Some months ago, Friends and Neighbors of the Mount Sutro Cloud Forest met with Senior Vice Chancellor John Plotts and followed up with a counter-proposal for the management of the forest, focusing on preserving its unique Cloud Forest ecosystem and its almost mystical sense of isolation — while making it safer by addressing the issue most important to neighbors: hazardous trees near peoples’ homes. It also recommended maintaining and grooming the trails to keep them accessible, while leaving the forest otherwise undamaged.
In November, UCSF sent a three-page response, which made three points:
(1) UCSF remained committed to the deeply flawed 2001 study, and would use it as a road map, maintaining the objective of gutting most of the forest and planting native plants (though in fact the present plan goes beyond the 2001 plan in tree and habitat destruction, with 47.5 acres targeted instead of 32 acres);
(2) It was impressed with its efforts at outreach, and would publish a report about the process;
(3) As a sop, a 2-acre plot would be used as a “hands-off” demonstration area for one year (which is of course meaningless since preserving 2 acres does not preserve a forest ecosystem).
The letter below, from Dr Morley Singer, was sent to the university and to others with interest in the matter.
This letter is in rebuttal to the November 8th communication from Senior Vice Chancellor John Plotts and the subsequent Nov 2010 Mt Sutro Open Space Report from UCSF.
These expertly executed communications might impress the casual reader as reasoned and thoughtful. This is a result of a remarkable amount of staff time expended by the UCSF Department of Public Relations.
LET ME ASSURE YOU, there is an overwhelming amount of irrational planning, bending of truth, misleading information and self-serving propaganda in these reports. I urge all readers to interpret further reports from UCSF with a skeptical attitude.
A Shakespeare quote is appropriate — “methinks she doth protest too much”. The multiple community meetings reported were controlled and managed by UCSF to inform and promote the UC agenda. The report stated a ‘majority’ was in support and dismisses multiple verbal, written and personal protests to a “small minority”. This is simply not true.
The November report is too lengthy to respond to in detail here and more than a casual reader wants to digest. However, the time will come for an appropriately detailed critique, very likely in Court.
One small example, however, is mention of the withdrawal of the FEMA grant application. This resulted from FEMA officials challenging the overstated risk of fire. (We are in possession of the FEMA documents.) The overstated fire risks were also countered by the objective assessments of responsible State agencies and the SF Fire Dept. (At one of their community meetings UC had a fireman state that our firefighters would be helpless at a forest fire and would just watch it burn!)
[Note: We address this in our post One More Time: Fire Hazard? (FEMA notes UCSF’s inaccuracy) which quotes excerpts from the FEMA letter.]
The interested reader would wonder WHY is UCSF so adamant here? When 200 countries convene to discuss the environment and advocate preservation of forests, When our Green city requires a permit for a homeowner to cut down ONE tree, When UC is raising student fees, pleading with the State for additional funding, seeking funds for a new hospital, Why would UCSF undertake with such determination a destructive and expensive project like this?
Unfortunately, a number of UCSF staff, unrelated to the primary functions of the Institution, have been misled, persuaded, seduced, infiltrated by the native plant ideologues who refer to Eucalyptus trees as “foreign weeds”. Their interests do not serve the interests of UC. Senator Leland Yee and Harvard Professor Stephen Jay Gould have commented on the irrationality of this ideology and the underlying (hopefully subliminal) connection to racist attitudes. In addition, a difference of opinion is one thing, but using the promotion methods of drug companies and soap sellers by a prestigious institution of science is most disappointing.
The November report ignores an alternative simple and inexpensive plan submitted by concerned neighbors and supported by certified arborists.
I am embarrassed for this fine institution, where I trained and taught, to be engaged in such projects. Its perhaps a ‘low blow’ but the [failed] UCSF-Stanford merger comes to mind. An attempt by good people which flushed millions of dollars down the drain. Our civilized hopeful search for a responsible rational individual with authority to stop this senseless project has not been successful to date.
We will, however, persist.
We request the Regents appoint an independent auditor to discover how much money UCSF has expended on this project since the year 2000. This should include internal staff time and expenses as well as outside Consultants. We respectfully request this subject be put on the agenda of the next appropriate Regents meeting.
This project has great potential for adverse publicity for the University. We request the Regents to put a moratorium on this project pending further investigation.
Morley M. Singer, M.D.