01.27 Approved Minutes

CITY AND COUNTY OF SAN FRANCISCO

COMMISSION ON THE ENVIRONMENT

 

REGULAR MEETING

APPROVED MINUTES

TUESDAY, JANUARY 27, 2009, 5:00 P.M.

City Hall, Room 416, San Francisco, CA  94102


 

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 was called to order at 5:08 p.m.  Present:  President Paul Pelosi Jr., Vice-President Gravanis, Commissioners King, Martin, Tuchow (5:10 p.m.) and Wald.  Excused:  Commissioner Rodriguez Heyman

 

2.      Adoption of Minutes of the October 30, 2008 Commission Rescheduled Meeting and November 7, 2008 Commission Special Retreat Meeting. (Discussion and Action)  Upon Motion by Vice-President Gravanis and second by Commissioner Wald, the October 30, 2008 Commission Meeting Minutes were approved without objection (AYES: President Pelosi Jr., Vice-President Gravanis, Commissioners King, Martin, and Wald; Absent:  Commissioners Rodriguez Heyman and Tuchow).  Upon Motion by Commissioner Martin and second by Vice-President Gravanis, the November 7, 2008 Retreat Meeting Minutes were approved without objection (AYES: President Pelosi Jr., Vice-President Gravanis, Commissioners King, Martin, Tuchow and Wald; Absent:  Commissioner Rodriguez Heyman) (Explanatory Documents: October 30, 2008 Approved Minutes and November 7, 2008 Approved Minutes)

 

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.  There was no public comment at this time.

 

4.      Mandatory Recycling Ordinance Update. (Explanatory Document:  Mandatory Recycling Ordinance Draft)  Sponsor: Commission President Paul Pelosi Jr.; Staff Speaker:  Mr. Robert Haley, Recycling Program Manager (Informational Report and Discussion).  Mr. Haley reported that the Mandatory Recycling Ordinance was discussed at a Commission meeting previously and an effort was made to incorporate the Commissioner’s and other comments.  It was reported that Mayor Newsom introduced the Ordinance to the Board of Supervisors in November 2008, but because there was not a lot of meetings scheduled with the outgoing Supervisors and a lot of unfinished business, the item was not discussed.  It has since been assigned to the Board of Supervisors Land Use Committee and has not yet been calendared.  Mr. Haley reported that the Department will be meeting with the Board of Supervisors to explain the Ordinance and to request their support as well as to add co-sponsors.  The Mayor’s Office indicates that this issue is a priority for them and would be providing their assistance in scheduling meetings.  It is hoped that the Board of Supervisors will take action soon.

 

Commissioner King inquired how this policy would be implemented in multi-family developments.  Mr. Haley reported that meetings were held with the Apartment Association, the Coalition for Better Housing and another property management association.  It was explained that the Ordinance is focused on getting recycling and composting into large apartment buildings so there is access to the programs.  Fines would not be issued for mixing items together in a multi-family situation because complete control is not available; however, if a place is unwilling to site the containers, fines can be discussed or a waiver can be applied for if there is lack of space.  Commissioner King inquired whether a discussion was held with the Housing Authority.  Mr. Haley reported that discussions are being held with the Housing Authority, and a project is being worked on in Sunnydale with the Housing Authority.

 

5.      Green Holiday Tree Recycling Program.  Sponsor:  Commission President Paul Pelosi Jr.; Staff Speaker:  Mr. Robert Haley, Recycling Program Manager (Informational Report and Discussion)

 

Mr. Haley reported that the Holiday Tree program has been in existence for decades and is working well.  It was explained that there used to be drop off locations for trees, but the program has moved more toward curbside collection.  A lot of outreach has been done, and about 500 to 600 tons have been collected per year.  An effort has been made to compost the trees, but they are very acidic.  The trees have been used for mulch, but they produce a lot of mulch at a specific time of year so it saturates the markets.  Now most trees go to biomass—they are burned for energy.  Education is being done on problem issues of plastic bags, stands, and tinsel.  The Fire Department is involved with trees that get burned on the street which is also a problem.  The recycling program is easy to implement, but does have a cost of at least $100,000 per year.  Research has been done to internalize the cost into the price of the trees, but a mechanism has not yet been identified.

 

Commissioner Martin inquired about the trees that are burned on the beach and whether the Department has issued an outreach message in support or not.  Mr. Haley reported that the Fire Department keeps good records on tree-burning incidents and believes that there were over 100 trees burned, not a large amount considering the number of trees.  It was explained that some people do burn them at a bon fire at the beach which is not ideal, but is not considered to be a huge environmental problem.  Mr. Haley reported that the Department is taking no position on burning trees in a bon fire; but as far as burning them on the streets, work has been done with the Fire Department who is taking the lead. 

 

Item 12 was heard before Item 6.

 

6.      Status Update on Urban Forest Plan Requirements. Sponsor:  Commissioner Jane Martin; Green Holiday Tree and Landmark Tree Ordinance Programs.  Sponsor:  Commission President Paul Pelosi Jr.; Staff Speaker:  Ms. Mei Ling Hui, Urban Forestry Council Coordinator (Informational Presentation and Discussion)

 

Ms. Hui reported that the Urban Forest Master Plan was completed by the Urban Forestry Council and adopted in February 2006. In March 2007, the Council passed a Resolution of endorsement for the Planning Department to incorporate the Plan into the General Plan and to seek outside consultant support in improving the Plan.  The Planning Department issued a Request for Proposal in January of 2008, contracts were signed with the consultant team at the end of June/beginning of July 2008, but work was stopped in November 2008 because of loss of funds.  The Department of Environment has been trying to schedule a meeting with the Planning Department to see how to move the work forward.

 

Commissioner Martin inquired whether the Planning Department is required to have an Urban Forest Master Plan that is revised every five years as part of the Request for Proposal.  Ms. Hui stated that she would research this question and report back.  Commissioner Martin stated that if the work was mandated and pulled back because of a lack of funds, that another way to get the work done should be sought after. Acting Director Assmann reported that an effort would be made to resurrect the process as work had been done and cancelled halfway through the process.  A meeting would be scheduled with the Planning Department with the contractor that embarked on this process to try to find funding that the Planning Department does not have.  A discussion will be held to determine the amount of work done to date in order to incorporate that into the General Plan and/or identify additional funding to do more work on the Plan to incorporate into the General Plan. 

 

Ms. Hui reported that since the landmark tree process was legislated in 2006, the Urban Forestry Council held hearings on twenty-two tree nominations, and approved twelve trees for landmark tree status.  Ten of these trees were approved by the Board of Supervisors, and there is one additional tree that may be introduced next Tuesday.  A record of the total number of landmark trees is not available because before the process was legislated, the Department of Public Works (DPW) was landmarking trees within their jurisdiction so there are single and groups of trees landmarked.  Now that the process has been legislated, trees are seen on an individual basis. 

 

Commissioner Tuchow inquired whether the landmark tree nominations and program is owned by DPW.  Ms. Hui reported that DPW regulates the permits for removal and care of the trees and is empowered to take action if trees are harmed.  Ms. Hui stated that it is a DPW maintained program, but the Urban Forestry Council has influence on how the process moves forward.  Commissioner Tuchow inquired how the Urban Forestry Council was involved in the process.  Ms. Hui reported that there are five different nomination sources for landmark trees.  The Landmark Tree Committee and the Urban Forestry Council will hold hearings after a tree is officially nominated.  Depending upon the outcome of the Urban Forestry Council’s vote, the process can either stop there or move to the Board of Supervisors and then the Board of Supervisors introduces an ordinance to landmark the tree, which is usually heard in Committee first and then before the full Board.

 

Ms. Hui reported that a lot of positive press has been received for the Department, the City, and Friends of the Urban Forest on the Holiday Tree program.  Individuals can make a tax-deductible donation to Friends of the Urban Forest, a non-profit partner, to rent or borrow a holiday tree that is returned at the end of the Christmas season and is grown until it is large enough to plant in one of the Friends of the Urban Forest’s community-based street tree plantings.  The tree that is used substitutes a potted or traditional conifer and is the only such program in the world that she knows of. Ms. Hui stated that the closest program that she has found is people renting conifers that are planted in rural areas.     

 

Commissioner King stated that the Urban Forestry Council has voiced their concern for mature trees being cut down as a process of development particularly in the Shipyard.  It was stated that by the time someone files for a permit to cut down a tree, the fight may begin, but the pressure of development is already on.  It was recommended that well before that process begins and permits have been applied for, that there should be outreach to community members to inspect the trees to determine whether any should be landmarked or saved.  Ms. Hui reported that trees are protected by different agencies and organizations that have jurisdictional control over that area, e.g., the Recreation and Park Department protects their trees; DPW issues permits for removal of street, significant, and landmark trees.  When trees are removed as part of development, a permit is applied to the agency that has jurisdiction over the tree. DPW does investigate and issue fines when trees are illegally removed. 

 

Commissioner Martin stated that the City does not have a comprehensive approach to our urban forest.  Our approach is that every property owner makes the decision about trees that happen to be or not to be on their property which is fundamentally different than an approach that would more readily provide a full and vibrant urban forest.  It was explained that the Urban Forest Plan is the vehicle to start to move in a different direction, and something should be done to make it more comprehensive.  The condition that we have as a result of different agencies having jurisdiction, is that it is left to individual property owners to make the decision to have or not to have a tree and how that tree is cared for.  Commissioner Martin recommended using model language from other municipalities that address issues such as retention of trees during development.  Acting Director Assmann reported that one of the problems with city trees is that City government responsibility for trees is fragmented.  It was explained that one of the few good things that is coming out of this budget crisis is a Consolidation Committee that is reviewing consolidation of functions and departments. One of the things under consideration is consolidating responsibilities for trees in one department which would help the urban forest and budget.

 

Public Comment:

 

Ms. Nancy Wuerfel thanked Commissioner Martin and King for their thoughts about trying to deal with preservation of trees during development early in the process and encouraged Acting Director Assmann to relay this conversation to the Planning Department.  Ms. Wuerfel stated that she did not see a requirement in the Urban Forest Plan for a walk-though of natural resources that should be preserved as part of a large proposed development 

 

Ms. Carolyn Blair (1) thanked Commissioners and Acting Director Assmann for their input; (2) invited Mr. Assmann to speak before the Urban Forestry Council about these issues; (3) stated that she had initiated a meeting with Planning staff and Lennar before all of the trees were cut down, but trees were removed anyway; (4) recommended that Commissioners access the Department’s website that explains the landmark tree process; (5) stated that out of 700,000 trees, only 1% of large mature trees with a 22 inch trunk diameter are remaining; (6) described the emotional involvement that people have with trees especially when they are removed; (7) recommended that the Urban Forest Plan be implemented into the General Plan as it is now and then revised in the future as needed and/or consider eliminating some of the EDAW advisors that are costing money and replacing them with pro bono volunteers and/or members of the Urban Forestry Council with the same expertise that could provide advise. Acting Director Assmann reported that full advantage would be taken of any pro bono help particularly since the Planning Department does not have the funds they initially had to carry out this project.  Ms. Blair asked why paid arborists are needed when there is a certified arborist on the Urban Forestry Council that would be free. Acting Director Assmann stated that free services would be considered. 

 

Commissioner Martin stated that not only is the existence of a tree critical, but the care and maintenance should be performed by qualified people. It was explained that there is no current protection the way the Urban Forest Plan is now as it is left up to lay people who don’t want the tree there in the first place. Commissioner Martin requested that her concerns be relayed to the Planning Department that there should be a different approach that results in a more comprehensive and even treatment of trees particularly as it relates to pruning.  Commissioner King requested that there be an analysis of the skill level and number of people who are taking care of not only the mature trees, but the new trees that the City has planted.  Ms. Blair stated that Ms. Carla Short, Urban Forester at the Department of Public Works would know the number of staff assigned to take care of City trees.  Ms. Blair stated that she hopes that the Commission is capable of acquiring funding for DPW so that Ms. Short can hire people to take care of our City maintained trees.  Ms. Blair explained that the Council hired David Binder to do a study on public private property maintained trees, and it was determined that the public agreed to the City taking care of all trees if the expense were to be relinquished.  It was stated that this report can be accessed on the Urban Forestry Council’s website.

 

Ms. Blair reported on questions from Board of Supervisors members on tree issues regarding responsibility for tree maintenance and cost, and how the Department should provide more information. Ms. Blair recommended improvements to the Urban Forestry Council’s website that would provide better access to questions for the public, Board of Supervisors, and others.  It was also stated that the Urban Forestry Council’s website is listed in the Department of the Environment’s website under “Policy” and should be listed in “Programs” or “Urban Forest.”

 

Ms. Holly Kaufman stated that in 1994, she managed the Urban Forestry Task Force for Mayor Dianne Feinstein, and that the work was funded by San Francisco Friends of the Urban Forest.  Representatives of all sixteen City agencies that have any jurisdiction over City trees gathered together to write legislation developing the concept of the urban forest and wrote urban forestry management guidelines and recommendations to the Mayor, which involved training all of the different staff in good arborist techniques and dealing with the coordination issues among the agencies.  Ms. Kaufman indicated that she would be happy to provide those documents for consulting ideas on what took place in the past regarding consolidation.  Ms. Kaufman reported her concern about a street tree in front of her house that was improperly pruned because of a lack of coordination between DPW and PG&E.        

 

Ms. Hui stated that the Urban Forestry Council shares the Commissioner’s concerns for care of trees in this city and is working on a plan for voluntary contributions by companies with credentials and preparing a list of approved tree care maintainers for the city.  It was stated that one of the Council members works for a city that has such a program, and she had indicated that the program works very well in increasing the health and level of tree care.  Commissioner Martin stated that the message that she would like to relay to the Planning Department is that citizens should stop taking care of trees.  Commissioner King asked that the Urban Forestry Council provide a recommendation in the next few months on whether there is an appropriate amount of care provided by the City for our trees, what the appropriate level should be in terms of funding and staff, and whether the solution could be training or another consideration.  Ms. Hui reported on the Department of Environment’s annual sponsorship of a pruning class for City workers who work on City trees. 

 

Commissioner Martin reported that Mr. Mohammed Nuru of DPW prepared an analysis approximately two years ago on what it would take in terms of an additional fee or tax to have DPW do the work instead of people themselves.  Commissioner King stated that his concern is with the current budget cuts as it relates to caretaking of trees that the City is responsible for so that Commissioners could provide their comments about how trees could be properly taken care of with a decrease in staff.

 

Items 8 – 11 were heard before Item 7.

   

7.      Approval of the Department of the Environment’s Fiscal-Year 2009-2010 Draft Budget. (Explanatory Document:  Draft Budget Part 1 and Part 2) Sponsor and Staff Speaker: Acting Director David Assmann, (Informational Report, Discussion, and Action)

 

Acting Director Assmann reported that this Fiscal Year’s budget is the most challenging the City has faced in probably decades, and indicated that there are ramifications for the Department as well.  It was explained that the draft budget is not a final document and there will be changes in order to factor in costs that are not yet available, e.g., benefits, department commitments for requested funding, and pending negotiations with the Budget Office for supporting other department’s diversion programs.  The budget submitted for the Commission’s approval is considered to be the basic blueprint for the Department’s budget for this fiscal year.  It is complex because the Department does not request approval for all items at the same time. This budget represents the majority of what would be spent in the next year but does not take into consideration money that might arrive through grants part way through the fiscal year and so therefore underestimates the total budget that would be spent in Fiscal Year 09-10.  Acting Director Assmann reported on the differences in the proposed fiscal year budget from the previous fiscal year and indicated that the budget is going from $13.2 million to $11.7 million, a projected decline of 11% decline, some of which would be made up with funds that are received through the course of the year, e.g., Energy Watch program funds and grants.

 

Acting Director Assmann presented a report on all program area budget sections for Energy, Clean Air, Recycling, Toxics Reduction, Green Building, Outreach, Environmental Justice, Urban Forestry, and Administration.  An overview was given on the source of revenue and allocation of expenditures for grants, services of other City departments, salaries, benefits, and non-personal services by program area as well as Department totals.  The totals from the three major revenue funds from outside grants, funds from other City departments, and the Impound Account were described. It was stated that the budget is lean, and a number of changes have been made to accommodate provision of funds for other departments for diversion projects.  Additional information can be accessed in the explanatory document spreadsheets.

 

Commissioner Wald expressed her concern with approving a budget that the Operations Committee had not yet approved.  Acting Director Assmann reported that normally the budget is reviewed first by the Operations Committee, then the Commission, and then would go to the Mayor’s Budget Office.  However, the Operations Committee that normally meets before the January Commission meeting was postponed because of a lack of quorum and this is the only full Commission meeting before the budget is submitted to the Mayor’s Office on February 20th.  Acting Director Assmann offered to request that the Operations Committee review the budget at their February 4 rescheduled meeting and then hold a special Commission meeting in February before budget submission to the Mayor’s Budget Office.  

 

Commissioner Martin inquired (1) about the 80% reduction for Energy, how much is adjusted when the Energy Watch program is factored in; (2) about salary savings as a result of Department Director savings; and (3) space rental fees.  Acting Director Assmann reported that (1) the Energy program is actually going up from $4.5 million to $7 million in calendar year 2009; which bisects the fiscal year; (2) that the Department is budgeting for a Director as of July 1, and (3) that the Department has a multi-year lease for a private space that has an annual increase built into it, which would increase the rate again in the next fiscal year on July 1. 

 

Commissioner Wald inquired about plans for remodeling the Eco Center.  Acting Director Assmann reported that the remodeling effort is currently on hold until we see what happens with the financial situation.  There is outside funding received that has to be used for that purpose, but anything that is not tied to it is on hold given the financial situation.  Commissioner Tuchow inquired about non-personal services.  Acting Director Assmann explained that the biggest part of non-personal services is professional services and would include other expenditures starting after the Advertising category.  

 

Commissioner Tuchow reported that this year’s budget is not that much different than last year’s other than the energy figure which had been explained as being a result of the non-matching of the grant year.  Commissioner King stated that he would forward any questions he had to the Operations Committee for review at their meeting.  Acting Director Assmann reported that he would provide the Operations Committee with an all inclusive on and off budget.

 

Commissioner Wald inquired whether the prediction in reduction in grants is a reflection of the economy, or the likelihood that private foundations will have less money to give, or a reflection of the economy and government entities.  Acting Director Assmann reported that it is getting more difficult to get funding and only money that is guaranteed is added to the budget; however, it is not a significant decline at this point. Also, additional grant funding would be received from pending grants.  A concern was reported that there is not sufficient funding at this time for the Urban Forest and one of the Clean Air positions so the Department has to get creative in acquiring funding to make sure that these programs are carried out to full capacity.

 

Public Comment:  Ms. Wuerfel discussed the commitment the Department is making with the Impound Account by accepting the responsibility of the General Fund shortfall by underwriting $700,000 or $800,000 for department diversion programs.  Ms. Wuerfel stated that she is not arguing the merits, but that a precedent is being set and the Department might not get the funding back in the future. A request was made (1) to articulate what the $500,000 Recreation and Park Department allocation is going to be used for, whether it would be for salaries, other criterion, etc.; (2) to provide details on all underwriting under the Impound Account, especially the $100,000 being spent for toxics reduction allocated to the Office of Contract Administration; (3) to correct the mathematical error for Administration.  The amount of money that is coming from the General Fund and the Impound Account results in $2.6 million dollars, but does not take into consideration that $230,000 is coming from grants.  It appears that there is a mathematical addition error or it is not understood what the overhead is going to be; (4) expressed her concern about the way the overhead is being allocated on FTE’s because it does not appear that grants are paying their fair share.  When you have $500,000 in salaries and benefits, the $230,000 is not a comparable way of assessing their impact on administrative activities.  Ms. Wuerfel also recommended that the Department request a new source of revenue to assist in project development of the Bayview Hunters Point planning as well as for other long-term developments.

 

Upon Motion by Commissioner Tuchow and second by Commissioner King, the budget was approved contingent upon the Operations Committee review and approval at their next meeting (AYES: President Pelosi Jr., Vice-President Gravanis, Commissioners King, Martin, Tuchow and Wald; Absent:  Commissioner Rodriguez Heyman).

 

8.      Adoption of the Department of the Environment’s Information Systems (IS) Policy.  (Explanatory Document: IS  Policy) Sponsor:  Acting Director David Assmann, Staff Speaker: Mr. Lawrence Grodeska, Internet Communications Coordinator (Informational Report, Discussion, and Action)

 

Acting Director Assmann reported that the packet contains an Information Systems Policy that is a philosophy that guides the Department of Environment’s Information Systems and would focus on an open standards system.  The justification for an open source policy is that it gets maximum value in terms of functionality, stability, and security for the least amount of money.  There is a better interoperability of information systems when you have an open system and the document would be used as a guiding document as the Department redevelops its website and moves forward with all IT Policy considerations.

 

Commissioner Tuchow inquired whether there are any security implications for the website with the open source policy and if there is a precedent among other City departments having open source policies.  Acting Director Assmann reported that security is of upmost concern and a system would not be adopted that would not provide as much security as a proprietary system, but is not sure what the precedent is for other departments.  Mr. Grodeska reported that open source systems are developed generally by a much larger pool of developers and tested by many more users so they tend to be more stable and secure systems, so security is not a concern.  It was explained that as far as adoption by governing bodies, Europe tends to adopt open standards as a preferred IT procurement policy.

 

Upon Motion by Commissioner King and second by President Pelosi Jr., the Department of the Environment’s IS Policy was adopted without objection.  (AYES: President Pelosi Jr., Vice-President Gravanis, Commissioners King, Martin, Tuchow and Wald; Absent:  Commissioner Rodriguez Heyman)

 

9.      Electric Vehicle Initiative for San Francisco and the Bay Area. Sponsor:  Commission President Paul Pelosi Jr.; Staff Speaker:  Mr. Bob Hayden, Transportation Manager (Informational Report and Discussion)

 

Mr. Bob Hayden presented an update on the electric vehicle promotion program. Transcript of presentation: In November, the Mayor joined with Oakland and San Jose Mayors to announce that jointly as a region, we would be undertaking coordinated efforts to promote and support the development of the electric and plug-in vehicle market within the Bay Area and specifically within San Francisco, we would take aggressive actions to move that whole market forward and to make the City one of the most electric vehicle ready communities and successful markets for plug-in vehicles within the coming years.  About a decade ago, there was a push for battery electric vehicles that were being spurred primarily in California by the Air Resources Board with the zero emission vehicle mandates.  Those vehicles basically disappeared from the market almost a decade ago but we did at that point with the help of this Commission, its predecessors, and the Department of the Environment who laid good ground work for electric vehicle infrastructure.  We are now at the point where we have something to build from.  The reason it is important to start building now is that virtually all of the car companies have indicated that within the next several years beginning as early as 2010, some companies will be marketing plug-in vehicles, some of them all battery electric vehicles, and some of them plug in hybrid vehicles, but the key is that they will be able to charge from electric vehicle charging stations.  Mayor Newsom has taken this on in a very enthusiastic manner and made this a very high priority, and we are charging ahead in a lot of directions. 

 

Mr. Hayden reported on the Request for Information in which the Department solicited responses from interested parties, companies and organizations, to bring ideas of how we could approach this whole process of becoming electric vehicle ready and to get an idea of what type of companies were available to work with.  There was a wide range of nineteen responses, some dealing with specific vehicles that they wanted to promote and some talking about new types of charging techniques.  Discussions have been entered into with quite a number of these companies to further the process along as a learning curve process.  One of the things learned was that the electric vehicle chargers, the whole technology has evolved in these ten years that we were last involved in installation on City property.  What has developed is that with the advent of all the information technology and high-tech networking type of capabilities, we are now entering a world of what we are calling smart chargers so we will start seeing electric vehicle chargers that aren’t simply placed in a location to simply communicate with the vehicle back and forth, but they will be able to through networking capabilities, be able to be networked among themselves, and network back to the utility companies.  Users can remotely access the whole network and determine where there are available chargers, utilities can work with consumers to make sure that people aren’t overloading the grid system and doing all of their charging on peak, but instead shifting to off-peak charging.  Those types of things are being integrated into what is being put forward. 

 

Mr. Hayden stated that efforts have been organized into three types of activities.  The first is within the City itself, to do a comprehensive plan of action so that in the next couple of years, we can be ready for these vehicles when they go on the market.  The way that has been done is that an interdepartmental working group has been pulled together of nine departments that have something to do with the development of the electric vehicle programs ranging from buildings inspections, code enforcement, to our own fleet, to the PUC, to Real Estate.  The second one is that we are on a rapid basis putting in a public demonstration of several chargers in Civic Center Plaza so that the public can be shown what is coming.  We will initially use some of our plug-in hybrids to charge there and hope that in a couple of years we will be able to charge full battery electric vehicles there as well.  The third activity is to take on very aggressively a leadership role to make this truly a regional effort so it is the Bay Area that creates a market pull in addition to just the City.  It is hoped that next month the first inter-regional meeting where all of the Cities that have an interest in working with us as well as the regional government agencies, e.g. BAAQMD, MTC, ABAG, major companies and major stakeholders who have a role in this within the Bay Area, would be brought together to start a program for identifying an action plan where we can truly coordinate our activities within the next couple of years.

 

Public Comment:  Ms. Blair (1) recommended viewing the “The Death of the Electric Car” which can be rented from the Library; (2) expressed her support of President Obama as there may now be a chance to promote the electric vehicle program; (3) asked the Commission to assist the Bicycle Coalition in acquiring more bike lanes; (4) discussed her interest in Pedi-cabs, an alternative environmentally friendly form of transportation, which is a carriage that transports people by human pedaling; (5) requested the Commission’s assistance in acquiring Pedi-cab permit approvals that are being held up by the Central Station Police Office Captain; and (6) expressed her support for electric cars.

      

10.  Departmental Climate Action Plans Update.  Sponsor:  Acting Director David Assmann; Staff Speaker: Ms. Calla Ostrander, Climate Action Coordinator (Informational Presentation and Discussion)

 

Ms. Ostrander reported that in May 2008, Supervisor Mirkarimi’s green house gas reduction ordinance required that each City department submit a Climate Action Plan that includes their best practices to the Department of the Environment by the end of January 2009. The plan was a template that asked departments to track their carbon footprint, zero waste practices, and energy efficiency and renewables.  It also includes the energy ordinance and best practices required by the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) for release of fourth quarter energy related funding for departments.  Ms. Ostrander reported that she has been working with departments on this effort since she started work for the Department in October.  The Mayor’s Office has coordinated successful strategic meetings, a few departments have turned in their action plans, and the rest are due next week.  The focus of the Climate Action Plan was to acquire the basic carbon footprint for all departments that were pulled out of three specific measures (1) electricity use; (2) natural gas use; and (3) fuel use.  It was explained that this simple exercise has been the most useful thing that the Climate Action Plan has done to date, and has made many departments aware of how they were tracking fuel usage, their fuel vendors, and where bills were going to.  The transparency and organization that has happened because of these plans has been impressive, both with tracking facility energy use and tracking fuel use within their fleets. 

 

Ms. Ostrander reported that the Climate Action Plan has resulted in the start of composting in City Hall bathrooms and for a number of departments starting department-wide greening, composting and recycling schemes. The object of the Climate Action Plan is to empower people within their departments to make the best changes where they see fit and for what works best for them.  It was explained that departments may in the future be given their energy, water, and fuel use statistics monthly or quarterly so departments can see as they are going along exactly where most of their carbon footprint is coming from and which areas have the most potential for efficiency. It is a good feedback mechanism that if a department does a large efficiency measure, they should in the next month see a reduction in their energy use right away especially if tracking is done on a regular basis.  This gives them positive feedback or reward for what they have done instead of doing it on an annual basis where it is just a routine task. 

 

Ms. Ostrander reported that next steps include creating a database for all of the inventories including the Climate Action Plans; e.g., the community-wide inventory, California Climate Action Registry (for the municipal carbon footprint), and department Climate Action Plans.  It was explained that integrating all of the inventories and keeping data in an organized centralized location would be an effective tool in helping to track reductions and will streamline staff time.  A future report would be presented on what is learned from all of the Climate Action Plans.  Ms. Ostrander stated that currently there are a variety of different ways that the Climate Action Plan was filled out and reported on, and that it is her job to put all of the data together and report back in a standardized fashion.

 

Commissioner King recommended that there should be a policy and system of recognition for department staff assigned to extra tasks that go above and beyond the call of duty.  Ms. Ostrander reported that she is doing as much as she can to institutionalize the data collection that departments will be getting so that the work could be integrated into standard practices. Ideally, it is hoped that this be an institutionalized system that is accomplished with everything else. This year people who took the time and went beyond the call of duty would be commended; but going into the future it is hoped that accounting for our impact on our environment becomes normal as to the point where we don’t have to award people for doing it, but it is just standard within our bureaucratic functioning.

 

Commissioner Martin inquired whether the variance in reporting is a positive factor or if it would be better to provide a template.  Ms. Ostrander reported that a template would be worked on for next year that would be much more specific and easier as it was frustrating for departments to work through the current template because it included a lot of verbage without a lot of direction. Cleaning up the template would clean up the process.

 

Ms. Ostrander presented the adage “You can’t manage what you can’t measure” and the quote “Not everything that counts can be counted” Albert Einstein.  It was stated that while we are all about tracking and accounting right now for our emissions, there are a number of activities, behaviors and practices that cannot easily be put into metrics that we still want to encourage among individuals and departments.

 

11.  Program Proposals for Economic Stimulus Package.  Sponsor:  Acting Director David Assmann, Staff Speaker:  Mr. Cal Broomhead, Energy Manager (Informational Presentation and Discussion)

 

Mr. Broomhead stated that three separate requests were received on very short notice to prepare ideas for the Economic Stimulus Package, and there was no criteria set for any of these requests other than ideas for programs that could start in 120 days.  Mr. Broomhead discussed the lack of information provided on format except for listing the program, how much it was going to cost, and how many jobs it would create.  There was no specific definition or guidance on what kind of jobs, how jobs would be counted, whether local jobs were sought after, how many dollars would be spent to create a job for one year, whether new markets would be created for businesses or if business opportunities would continue after the federal funding.   It was explained that even with the lack of information provided, several ideas were put together that totaled half a billion dollars that fell into two categories, general and residential programs. 

 

President Pelosi Jr. asked Mr. Broomhead to explain energy efficiencies, what programs should be brought forward, and what the Commission is going to do once funding is received.  Mr. Broomhead reported that ideas were in general and residential sector programs.  Hundreds of community workers would be trained and go door to door to educate people what they can do to reduce their energy and water use, reduce toxics, disaster preparedness, and other activities that we think a community-wide education program would do.  An assessment of the homes would be prepared and semi-skilled workers would do minor home repairs and energy efficiency improvements.  Full-scale home performance assessments would be implemented particularly in the low-income community to improve indoor air quality and do full insulation and retrofits of water heating and heating systems so that we get high quality and healthy homes as a result.. 

 

On the commercial side, you could do the same thing where you would subsidize people who would become commercial building improvement facilitators.  It would be offered to the commercial building market at either a very low-cost or free initially to help with recycling, identifying energy efficiency opportunities, and assisting with project management that they have had a difficult time paying attention to.  Training and certification of these facilitators would be required and eventually as the subsidy declines, then it is up to the building owners to take that on as a business opportunity.  Commercial refrigeration and old boiler and heating systems replacement in apartment buildings were other targeted programs.  It was explained that there are a lot of small commercial outfits in the City that either own or lease really old inefficient refrigeration equipment.  Replacement of these units would create a few jobs locally, a lot of jobs at the manufacturing level, save a lot of energy in San Francisco, and would be good for the tax base.  All together these projects would cost over half a billion dollars.

 

 Mr. Broomhead reported that he is reviewing two draft bills that he has just received--an appropriations bill from the House of Representatives and a Senate Bill.  Mr. Broomhead explained that the economic stimulus money would not be allocated to every City to get its share, but would be allocated through existing channels, programs, to states, or there may be funding available for community development block grants.  There would be an application process and existing formulas for projects that would be accepted, and there may be a problem with capacity.  Mr. Broomhead reported that the Mayor’s Office is setting up a Task Force of City departments divided into eight issue areas under the House Bill.  The first Energy Clean Tech meeting is scheduled for this Friday afternoon, and eight of these meetings would be scheduled.  A deadline of February 16th has been set to determine where the opportunities are, to prioritize, and to put proposals together.  President Pelosi Jr. stated that is approximately the date it would pass.  Mr. Broomhead stated that the idea is to be there early with ideas in order to shape administrative systems to fit the criteria that we would like to see and to make sure that our ideas are there first so they are likely to be funded first.

 

12.  Nomination and Election of Commission Officers. (Continued from the November 7, 2008 Special Meeting) (Discussion and Action)

 

Vice-President Gravanis withdrew her candidacy for Commission President and nominated Commissioner Martin.  Commissioner Martin accepted the nomination.  Commissioner Tuchow nominated Commissioner Pelosi Jr. for Commission President.  Commissioner Pelosi Jr. accepted the nomination.  On the nomination to elect Commissioner Martin for Commission President, AYES:  Commissioners Gravanis, Martin and Wald; NOES:  Commissioners King, Pelosi Jr., and Tuchow; Absent:  Commissioner Rodriguez Heyman. TIE VOTE. On the nomination to elect Commissioner Paul Pelosi Jr. for Commission President: AYES:  Commissioners King, Pelosi, and Tuchow; NOES: Commissioners Gravanis, Martin and Wald; Absent:  Commissioner Rodriguez Heyman. TIE VOTE.  Deputy City Attorney Barnes advised that because of the tie-votes for both nominations, the current Commission President would be a holdover candidate until the following meeting where another vote would be taken unless another motion is made at this time to reach a minimum of four votes for a candidate.

 

President Pelosi Jr. recommended reviewing the Commission Bylaws to prevent future conflicts on the nomination and election process and requested that the Deputy City Attorney review any possible Sunshine Ordinance violations. Commissioner King asked President Pelosi Jr. to not take this route and discussed the length of time one officer should hold a position as a consideration for future candidacy. Commissioner Martin stated that she was unaware of any lack of cooperation or effect that this process was having on the staff. Vice-President Gravanis discussed the importance of Commissioners adhering to the regular meeting schedule in order to accomplish Commission business in an effective manner.

 

Commissioner Martin stated that as the President she would work on the agendas well in advance of the meeting so that an overview can be given on the direction the Commission is taking; to work more on outreach, e.g., liaison with fellow agencies that are doing work in allied areas; and to follow-up on Commissioner’s interests on issues.  Commissioner Martin stated that she would be willing to do so in a position other than the Presidency and would be willing to change her vote.  President Pelosi Jr. stated that the Department and the Commission should focus on outreach, better return on investment and employees, and to highlight the work that the Department does do that does not receive enough attention. President Pelosi Jr. stated that he would delegate working on outreach programs and Commissioner’s interests on issues with the Department to the Vice-President. Commissioner Tuchow commended Commissioner Martin’s request to take a more active role on the Commission.  Commissioner Wald commended President Pelosi’s willingness to allow someone else to step in as President at the end of this term and discussed the merits of a rotating presidency.  President Pelosi Jr. suggested that the bylaws could be amended to limit the presidency to a two-year maximum so each member feels they are making a significant contribution to the Commission.

 

Commissioner Martin withdrew acceptance of her nomination for President, asked for a revote, and nominated Commissioner Gravanis to continue as Vice-President.  Vice-President Gravanis accepted the nomination. 

 

Public Comment:  Ms. Nancy Wuerfel reminded the Commission that they do set policy and encouraged the Commission to work in the eyes of the public, e.g. meeting every month.  It was explained that the Commission has a full agenda, and the budget has a lot of issues to review.  Ms. Wuerfel stated that she appreciates Commissioner Martin wanting to be more active, but that would mean that the work may not be visible to the public.  Ms. Wuerfel recommended that the Commission not lose what they can do as a unified body of advisors and not take on staff roles.

 

On the nomination to elect Commissioner Pelosi Jr. for President, AYES: Commissioners Gravanis, King, Martin, Pelosi Jr., Tuchow, and Wald (Absent:  Commissioner Rodriguez Heyman).  Commissioner Pelosi Jr. was elected as President.  On the nomination to elect Commissioner Gravanis for Vice-President, AYES: Commissioners Gravanis, King, Pelosi Jr., Martin, Tuchow and Wald (Absent:  Commissioner Rodriguez Heyman).  Commissioner Gravanis was elected as Vice-President.   

 

13.  Public Notice of 2009 Subscription and Renewal of Commission on the Environment and Committee Notices and Agendas as required by the Commission on the Environment Bylaws. (Explanatory Document: Subscription Request Form)  Staff Speaker:  Ms. Monica Fish, Commission Secretary (Information and Discussion)

 

Ms. Fish reported that the Public Notice referenced in this agenda item is issued pursuant to the Commission on the Environment’s Bylaws, Article XIII-Requests for Notice and Agendas as follows:  “A request from a member of the media or public to receive notices, agendas, or agenda packets for Commission or committee meetings must be in writing and specify what the person would like to receive and whether notice by email is preferred.  Such requests will be valid until the following January.  In January of each year, the Commission will ask each person on the list to re-affirm their desire to stay on the list for another year through a notice on the Commission’s January agenda.”  It was explained that placing this notice on the January agenda as has been done fulfills the requirement of the Commission’s Bylaws.  Ms. Fish reported that there would be an edit to the notice to list the appropriate Acting Director.

 

14.  Operations Committee Report. (Information and Discussion)

Chair’s Report:  Report on the October 14, 2008 Rescheduled Meeting and review of the agenda for the upcoming rescheduled meeting of February 4, 2009, at 5:00 p.m., 11 Grove Street.  Ms. Fish reported that the October 14, 2008 report was given at the October 30th Commission meeting.  President Pelosi Jr. reported that the Fiscal Year 2009-10 Budget would be reviewed at the Operations Committee meeting on February 4th.

 

15.  Policy Committee Report. (Information and Discussion)

Chairs Report:  Highlights of the November 17 and December 9, 2008 and January 13, 2009 meetings and review of the agenda for the February 9, 2009 meeting to be held at City Hall, Room 421.   Policy Committee Chair Wald reported that the Hunters Point Shipyard/Candlestick Point project development was discussed at the December 9 and January 13 rescheduled meetings.  A presentation was given and a discussion held on the Transportation Plan at the December 9 meeting, and the January 13 meeting included a presentation from Mr. Saul Bloom from Arc Ecology on their thoughts about development of the area.  Committee Chair Wald expressed the Committee’s appreciation to Ms. Tiffany Bohee, Office of Workforce and Economic Development, and every member of her team for their willingness to engage with the Committee.  Committee Chair Wald stated that the Committee had been very impressed with the Arc Ecology presentation and hopes that the planning team would take that presentation into account going forward.  The January 13 meeting also included an overview of the Department’s outreach efforts as a basis for what additional activities could be done at the Commission.  A t the February 9 meeting, a discussion will be heard on the status of the Urban Environmental Accords, and the Committee will select Urban Accords that this City will focus on in the coming year for recommendation to the Commission.  In addition, there will be a discussion of garbage rate issues that were raised by public comment to the Committee.

 

16.  Commission Secretary’s Report. (Information and Discussion) (Explanatory Document: Commission Secretary’s Report) Monica Fish, Commission Secretary

·         Communications and Correspondence

·         Update on Pending City Legislation

 

Ms. Fish reported (1) on legislative updates and correspondence received; (2) that Commissioners present at today’s meeting received their W2’s; and (3) on requirements for submission of the annual Statement of Economic Interests Form 700 and Sunshine Ordinance and Ethics trainings.  The Commission Secretary Report detail can be found in the explanatory document above. 

 

17.  Director’s Report. (Information and Discussion) (Explanatory Document: Director’s Report)

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.

 

Acting Director Assmann reported on highlights of the Department’s administrative and programmatic operations that include (1) Toxics Reduction participated in a conference with a group of people from Sweden and Bay Area stakeholders working on chemical policy.  A discussion was held on how to implement chemical policies similar to what is being done in Sweden; (2) Toxics Reduction is having their Integrated Pest Management Conference tomorrow which is now being held every two years. The conference was sold out a month and a half ago; (3) Recycling.  Disposal is now at its lowest level in approximately 20 years; (4) A Request for Proposal(s) for landfill capacity will soon be issued for when our capacity runs out at Altamont Landfill.  Disposal is decreasing so there is additional time--the decrease is from 12 to 14% in disposal in the last few months over the same period last year; however, that may not last when the economy starts to pick up again; (5) a lot of work is being done on potential funding from the Economic Stimulus Package that hopefully will be directed toward some of the cities; (6) working closely with CARB initiatives on climate; (7) the Energy Watch program funding will be increased in calendar year 2009 to $7 million which will result in energy savings. There is also continuing discussion with the Public Utilities Commission on the long-term funding for that program for years after 2009; and (8) Green Cities is working on a best practices website that is targeted for completion in April.  Additional detail on Department activities can be found in the Director’s Report explanatory document above.

 

Vice-President Gravanis inquired whether there has been discussion on assessing the necessity of City air travel for business and City offsets. Acting Director Assmann stated that during these fiscal times, it is hoped that every department is analyzing whether the trips are necessary, but the Department does not have control over other department’s budgets. However, through the Climate Action Plans, it is something that can be pulled out and pointed to. The Department is assessing the need for travel internally and is hoping that the carbon fee will be a deterrent for travel. In addition, work has been done with Cisco and others to try to promote web-based conferencing so meetings can be held in a virtual setting instead of in person.  It was explained that proportionately, air travel is worse than ground transportation in terms of emissions, which is another way to discourage air travel. 

 

Vice-President Gravanis inquired about the Director’s Report reference to a meeting with the Gulf of the Farallones Superintendent about wave energy.  Acting Director Assmann reported that the meeting was about the Department’s opposition on an application they received to put equipment at the Gulf of Farallones marine reserve.  Vice-President Gravanis inquired about the definition of bee tunnels.  Acting Director Assmann reported that he thinks a bee tunnel would facilitate the relocation of bees, but would report back with additional information. Vice-President Gravanis stated that she hopes that future Arbor Day activities would be held in the fall for the sake of tree preservation and water conservation.

 

Commissioner Tuchow inquired about the $12 million in PG&E funds allocated to Energy Watch over the next three years.  Acting Director Assmann reported that the Department is lobbying to increase $12 million to $21 million over three years in order to keep the same rate of $7 million a year going forward.  Commissioner Tuchow inquired about the source of the 20% administrative fee to PG&E.  Acting Director Assmann reported that is a separate fee that is not from the Department’s allocation of program funds.  Commissioner Martin asked about the source of funds for the Energy Watch program.  Acting Director Assmann reported that program funding is from rate payers--a public goods charge that is added to utility bills.

 

18.  Announcements.  (Information and Discussion)  Commissioner Martin suggested that since it is difficult to speak to other Commissioners outside of a meeting, that there should be a check-in at the time of announcements to be further appraised of what Commissioners are doing individually so there is a better sense of what the Commission’s direction should be collectively.  Acting Director Assmann reported that the Department’s budget is always due on either February 20 or 21, and it would be helpful for the Commission meeting to be scheduled closer to the time that the budget has to be submitted to account for revisions that have to be made. 

 

19.  President’s Announcements.  (Information and Discussion) President Pelosi Jr. stated that he has been working with Cisco and other countries around the world on Eco-Map, which will be displayed at Temple Nightclub.  It was explained that Eco-Map compares one City neighborhood’s zip code versus another to show its carbon footprint.  It takes into account all types of transportation, power bills, and all available public data in order to make people aware of their impact and what they are doing to reduce their carbon footprint.  It was explained that this project will bring a lot of visibility to the Department.

 

20.  New Business/Future Agenda Items. (Information and Discussion)  Vice-President Gravanis (1) requested a discussion on defining sponsorship of agenda items, what sponsorship responsibilities are, and setting criteria for how agenda items are set; (2) requested that the Commission schedule be followed; (3) stated that meeting every other month may not be sufficient to conduct Commission business and recommended that an additional meeting devoted to the budget be added in February; (3) requested a future discussion on making the Commission website more accessible to the public; and (4) future Bylaws amendments.  

 

President Pelosi Jr. explained that agenda items go through the Committees, then before the Commission meeting, the Director and the President have a conference call with the Commission Secretary to review all items.  Commissioners contact the President or Director with agenda items they may be interested in, and a decision is made whether those items should be included in the agenda or not.  In addition, Department project managers are contacted to see if they have items to add.  The President determines whether there are items of interest from staff meetings, items of interest to the public, upcoming activities of interest that the public and Supervisors may be discussing or should have input into.  Vice-President Gravanis stated that she would like input from the Commission into setting criteria in terms of how to best use the Commission’s time, which items can be best put into a written report if a discussion is not expected, how many items can be fit on any particular agenda, and which items are reports that need to go to one of the Committees, but not the Commission and which should go to the Commission and not to the Committee. 

 

21.  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.

 

22.  Adjournment. The Commission on the Environment meeting adjourned at 7:51 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 (3) by clicking on the links with each agenda or meeting minutes, (4) upon request to the Commission Secretary, at telephone number 415-355-3709, or (5) via e-mail at Monica.Fish@sfgov.org. 
 

Respectfully submitted by,

 

Monica Fish, Commission Secretary

TEL:  (415) 355-3709

FAX: (415) 554-6393

 

*Approved: March 9, 2009

 

 

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