COMMISSION MEMBERS: Commissioners Paul Pelosi Jr. (President), Ruth Gravanis (Vice-President), Angelo King, Darian Rodriguez Heyman, Jane MarieFrancis Martin, Matt Tuchow, Johanna Wald
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 convened at 5:07 p.m. Present: Vice-President Gravanis, Commissioners King, Rodriguez Heyman, Martin (5:20 p.m.), Tuchow, and Wald; (Excused: President Pelosi Jr.).
2. Adoption of Minutes of the April 29, 2008 Rescheduled Commission Meeting. (Discussion and Action) Upon Motion by Commissioner Rodriguez Heyman and second by Commissioner Wald, without objection, the Meeting Minutes were approved as written (Explanatory Document: April 29, 2008 Rescheduled Approved) (Absent: Commissioner Martin).
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.
Ms. Ora Thornton, Member of BVHP PAC and Cultural Enrichment for All San Franciscans, reported that she and another non-profit organization, Make It Public, are interested in programming for young consumers ages 13-15 in order to create environmental consumers. Ms. Thornton asked the Commission for a reference to other organizations to contact or for any ideas or resources that might assist in this effort. Commissioner Wald asked Ms. Thornton to provide her contact information to the Commission Secretary to send to the Commissioners so ideas can be forwarded to Ms. Thornton. Commissioner Rodriguez Heyman recommended contacting Mr. Adam Werbach who has just started an ad agency that has launched a blue campaign that is moving beyond green into consumerism.
Mr. Richard Rothman reported that since he has been a voter in San Francisco, he has been receiving election handbooks, one from the state and two from the city for himself and his wife, and discussed the waste of paper and resources involved in sending out more than one handbook per household. Mr. Rothman stated that the Board of Supervisors is always looking for recommendations on how to save money and recommended that only one election handbook be sent per household. Mr. Rothman distributed a letter that he received from the Elections Commission advising that it is legally required to send a voter handbook to each registered voter. Mr. Rothman also reported that he spoke on his proposal during an Elections Commission meeting last week during public comment asking that action be taken to change city and state law in order to save resources. Suggestions made included asking voters at the time of voter registration whether they would like to receive a handbook by mail or it could be sent in an alternative format, such as a CD or be accessed online. Mr. Rothman asked the Commission on the Environment for their lead in passing legislation to change current requirements. Vice-President Gravanis reported that she would bring this matter to the attention of the Department of the Environment’s Zero Waste staff.
4. Update on Ocean Beach Erosion Remediation Projects. (Informational Report and Discussion) (Explanatory Documents: Ocean Beach Presentation and BOS Briefing Beach Restoration Project) SPONSOR: Director Jared Blumenfeld; SPEAKER: Mr. Frank Filice, Project Manager, Department of Public Works (DPW)
Mr. Frank Filice reported that he had served on the Commission on the Environment when it was a Committee in 1992, is familiar with the Commission’s programs, and had worked on the original Sustainability Plan. Mr. Filice stated that he has been involved with Ocean Beach since 1996 in various capacities. As a project manager with DPW, he is involved with projects that are heavily involved with regulatory permit processes, and any activities along the shoreline are permit-process oriented. Mr. Filice reported that the Ocean Beach project has been active for 12 years and is still in process. It was reported that the Commission on the Environment passed a Resolution in 2002 urging the Mayor and the Board of Supervisors to address the challenges of Ocean Beach that include erosion, natural resources, recreation, aesthetic, and recycling issues.
Mr. Filice discussed the historic shoreline, explaining how development in the 1800’s and 1900’s caused its movement seaward, and winter storms had eroded significant portions of the shoreline. It was explained that a 3000-foot stretch of Ocean Beach from Sloat to Fort Funston has been vulnerable to erosion over the last fifteen or so years. Mr. Filice reported on partnership efforts with the Department of Public Work, U.S. Army Corp of Engineers, Golden Gate National Recreation Area (GGNRA) (Division of the National Park Service), California Department of Boating and Waterways, and United States Geological Survey that have studied the processes for the last six years and developed reports, recommendations, and long-term solutions towards the erosion problems. The solutions being reviewed will be consistent with city and state regulations and support and enhance the natural processes. The study area that was evaluated is from the Cliff House all the way to the Fort Funston bluffs. Mr. Filice reported on DPW’s action plan, the timeline of actions, funding mechanisms, City and public agencies that are involved in the process, technical efforts, potential solutions, and the goal of taking an eroded area and turning it into a dunes sequence. See explanatory documents for detailed information.
Vice-President Gravanis asked if impacts to the snowy plover would be addressed. Mr. Filice reported that it is a federal process that would include the National Park Service and Natural Area Program representatives’ involvement, and this issue would be studied. Commissioner Martin inquired about the current effect to wildlife because of the dumpsite that exists underwater and asked if any effects could be mitigated by not contributing to the dumpsite. Mr. Filice reported that the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers is preparing a study at this time, and an Environmental Impact Report (EIR) would be available in the future. It was explained that the U.S. Army Corp and the Environmental Protection Agency are reviewing plume issues with siltation and temporary impacts of relocating, but nothing has presented a problem to date that he is aware of. Commissioner Martin stated that it may be in the City’s favor to stop dumping there if it is a problem to wildlife.
Commissioner Martin asked if there were facilities for bicycle parking at the parking lot at the end of Sloat Boulevard. Mr. Filice reported that it is a car parking lot, but that it would be a good comment to make for the Master Plan to include bicycle parking. Commissioner Martin asked if there is something that can be done to limit the amount of sand that is being trucked around annually. Mr. Filice stated that they are trying to understand the cycle better, but that the sand movement is a natural process, and they don’t want to alter it. It was explained that the bar has shrunk and moved since the 1950’s, so an effort is being made to figure out what the movement means, where the sand is going, and methods of intercepting it or relocating the disposal site to make better benefit to the shoreline as the movement of the bar has had the impact on the erosion. Commissioner Martin asked if the goal is to create a landform that is less susceptible and vulnerable to this erosion long term. Mr. Filice said that was correct.
Commissioner Wald recommended coming up with a more stable long-term solution instead of continuing to just move sand from one place to another every year. Commissioner Tuchow asked if there would be testing of the sands for oil deposits due to the Cosco Busan oil spill before it is transported to our shores. Mr. Filice stated that there would be testing for grain size, sand silt combinations, and a chemistry test.
Mr. Filice reported that he would be working with Mr. Westlund, the Outreach Program Manager and Director Blumenfeld on continuing efforts. There would be another briefing at the Commission once studies are completed and after future development, e.g., the EIR. Mr. Filice stated that he would like the Commission to serve as a stakeholder in order to keep everyone involved.
Item 8 was heard before Items 5-7.
5. Mandatory Recycling and Composting Ordinance. (Explanatory Documents: Mandatory Recycling and Composting Ordinance and Mandatory Recycling and Composting Provisions Outline) (Informational Report and Discussion) SPONSOR: Jared Blumenfeld, Director; STAFF SPEAKER: Robert Haley, Zero Waste Manager.
Mr. Haley reported that the proposed Mandatory Recycling and Composting Ordinance was discussed at the June Policy Committee meeting, and that since then, the Deputy City Attorney had edited the document in terms of organization, but no substantive changes were made. Mr. Haley discussed the key provisions and findings of the ordinance as described in the Mandatory Recycling and Composting Provisions Outline. It was explained that San Francisco has had good programs for a long time, a lot of outreach has been done, that there are good incentives to encourage people to compost and recycle, but after many decades about two-thirds of the material we landfill can be recycled or composted. Mr. Haley reported that it requires increased participation to meet our goals. It was explained that financial incentives and education has not done enough and it is time to do mandatory recycling and composting. Without mandatory, it is believed that San Francisco’s goal of 75% diversion by 2010 cannot be achieved. It was explained that San Francisco is not the first city or state to do mandatory recycling, but that our program is unique because we have composting programs that other places do not have. San Francisco would be building upon what other cities and states have done and going a little further.
Mr. Haley reported that everyone in San Francisco--residents, businesses, visitors, and City departments, would be required to separate their recycling and composting, and it would require managers of apartment buildings, commercial buildings, and multi-use buildings to provide recycling and composting in the building. There are a lot of commercial buildings that do not have recycling or composting—approximately 15% of apartments do not have recycling, and only 15% of apartment buildings have provisions for composting. The ordinance would also require that food vendors and special event managers provide recycling and composting at their events and to their customers. Mr. Haley discussed enforcement provisions, exemptions for multi-tenant apartment and commercial buildings, labeling of containers, the 2011 rate process to address funding sorting technologies, and self-hauler responsibilities. It was reported that the Department would provide outreach, education, and assistance in complying with the law. Mr. Haley stated that meetings are being held with stakeholders, and the Mayor would hopefully be introducing the ordinance soon. It is hoped that the ordinance would be adopted by the current Board of Supervisors and that it would be in place in early 2009.
Mr. Paul Giusti, Sunset Scavenger, stated the Sunset Scavenger has supported legislation that encourages responsible recycling and waste removal, which they want to continue to do so, and look forward to supporting this legislation. Mr. Giusti explained that recycling programs have been in place for decades, and the average person knows how to recycle. However, when you look at the transfer station, two-thirds of what is contained there could have gone in the recycling and composting bin. It was stated that this legislation would be a good step in the direction of providing additional outreach and education surrounding this effort.
Commissioner Rodriguez Heyman stated that he is proud to be part of this effort especially because San Francisco has the highest recycling rate in the country and is still pushing further. Commissioner Rodriguez Heyman inquired how two-thirds of material is going to landfill if San Francisco has a 70% diversion rate as it is his understanding that 30% of what is going into the black bins could be diverted, but not two-thirds. Mr. Haley explained that we are at 70% diversion, but of the 30% that is going to landfill, two-thirds could be diverted. If everybody were to recycle and compost in San Francisco, we would be at 90% diversion. The last 10% would require producer responsibility in changing how products are made.
Commissioner Rodriguez Heyman inquired about enforcement proposals and how residents would be educated on composting and recycling programs. Mr. Haley stated that we want to have the ability to leave a container behind because it is the most effective and cost-effective measure. Seattle is doing a similar program but has a dozen enforcers, which we do not want to have. Additional efforts would be to increase education to say it is law as well, work with apartment and commercial buildings to make sure recycling is put in place, and make sure that restaurants have composting. Mr. Haley explained that in the process of talking to restaurants about the food ware ordinance, education would be provided around mandatory requirements. It was explained that mandatory recycling is an extremely cost effective way to get an increase in diversion; whereas outreach is very expensive, but it has to be done.
Commissioner Rodriguez Heyman inquired about issuance of waivers for people who do not have room for bins, and if there would be legislation mandating that new construction and renovations provide room for bins. Mr. Haley stated that the lack of space is mostly in apartment buildings and would also apply to some commercial and mixed-use dwellings. The Ordinance requires that documentation be submitted from a third-party architect or similar entity that shows that there is no space to provide for bins. For new construction, language has been adopted by the Department of Building Inspection and is also included in the recently passed Green Building Ordinance, that if you are constructing a new building, you can’t just install one trash chute that sends all material to one bin--you would have to put in chutes for three streams, or even better no chutes. If you have one chute, then you would need a diverter system, where you hit a button and it would send the material to the appropriate bin. It was explained that if lots of exemption requests are submitted, it may be required to revisit trying to fit in more space into buildings.
Commissioner Martin asked if the Ordinance had been vetted through landlord associations. Mr. Haley reported that the Apartment Association, Coalition for Better Housing and others were contacted when the concept was first announced, but were unable to meet at the time. A meeting is being proposed for next week with the Apartment Association. In terms of enforcement due to health concerns with leaving trash out for a week, one of the enforcement options would allow for the person with the trash service to arrange for pick-up at another time before the week has passed at their own expense. Mr. Haley reported that material should not be left out for a week, and that other arrangements would be worked out with Sunset Scavenger. State law requires that you have to collect material that rots at least weekly, so it would have to be picked up within that time frame or earlier. Instructions would be left on the bin that states that this is what we have found that is wrong, and when you have corrected it, call us and we will pick it up.
Commissioner Martin asked if there is a provision for off-site separation at events, or if three bins have to be provided. Commissioner Martin addressed public comment received at the Policy Committee about the concern for the number of bins that had to be provided, and the time it takes to separate the material within the event structure. Mr. Haley reported that the Ordinance is primarily written with source separation in mind, but it is understood that there would be a lot of complexity and regulations that may have to be worked on around the more passive-type programs. There are event permit requirements that require that containers be supplied for separation, which is the best method and also provides an educational opportunity. However, pushing for source separation may not be the most effective method in certain venues like large multi-use buildings that may require more passive separation systems and could be dealt with it in the rate basis, where new technologies could be created to separate material for additional fees.
Commissioner Martin asked if the exemption for multi-tenant buildings would apply to three units and more or for a certain number of units. Mr. Haley reported that it would apply to any case where there was more than one tenant in a single building--in the case of a duplex or triplex, it could potentially apply. Commissioner Martin stated that she would support the exemption as it would apply to three or more units.
Commissioner King asked what the diversion rate differences are between recycling versus composting as most people are clear about recycling items such as cans, bottles, plastics, and items with triangle-signs, but not around composting. Mr. Haley reported that the typical household is participating at half the level for composting as they do for recycling--composting is where recycling was 20 years ago. It is a relatively new program, and people are still being educated. The single biggest thing to capture is food scraps, paper, and then construction and demolition material. Paper is in the number one category, but some paper is recyclable and some of it is compostable, so there is a need to educate people on the differences. Mr. Giusti explained that there has been an increase in the number of green carts delivered in the last month to new customers (450) including apartment buildings, and a lot of outreach and education has been provided as a result. Commissioner King asked what the economic benefit is for composting. Mr. Haley stated that in a residential unit, you pay for the size of your trash container, the more your produce the more you pay, and there is no charge for recycling and composting. In commercial units, there is a small base charge, but basically you pay for trash, and recycling and composting are at no additional charge.
Commissioner King inquired about the disposition of green waste. Mr. Haley explained that it is going to three composting facilities in various locations. Additionally, Norcal is doing testing with East Bay MUD so anaerobic digestion can be done to capture methane. That would result in the material being processed closer, savings in energy, and for making better compost as well. Commissioner King asked if green waste is being sold. Mr. Giusti explained that there are more orders than can be processed because of all of the food and yard waste. It was reported that there are pesticides and fertilizers in our compost but that once it is digested and broken down, it is actually an organically-certified product that is sold to over 75 vineyards and organic farmers—it is dirt that is in big demand. Commissioner King stated San Francisco should not be sending this material away, that it could be made into opportunities for the City to recapture our own material, use it, recycle what we already make, and create jobs. Mr. Haley reported that one of the advantages of the digesters is to site them more locally and do things more locally. There was an effort to site the whole operation locally, but there was no place to install it. Commissioner King recommended that consideration be given to this effort. Commissioner King also recommended that the city’s goal should be to not send anything that it produces as trash to somebody else. Whatever the city creates, it should deal with and if it is recyclable, reusable or valuable, it should stay in the city to be dealt with to produce other things.
Commissioner Martin inquired how the material can be certified organic if not all of the inputs are organic and contain pesticides. Mr. Haley reported that organic compost is different than organic food. It means that you put the material through a very strict protocol and that it meets a certain third-party organic standard. Non-organic food could be input into the process, and composting actually breaks down all pesticides with the exception of persistent ones usually found in grass, not food. Work is being done to ban some of those persistent pesticides.
Commissioner Wald commended the program and stated that it is a very huge and necessary step. Commissioner Wald encouraged staff to consider outreach not only on an individual basis, but that would issue a public message that San Francisco is the best in the state and we want to be even better. Let San Francisco residents know that we are doing what we believe they support and are doing it for very important and documentable reasons.
Ms. Nancy Wuerfel stated that she does not agree that everything has been done short of mandatory recycling because of statements made at the Policy Committee meeting that 15% of apartment buildings do not have recycling available, and that only 10% have food composting. Mr. Wuerfel stated that she would like to concentrate in these areas more than on issuing fines of $500, $700, and up to $1000 to single-family residents. Ms. Wuerfel stated that efforts should be made to discuss these requirements with stakeholders such as the Coalition of San Francisco Neighborhoods and other neighborhood groups that want to participate, not just with the Building Owners and Managers Association. Ms. Wuerfel discussed her concerns with having to deal with the possibility of locked bins, that there would not be defense mechanisms in place for other people putting items in bins to sabotage others, and public health concerns of leaving waste bins out, etc. It was recommended that staff consider more realistic alternatives before the Board of Supervisors starts to hear complaints. Ms. Wuerfel also discussed the idea of giving cash back to residents for participating in the programs.
Mr. David Mueller, stated that he works in the field of environmental health and safety in the health care industry and has trained thousands of employees on waste segregation of medical waste and hazardous materials. It was explained that the health care industry has the most complex waste segregation system that there is. There are nine distinct forms of waste streams within health care, and yet the health care industry manages to comply with the medical waste management laws and segregate their waste correctly. However, if this was a voluntary program and not regulated at all, it would be impossible to get staff to be motivated to segregate their waste correctly, and it would be impossible to get organizations to dedicate the resources needed to educate staff in putting the systems in place to do that. Mr. Mueller stated that he is happy to see that this is now being applied to composting and recycling and spoke in strong support of the program.
Items 10 – 11 and 13 and 12 were heard before Items 6 – 7 in that order.
6. Disposal Options for San Francisco. Review of process to give long term disposal options for San Francisco after the current landfill agreement expires. (Explanatory Document: RFQ Landfill Disposal Capacity) (Informational Report and Discussion) SPONSOR: David Assmann, Deputy Director; STAFF SPEAKERS: David Assmann, Deputy Director and Robert Haley, Zero Waste Manager.
Deputy Director Assmann reported that the City has a long-term landfill agreement that is projected to expire some time in 2014, and that it is time to look for alternatives. A process has been embarked on for over a year that included holding a series of public meetings in 2007. It was explained that the California Integrated Waste Management Board requires that provisions be made for capacity up to five years in advance. In order to meet San Francisco’s requirements for landfill, a Request for Qualifications (RFQ) has been issued to request input from landfill owners and vendors. San Francisco wants to integrate everything into our move toward zero waste and has set up overarching considerations that have been vetted through public meetings and have been built into this process that include (1) to minimize and mitigate climate impacts; (2) to incentivize diversion; (3) waste hierarchy, highest and best use, minimize lifecycle net energy use; (4) minimize toxics in the landfill, (5) reduce environmental and other impacts on host communities; (6) labor issues—make sure prevailing wages are paid; (7) adhere to low control and other legal restrictions; and (8) diversify options and contingencies so if one site is selected and there is a problem, there is a place to take our material. The RFQ asks potential bidders to answer how they would adhere to the overarching considerations and to submit a qualifications statement. Detailed information can be referenced in the explanatory document RFQ Landfill Disposal Capacity.
Deputy Director Assmann explained that the Department has issued the RFQ and is asking for responses by the fall at which time there will be a formal bid and negotiation process with the respondents. The next part of the process would be approval by the Board of Supervisors. A report had been submitted to the Board at the end of last year explaining the process and that we intend to have everything in place by 2010. It is hoped that this will be the last landfill agreement that we have to have, and if we achieve our zero-waste goals, we won’t have to do this on an ongoing basis. It was explained that we are asking for a third as much capacity as our existing landfill agreement—the last agreement was for 15 million tons; this time it is 5 million tons, which is a sign of how far we have come in terms of reducing the amount of waste that is going to landfill.
Mr. Haley stated that he has noticed confusion about the belief that the more you send to landfill the less you pay, and it is actually the more you send to landfill the lower your unit price can be. The problematic thing about landfills is the organic material that goes to them, which results in methane gas collection systems, etc. There is a clause in the RFQ that says that if we are not sending any unprocessed organic material to landfill, we would like to get a better price as well.
Commissioner Rodriguez Heyman asked if there is an opportunity for the selected partner to separate the content on site in order to help get closer to the zero-waste goal. Deputy Director Assmann reported that the goal is to send as little as possible to the site to begin with, that we would like all of the processing to happen here as opposed to happening off-site, and then send what can’t be processed. The tiered fee is meant to be an incentive toward the zero-waste goal. Mr. Haley explained that our long-term goal is to only send processed material to the landfill and to make sure that we have recycled and composted as much as possible. Even if it is a stream that hasn’t been source separated, we want to be able to bio-separate to get the organics out and recycle the dry recyclables so that we don’t send unprocessed material. The RFQ is not about processing, it is only about what to do with material that has already been processed as far as it can be. Mr. Haley explained that Norcal is at the cutting edge as far as anaerobic digestion and other separation technologies, and it is expected that in the future, Norcal would be processing more material instead of sending it to landfill. Deputy Director Assmann explained that other options would be reviewed in the next two or three years to get to the residual in order to maximize diversion.
Commissioner Tuchow inquired whether the Department receives revenues from disposal fees. Deputy Director Assmann explained that the Department’s revenue from the solid waste impound account comes from the rate process, which is not directly tied to disposal. It was explained that the Alameda County Waste Management Authority is the agency that gets money for disposal of our waste to landfill as they are the site where our waste is taken. The Department does receive a little bit of money indirectly from a solid waste education account, but it is minimal. There are state programs that are funded by waste; but there isn’t a significant direct link to the Department’s programs. Commissioner Martin asked if the Alameda County Waste Management Authority is aware that they may not be receiving future revenues. Deputy Director Assmann reported that they are aware of the Department’s efforts. Commissioner Martin stated that San Francisco has borrowed from the great expertise of the Alameda Country Waste Management Authority (Stopwaste.org) and recommended offering some other form of support to them.
7. City and County of San Francisco’s New Solar Incentive Program and Development of the Solar Loan Program. (Informational Report and Discussion) (Explanatory Documents: (1) Solar Energy Incentive Program Ordinance; (2) Solar Energy Incentive Program Ordinance 106-08; (3) SF Special Tax Financing Law Draft Ordinance) SPONSOR: Commissioner Rodriguez Heyman; SPEAKER: Ms. Johanna Partin, Renewable Energy Program Manager.
Ms. Partin reported that the Commission supported a Resolution supporting a solar incentive and loan program, and that the ordinance had passed on June 10th. Ms Partin reported that the legislation was a product of the San Francisco Solar Task Force that had identified a number of barriers to the promotion of solar power in San Francisco; e.g., solar-economics, ease of permitting and public awareness. A number of initiatives were implemented that included Solar Map and working with the Department of Building Inspection (DBI) on simplifying the solar permitting process. The hardest was the economics of solar. The Task Force identified a possible source of funding out of the SF PUC budget, called the Mayor’s Energy Conservation Account (MECA), which is a source of funding that comes out of Hetch Hetchy revenues and is put aside to promote energy conservation and renewable energy in the City.
Ms. Partin explained that there were two pieces of legislation that had passed. The first authored by Supervisor Dufty provides an incentive for any San Franciscan resident, business, or non profit that wants to install solar—residential between $3000-$6000 based on various stipulations outlined in the Ordinance; businesses and non-profits organizations are offered an incentive based on the system size, $1500 per kilowatt up to a $10,000 maximum. This incentive program is funded at $3-5 million per year for the next 10 years ($3 million for FY 08-09). There was additional legislation authored by Supervisor Mirkarimi that offers an additional $5000 to any low-income resident and additional incentives up to $30,000 for non-profit organizations. The additional low-income and non-profit incentives are funded at $1.5 million for FY 08-09, as part of a one-year pilot.
Ms. Partin discussed the renewable energy and energy efficiency loan program legislation, which Commissioner Rodriguez Heyman was instrumental in. This is a loan program that San Francisco is developing based on the Berkeley model, which is a low interest loan program offered to any resident or business in the City to install any renewable energy or energy efficiency improvement to the building that would be paid back through assessments to their property taxes on a bi-annual basis. The enabling legislation was introduced yesterday by Supervisor Sandoval, passed, and was sent to the full Board of Supervisors to be heard in the next couple of weeks. The legislation sets up a Mello-Roos district that the entire City would become part of and would allow San Francisco residents to assess a tax on themselves. San Francisco is joining the City of Berkeley in their discussions with finance providers to locate providers of capital for this program, which they hope to have in place at least on a pilot basis by the end of the year or early next year.
Commissioner Rodriguez Heyman stated that the vision is to allow people to get solar panels on their roofs for as little upfront money as possible and then offset any of that through solar or renewable energy programs. Ms. Partin reported that discussions with financial institutions can not be taken to the next level until the legislation is passed. It was explained that work is being done with a number of City departments, the City Attorney, and the Office of Public Finance that will be primarily leading this effort. Once the Ordinance passes, an RFP can be issued to see if there are financial institutions that are willing to work with us, and funding will be sought for a tax consultant. Commissioner Rodriguez Heyman asked if any additional legislation has to be approved in order for the program to move forward. Ms. Partin reported that because the legislation is to set up a special tax assessment, after approval of the Ordinance, it would have to go on the November ballot. Commissioner Rodriguez Heyman asked if it is known how voters would respond. Ms. Partin stated that she has received phone calls weekly from people who want this type of loan program and would expect that it would pass because it is not a tax that would be levied on everyone and would only apply to those that would want to take advantage of the program.
Commissioner Tuchow inquired about the cost effectiveness of solar installations. Ms. Partin reported that now is the best time to install solar in San Francisco and explained local, state, and federal incentive programs and tax credits that currently exist. Commissioner Tuchow asked if there was a single point of contact to inquire about incentives for residents. Ms. Partin reported that the Department provides information to anyone that wants to install solar and detailed questions about whether someone would qualify for incentives should be directed to the SFPUC incentive program Administrator.
Commissioner Martin asked if there is a retroactive date for people who are motivated to do improvements before the legislation passes. Ms. Partin stated that the City incentive program is retroactive to December 11, 2007, which is the date the Mayor announced the program. On the solar loan program, those details have not been discussed but there is an interest in providing this benefit. Commissioner Martin asked if the demand for the incentive program could be larger than is currently funded. Ms. Partin reported that they expect that the demand would be larger in the ten-year program. The low income and non-profit organizations special incentive program is unknown and a lot of outreach is being done to those communities to try to make a case for an ongoing program. Commissioner Martin asked how someone would know if the money was still available for their installation. Ms. Partin reported that there is going to be a tracker on the website that can be linked from www.sf.solarmap.org or can be accessed from the SFPUC solar incentives website ink www.solarsf.org that would follow a reservation process based on the date you apply and qualify. You would receive a reservation, which is good for nine to twelve months and you have that amount of time to install the system. If you don’t install it at that time your reservation is rescinded and given to someone else.
Commissioner Rodriguez Heyman reported that Craigs List Foundation will be holding a non-profit boot camp and would be happy to collaborate about doing outreach to local non-profits.
Public Comment: Ms. Taylor Nairn reported on two websites created by two friends www.solarpowerrocks.com (state by state and federal incentives) and www.sfsolarsubsidy.com (specific to San Francisco) as a reaction to clients having difficulty researching what subsidies they qualify for or that are available. It also increased public awareneness of available systems and encouraged people to install renewable energy systems. Ms. Nairn stated that she thinks that all San Francisco solar programs have been progressive and green but that there should be more outreach in terms of accessibility to information. Ms. Nairn asked if there is any discussion of streamlining the effort to make the information more publicly available. Deputy Director Assmann asked Ms. Partin if there are ideas about publicizing these programs in an accessible format. Ms. Partin stated because the legislative process was so lengthy around the solar incentive program, there had been a lot of confusion surrounding the program, and it took awhile to get something official on City websites. However, now that everything is in place and is legislated, www.sf.solarmap.org, the Department’s website, as well as www.solarsf.org have been launched and contain a lot of information. In addition, public workshops in various neighborhoods have been held and are scheduled, outreach material that is used on a regular basis includes information about the program, and there are a number of websites that mention the program. Ms. Partin stated that she is open to additional suggestions in order to increase public awareness.
8. The New Eco Center at the Department of the Environment. (Explanatory Documents: (1) New Eco Center Drawings (2) New Eco Center Drawing 2; (3) Layouts; (4) Eco Center Renovation Goals and Vision (5) Eco Center Presentation (Informational Presentation and Discussion) SPONSOR: Jared Blumenfed, Director; STAFF SPEAKER: Shawn Rosenmoss, Senior Environmental Specialist, Grants and Fundraising.
Deputy Director Assmann reported that the new Eco Center would provide more accessibility and benefits to the community. It was stated that Ms. Rosenmoss has done an excellent job of coordinating this project. Ms. Rosenmoss reported that the Department was originally planning to move to 25 Van Ness, but the Board of Supervisors had decided that it would not be the most appropriate move for the Department. One of the funders for the Department’s vision for the renovation of the Eco Center at 25 Van Ness decided to fund the vision at the Department’s current location in a scaled-down version. It was reported that a grant for $50,000 had been received to start the process.
Ms. Rosenmoss reported that a working group was formed consisting of people from the Outreach team, Green Building, Administration, the Community, and Vice-President Gravanis had been helpful with that working group. Questions that had been considered in determining the redesign included what makes the Eco Center unique, what stories should the Eco Center tell, why does the Eco Center exist, who does it serve, etc. Ms. Rosenmoss stated that the current Eco Center had served its purpose, but a redesign is necessary to address changes in immediate and long-term programming needs as well as provide for carrying more information, having a street presence, wanting to be a one-stop environmental stop, to capture the spirit of the staff, serve the community, incorporate technology to make the space more dynamic, and other efforts. It was explained that the Department is receiving design support from Muniz and McNeil Design, the premier green museum and exhibit designers in the country, who have done the environmental action center for the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) in Santa Monica. The design team consulted the working group and senior staff in order to determine the goals and visions for this new space.
Ms. Rosenmoss presented floor plan drawings showing an addition of a glassed-in conference center with an environmental wall messaging/mapping center, deletion of one of the offices, and a raised reception area. Staff surveys showed that they felt that visitors should be able to walk away from the Eco Center thinking what fabulous work the entire City is doing on its environmental programs. Ms. Rosenmoss discussed additional programmatic efforts that are planned that would be geared toward influencing people to take mass transit, reducing carbon footprint, adding displays, installing banners, rotating exhibits, becoming more of a community space, and providing additional explanatory documents to the public. Ms. Rosenmoss reported that current efforts on the physical facilities design process is on finalizing the build-out specs and applying to the Department of Building Inspection for permits to install banners. It was explained that approval of banner permits would be a long permitting process because we are in a historic district.
Commissioner King stated that he is a proponent of making brochures and DVD’s available for the public in order to provide network marketing. Commissioner King recommended (1) that the Department could either sell canvas bags with the Department’s logo or give them away for free as a catalyst to the bag initiative and as an advertising tool; (2) include alternative energy toys as a way to foster interest; and (3) provide for staffing dedicated to working with the public as they come in. Deputy Director Assmann reported that one of the reasons for redesigning the Eco Center is to get more traffic in. It was explained that interactive technology that can be incorporated into the center that would provide for accessibility to our website and to more information would be available. Deputy Director Assmann stated that part of the planning process also includes printing brochures on demand as opposed to carrying too many on hand.
Ms. Nancy Wuerfel stated that she believes the conference room should be larger in order to accommodate space for public meetings such as the Operations Committee. It was stated that an eight-person meeting room would not serve the public or meeting requirements adequately. Ms. Wuerfel asked about the allocated budget figure for the project and what would happen to the pedal generator in the Eco Center. Ms. Rosenmoss stated that the Eco Center itself would serve as the public meeting room and the conference room would be used for people who need a small meeting room. It was reported that there are mixed reviews on the pedal generator and the disposition of it is not yet known. Deputy Director Assmann reported that the Department is waiting for a proposal from the designer before a budget is created, and it would become public at that time. Commissioner Rodriguez Heyman reported that the Operations Committee has held meetings in the Eco Center with 30-40 people in attendance at one time, and there was not a capacity problem in terms of space for everyone.
Ms. Ora Thornton stated that she is in support of redecorating the Eco Center, but recommended that better customer service and more staff time be provided to welcome people into the Eco Center.
8. Slow Food Nation and Related City Programs. (Informational Presentation and Discussion) (Explanatory Document: Slow Food Nation Presentation) SPONSOR: Jared Blumenfeld, Director; SPEAKERS: David Pascal, Clean Technology & Green Business Advocate and Representative from Slow Food Nation.
Mr. Pascal presented an overview describing Slow Food Nation, discussed benefits that the event would bring to San Francisco, the event activities, key outcomes, and City initiatives that tie into the event. The date is set for Labor Day weekend August 29 – September 1 and will be held at locations that include Fort Mason, Great Meadow, Civic Center, and other venues. It will be a celebration of food in the sense of good, clean and fair food; food that is delicious and healthy, clean from a perspective that it is non-toxic, organic, and does not do damage to the environment from which it is produced and is made in a fair way. Fair addresses issues not only of social justice with respect to the people who are involved in the production of food, but also touches on food access issues in the community once it is introduced to the urban environment. It is also an opportunity to learn about food and food-related issues, an opportunity to build community, and an opportunity to take action and show people ways to engage in food and food-related issues.
Mr. Pascal stated that the event is important to San Francisco because it has far reaching environmental impacts and implications that include public health impacts associated with how our food system operates as well as social issues having to do with working conditions and food access. Benefits include raising media awareness of food issues, giving the City a platform for its food agenda, and indirectly supporting a number of City policies and priorities, e.g., Victory Garden installed at the Civic Center, the Food Policy and Procurement Ordinance, and more as described in the explanatory document above. Mr. Pascal also discussed key outcomes that the event is looking to achieve within its framework of to celebrate, to learn, and to act.
Mr. Pascal announced that work is being done to convene a municipally-focused half-day session tentatively scheduled for a week or two following the event to talk about the City’s model food ordinance and hopefully to have other municipalities follow San Francisco’s lead with respect to policy positions around food. In addition, there is a Slow Garden partnership with Slow Food Nation that is being worked on with the Recreation and Park Department and the School District. Both those agencies have been supportive of the Slow Food event and Slow Food Nation has agreed to provide in-kind technical support to these city agencies to the extent that Recreation and Park is trying to do a permanent community garden project, and SFUSD is looking to expand the number of its edible garden-type projects, one of which will also include a high school culinary program. There is another program planned through the Mayor’s Office called Urban Rural Roundtable that is an effort by the City to bring together urban stakeholders in the food system and stakeholders from our regional food shed to explore how working cooperatively we can address issues around land use, environmental impacts--especially of large agricultural operations, and to look at also protecting cultural and biodiversity issues as well as addressing urban challenges of food access. The round table will probably consist of approximately 30 participants and will begin in the October-November timeframe.
Commissioner Tuchow asked if this is the same movement that Ms. Alice Waters had been involved in looking at the total waste and inefficiency of shipping food thousands of miles, the carbon deficit, etc. Mr. Pascal described the origin, history, and mission of Slow Food Nation and explained that Ms. Alice Waters is the co-founder and has been an active supporter and participant of this particular effort. Commissioner Martin inquired about specific opportunities for Commissioners to be involved and be part of the conversation outside of a Commission meeting so as a member of the Policy Committee, she could bring back topics for the Committee to consider and process. Commissioner Martin stated that in light of the Charter Amendment to consider land use policies that it would open up another side of the conversation of how food production is addressed locally. Mr. Pascal stated that there are a range of opportunities to connect directly with the Slow Food organization, and that he would be convening weekly meetings on Wednesday mornings at 10:00 a.m. for quick check-ins with various City agencies to coordinate programs that might benefit from the Slow Food event. Deputy Director Assmann reported that the Charter amendment was voted down 6-5 at the Board of Supervisors meeting today. Chair Wald recommended that the Urban Rural Roundtable meetings be held in a public forum. Mr. Pascal stated the intent is to have working groups and that once recommendations are brought forward, they would be made public.
(See explanatory document for detailed information on the Slow Food event and presentation Slow Food Nation Presentation)
Public Comment: Ms. Taylor Nairn stated that she has been following Slow Food since it started gaining momentum in the United States. Ms. Nairn reported on her summer jobs in the Central Valley at fruit stands and farmers markets, and stated that it wasn’t until she moved to the City that she became aware of the disconnect between people, their food, and its source. Ms. Nairn stated that she would like the City’s support in terms of public accessibility to education around food and accessibility to fresh and real food. Ms. Nairn spoke in support of the Slow Food event and the benefit it would have to the City.
10. Resolution Supporting the Evaluation of Congestion Pricing through the Mobility, Access, and Pricing Study to Develop Environmentally Beneficial Congestion Management Programs. (Explanatory Document: Draft Resolution File 2008-13-COE Congestion Pricing)) (Discussion and Action) SPONSOR: Commissioner Ruth Gravanis.
Ms. Zabe Bent. San Francisco County Transportation Authority (SFCTA), presented an update on SFCTA's activities that include a focus on equity, community, and business outreach for the study. Ms. Bent discussed concerns and questions that had been heard from the public, e.g., whether the program would be fair to lower-income drivers and what the economic impacts and benefits would be. It was reported that a technical analysis had been conducted and is continuing. Public outreach is scheduled in the next couple of weeks--the first outreach meeting is tomorrow evening at City Hall, where a technical analysis will be released along with feedback received so far, and the public will be asked for potential feedback on exemption policies as well as what potential improvements they would like to see as part of a congestion management pricing program. Flyers were distributed noticing when the public meetings would be held (Explanatory Document: Schedule of Meetings). Ms. Bent announced that this would be the first time that outreach is being done on a regional basis.
Commissioner Tuchow inquired about how the program would work, e.g., who would be charged for what, are we in the preliminary stages, and just looking at options at this stage? Ms. Bent reported that options are being reviewed, but are two-thirds of the way through review. One of the issues that feedback is being requested on is the actual shape and size of the program, which would help shape what the potential price points might be. Two distinct ways of imagining congestion pricing are being studied (1) is to focus on an area in the City that is the most congested area to try to determine methods of improving mobility and studying other environmental impacts and benefits as well; and (2) to focus on particular gateways and routes within the City that may be included in the program, how those would change the benefits and impacts, and try to understand people’s concerns. Ms. Bent explained that people would be charged for driving during peak periods when there is congestion. One scenario focuses on Downtown, Civic Center, and South of Market, and the other focuses on gateways or on main routes within the city.
Vice-President Gravanis explained that the Resolution that the Commission is voting on encourages the study to move forward, but is not pre-approving a result that has not been seen. Vice-President Gravanis commended the effort to hold public workshops and include people outside of San Francisco.
Upon Motion by Commissioner King and second by Commissioner Rodriguez Heyman, Resolution File No. 2008-13-COE supporting the evaluation of congestion pricing through the Mobility, Access, and Pricing Study to develop environmentally beneficial congestion management programs was approved without objection.
11. Resolution Supporting San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC) Adopting and Implementing Policies to Reduce Water Consumption by 10 Percent by 2015 Per Urban Environmental Accord 19 and 20 Percent by 2020. (Explanatory Document: Draft Resolution File 2008-14-COE Water Conservation) (Discussion and Action) SPONSOR and SPEAKER: Commissioner Martin.
Commissioner Martin reported that the Policy Committee had heard this item at a prior meeting and approved support of the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission’s efforts to further increase conservation efforts around water.
Upon Motion by Commissioner Wald and second by Commissioner Rodriguez Heyman, Resolution File No. 2008-14-COE supporting San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC) adopting and implementing policies to reduce water consumption by 10 percent by 2015 per Urban Environmental Accord 19, and 20 percent by 2020 was approved without objection.
12. Planning for the Commission on the Environment Annual Retreat. (Discussion)
Commissioner Secretary Monica Fish reported that the last Commission retreat was held in October of 2007, and that it is time to discuss recommendations for topics, dates, and venue for the next retreat. Vice-President Gravanis, Commissioner Rodriguez Heyman and Commissioner Martin stated that the Port Conference room was a good location. Commissioner Rodriguez Heyman stated that the venue was fine last year, that the topics discussed at the retreat held a great deal of interest for the Commission, and recommended further discussion on the mandatory recycling and composting proposal. Commissioner Martin stated that her main consideration would be that the location be readily accessible by public transit. Commissioner King asked for a discussion on current work efforts and how it translates into potential employment for our city, e.g., how to turn environmentally friendly practices and the services that go into those practices into things that benefit the citizens of San Francisco in terms of paying their bills. Vice-President Gravanis reported that the Policy Committee at their July 21 meeting had an initial discussion about job creation ideas, and that it would be a good idea to pursue this discussion further. Vice-President Gravanis asked Commissioners to provide additional recommendations and potential dates to the Commission Secretary by email.
Chair’s Report: Highlights of the Wednesday, July 16, 2008 meeting and review of the agenda for the upcoming meeting on October 15, 2008, at 5:00 p.m., 11 Grove Street.
Operations Committee Chair Rodriguez Heyman reported that the Operations Committee met on July 16th to discuss three primary items:
(1) New Eco-Center. The presentation as presented today was heard at the Operations Committee meeting, and the target date for completion is December 1;
(2) Grant-making process. Staff would be providing a formal recommendation on how the Commission can be more engaged, educated, and have the opportunity to get more involved. A couple of key points discussed were that Commissioners would be invited to join in the review panel, but that there would be a limit on the number of members that can participate. If Commissioners are interested in reviewing the proposals, those can be made available to them, and that all grantees considered would be encouraged if not mandated to attend the actual meeting where the votes would happen so questions can be answered;
(3) Budget status for the Department of the Environment. The budget has been approved by the Budget Committee and is now before the Board of Supervisors. The Board of Supervisors will hold and hearing and take a final vote on the budget next Tuesday. The Budget Committee did require $200,000 in cuts, but it is expected that there would not be additional cuts made. It does put us at 15% lower than our previous fiscal year budget; however, there are generally mid-year grants that make up that delta. The discrepancy in budget figures that were noted at the last Operations Committee meeting was discovered and was due to a grant that was previously approved being listed in one budget but not the other, which has since been reconciled.
14. Policy Committee Report. (Information and Discussion)
Chairs Report: Highlights of the Monday, May 12, June 9, and July 21, 2008 meetings and review of the agenda for the upcoming meeting on August 18, 2008 to be held at City Hall, Room 421.
Policy Committee Chair Wald reported on meeting discussions as follows:
On May 12, the Policy Committee discussed (1) the two Resolutions that were approved at today’s Commission meeting on congestion pricing and water conservation; and (2) Urban Environmental Accord Action 16 dealing with the selection of a toxic product that the City would seek to ban.
On June 9, reports were presented on (1) the success of the Construction and Demolition Debris Recovery Ordinance; and (2) an initial proposal for the Mandatory Recycling Ordinance.
On July 21, presentations were given on (1) the digital platform that the City is going to use to track progress to comply with the Urban Environmental Accords, and it is hoped that other participating cities will use the program to track their progress; (2) a proposed program “Lights Out San Francisco” which is designed to defend the loss of birds due to nighttime building lighting and also to save energy as part of the climate action program; and (3) a Wildlife Management Plan draft policy framework by Vice-President Gravanis, who has voluntarily worked on this effort, so that the Department’s grant writers could develop a proposal to circulate to potential funders to develop a plan. Commissioner Wald reported on Ms. Wuerfel’s public comment made at the July meeting requesting that a transparent and objective rating system be set up for the digital platform to track progress on the Urban Environmental Accords so that the Department is not grading itself on its progress.
The August 18th meeting will be to discuss the Hunters Point Shipyard/Candlestick Point Sustainability Plan.
Public Comment: Ms. Nancy Wuerfel discussed her concerns on the Wildlife Management Plan stating that minutes from the September 25, 2007 Commission meeting reflect that the Commission requested a scope, a plan for agency and public involvement, and a clearly stated purpose for the Plan. The plan that was presented at the July 21 Policy Committee meeting included a broad plan and a list of things to do and covered an enormous amount of work that had to be done, but there was no goal proposed. Ms. Wuerfel recommended that a goal be selected before work is started to accomplish the goal.
Ms. Wuerfel asked if the Plan would be a management plan for the City to follow, a policy document as a series of recommendations to stakeholders and relevant agencies, or a centralized information database to educate people. It was stated that at the first Policy Committee meeting on this topic, Vice-President Gravanis reported that she would draft background material for a grant to hire experts that would rely on scientific studies to base their recommendations upon. Ms. Wuerfel stated that it was important to determine who would be doing the work before a grant is written so that the funder understands the quality of the document to be achieved. It was stated that it would be important for the Commission to be informed of the extent of scientific studies necessary to develop the study. Ms. Wuerfel also commented on Mr. Carl Friedman’s (Director, Animal Care and Control) request to not include the topic of feral cats and domestic dogs in the Plan. Ms. Wuerfel stated that she was surprised that Commissioner Martin recommended that the issues of feral cats and domesticated dogs should be in the Plan, thereby ignoring Mr. Friedman’s request. Ms. Wuerfel suggested that Mr. Friedman’s concerns be respected and encouraged Vice-President Gravanis to fulfill her pledge and to request input from all involved agencies from the beginning before a grant is written, so that the scope of work reflects what is agreed to by all those involved.
Vice-President Gravanis stated she can’t do work that consultants are paid several hundreds of dollars to do and does not have the expertise to draft the scope of work at this time. Vice-President Gravanis indicated that she agrees with establishing a purpose and goals, but a typical way of doing an ecological wildlife plan is to determine a desired future condition or goal through a stakeholder process. It was stated what should be done first is to get the funding for a really good consultant team. Vice-President Gravanis stated that she is trying to do enough fleshing out to help the Grant Writer write a grant, not to do the work that consultants would be hired to do. Defining stakeholders, the process, and transparency are some of the things that would need to go in the grant. A management plan typically includes policies as well as management actions, includes identifying required research and starts with baseline surveys to gather data, doing monitoring, and adaptive management as you go along. All of these things will be part of the package plan that a consultant would be doing.
Vice-President Gravanis reported that all she can do in terms of the feral cat and domesticated dog issue is to tell Mr. Friedman what she would do, but that she is not authorized to speak on behalf of other Commissioners and the public or to determine the outcome of this process. Commissioner Martin stated that it is important that we have a comprehensive nonbiased holistic plan that takes into consideration all of the aspects of San Francisco and excluding topics on the request of one group or another would be a disservice to the overall plan.
15. Commission Secretary’s Report. (Information and Discussion) (Explanatory Document: Commission Secretary Report))
Monica Fish, Commission Secretary
· Communications and Correspondence
Ms. Fish reported on (1) communication received by Mr. Crossman stating his concerns about the ineffectiveness of one-minute public comment allocations and a response received by the City Attorney’s Office on this topic, and (2) City legislation. Detailed information can be found in the Commission Secretary Report..
Commissioner Martin asked that future reports not include the black bar at the bottom of the page in order to save on toner. Ms. Fish reported that the Department letterhead template would have to be revised to accommodate this request. Deputy Director Assmann stated that the computer template could be revised to change the color of the text.
16. Director’s Report. (Information and Discussion) (Explanatory Document: Director’s Report)
Deputy Director David Assmann from the Department of the Environment will give updates on Department of the Environment administrative and programmatic operations relating to Budget Planning, Strategic Planning, Clean Air, Climate Division, Outreach and Education Division, Environmental Justice Division, Zero Waste, Toxics Reduction Program, and the Urban Forestry Division.
Deputy Director Assmann reported that report details can be accessed in the Director’s Report explanatory document above. Commissioner Martin asked if there is a timeframe available on the Planning Department’s Urban Forest Plan listening sessions for stakeholders, and if there is a list of stakeholders. Deputy Director Assmann and Vice-President Gravanis reported that there is still opportunity for stakeholder input and that Mr. Andres Power from the Planning Department is the project manager that could be consulted for further information. Commissioner Martin reported that she would contact Mr. Power.
17. Announcements. (Information and Discussion) There were no announcements made at this time.
18. President’s Announcements. (Information and Discussion) There were no announcements made at this time.
19. New Business/Future Agenda Items. (Information and Discussion). There was no new business/future agenda items discussed at this time.
20. 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.
21. Adjournment. The Commission on the Environment meeting adjourned at 8:04 p.m.
** 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.
Respectfully submitted by,
Monica Fish, Commission Secretary
TEL: (415) 355-3709
FAX: (415) 554-6393
*Approved: October 30, 2008