03.27 Approved Minutes


COMMISSION ON THE ENVIRONMENT

 REGULAR MEETING

 
APPROVED MINUTES
Tuesday, March 27, 2007, 5:00 P.M.

 

City Hall, Room 416

One Dr. Carlton B. Goodlett Place

San Francisco, CA 94102

 

 

COMMISSION MEMBERS:  Commissioners Paul Pelosi Jr. (President); Johanna Wald (Vice President), Ruth Gravanis, Angelo King, and Alan Mok

 

Commission Secretary:  Monica Fish

 

ORDER OF BUSINESS

 

Public comment will be taken before the Commission takes action on any item.

 

1.      CALL TO ORDER AND ROLL CALL.  The Commission on the Environment Meeting was called to order at 5:12 p.m.  Present:  President Paul Pelosi Jr., Commissioners Gravanis, King and Mok.  Excused:  Vice-President Johanna Wald.

 

2.      ACTION:  Adoption of Minutes of the January 23, 2007 Regular Commission Meeting.  (Explanatory Document:  Approved Minutes of the January 23, 2007 Regular Commission Meeting)

 

Public Comment:  Ms. Nancy Wuerfel asked that a correction be made to the meeting minutes to Pages 8-9, Item 8, Intergovernmental Office Use Policy on her public comment section so that it reads as follows:

 

Public Comment:  Ms. Nancy Wuerfel stated that she does not feel that the Department has a volunteer policy, and that the proposed Policy addresses only the U.N. issue.  It was stated that the Department could still be accused of providing a gift of space to the U.N.  Ms. Wuerfel discussed an Operations Committee discussion about additional space needed on the third floor because of Departmental overcrowding issues and indicated that she has had a hard time reconciling buying more space, part of what is paid for by the Impound Account, but yet giving space to other people.  Ms. Wuerfel recommended that volunteers be allowed to use office space but not for an extended period of time.

 

Upon Motion by Commissioner Gravanis and second by Commissioner King, the January 23, 2007 Meeting Minutes were approved with corrections as recommended by Ms. Wuerfel without objection (Absent: Vice-Chair Wald).

 

3.      PUBLIC COMMENTS:  Members of the public may address the Commission on matters that are within the Commission’s jurisdiction and are not on today’s agenda.

 

Mr. Eddie Bartley presented a critical comparison of long term costs on the controversial Trans Bay Cable project compared to the solar alternatives that are favored by City voters (Explanatory Document:  “The Trans Bay Cable Project: The case for how San Francisco becomes powered by the sun.”   Mr. Bartley asked the Commission to consider a full presentation for a future meeting.  Comments made:

 

There are many environmental concerns with trenching a 57 mile copper cable into the Bay floor, but the justification with not proceeding with this project is as much about economic justice as it is environmental justice.  The 30 year estimates for this project from Babcock and Brown, who are the Australian financiers of the proposed project, are $1.6 billion for a 400 megawatt feed and $2.1 billion for a 600 megawatt feed which would be paid for by the rate payers.  Last Sunday, there was an article in the Chronicle featuring a green real estate developer who is creating a sustainable village in Rohnert Park on 175 acres.  They are spending $7.5 million to create a private solar plant that will generate 1.14 megawatts enough to power a thousand homes.  Using that same math, $2.1 billion would purchase enough solar to power 280,000 homes of the 355,000 housing units in San Francisco. 

 

Mr. Miguel Bustos, Mayor’s Liaison to the Commissions, expressed the Mayor’s support for the proposed fluorescent lighting requirement and Urban Environmental Accords agenda items.

 

4.      INFORMATIONAL REPORT:  Announcement of the City of San Francisco’s New Landfill Diversion Rate.

  SPONSOR:  Jared Blumenfeld, Director

STAFF:  Mr. Robert Haley, Recycling Program Manager

 

Mr. Robert Haley reported that AB939 requires Cities and Counties in California to submit an Annual Report to the California Integrated Waste Management Board to document whether the 50% landfill diversion mandate is being met.  Mr. Haley indicated that he had submitted a calendar year 2005 report, and that it now shows that we are at 69% diversion. Last year, we were at 67%, so there has been a 2% increase, which is quite an impressive diversion rate. Mr. Haley stated that he believes it is the highest diversion rate of any major city in the United States and is reflective of our nation-leading programs. 

 

San Francisco’s generation (generation is disposal plus diversion) has increased steadily over the last decade to about 2 million tons per year.  Our landfill diversion has increased even more dramatically, from less than about 400,000 tons to 1.4 million tons over the same period.  Our diversion has more than tripled.  Meanwhile, our landfill disposal peaked in 1998 and has gone down from about 887,000 tons to 664,000 tons in 2005.  We have reduced our land-filling by 200,000 tons and have about 664,000 tons to go.  This show that our diversion policies and programs are having the desired effects and that our goal of 75% diversion by 2010 is within reach, but each percent of diversion gets harder. 

 

Mr. Haley explained that the City government team is an outstanding team that has worked very hard to make our City government a waste reduction model.  A diversion rate of 80% for City government operations was recently estimated. Technically, the 75% goal has been met for City government.  There is a big caveat as a lot of this diversion is industrial in nature.  Its construction and demolition debris at Public Works; its sewage sludge at the PUC; and it is tree trimmings at the Recreation and Park Department.  So there are big City agencies doing their part.  The commercial sector is similar at about 75% diversion but again is mostly due to large scale industrial activities such as construction and demolition.

 

It was explained that the typical City or private office or typical small business is closer to about 50% diversion, and the typical home is lower at about 45% diversion.  So while we can celebrate many things, we also have a lot more to do.  With the decades of leading programs, education, and financial incentives, the next thing for us to do to significantly increase diversion is by legislation.  Mr. Haley reported that we need to make composting and recycling mandatory for all sectors and will be working on that next.

 

Commissioner Gravanis and President Pelosi Jr. congratulated staff for their work over the years and increasing the diversion rate. Commissioner Gravanis stated that she would look forward to working on legislation.

 

5.      INFORMATIONAL PRESENTATION:  Single Occupant Vehicle Reduction using GIS (Explanatory Document:  GIS Presentation: http://web1.sfgov.org/site/uploadedfiles/GISPresentation.ppt)

     SPONSOR:  Jared Blumenfeld, Director

                                    STAFF:  Mr. Faiz Khan and Ms. Lauren Seaby, Clean Air Program

 

Mr. Faiz Khan, Transportation Demand Manager, stated that Ms. Seaby who works with the Clean Air Transportation Program will give an informational presentation on how the Geographic Information Systems (GIS) is used to reduce traffic congestion and improve air quality in San Francisco and how maps are being used to get customized information to City employees and employers.

 

Ms. Lauren Seaby presented on single occupancy vehicle trip reduction strategies using GIS.  It was explained that GIS is a software package that combines database technology with mapping analysis and creates an environment to perform spatial statistics on data.  It functions similarly to an Access database or Excel spreadsheet except all of the information is geospatial or has a location in space, either from a street address or a GPS-coordinate.  Because it is geospatial information, it can be linked very easily to maps and you can perform spatial analysis on that information. Topics discussed included:

 

CCSF Employees and Commuter Benefits.  A map was shown of where commute trips originate, split evenly between employees who are commuting within the City of San Francisco and from outside of the City.  About 15% are currently enrolled in the Commuter Benefits Program. 

 

Commuter Benefits Outreach:  GIS is being used to perform targeted outreach to City employees.  Suggestions for specific commute alternatives are being made by compiling a comprehensive database of all transit options and alternative commute information in all of the nine counties surrounding San Francisco and the Bay Area. The focus is on information that either helps commuters get around from within the City or brings them into the City.  All of this information that is in one database makes it possible to present all of the options to commuters while promoting the Commuter Benefits Program. 

 

CCSF Employees Proximity to Transit:  A map that shows transit in San Francisco and routes bringing people from the northeast and south bay was presented.  It includes bike trails, Caltrain Park and Ride, Caltrain, BART, and all bus routes.  It was reported that 60% of CCSF employees live within a ¼ mile of a transit option (including people living outside of San Francisco).  A ¼ mile is considered a reasonable distance to walk to transit.  Even more employees would have options to drive to Caltrain or BART or another option.  Because 60% live within a ¼ mile of a transit option and 15% are enrolled in Commuter Benefits, it is compelling that the number of people enrolled could be increased, which is why it has been so useful to have all of this information in a GIS framework.

 

Rideshare and Vanpool:  If transit is not an option, the program is able to cluster employees that can easily be rideshare or vanpool partners and could utilize Park and Ride to do so.  With the GIS system, it is possible to find the people and put them in contact with each other.  Ms. Seaby stated that 511 and the VPSI Enterprise who have vanpool programs have been in contact to advise when there are openings in existing vanpools and then employees are queried to see who would benefit from the opening in the vanpool.

 

Bike Mapper:  Internet based GIS driven service that provides essential commute information to cyclists.  Currently, this program provides Point A to Point B bike classes for a cyclist.  It advises what class of bike lane is along your route.  It is programmed to function like a Mapquest for cyclists that gives turn by turn instructions and allows the cyclist to decide whether they want the quickest distance, one that avoids hills, one that has high quality bike lanes, bike shops along the way, and can be linked to real time road information (road closures, etc.).

 

Student Class Pass Program:  This program offers students a discounted MUNI pass.  All students participate and the program is associated with their normal fee schedule at the University.  They get a sticker on their Student ID and get unlimited rides on MUNI.  Because it is part of their rates and tuition, it has to be voted on by students.  The only school participating in this program right now is USF (undergraduate students). The program has not been offered to graduate students in the past. 

 

UCSF Students Within ¼ and ½ Mile of N Line:  Work is currently being done with UCSF, an entirely graduate student population to bring the Student Class Pass Program to their campus.  UCSF provided information on the distribution of their students in relation to transit in the City as well as primary UCSF campuses.  It was determined that about 83% live within the City and about 90% demonstrate some type of financial need.  Ms. Seaby reported that GIS mapping and spatial analysis shows that UCSF students would benefit from the program.  The program was presented to the Graduate Student Association at a meeting a few weeks ago and it is hoped that this will become a referendum that they will vote on in the Fall.

 

Public Comment:  Mr. Cal Broomhead thanked Ms. Seaby for helping with the Energy Program’s solar mapping project and indicated that a presentation would be given at a future meeting.     

 

6.      INFORMATIONAL REPORT AND DISCUSSION:  Proposed Fluorescent Lighting Requirement (Explanatory Document: Fluorescent Lighting Efficiency).

                                                                    SPONSOR:  Jared Blumenfeld, Director

                                                       STAFF:  Mr. Cal Broomhead, Energy Program

 

Mr. Cal Broomhead reported that two years ago when there were long protracted struggles at the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) about local government programs being able to run their own programs, it was proposed that incentive money be removed from retrofitting T12 fluorescent tubes down to the T8, 40% more efficient lamps.  The Energy Program was nervous about the possible loss of incentive money because with return on investments of 30% to 40% for doing lighting retrofits, that is often the way to get in the door into small businesses.  Without that lighting retrofit incentive available, it would have been too expensive to go in and fix refrigeration, heating, and ventilation air conditioning equipment because the return on investments is much lower with those items typically in San Francisco.  Fortunately, there were enough complaints so that the CPUC decided to continue that incentive for another round.  Mr. Broomhead stated that it is important to get as much of that lighting retrofit work done in this current cycle as it is expected that incentives will be taken away in the next round on January 1, 2009.

 

Under the current program, the goal is 43 million kilowatt hours of electricity savings.  It was advised that the ban that is being proposed comes as a result of a meeting with the Building Owners and Managers Association about 2 ½ years ago where it was suggested that legislation be worked on to get building owners that don’t manage their buildings very well to get up to date.  It was advised that the City’s Code Advisory Committee was consulted on their opinion on how to ban the T12 lamps. 

 

Mr. Broomhead distributed a handout “Fluorescent Lighting Efficiency” that discusses potential aspects of the Federal 2005 Energy Policy Act bans on sale of magnetic replacement ballasts for linear fluorescent lamps in 2010 (see “Requirements” section of handout). 

 

President Pelosi Jr. stated that a good job is being done on the legislative part of implementing this program, and that there is also an opportunity through this effort to bring attention to other City programs, such as recycling.

 

Mr. Broomhead stated that about 5000 City businesses have been retrofitted.  It was explained that three attempts for retrofitting have been made to every open door, and a contractor is going out for the fourth time offering a really good deal and if not accepted, then the legislation will come along to help bring the building owner into compliance.  Mr. Broomhead advised that some of the problems that small businesses have is that they don’t know if they will have their lease in a year and may not be around to enjoy the benefits of the return on the investments, or they are not responsible for paying the electric bill.  As a result, it is important to leverage the building owners. 

 

Mr. Broomhead reported that there are about 44 million kWh savings to be generated through this ordinance and that is what the program is set up to achieve. 

 

7.      DISCUSSION and ACTION:  United Nations World Environment Day Accords.  The Commission considered and voted on Draft Resolution File No. R-2007-02-COE to prioritize three key actions for 2007 (Explanatory Documents: Approved Resolution 002-07-COE Urban Environmental Accords Review).

                                                                                   SPONSOR:  Commissioner Johanna Wald

                                                                                 STAFF:  Jared Blumenfed, Director

 

Director Jared Blumenfeld reported that Commissioners Gravanis, King and Wald heard this item at the Policy Committee meeting and prioritized three key actions for 2007.  The Resolution that the Commission is voting on would prioritize Actions that include:

 

Action 5:  Waste Reduction:  Adopt a citywide law that reduces the use of a disposable, toxic, or nonrenewable product category by at least fifty percent in seven years. 

 

The goal that the Policy Committee members stated was particularly bottled water.

 

Action 8:  Urban Design:  Adopt urban planning principles and practices that advance higher density, mixed use, walkable, bikeable and disabled-accessible neighborhoods which coordinate land use and transportation with open space systems for recreation and ecological restoration.

 

Action 15:  Transportation.  Implement a policy to reduce the percentage of commute trips by single occupancy vehicles by ten percent in seven years.

 

Director Blumenfeld reported that the Clean Air Transportation group is working on this action step as the Commission has heard through the presentation on the single occupant vehicle reduction using the GIS system. 

 

Director Blumenfeld advised that the three action steps that the Commission hoped to work with last year on habitat issues and corridors, food and local organic food in the School District, and reuse and recycled water has not been completed, and that work needs to continue on these action steps in addition to the new ones selected.

 

Commissioner Gravanis reported that the three action steps that were chosen for this year are ones that the Commission can add a significant value to, may be working on currently, and that the timing is critical.    

 

For Action 5, it is time to end the practice of the City purchasing bottled water and reducing toxics in baby toys and baby bottles.

 

For Action 8, Urban Design, the Committee heard public comment on how this action was important because it can go along with a comprehensive look at land use planning.  Commissioner Gravanis stated that at a previous meeting, Mr. Michael Cohen discussed the Hunters Point Sustainability Plan.  Commissioner Gravanis stated that it is important for the Commission to make sure that all of the elements in Action 8 are included in comprehensive planning efforts such as the Hunters Point Plan.  It was explained that Action 8 includes open space systems for recreation, street tree planting, as well as planting in our parks and ecological stewardship. 

 

For Action 15, Transportation, relates to global warming and reducing our fossil fuel emissions through transportation policies. 

 

President Pelosi Jr. stated that these action steps are general enough to incorporate more specifics at a future date.

 

Upon Motion by Commissioner King and second by Commissioner Mok, Resolution File No, 2007-02-COE to prioritize three key Urban Environmental Accord actions for 2007 was approved without objection (Absent:  Vice-President Wald).

8.      INFORMATION: Commission Secretary’s Report; Mayor’s Letters Commissioners Parking.  

Communications and Correspondence

Update on Pending City Legislation

 

The Commission Secretary was not present to give a report.  All relevant documents were included in the Commission packet for reference.  Director Blumenfeld indicated that documents were posted on the website (see explanatory links above).

9.      INFORMATION: Operations Committee Report

         Chair’s Report:  Commissioner Mok reported that the next Operations Committee meeting will be on Wednesday, April 18, 2007, at 4:00 p.m., 11 Grove Street, Eco-Center Conference Room.  It was reported that at the last Commission Operations Committee meeting in January, the 2007-08 Fiscal Year Budget was approved and a lot of time was spent on the Intergovernmental Office Use Policy

10.  INFORMATION: Policy Committee Report

         Chairs Report:  Policy Committee Chair Wald was excused from this meeting.  Commissioner Gravanis highlighted the Meetings of Monday, February 12 and Monday, March 12, 2007 and reviewed the agenda for the upcoming meeting on Monday, April 9, 2007, 5:00 p.m. to be held at City Hall, Room 421. 

 

Commissioner Gravanis reported that the Policy Committee has met twice since the last Commission meeting in January.  On February 12, the Strategic Plan was discussed, specifically the Toxics Reduction, Outreach, and the Environmental Education Programs, and there was a discussion on prioritizing the Urban Accords. 

 

At the March meeting, the focus was on transportation—there were four excellent guest speakers, Mr. David Burch, from the Bay Area Air Quality District who discussed their programs and grants that the Department of the Environment is taking advantage of to reduce emissions related to cars.  Mr. Burch pointed out that reducing motor vehicle use was not only going to reduce air pollution, it was also related to water pollution, visual clutter on our streets, and making our streets safer for bikers, pedestrians, and freeing up land that could be put to higher uses.  He pointed out that public policy should be created to encourage people to live without a car, not just to reduce miles traveled in a car. 

 

Mr. Peter Albert, Municipal Transportation Agency (MTA), talked about the bike network that the MTA is currently working on, public health aspects such as the “Shape Up” challenge for kids and teenagers, and presented updates on current MTA projects e.g. the Third Street Light Rail, the Bus Rapid Transit, and the Better Streets Program.  Mr. Albert talked about specific Neighborhood Plans that are currently being worked on.

 

Mr. Andy Thornley, San Francisco Bicycle Coalition talked about bicycle programs.

 

Mr. Doug Kimsey, from the Metropolitan Transportation Commission talked about activities on a regional level, e.g. the ridesharing program and the controversial “hot lane” program. 

 

Commissioner Gravanis advised that future agenda items include more specific ways to implement the accords on the bottled water issue, specific transportation and comprehensive land use planning issues.  It was stated that people who are working on protecting the McCloud River from a bottled water proposal in the northern part of the state would be invited to present at a future Committee meeting.   

11.  INFORMATION: Director’s Report

Jared Blumenfeld, Director, Department of the Environment gave updates on SFE administrative and programmatic operations relating to Budget Planning, Strategic Planning, Climate Division, Outreach and Education Division, Environmental Justice Division, Zero Waste, Toxics Reduction Program, and the Urban Forestry Division.   

 

Director Blumenfeld reported that the Board of Supervisors voted today 10-1 to approve the plastic bag ban.  It was stated that this issue came out of the Commission on the Environment three years ago from a public meeting in Chinatown where the community was asked for their priorities.  Their number one priority was to ban plastic bags.  Director Blumenfeld stated that it has been a three-year fight, but the ban will help to reduce 430,000 gallons of oil, 1.9 million pounds of CO2 and the equivalent of taking 143,000 cars off the street for a day simply by getting rid of plastic bags.

 

Director Blumenfeld advised that the other big environmental issue was on phthalates, (a plasticizer that allows plastics to be malleable) and biphenyl A in children’s toys.  These chemicals are likely to end up in children’s mouths by way of items such as pacifiers and baby bottles.  It was explained that these items are endocrine disrupters that leach from the baby’s toys into the children themselves.  Director Blumenfeld advised that San Francisco redid the Ordinance to make it implementable, and indicated that the Department of Public Health and the Department of the Environment will be taking a lead role to make sure that our children are not exposed to these chemicals.

 

Director Blumenfeld advised that the Business Council on Climate Change was launched.  It was stated that there are many updates contained in the Director’s Report and commended Department staff for implementing in two months what it may take an organization a year to achieve.    

 

Commissioner King recommended that the Commission and Department be proactive and provide outreach on alternatives to the plastic bag before the ban takes place.  Commissioner King stated that we have to lead by example.

 

Commissioner Mok thanked the Director, the Department, and Commission and stated that it required everyone’s input to implement the ban.  Commissioner Mok commended the Outreach Program for their effort.

 

Director Blumenfeld advised that the Department had a bag giveaway today at noon.

 

12.  PRESIDENT’S ANNOUNCEMENTS.  There were no President’s announcements heard at this time.

13.  INFORMATION and DISCUSSION:  New Business/Future Agenda Items.  Commissioner Gravanis stated that she is impressed with Mr. Bartley’s paper on the Transbay Cable Project and would like to learn more about its potential negative aspects and ask whether we really need  the project.  Director Blumenfeld stated that Commissioners Wald and Desser heard this item at a previous Policy Committee meeting, and the issue was do we need it and secondly if we don’t want it, would it still happen.  Director Blumenfeld stated that it could be worth having another Policy Committee meeting to follow up.

14.  PUBLIC COMMENTS:  Members of the public may address the Commission on matters that are within the Commission’s jurisdiction and are not on today’s agenda.  There was no public comment at this time.

15.  ADJOURNMENT.  The Commission on the Environment meeting adjourned at 6:03 p.m.

 

Respectfully submitted by,

 

Monica Fish

Commission Secretary

TEL:  (415) 355-3709

FAX: (415) 554-6393

 

** Copies of explanatory documents are available at (1) the Commission’s office, 11 Grove Street, San Francisco, California between the hours of 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., (2) on the Commission’s website https://sites.google.com/a/sfenvironment.org/commission/environment-commission as attachments to the meeting agenda or minutes, ;(3) upon request to the Commission Secretary, at telephone number 415-355-3709, or via e-mail at Monica.Fish@sfgov.org.

 

Approved:  May 22, 2007

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