Lake Merced Task Force – Initial Meeting

February 10, 2000


San Francisco State University

Seven Hills Conference Center, Nob Hill Room


Action Notes



Note:  Due to the largeness of the room, newness of the attendees, and smallness of the name cards, comments are generalized and are not attributed to the contributors.



Attendees:            California Native Plant Society                         Pete Holloran

                        California State Coastal Conservancy                 David Hayes

                        City of Daly City                                              Patrick Sweetland

                        Committee to Save Lake Merced                 Jerry Cadagan

                        Golden Gate Audubon Society                         Dan Murphy

                        Golden Gate Audubon Society                         Craig Spriggs

                        Golden Gate Heights Neighborhood Assoc.  Dick Allen

                        Dolphin Swimming and Boating Club                 Gary Ehrsam

                        Friends of Lake Merced                                     Cat Woodmansee

                        Friends of Recreation and Park                                   Mike Nicoson

                        GGNRA – Fort Funston                        Kevin Turner

                        Greater West Portal Neighborhood Assoc.  Tim Colen

                        Lake Merced Church of Christ                                   Marie Brooks

                        Lake Merced Hills                                          Joan Cooper

                        Lakeshore Acres Improvement Club                 Jerry Zagorites

                        Lakeshore School                                             Sharon Guillestegui

                        Lakeshore School                                             Kathleen Rose

                        Neighborhood Parks Council                         Isabel Wade

                        Office of Assemblyman Kevin Shelley                Suzanne Gautier

                        Office of the Mayor                                         David Hochschild

                        Olympic Club                                                   Bob Maddow

                        Pacific Rod & Gun Club                             Kevin Rushton

                        Public Utilities Commission                              Michael Carlin

                        Recreation Center for the Handicapped            Kristen Ferguson

                        Recreation Center for the Handicapped            Ron Hamilton

                        S.F. Bicycle Coalition                                               Robert Karis

                        S.F. Dept. of Parking Bicycle Program                        Michael Sallaberry

                        S.F. Recreation & Park Dept.                                Deborah Learner

                        S.F. Recreation & Park Dept.                                Thomas Wang

                        S.F. Recreation & Park Dept.                                Lisa Wayne

                        S.F. Recreation & Park Dept.                                Marvin Yee

                        SFSU, Environmental Studies                          Barbara Holzman

                        SFSU Geography Dept.                                        Susan Jones

                        San Francisco Zoo                                       Laura Louttit

                        San Francisco Zoo                                       Eva Sargent

                        Sierra Club                                                     Ruth Gravanis

                        Office of Supervisor Mabel Teng                   Jessica Ring

                        Univ. of Calif. – S.F. Rowing Club                 Bill Post

                        Political Representative                                       Ron Dudum


Meeting Hosts: James Collier, Vice President, University Advancement, SFSU

                        Don Zingale, Dean, College of Health and Human Services, SFSU

                        Ginny Jaquith, Professor, Recreation and Leisure Studies, CHHS, SFSU

                        Dee Dee Workman, Executive Director, San Francisco Beautiful

                        John Plummer, Chairperson, Friends of Lake Merced


Welcoming Remarks:  Collier welcomed attendees to this first meeting of the Lake Merced Task Force, and directed the group's attention to the letter of welcome written by  Robert Corrigan, President of SFSU, quoting the phrase "…We have come together with a common goal:  to preserve and enhance an irreplaceable resource so that it can be, in the words of the Task Force vision statement, 'a natural, aesthetic, recreational and educational resource' for generations of Bay Area residents."


Introductions:  Zingale described the origin of interest by SFSU with Lake Merced.  One year ago President Corrigan called Zingale about an article in the Chronicle on boat rentals.  Zingale was called because of his previous position at a sister campus and experience there in developing an aquatic center.  Pursuant to this call began some research as to the history of the issues. 


In August of 1999, Zingale attended a meeting with Workman and Plummer, where it was discovered that  San Francisco Beautiful ("SFB") and Friends of Lake Merced ("FoLM") had similar interests. Zingale, in representing SFSU, expressed the university's interest in working with the community to develop a long-term stewardship plan for lake.  SFSU has a vested interest in Lake Merced with regard to research, teaching and community service.


Self-introductions were made around the room. 


History of LMTF:  Workman provided an overview of the LMTF.  (Refer to Dee Dee Workman's letter in the LMTF Binder on History of the Lake Merced Task Force.) 


Review of Purpose and Mission of LMTF:  John Plummer spoke of key issues to bear in mind as the LMTF develops its mission program.  All participants should have read and signed the MOU.  Plummer stated that, while there are many representatives at this meeting, only one-half of the constituencies that have vested interests in the lake are represented tonight.  Plummer placed an emphasis on expanding participation in LMTF.  The 2nd item in the MOU that Plummer highlighted, and gave credit to the PUC and Michael Carlin – is the notion of building upon existing plans while working on improving long term plans.  Plummer provided copies of the Lake Merced Comprehensive Management Plan, Revised Draft April, 1998, prepared by the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission and the San Francisco Recreation & Park Department. (This document is part of a much larger management plan, not distributed in this meeting.)  Plummer suggested that, as we think about program development , we need to start with where we are: Habitat, restoration, water level and quality, where do we want to dig in first, what goals do we want to set for ourselves first?  Plummer suggested inviting Rec & Park and PUC to present at a subsequent evening meeting to describe this document and where we are on its implementation.  Plummer stated that we could then decide how the LMTF wants to proceed given the goals selected. 


Plummer directed attendees to check out the website –


Plummer suggested three key considerations the LMTF needs to do to be successful.

1) Creating venues for public involvement (volunteer opportunities, educational opportunities, public involvement in conservation issues), thereby increasing public awareness through meaningful public involvement

2) Raising funds for meaningful technical research.  Technical issues include the issue of lake level, as well as identifying the beneficial interests and the attendant tradeoffs.  These issues were raised by Geo Limited, and still need to be studied, i.e. relationships between aquifer and surface level conditions. 

3) Willingness to take legal action. 


Proposed Structure of Lake Merced Task Force:  Zingale made attendees aware that discussion time will be provided following these short presentations, and that part of this meeting is to go over what we have in mind for the short term, and to then move beyond discussion to the process.  Zingale suggested that SFSU could help to move the process along through allocation of various resources.  Attendees were asked to look at a handout on Proposed Working Groups. 


Zingale explained that the end product, in approximately one year, is that there would be a proposal for an action plan that would go to every regulatory body that would need to provide approval, (which should be somewhat guaranteed because the proposal would have been developed by members of their respective organizations).  Discussion ensued regarding various functions of the working groups.  Zingale asked attendees to consider which of the three groups they would like to be involved and, additionally, questioned who the attendee might know that would be appropriate for other groups.  These proposed groups included the following:


1.      Planning Group – the glue that holds the LMTF together.  This group might be tasked with collating and disseminating materials and preparing a written proposal, member relations (as Plummer said, only half of the constituent organizations are represented here tonight), and public relations (providing current, accurate information).

2.      Action Group – suggestions, commentary, criticisms to those developing comprehensive management plan.  Independent and technical consulting – an internal matrix. has been developed.  Zingale stated that the SFSU campus is devoted to teaching, research, community involvement, and the integration of these three things, and put forth the question, "What can we as a group do at Lake Merced that would combine teaching, research and service?"

3.      Resource Group – Zingale suggested that this group may be particularly important, and will provide avenues for working with all CSU and UC campuses.


In summary, the Action group comprises what we should do, the Planning Group details who will do this, and the Resource Group will determine how payment will be rendered.


Next Steps:  Jaquith tabled Next Steps to follow Discussion.


Discussion: the first question posed, by Isabel Wade, centered on the nature and level of current support for the LMTF, including resources to fund a staff position to support the proposed committees.  SFB and SFSU are already committing time and resources to this. 


It was suggested that committee titles could be broadened.  Suggestions included:

1.      Legal committee – jurisdictional issues are major item. 

2.      Technical committee

3.      Public involvement committee

4.      Political Action subcommittee (need political base to push and make it happen for long term)  

5.      Ecology/natural resources committee

6.      Water level committee

7.      Recreation committee.


Other suggestions for committees included finance, policy, assessment and a resource group.  It was also suggested that it is most helpful to have high level political people to chair these committees.  Columnist Tom Stienstra should be invited to serve on a committee because he has and will write about Lake Merced.


Additional concerns raised regarding the working groups included:


-        Those drafting the stewardship plan must be working with technical people.  What will the mechanism be for essential communication between these groups.  Coordination of the research effort with the drafting plan. 

-        Whoever would be on planning group would be liaison to other groups – each group would have chair and alternate that would also be members of planning group. 

-        SFSU hopes to have personnel on each of these committees, i.e. for the funding group, a representative from the Office of Research and Sponsored Projects.


Wade and Gautier suggested possible models for LMTF infrastructure.


Zingale spoke about resources that SFSU is ready to contribute, including three faculty members who, as part of their workload for the year, are involved in LMTF issues.  Zingale stated that SFSU is prepared to make a two year commitment – and is also willing to use office resources – including support staff, and to provide meeting space.  If a proposal does come out of the LMTF – hopefully by end of year 2000 – that this will win the favor of various commissions – and then the LMTF can prepare to look for a  full time committed position.  It was agreed that there is a need for one person devoted entirely to this project.


It was discussed that the LMTF needs to come to a common understanding of the issues to address before the members carve themselves up into committees.  There is a need for an implementation plan, and a commitment to make things happen.  Attendees need a generalized understanding so as to organize around these issues. 


Agreement was reached as to the need to know fully what the LMTF is dealing with, and that it shouldn't be assumed that everyone in the room is up to speed.  The next meeting would involve presenting information to bring everyone current and put all issues on the table.


It was agreed that all attendees take home the Comprehensive Management Plan and do their homework. The LMTF will then reconvene next month.


Next Steps:  Jaquith suggested that the next meeting:

-        include presentations from representatives with particular involvement, i.e. PUC and Rec & Park

-        address committee structures

-        prepare a timeline


Attendees were encouraged to make an effort to review the Lake Merced website (, which is updated regularly by Plummer. Reading materials from the website would help bring current information to all members to the LMTF. 


It was suggested that, at the next meeting, representatives report on their activities to date, including substantive reviews involving current status and legalities, as well as five-minute overviews from all group representatives.  A tour of the lake was also proposed.


There was discussion as to the structure of the next meeting, and whether enough work could be accomplished during an extended (four hour) evening meeting, or if a full day, such as a Saturday, would be helpful.  Suggestions included task force members submit a paper rather than make five minute presentation.  It was suggested that a tour of Lake Merced be conducted separate from working sessions.


In order to serve on the Task Force, it was decided that it was required to have a signed MOU showing official representation (or official letter of endorsement) prior to attendance at the next meeting.  The signed MOU should be forwarded to Dee Dee Workman at SFB.


Proposed dates were discussed, and consensus was reached that the next meeting would be on Thursday, March 9 from 5:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.  Presenters are to include: Rec & Park (Lisa Wayne and Marvin Yee) and the PUC (Michael Carlin).










Action Notes submitted by Aliza Kohn, Assistant to Dean Zingale, CHHS, SFSU.