know
how to do it. Can’t we do it again?
When it is working it works really well. People would come from all over CA to adopt. Was a privilege to volunteer there. Hope we don’t give up on it.
Jennifer Scarlett – SF/SPCA – In 1994 SPCA did embrace no-kill. With that we embraced a massive spay/neuter program and
education. SPCA is still committed
to the no-kill policy and
movement. SF County now has the
lowest intake, per capita, in all of CA. That is a great success. We also have the
lowest kill rate, per capita, in
CA. Success is not which individual animals are euthanized or not. It is keeping them from ever entering
our shelter system in the first place.
With that we have committed to increase our community outreach. We are committed to increasing our spay/neuter, expecting to
hit 9 to 10,000 this year. The real success is keeping them out of the shelter
in the first place. We are
committed to our pact with ACC, improving our behavior assessment, and working to make sure every
adoptable animal has a chance for a home.
Audrey Kimball – Foster for 3 Give Me Shelter cats scheduled to be euthanized at ACC for not passing behavior
tests. They have lived peacefully in my shop since March.
Has been involved in cat rescue across the country. To give up on no-kill legislation is
morally and ethically wrong.
Should educate everyone
that SF is not a no-kill city. Nine out
of ten shop customers believe SF is a model no-kill city. That is not
true. Why can’t SF figure it out?
Heni Martin – feral fix cat team SPCA – Respects SPCA. Also
volunteer for Give Me Shelter Cat Rescue. Knows first hand how many adoptable cats have come in from ACC. Something must be wrong if ACC rejects these cats but Lana
finds homes for them. The average
San Franciscan would be appalled to learn that SF is not a no-kill city.
They would want SF to be a no-kill city.
Richard Fong – Have listened to all the meetings about
no-kill. Thought that something would have been resolved by now. Shouldn’t just drop the issue after
many speakers, over these past months, have asked for the Commission to
act. Doesn’t want to call ACC if
sees a feral cat. Doesn’t want it euthanized. What ever is done, legislative or not, should reach all concerned parties.
Anne Feingold – Urban Cat Project – To increase
adoptions more animals must be
seen by the public. Just a few
animals are selected for adoption by shelter workers. ACC’s rejects are quite adoptable. There’s no magic to adopting an animal. They just need to be
shown. ACC’s cages should be full of animals and let the public decide . It
would go a long way towards no-kill.
Marlene Mcdowell – Didn’t know SF was not a no-kill city.
Wonders why SF is not a no-kill zone. What are the obstacles? Economic? Educated by Audrey Kimball. If the public knew that SF is
not a no-kill city we would find solutions. Don’t table the issue. Involve the public to come up with solutions.
Public comment closed
Comr. Aldridge – Believes SF should be a no-kill city. CA
should be a no-kill State. What the Commission has been batting around is two
separate issues. First, trying to
come up with a concept for legislation to enforce rules that, we think, would
achieve no-kill. Personally
disagrees with mandating legislation with the items talked
about to achieve that aim. The
language, “tabling indefinitely”, sounds like we are tabling the whole concept
of becoming a no-kill city. What we are tabling is this endless argument and
discussion about fashioning
legislation to leverage the
Board to vote into law. That has
gone nowhere over the last two
years. Stalemates have developed
on this Commission for any support to pass on to the Board something
they might take up. Couldn’t there be a way to continue this discussion to make
steps towards no-kill and, at the
same time, table this approach via legislation?
Comr. Hemphill – Have not been to Homeless Animal Coalition
(HAC) meetings. Would like to know numbers of spay/neuters. Improvements can happen behind the
scene just as in public but
without progress reports you don’t know what is going on.
Kat Brown – ACC – Have been at attendance at HAC meetings.
There has been, as a result of these meetings, many collaborations with the
SPCA including vaccinations, spay/neuter outreach in underserved
communities, work on behavior
training outreach, outreach
to homeless community for spay/neuter,. Could prepare something for the
Comr. Hemphill – Could that info be on the website?
Kat Brown – This isn’t just from ACC or SPCA. It is a
collaboration of 40 different groups.
Comr. Hemphill – Should there be a coalition website to
Kat Brown – Fix SF has been the chair. Perhaps Justin could
speak to that? It was the brainchild of Rebecca Katz from ACC, and Julene
Justin Pinkerton – The biggest obstacle to a website is
money. There’s a lot of talk on the issues but not a lot of conclusions or
pre-conclusions. Don’t know
how much progress a website
would show so far. The only concrete item would be the spay/neuter clinics the
SPCA has done. Everything else has been discussion.
Comr. Hemphill – To be clear, you don’t have a website?
Justin Pinkerton – No we don’t. It costs money.
You have to have a host and
Comr. Hemphill – It’s not very expensive to have a website.
Justin Pinkerton – The Coalition has not money and there
hasn’t been a proposal to collect money from individuals to set up a website. It would also need
someone to maintain the website. An idea for a website was for help with
behavior training. But that info
is already out there. We can talk about
a website but it hasn’t really been explored so far.
Kat Brown – The Coalition has only met 7 times. To expect these things to be resolved in
7meetings is quite
optimistic. We have come up with the five top issues; high volume, low
fee, spay/neuter, behavior
resources, increasing the foster
network, pet-friendly housing, and increasing humane education. The coalition has been effective
in doing down –to-earth actions
such as the feral fix campaigns with the SPCA. We acknowledge at ACC that the
cat and dog housing is not warm and fuzzy. ACC completely relies on the rescue
groups to help the animals that don’t do well in a caged environment. If no-kill means 93% to 84%, we need to define what no-kill
is. What is no-kill? There is a
belief that we were no-kill.
Justin Pinkerton – We never officially achieved no-kill
Kat Brown – What is no-kill?
Justin Pinkerton – Haven’t we been talking about it for two
years? The minimum is 93% to be considered no-kill.
Kat Brown – For cats and dogs?
Justin Pinkerton – I understand it to be all animals in the
Comr. Brooks – Defining no-kill has been problematic.
Everyone in this room knows what we are saying when we use the term. The
general public may not understand the term. I don’t know who defines it.
Maddie’s Fund in Animal People July/August magazine did name SF as
a no-kill city. The article names several counties that had live-release rates
of over 80%. Maddie’s is
recognized leader in the no-kill movement and they are defining no-kill as 80%.
Who is defining it?
Justin Pinkerton – The no-kill philosophy says there is a margin of error of 7%
that are not adoptable for medical or behavioral issues. So 93% should be adoptable. Maddie’s fund is Richard Avanzino who
started the no-kill effort at the SF/SPCA. He wouldn’t discount his
achievements while he was here.
- Discussion in the last few minutes reflects a problem with legislating
no-kill – Is it 80%? Is it
93%? We all want adoptable animals
to find good homes. Do we try to do this legislatively or develop programs that
will accomplish the same thing? We
are talking about tabling here legislatively mandating no-kill.
Legislating has never been done in a community where all the shelter
directors and higher ups opposed the mandate. It is a difficult concept to impose on people.
Especially with tightening budgets of cities. Because of the rancor over the last two years it was
important to get everyone in the same room talking. It seemed like
that was happening in the Coalition.
My fear is, based on comments made tonight, that the Coalition is not being effective. Am personally
interested in pursuing pieces of the no-kill concept. Such as a ban of pet sales in pets stores. The issue of
breeding needs to be addressed.
Addressing the issue of backyard breeders would be big. Low cost behavior training is another area. Getting animals out at adoption
fairs is crucial. You don’t need
to have a legislative mandate to do that. Don’t think there was ever a
political will for a legislative mandate.
Please talk to your Supervisors and find out. Pet-friendly rentals is another thing that was brought up.
That could be huge.
All the people on this Commission want to work together to resolve these issues.
Comr. Gerrie – Have attended every single meeting about no-kill and listened
carefully to everything that has
been said. I’ve come with an open mind to each meeting. I’ve seen the issue of legislation creating divisiveness, accusations, and
bad feelings continuously, even tonight. We’ve been accused of not doing our
job. I believe I am doing me job. I don’t think legislation is the way to go.
Have talked personally with the heads of SPCA and ACC and understand their positions. This has just created divisions and I like to see things that
will work. Every year numbers saved will vary depending on available
resources. I’ve also had trouble
with the definition of the % saved to achieve no-kill. Who defines it? The country as a whole is
still killing 50% of its shelter animals.
We are far above that. We are trying as hard as we can to save animals
lives. Legislation will not help.
Comr. Stephens – There is also frustration that any proposal takes time to implement. A possible pet store sale ban. Nothing
would happen immediately. Even if
a mandate were passed it would take at least 5 years to get it to work. Animals
are being euthanized in the mean
time. The most immediate way is to increase fosters and keep animals from going
into the shelters.
Justin Pinkerton – As to the Coalition, the first meeting we
had three times as many participants as attend now. That speaks
loudly that people don’t
have confidence in the Coalition or don’t think anything is happening. Everything has been talk so far except
for the spay/neuter drive. Certain
organizations don’t want to talk about the reasons animals continue to die in
their shelters because they feel they are being attacked. In order to fix something one needs to
talk about it. If we can’t talk nothing will get done. We did vote on the five top issues when
there were 40 groups there. We now have only 10 coming. Don’t know if the voted-on topics are
still valid when most of the people that voted on them are not coming.
Comr. Stephens – Agrees with last statement. Biggest problem is with ACC’s &
SPCA’s behavioral assessments.
Which is not being discussed.
Encourage everyone to talk publicly and privately on that issue.
Justin Pinkerton – That has been done already but efforts
have been squashed by those that feel they are being attacked. Its hard to have a conversation if the
person you are talking with is feeling attacked but results in an animal’s death.
Comr. Brooks – The tabling is regarding the legislative
mandate. We can continue to
ask for speakers and presentations to be transparent about numbers.
Comr. Aldrige – The Commission should hear how the Coalition
is doing and what issues it is addressing. We are hoping this Coalition will accomplish
what legislation may not. We
should listen to the progress and the
lack of progress.
Comr. Hemphill – Who pays for the low-cost spay/neuter
Comr. Stephens – The SPCA
Comr. Hemphill – If someone wanted to give money for
spay/neuter, it would have to go through the SPCA?
Jennifer Scarlett –
Currently all SPCA money is going into the spay/neuter project. The SPCA has always had a sliding
scale, free and subsidized spay/neuter.
We have made a commitment to up that by community outreach, signing up for free spay/neuters, increase in feral-fix, have vaccinated
over 600 dogs this summer, have
signed up over 300 for free spay/neuters. All funded by the SPCA.
Comr. Stephens – Have you used only SPCA staff for the free
feral fix day?
Jennifer Scarlett – We tried one volunteer but have found
our staff has very fast hands so they are more efficient. We do have the feral cat team volunteers to trap and bring the cats in.
Comr. Hemphill – That is crucial. Do you talk about growing that in some way?
Jennifer Scarlett – We are up to 8,000 spay/neuters so far
this year. We hope to go higher to 9 possibly 10,000. That is the core – to
stop them from coming into the shelter does stop
euthanasia. That is why we have
the lowest euthanasia in CA per capita.
With live –release rates you have to look at intake. Compared to Washoe
County we have three times less euthanasia per capita. A life-release % relies on the intake. Goal is to
never have them come in. If they come in we have failed them. We also have free
training programs in our out-reach
clinics. It’s an amazing
Kat Brown – ACC received support for a spay/neuter program
in GG Park area from Pet Food Express. Brought in a van from the Hayward
shelter. Did 9 spay/neuter surgeries on homeless people’s animals.
That is just a beginning.
There is a CA wide fund
from spay/neuter license plates
fees which will go to the most needy through out CA. Animals are being
euthanized in far greater #’s in other CA counties.
Comr. Brooks – Motion to table to recommend a mandate
that all city shelters shall not
euthanize any animal that is adoptable after behavioral or medical intervention. Specifically the
legislative mandate aspect.
Consulted with City Attorney about voting on this item and if any
Commissioner would have to recuse
him/her self and was told no. Motion
seconded by Comr. Gerrie
Comr. Aldrige –
When applied for this
Commission seat, told Supervisors that would be representing many constituents. Primarily the SF
Medical Veterinary Association,
the public at large and the humane movement in the SPCA Hospital Dept. Will
always vote independent of what SPCA may want. Would not have taken this seat if muzzled by the SPCA.
Comr. Stephens – A ‘yes’ vote is to table a legislative
Yes vote by Comrs,
Stephens, Hemphill, Brooks, and Page. No vote by Comr. Russo. Motion passes, 6 to 1.
6. New Business
A) Discussion and
possible action to send a letter to Rec & Park to improve communication within the dept about
vegetation removal in GG Park and its impact on wildlife and feral cats. Recent
construction next to the Sharon Arts Building bulldozed a thicket, long time
home for several ferals.
Comr. Hemphill – SF Examiner’s Will Reisman reported
on this story but got several items wrong. He reported feral cats #’s
have been reduced in the park due to landscape changes and not TNR. He also
referred to feral cat breeding stations
which do not exist. That might have been a typo. Melissa Griffin picked up the
story in her examiner column.
She said Rec & Park had temporarily removed a swath of landscape. It’s hard to remove landscape
temporarily. She ignores the
habitat wildlife issue. Last part
of her column quotes Phil Ginsburg, “I’m hopeful that our furry feline friends
are supportive of our renovations to the Children’s Carousel Plaza and that they are living
comfortably in GG Park’s 1,017 acres during this temporary inconvenience.”
Animals in the park remain a joke to the general manager.
Two feral cat
feeders and I met this morning, with the project crew, and others, at the
Sharon Art Studio. Results of the
meeting: the project could have been designed without removal of the landscaped
area. Rick Thall, from Capital Improvements
Division will put SPCA’s Mary Ann Buxton on the mailing list about future projects. Conversations about the feral cats were
negative. The feral cat feeders were not recognized for their surveillance
roll. They find unneutered cats at their feeding stations, trap and neuter
them. If all feeders and ferals were removed tomorrow, the park would quickly
fill up with more cats. The public still sees the park as a dumping ground for
animals. The feeding stations attract un-neutered cats that can then be part of the TNR program. The park is
doing a better job for birds and butterflies but not for dense low level habitat needed for mammals, such
as, skunks, raccoons, and possums.
Martha Hoffman – feral cat advocate – Thanks Comr. Hemphill.
Helped start SPCA’s feral cat program.
In 1993 Rec & Park and the ACWC asked the SF/SPCA to start a program
to reduce the feral cat population.
That program, TNR, trap, neuter, release, has been extremely successful
and has reduced GG Park’s feral population by 95%. Rec & Park agreed to allow fixed ferals to return to the park and live
out their lives there. As a long time feral cat feeder, has seen the park’s
ongoing insensitivity to wildlife by removing habitat. Examples of that are cutting out
undergrowth to expose the homeless
- Planning to install astro turf and towering lights at the Beach Chalet
Soccer field -To build an industrial water recycling plant at the peaceful west
end of the park - And now, the construction project at the carousel. Wildlife has a hard time in SF.
Comr. Hemphill three weeks ago. Feral cat feeders were surprised to find the
area around the carousel completely fenced off and torn up. Most upsetting was
a section of dense habitat next to the Sharon Art Building long used as a safe
home for two remaining ferals and
other wildlife. Originally there
were 30 cats at the site. If the feeders had known about the project , would have
given feedback, caution, and advise to the designers that the habitat not be
destroyed but incorporated into the new landscape. Ferals could have been gradually relocated outside of the
construction area. Communicated
with construction people at the site.
Was given conflicting information. Was told , at first, only a portion
of the habitat would be removed.
Later, was told, would be entirely removed but that would happen down
the line. Began the gradual relocation when the entire area was removed. Was
shocked and stunned by communication breakdown. Cats were not hurt but ability to move them now is much more
difficult. Hopes ACWC will take a stand to encourage Rec & park to
respect wildlife and its habitats.
Where animals are concerned, Rec &
Park needs to work in partnership with animal welfare agencies. There should be the automatic assumption
that wildlife and, possibly, monitored feral cats are throughout the park. This morning Susan Wheeler, Comr. Hemphill, and I met with people working at the site who included DPW designers and engineers, Rick
Thall, Rec & Park Capital Division planner. They were sensitive to our
concerns and were helpful. Rick Thall said his department could automatically
send out notification to animal welfare agencies when projects are being initially planned. We can request that ACC, ACWC, and
SPCA’s feral cat program coordinator
Brent Dennis – Asst. Director of Operations GG Park – Will
focus on the aspects of the agenda to improve communications with Rec &
Park and the lack of respect for
wildlife and feral cats in planning projects. Supports notification to ACC,
SPCA, and ACWC. Past overtures and initiatives to the SPCA to help in
identifying feeding stations have been ignored or rejected. In conversations from 1997, nine feeding stations were
proposed which seemed reasonable. Unofficially, gardeners and custodial staff have reported up to 80
feeding stations in GG Park. That is an enormous expansion without
communication back to the dept. If
other organizations took those liberties of expanding activities in the park
without the parks knowledge it would be hard to cooperate and to know who to
communicate with. For this
Commission to issue a letter to Rec & Park expecting improved communication, the frustration
for us is that there has been very little
if any communication has been requested in the spirit of mutual
cooperation with the organizations we have been asked to cooperate with.
hard to get the public forum of the
press to return to return to clear up misrepresented
statements of a story about
Rec & Park but our garden and landscape staff does take significant efforts to expand and establish
appropriate habitats for wildlife.
Every project initiated in
GG Park always results in more greening
than what was there before. Professionals are hired for design capital
projects which, being in the park,
always effect the landscape such as drainage, existing vegetation, historic
trees , and public safety issues. Introducing feral cats next to playgrounds, that have sand to play in, raises
issues of safety for the children as to fecal matter. People come in without
the Park’s Dept knowledge and install and maintain, sometimes in
the darkness of night, feral cat
feeding stations in locations not
known to staff . Problems will arise. These activities are introduced
stealthily into the public domain
of 1017 acres. The habitat that
was destroyed was a 10’ by 10’ area surrounded by paved areas. It is debatable to call that a wildlife habitat. That area was checked for nesting birds
and other wildlife before removal.
To learn that area, which was in the middle of a three year construction of a larger playground
renovation, was a feral cat site is a bit unfair to now throw darts at the
dept. and being critical of our
lack of sensitivity since we were not alerted to their presence. Others at Rec & Park suggested to
me that if a letter is to be sent it needs to go to all parties.
restoration is important. Second
and third Saturdays of every month, volunteer groups, with cooperation with our gardeners, go out and work on projects throughout the
park. This particular project includes habitat restoration. The park is sensitive to the intense needs of the public for
active and passive use of the park along with sustaining healthy wildlife. The problem is fostered by the lack of
two way communication. Public awareness will be improved by the gardeners
posting signs saying that this project will improve wildlife habitat.
Comr. Russo – Rec & Park has a seat on this Commission
but has not sent a representative
for some time. The lack of
a representative seems to be a
factor on a lack of communication.
Brent Dennis – There is a seat assigned to Rec & Park
and no one has filled it? Or, someone was assigned and never attended?
Comr. Hemphill – Bob Palacio was the person who last came. It has been about two years since he last came.
Brent Dennis – Seems odd that we have a seat and a voice yet no one shows up. Will follow up on
this. We have an opportunity to have a voice and no one shows up.
Comr. Stephens – With discussions with Denny Kern about
sending someone, we were told that it is not a high priority and everyone is
overworked and short on time. It would be helpful when topics like this come
Brent Dennis – I will follow up on this. That is a good
point from Comr. Russo.
Comr. Aldrige – It does come up at every meeting that it
would be helpful if Rec & Park were here.
Brent Dennis – I have a feeling that I may be that person in
my expanded roll. One point more from this morning’s meeting from Rick Thall
was that 20 laminated notices were put up 30 days before construction started
and the feeders come there almost daily. If the feeders came at night they
would not have seen the 20 posted signs. That is standard protocol for any
project in the park.
Comr. Aldrige – The feral cat feeders work with the SPCA not
ACWC. The feral cat volunteers are
working for SF’s feral cats which is for all of us because we, as a City, care
about our feral cats.
Comr. Hemphill – That vegetation was an island that wildlife
needs. Native plant restoration
programs are not usually that
dense. Uncertain how best to communicate. Before Outside Lands there was an enormous trimming of
Brent Dennis – The year I first started in the park, Mayor
Newsom gave the executive order to get the homeless out of the GG Park. Park
Patrol and SFPD’s recommendation was to clear overgrown areas so they could see
where the homeless were.
Comr. Hemphill – That effort has resulted in clearing
low-level habitat leaving only trees and grass. Leaving out wildlife. If we
don’t get a representative on our Commission, how do we get in contact with someone at Rec & Park? A
regular contact? Often will write
an e-mail but never receive a response.
Brent Dennis – Dennis Kern is Director of Operations for all
the parks. You can contact him. For an issue just for GG Park that would be me.
For this issue, I am responsible for the matrix team of Rick Thall for
Capital, Marcus Santiago for Park
Patrol, and Dana Ketchum for
reservations and permits, and Steve Flannery for structural maintenance. I am
coordinating them all and will be the point person. If an issue is in another
park Dennis Kern may direct me to
Comr. Hemphill – Have seen a trend towards active recreation
in the park versus enjoying the park.
Brent Dennis – I agree. Am a landscape architect . Have been in charge of the Botanical
Garden as well as the Conservatory of Flowers for the past 4 years. Have a
passion for natural beauty and
sharing that enjoyment with the
public . GG Park is the flagship of the park system. The park is under pressure
by lots of stakeholders . that balance is very difficult. I hope to sort out
these complicated issues both internally and externally. Phil Ginsburg’s position was to have
someone to sort out these issues and keep the vision of the park’s founder John
Comr. Gerrie- I spoke with Denny Kern last month who also
mentioned the lack of time for someone to come. I had suggested that we really
only need a representative when there is an agenda item concerning the park .
That is not every meeting. So it
wouldn’t be every month. I do
understand of the need for two-way
communication. I understand that feral cat feeders are not very divulging of
where they feed. Many have been reluctant
to inform the SPCA of their feeding stations.
Brent Dennis – The park staff has been frustrated when
contacting the SPCA or the feral feeders with where are the feeding
stations. Just to know. Not to
destroy or remove them. This project has been a great eye-opener of the need
for two-way communication.
Comr. Russo – To clarify the posting?
Brent Dennis – Yes, signs were posted all around the future
site before the fence went up. That is why it was puzzling that no one was
aware of it. Conversations along the way were also confused as to what was
going to be done. It is important to have one point person for consistent information.
Comr. Stephens – If someone comes to you to set up a feral
cat feeding station at position X, will they be met with opposition? Or some openness? I can understand a reluctance to divulge feeding activities.
Brent Dennis – I don’t know what is already
going on as the feeder information is hidden. Would like to work with the feeders.
At a disadvantage not
knowing. If someone came to us we
would want to know how that fits into the larger picture of all the up to 80 feeding stations. Would # 81 be
acceptable.? Would you want it next to a sand playground or next to a nesting
quail habitat? There are a lot of
factors to consider. Would like a
cooperative way to consider what are we trying to accomplish together. Rather than a stealth group coming in
then crying foul when something disrupts their program. The park is a national
treasure and there are a lot of dynamics that make it beautiful.
Comr. Stephens – Is there a Rec & Park policy to encourage feeding ferals?
Brent Dennis – There is no policy but there are park codes
that one can be cited or infractions brought to one for violations of actions
not permitted. There is no
permit issued such as for an
encampment or setting up a feeding
station. You are not supposed to be feeding wildlife.
Comr. Stephens – Feral cats are not considered wildlife.
They are there because humans put them there.
Brent Dennis – That is another interesting dynamic of the park.
Comr. Hemphill – The park is a dumping ground for all kinds
of animals. Turtles. Cats. Wildlife feeding is a huge problem. Wish that could
be addressed. People bring bags of bread and feed the birds.
Brent Dennis – To educate the public to the detrimental
aspects of feeding wildlife would be a win-win.
Comr. Brooks – Have heard earlier from feral advocates that
when communication breaks down there is mistrust and fear. Trust needs to be built and respect for what the
different groups are trying to do. People don’t understand how important feral
cats are to some people. Thankful that the feeders for what they do. Hope that
Rec & Park will respect and
work with the feeders.
Comr. Hemphill – The goal is that cats shouldn’t live in
parks. They should have homes. That is the goal.
Comr. Stephens – Rec & Park has a tough job. In Glen
Canyon there are coyotes that need dense vegetation. The Natural Areas Program
comes in to plant native plants and removes the coyote habitat. Rec & park
needs to, at the least, consider the
impact of the wild animals living there.
Brent Dennis – My e-mail is email@example.com.
My City cell # is 595-7069.
Comr. Stephens – At this morning’s meeting Rec & Park
committed to notify ACC and SPCA in
general ? Or just the feral cat program?
Brent Dennis – Rick Thall committed notifying them all to capital projects.
6 A) Public Comment
Martha Hoffman – Did not see the signs. Feeds in the morning
not at night. The other feeders also did not see the signs. The feeding program
started because the park was inundated with feral cats. We were begged to come
in. We have reduced the population down by 95% over the years. The
maintenance yard had 90 cats. Now there are none. At the carousel the cats were eating out of the
dumpsters. The gardeners asked us to come in. The cats do not use the
children’s sand box. The gardeners have
never complained about that. We are in very close contact with the
gardeners. This information is
angering to listen to.
Susan Wheeler – Does not feed ferals in GG Park. Does take
classes at Sharon Arts Studio in GG Park. Only heard about the project a week
before it started. Construction
work makes handicap access impossible. Rec
& Park did also not communicate with Sharon Art’s people. Had a conversation with Kat Brown in
2004 about why giving out information of where the feral feeding stations
are was a bad idea. Too many
people don’t understand what the feral feeding program is about and would do
mischief . Have heard comments
from Gloria Bonilla that she hates the cats being in the park. The feeders would not be
feeding if they didn’t feel it was very important work to do.
L-Danyielle – Never hear a thank you from Rec & Park for
feeding the cats. Only thing SPCA hears from Rec & Park is “Where are the
cats?” Cannot tell them. Cats will be dumped there. The feral cat advocates have been fighting against Rec & Park since 1993. Mr. Dennis
is speaking for the woman at the meeting this morning. Her communication is ,
“Where are they? Get them out.” Do not hear appreciation for reducing colony
size. In one case 90 cats to 0.
Have learned to be very invisible so people don’t dump more cats with
the ferals. Goal is no more feral cats. We get the cats fixed and stabilize the
colony . Would be nice if Rec & Park communicated with us, they just communicate at us. Rec
& Park always fences to the ground, trapping wildlife in or out. That became
obvious at the Outside Lands concert.
What Mr. Dennis said was wrong. Would be nice to have an honest and fruitful conversation with them.
Lisa Vittori – Would like to make a connection between
no-kill, cat stations, quail, native habitat, and homeless people. Have worked in the parks removing
habitat and understory because of
homeless people. Then feral cats
were blamed for lack of protection for quail. One reason cats get dumped is
that they think bringing their cat to ACC means they will be killed. Feral cats
get blamed for every bird death in the park. Sorry about Gloria. People become
careerists then things change.
They don’t care about living things anymore. They have to follow the party
line. Anyone that works in Rec & Park and the GGNRA has to follow the
party line. Rec & Park is not
talking to all the people they should.
Nadine May – Supports
previous speakers about why
they don’t want to divulge locations of their colonies. When
locations are known, cats may be poisoned. Feral cat care givers are the
solution not the problem.
Recently worked with other
feral cat caretakers to trap 11 cats that had been dumped near Stow Lake. Spent
many hours to trap them. If they had not been trapped and neutered, would have
had an explosion of cats from those 11. Would like Rec & Park to
acknowledge that the feral feeders are the solution.
Evan Elias – Feral cats are in the parks because of humans losing or dumping them. There were all
from domestic cats and have become wild. TNR is the best way to handle the
feral cats. It is not their fault they are there. To blame them or try to kill
them is in anjustice. Have been dealing with Rec & Park for two years. Have
found them not to be upfront nor honest in their communications. The Natural Areas Program, NAP,
is removing dense underbrush for natives, removing habitat
for “junk” animals;
opossums, raccoons, skunks, and feral cats. The original park land was
sand dunes with little animal
life. We need to preserve the habitat for animals that are here now.
Jennifer Scarlett – SPCA - Trap and removal whether by relocation or euthanasia will not work. Other cats
will come in to take over that territory. Feral feeders are critical to
stabilize the population that is there. Will work harder to improve
communication with Rec & Park.
Richard Fong – Doesn’t understand the purpose of the proposed letter. Doesn’t know what is expected from Rec & Park.
Public comment closed
Comr. Aldrige – Likes putting words to paper to emphasize
verbal communications with Rec & Park representatives to improve overall communications and that these issues need attention.
Comr. Gerrie – Supports sending the letter. Appreciates public dialogue that the feral cat
feeders are essential to reducing the number of cats in the park. Sensitive to
keeping the location of feeding stations kept to only the SPCA. Also there is a need to have two way
communication so Rec & Park knows who to contact.
Comr. Stephens – If the feral feeders communicate formally with Rec & Park that
information is Sunshineable . Then
people that hate cats can send a
request to know where the feeding
stations are, Rec & Park would have to give them that information. Does the SPCA have a master list of
where the feeding stations are?
Martha Hoffman – No.
Comr. Stephens – Would like the letter to be more specific
so that people in capital projects would talk to various people all along as
the project proceeds. Would ask that they contact ACC and
SPCA at every stage of the project.
They should assume there are animals wherever they will be working.
Comr. Russo – Would like it to say “wildlife and feral cats”
when referring to animals
Kat Brown – Wondering what ACC could do with this
Comr. Stephens – You might know if there
were coyotes in that location.
Comr. Brooks - You would be able to contribute
knowledge that you might have.
Comr. Stephens – Would also like the letter to include
educating staff about the feral cat feeders. Some of the gardeners may not understand
the TNR program. Mary Ann could come in and give a talk. That would also foster
improved contact to know whom to contact.
Officer Denny – Years ago, received a call about someone
sicing his dog on feral cats behind the Beach Chalet. Went out with Sgt. Herndon. Brought the dog’s owner into
Vicious and Dangerous Dog Court. His argument was that the code says it is only unlawful for a dog to bite a
domestic animal. Feral cats were
not domestic. The court decided that if one feeds it and gives it a name it is
a domestic animal not wildlife. If there is a problem, call me at ACC. Will
come out immediately.
Comr. Hemphill – Will send the letter with the changes
Comr. Brookes – Small edit. Second paragraph says “ Would things have been different
if someone with that knowledge had contributed to the planning?” Rather
say, “Things would have been different.” Say it as a statement rather than a question.
Comr. Hemphill – Intention was to be involved earlier in the
process. Moves to vote on sending the letter as amended.
Seconded by Comr. Aldrige. Passed unanimously.
Comr. Stephens – Thanks everyone for their work, especially
the feral cat feeders.
7. General Public Comment
Richard Fong – Comment on the water project in GG Park. PUC
will have a hearing on 11/18. Another issue on the agenda at that meeting will by Environmental Sciences Associates, they will be
looking at environmental impact of the Beach Chalet soccer field. They will be considering spending $408,000
just to do the study.
Lisa Vittori – Suggests to broaden involvement of animal
groups in the initial discussions on lots of things in the City such as the
construction planned for the South East part of the City. Would like us to be
thought of right away versus reacting to actions once they have occurred. Other
places with feral cats are on PUC, DPW and Port property. They need to be in on
the discussions as well.
8. & 9. Calendar items and task allotments
Comr. Stephens – Next meeting will in January . No meeting
in December. Will do the quarterly report then.
No Public comment
10. Adjournment 8:10
Respectfully submitted by Philip Gerrie