05.26 Approved Minutes

CITY AND COUNTY OF SAN FRANCISCO

COMMISSION ON THE ENVIRONMENT

 

REGULAR MEETING

APPROVED MINUTES

TUESDAY, MAY 26, 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, Jane MarieFrancis Martin, Alan Mok, 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 5:05 p.m.  Present:  Vice-President Gravanis, Commissioners King, Martin, Mok and Wald.  Excused: President Pelosi Jr. and Commissioner Tuchow.  Vice President Gravanis welcomed Commissioner Alan Mok back to the Commission on the Environment.  

 

2.      Adoption of Minutes of the March 24, 2009 Commission Regular Meeting. (Discussion and Action) Upon Motion by Commissioner Martin and second by Commissioner Wald, the March 24, 2009 Meeting Minutes were approved without objection (AYES:  Vice-President Gravanis, Commissioners King, Martin, Mok, and Wald; Noes:  None; Absent:  President Pelosi Jr. and Commissioner Tuchow) (Explanatory Document: March 24, 2009 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.  Mr. Paul Liotsakis, San Francisco Community Power, reported that San Francisco Community Power, a non-profit organization, got started with funding from the Department of the Environment, has been in existence for approximately ten years, and operates mostly in the southeast sector of San Francisco employing people in green jobs in the energy sector.  Mr. Liotsakis stated that they are having a hard time accessing part of the stimulus package funds and feels that San Francisco Community Power has done a good job in their mission of helping to save energy and creating jobs that were never a possibility in the past.  Mr. Liotsakis thanked Department of the Environment staff such as Mr. Cal Broomhead for sharing information on the status of these funds and encouraged the role of San Francisco Community Power, a non-profit organization, in future efforts.

 

4.      Approval of the 2008 Annual Report on the Implementation of the Precautionary Purchasing Ordinance.   Sponsor:  Acting Director David Assmann, Staff Speakers: Chris Geiger, Ph.D., City Toxics Reduction Coordinator (Explanatory Documents: 2008 Annual Report; Amended First Page of Annual Report and SF Approved Green Products & Services Catalog) (Informational Report, Discussion and Action)

 

Dr. Geiger reported on this year’s accomplishments, which includes the first ever SF Approved Green Products & Services Catalog (Explanatory Document) which is now online www.sfenvironment.org/sfapproved and contains 1000 products, 27 product sub- categories, and covers 10 citywide commodities contracts.  It was reported that Ms. Jessian Choy, City Toxics Reduction/Integrated Pest Management Associate for the Department, has been the force behind this project.  Dr. Geiger reported that this catalog integrates all information in one place for better accessibility to City departments while also creating a resource that people outside of the City could access easily. The catalog format is an interim format and a new database is needed. The catalog contains references to other relevant topics, e.g. whether a product meets LEED requirements, whether other certifications are listed for each product, what certification it meets, information on which City vendor sells the product, and why the product should be purchased. 

 

Dr. Geiger explained that the Ordinance requires that City departments provide data to the Department of the Environment so that their product purchases can be tracked.  However, this is a bigger task than expected as there are 88 City departments and offices, and the City accounting system is not set up to handle this task.  There is no best solution yet and for the past two- and a half years vendors were asked to provide the data.  Dr. Geiger introduced Mr. Howard Tevelson, Green Purchasing, of the Office of Contract Administration who has been assisting in acquiring and tracking data from vendors. It was reported that the Annual Report contains missing data entries, and a few of those entries bear explanation as to why data was not received previously.  Dr. Geiger explained that a new relationship is being formed with new contractors, and that new contracts are being written more strictly to account for data reporting, especially for the computer (IT Store) contract.  The new IT Store contract was just awarded at the end of 2008, leaving little incentive for the previous vendors to comply with reporting requirements.

 

Dr. Geiger reported that there was a 54% overall increase in green product purchases over the last year that varies depending on the product category. There was a 556% increase for janitorial cleaners because a lot of training and outreach was conducted. Lighting is the hardest product to tabulate because there are so many lighting products and because one vendor did not submit reports.  Work is actively in progress with the Nationwide Responsible Purchasing Network, an organization that is trying to leverage our efforts with manufacturers to improve product standards and specifications.  Dr. Geiger reported on the discussion that was held about pursuing computer packaging as a national project of the Responsible Purchasing Network and efforts underway to research the issues and alternatives, which will be discussed at next month’s meeting.  Dr. Geiger reported that he has also scheduled a meeting with a major packaging company to discuss issues such as replacing Styrofoam computer packaging with recyclable packaging. Dr. Geiger reported on other major activities this year, which includes working on a new lamps contract for low-mercury, long-life and energy-efficient lamps.  This effort is awaiting the Office of Contract Administration’s timetable to allow publication of the advertisement.  A new contract award was completed for energy-efficient electrical lamp fixtures as part of the electrical materials contract. 

 

Future efforts include working with the IT Store, one of the biggest City contracts for computer and IT equipment, to do reporting and work together on the outreach and education component to City purchasers so that whenever someone wants to buy a computer in the City, they would have to make their purchase from a list of environmentally preferable (EP) products.  Dr. Geiger reported on another major accomplishment for the year in which San Francisco became the first city in the country to have EP Gold standards for computer equipment, which is a registration system set up by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) with spot auditing and includes standards for recycling, toxics, and energy efficiency.  San Francisco is the first to require EP Gold certification for our purchases and the first to require Climate Savers, a certification for computer servers, which is about half of the products that the City purchases, and would result in a great deal of energy savings.  Next year’s efforts will also include reviewing contracts for carpets, paint, compostable and recyclable content trash can liners, and a new dairy contract (for locally produced and/or organic products).  Dr. Geiger explained that the Office of Contract Administration has been a very good partner in working with all of these contracts and introduced Mr. Galen Leung from the Office of Contract Administration.

 

Mr. Leung reported that he was representing Ms. Naomi Kelly and is working with Dr. Geiger, Ms. Choy, and Department of the Environment staff to produce these various contracts and set standards on vendor reporting.  Mr. Leung explained that work is in progress with end user departments on purchasing standards. 

 

Commissioner Martin recommended that a producer responsibility model be considered so that the producer accepts packaging back, holds onto it, and provides it again as required for situations such as when people move and need to repack.  It was explained that people may want to save the packaging, but don’t have the space.  Dr. Geiger reported that one of the items in the IT store contract included added points if they showed an ability to do take-back packaging; however, the discussion for storing and shipping back has not been held yet and may be complicated as far as logistics; however it is on the agenda for discussion.  Commissioner Martin asked who uses the hydrogen power fueled cell cars referenced in the catalog. Dr. Geiger stated that product needed updating in the catalog as there was previously a demonstration car used in the past.

 

Commissioner Martin stated that she appreciates the sections where an explanation is given as to why purchasing a certain product is important so that people are educated and encouraged to avoid a certain product and to find a suitable alternative.  It was suggested that there be a separate column explaining why for all products. Commissioner Martin also suggested expanding the carpet purchase recommendations to include flooring in general and to propose alternatives to carpets that are longer-term, more hygienic, and have better air quality.

 

Commissioner Wald commended this program as one of the City’s and Department’s landmarks and stated that making this information available to city residents and others is a real way to leverage efforts and accomplish the goals that we all share.  Commissioner Wald recommended consideration of a slightly different version for the general public that might be included in a different part of the website from the City department version.  The public version would include more detailed descriptions of the benefits of using these products so people would be encouraged to use them.

 

Vice President Gravanis inquired whether there was a way to ensure that tracking-data would be provided by vendors. Mr. Leung explained that the approach has been to point out to vendors that it is part of their contract requirement, and the longer that they take to fulfill this requirement, the more readily it will go out to bid.  The technology store contract has a provision that when a new order comes in and a report has not been produced in time, they are put on notice that we are still awaiting their reports and they are taken trough several steps, the final step of not accepting their future bid for new work that a department may have.  This particular contract has multiple vendors that are able to bid on the work, so if reports are not produced on time, they lose the ability to bid against the other vendors.  In order to accomplish these efforts, multiple vendors are needed for a contract, which is problematic in some cases where there are not that many vendors available.  Each commodity or item has to be looked at separately in terms of seeing what the vendor market is.  The best possibility is to provide both a positive and negative incentive to provide the report.  Commissioner Wald recommended withholding payment.  Mr. Leung explained that a payment can be withheld, but then there may be an issue of what happens when the item is critically needed by a department.  The objective is to make sure that needs of end user departments are met and at the same time make sure vendors are complying with requirements.  

 

Commissioner Martin inquired whether there is a way to facilitate the reports so it would be easier for the vendors.  Mr. Leung reported that he is working with Ms. Choy and Mr. Tevelson on making reports easier to generate by creating an electronic reporting and payment system.  Commissioner Wald recommended making payments in stages and to provide for vendors who have given reports to be paid by a specific date.  If the vendor did not provide the report, they would only receive a quarter of their payment and would have to wait until information was provided to receive succeeding portions.   Mr. Leung reported that this approach was taken by one department whose invoice payments are more electronic, but the results have not been shared yet due to staffing issues as a result of budget shortfalls. 

 

Vice President Gravanis reported that there have been citizens working on the Precautionary Principle issue for a long time that were not able to attend this meeting and reported on Ms. Clary’s interest in the next sequence of product categories especially asphalt and asphalt patching products.  Mr. Leung reported that his understanding working with the purchasers at the Airport and Department of Public Works is that the asphalt contracts should be coming up for bid later this fall, and they are in the process of rewriting the specifications.  It was explained that there may be possible delays due to uncertainties about funding, but that the bid would probably be published late this fall or early winter, approximately in November or December. 

 

Upon Motion by Commissioner King and second by Commissioner Martin, the 2008 Annual Report was approved without objection.  (AYES:  Vice-President Gravanis, Commissioners King, Martin, Mok, and Wald; Noes: None; Excused:  President Pelosi Jr. and Commissioner Tuchow.)

 

5.      Update on Ocean (Wave and Tidal) Power Projects. Sponsor:  Acting Director David Assmann; Staff Speaker: Johanna Partin, Renewable Energy Program Manager (Explanatory Document:  City and County of San Francisco Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) Application and Presentation) (Informational Report and Discussion)

 

Ms. Partin reported that most of the focus on ocean power projects has been on wave projects and explained that the Department of the Environment is working closely with the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (PUC) and the City Attorney’s Office to pursue and study all of the city’s ocean power potential.  For the past year, work has been in progress to prepare a feasibility study on our wave power potential, and it was determined that there is promising potential. Ms. Partin reported that a preliminary permit application was submitted to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) (see explanatory document application above).  The focus was on a particular study area called the Oceanside Wave Energy Project study area, which is between the transmission alignment and exclusion zone boundary (presentation pages 1-2 above). Ms. Partin discussed device screening criteria and site selection considerations (presentation page 3) and types of wave devices considered (presentation page 4).  It was explained that based on outreach with resource and environmental agencies and the community, the focus would be on technologies that would be fully submerged. Two surging wave devices were focused on called the bioWave and the WaveRoller and also a device called the CETO, balloons attached to generation devices (pages 5-7).        

 

Ms. Partin reported that a number of outreach meetings and sessions were conducted with all agencies which included a number of resource and regulatory permitting authorities as well as local, national and international environmental organizations, the fishing community and other municipalities (for a full list, see presentation page 8).  It was expected that no environmental or fishing agencies would support the project; however, the most that could be expected is that they would be supportive of renewable energy technologies, including ocean power technologies, and would be willing to work on the effort to select devices that would be the most beneficial for that area. It was explained that all the groups that were reached out to were not in support of the project, but were appreciative of the outreach in the early stages of project development as that had not been done by others that had submitted permit applications. 

 

Ms. Partin reported that about eight to ten months ago, notification was received that a wave power application had been submitted in the Gulf of Farallones Marine Sanctuary by a group called Grace Harbor, which is based out of Seattle.  The Department in the past had been required to respond to applications that had been submitted by other companies, and being in that position again, had decided that it was time to take proactive action and submit an application.  The Department was given sixty days to respond to the Grace Harbor application in order to submit a competing application.  The application was submitted to FERC within the condensed timeframe, and in the interim period, it was discovered that there would be a change in the regulatory authority at the federal level, so FERC was no longer going to be the primary jurisdictional authority for ocean power projects.  That authority was going to be split between FERC and the Minerals Management Service (MMS), which is under the Department of the Interior.  Now, MMS will control anything in the outer continental shelf which is 3 miles offshore out to 200 miles offshore.  Anything beyond 200 miles is considered international waters.  Anything between 0 and 3 miles offshore is now the jurisdiction of FERC.  Because our project is in the outer continental shelf, it is beyond 3 miles, so notice was received from FERC that they had dismissed our application on the grounds of jurisdictional authority.  Ms. Partin explained that MMS permitting requirements would be released in late June, and she is now reaching out to MMS to find out more about the requirements. 

 

Ms. Partin explained that based on preliminary guidance that has been issued, an MMS lease application would be required for projects and even for a study. The fee for the lease would be based on the size of the project.  Based on the current size that was outlined, that would be about $50,000 a year, which is $50,000 more than was anticipated.  Ms. Partin explained that she would be reaching out to MMS and encouraging them to reduce the fees and would also be seeking other funding for a number of environmental studies that are anticipated, e.g., reviewing whale migration routes, other marine habitat issues, silts issues, and impacts on the fishing community if any.  Ms. Partin stated that the Department of the Environment and SFPUC is in the process of submitting a joint proposal to the Federal Department of Energy, under their advanced water power funding solicitation, for approximately $600,000 over two years to conduct those studies.   

 

6.      Presentation and Approval of Commuter Benefits Ordinance Compliance Rule Making and Presentation on the Commuter Benefits and Emergency Ride Home Programs. Sponsor:  Acting Director David Assmann; Staff Speaker:  Faiz Khan, Transportation Demand Management (TDM) Manager and Adeline Canez Transportation Demand Management Coordinator (Explanatory Documents:  (1) Commuter Benefits Compliance Forms); (2) Commuter Benefits Mandate Presentation); (3) Clean Air Transportation Programs Presentation) and (4) Requirements of SF Commuter Benefits Ordinance) (Informational Presentation, Discussion and Action)

 

Acting Director Assmann reported that the commuter benefits program is one of the more successful programs in terms of offering a win-win where employees and employers benefit in San Francisco. It was explained that this program was piloted for City employees and now is a requirement for large employers throughout the city. Mr. Khan reported that he would be presenting on commuter benefits ordinance compliance rule making and Ms. Adeline Canez of the Department of the Environment would be presenting on Transportation Demand Management (TDM) outreach efforts.   


Commuter Benefits Mandate presentation

 

Mr. Khan reported that the commuter benefits mandate took the Federal IRS 132F Code, which allows employees who work for any employer in a W2 capacity, to pre-tax their wages to pay for transit and van pool expenses, and bicycles would soon be included. San Francisco is the first City and County in the country to create a mandate where any employer with more than 20 employees within its jurisdiction is mandated to offer this benefit. Data received from the Treasurer and Tax Collector’s Office shows that this ordinance would impact about 89% of the commuters in the City and County of San Francisco and roughly 8% of the large employers, which is where most of the commuters work.  Currently there are about 300 businesses who have signed up as a result of this ordinance since January of this year. 

 

Mr. Khan stated that in addition to mandating commuter benefits, the ordinance authorized the Department of the Environment to administer a guaranteed ride home program, which is referred to as the emergency ride home program that was launched in 2004. Mr. Khan explained that the emergency ride home program is free for the employer and for the employees.  Employees who did not drive their car to work that day and experienced an emergency would receive a ride home.  This program is paid for by the Department of the Environment who writes grants to the Air District to fund the program.  There are approximately 80,000 commuters with about 175 businesses participating in this program.  Emergency ride home agreements are renewed on an annual basis, and there are approximately 150 employers in San Francisco that will have their agreements renewed this year.  Annual renewal of agreements created a lot of administrative work for Department staff, and it was decided that administrative authority was needed to enter into three-year agreements with employers, which applies to part of the rule making.

 

Mr. Khan explained that the commuter benefits ordinance and IRS 132F is a huge incentive for employers in San Francisco.  Many employers originally were concerned about the payroll burden when the Department started going to the Board for passage last fall.  They discovered that this ordinance saves employers about 9% in payroll taxes because every dollar the employee takes out of their paycheck to buy transit or vanpool or bicycle costs, employers do not pay taxes on.  Mr. Khan reported on additional benefits to employers and employees (pages 2-3 of presentation). 

 

Mr. Khan discussed the commuter benefits mandate compliance options (page 4 of presentation) and the support for this mandate by the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce, Building Owners Management Association, Union Square Merchants Association.   A lot of businesses are signing up voluntarily and are reporting that they are in compliance through the three options offered.  The benefit can be used for all transit and vanpools in the greater Bay Area (presentation page 5 for a complete list).  Approximately 20% of the City and County of San Francisco’s employees currently participate in the program, and the City saves about half a million in payroll taxes as a result.  There are also many employers who are promoting this program (presentation page 7). 

 

Mr. Khan reported that the Department of the Environment is responsible for promulgating rules, regulations, and forms implementing the Ordinance and for enforcing compliance by San Francisco employers.  Explanatory documents with compliance forms and administrative citations that were created after consultation with the City Attorney’s Office, Acting Director, and Office of Labor Enforcement Standards were provided to the Commissioners for their review and approval (see explanatory document above).  Mr. Khan provided a description of the actions that would be taken for non-complying businesses and explained the administration of the emergency ride home program that the Commission would be approving (presentation page 7).

 

Commissioner Martin inquired about MapQuest for bicycles.  Mr. Khan explained that this service is being worked on now.  A grant was secured about three years ago but because of the bike injunction, the City Attorney’s Office would not allow it to proceed.  Mr. Khan explained that he is working with the Municipal Transportation Commission (MTC) that currently manages the regional Bike Mapper application; however, that is a static map application, not interactive.  An agreement is being worked on with MTC to transfer about $150,000 to build the application and another $30,000 will be spent for the Bike Coalition to do outreach with members. It will be the first version of its kind on interactive bike mapping in the country.  Mr. Khan indicated that he would come back to the Commission in fall when a date has been secured by MTC and the product can be released.  Commissioner Martin inquired whether it would be relevant for walking.  Mr. Khan stated that there is not an accompaniment of walking right now but he is working with the Department of Parking and Traffic on this effort.

 

Commissioner Martin discussed the discussion a couple of years ago that MUNI or BART passes would be offered to Commissioners to attend meetings instead of providing free parking spaces.  Mr. Khan indicated that he did not have information on this benefit and reported that the parking option for City employees was disabled.  The ordinance does state that it is up to the employer to enable parking for their employees.  However, it is not being promoted or mentioned to the employers in terms of ordinance compliance.  Once the program is set up, the vendors will allow employers to do either pre-tax parking, transit, and vanpool deductions, and a bicycle deduction in the near term.  Commissioner Martin suggested excluding the parking benefit.  Mr. Khan stated that it was discussed with the City Attorney’s Office and was retained in order to model IRS 132F, but when IRS 132F changes, it could be possible to make those changes. 

 

Commissioner King inquired how many of the 300 business involved meets the 20 employees and over threshold.  Mr. Khan reported that most of the 300 businesses signed up for the program, have 100 or more employees and all have 20 or more.  Only soft outreach is being done for businesses that have fewer than 20 employees by offering incentives through vendors that may offer the benefits at a low cost.  Commissioner King stated that it may be a burden for the Department of the Environment to carry this program administratively and be in charge of the implementation of rule making including collection of fines without funding. Commissioner King also recommended that there be a discussion held on what types of programs the fines would be used to fund and recommended that fines don’t end up in the general fund.  Commissioner King suggested using fines to create better facilities for bicyclists around the city in order to promote a better out of car experience.  Mr. Khan reported that the Department is currently funded to do ordinance compliance through grants that have been secured and also the recovery money that comes in from the commuter benefits program for city employees.  A determination has not been made as to the fine money because it is not known how much revenue the fines would generate, since there is such a large incentive to use this program.  It was explained that this program has not been tried anywhere else, so there isn’t a projection of what the fines would generate. The fines were put in place mainly to get the employer’s attention to implement the program. 

 

Mr. Khan explained that about $10,000 was budgeted for this fiscal year in terms of revenue projection and collection of fines, and indicated that he would be happy provide an update once it is know how much in fines is collected in the next fiscal year.  Commissioner King asked if the Department was being adequately compensated for facilitating this process.  Acting Director Assmann reported that compensation is being made through grants that would cover the cost of administering this program.  Mr. Khan explained that grant funding is from sales tax, Prop K, and also from the Air District for promotion of this program.  It was explained that the Air District is considering including this program in other counties as part of their grant giving criteria and a similar ordinance may be available in other jurisdictions.  Commissioner King inquired whether the funding is multi-year.  Acting Director Assmann reported that we do need to keep reapplying for funding because it has a time limit, and if the grant were to disappear and we had to administer the program, then it would be a burden to the Department.  Commissioner King recommended holding a discussion of how this program could be funded if grant funding was no longer available.  Acting Director Assmann reported that he would work on identifying a plan if this were to happen.

 

Acting Director Assmann reported that there are four unanswered questions in the rules and regulations.  Mr. Khan stated that they have been answered as input has since been received from the City Attorney’s Office.  Acting Director Assmann inquired about the question about the “fine may be up to $500.”  Mr. Khan stated that the fine would actually start with $500, then $200, then $100, up to $800.00 in total.  Acting Director Assmann inquired about the procedure for making payments.  Mr. Khan stated that the Department has set up an index code so the employer can mail a check directly to us.  Acting Director Assmann inquired about the appointment of the hearing officer.  Mr. Khan explained that it could be the program staff or could be determined by the Department Director.  Acting Director Assmann inquired about the anonymous versus formal complaint question.  Mr. Khan reported that we have two complaint forms--one is where the employee could issue a complaint with their name and the employer’s name and the other would be an anonymous form.  Another way to report an employer complaint would be through the commuter benefits hotline.   .      

 

Commissioner Wald asked to confirm that anonymous complaints would be taken as the documents in the packet request that people supply their names.  Mr. Khan reported that anonymous complaints would be taken.  Commissioner Wald asked how many staff members would be necessary to implement the program.  Mr. Khan stated that two other staff members in addition to himself, would be dedicated to commuter benefits and commercial outreach; and would not know if that would change until the first year of implementation. It is projected that it be at least those three positions because a lot of employers are doing the outreach instead of vice-versa. Commissioner Wald inquired whether compliance checking would be implemented through response to forms or through an active investigation.   Mr. Khan explained that compliance forms would be sent to employers with a follow-up call to the contact. The forms that are sent back will include the name of the vendor that they are using so that information supplied can be verified with the vendor and then updated in the database.  Each year employers are asked to update their profile to confirm their participation. Site visits are also scheduled for non-complying vendors that do not provide the information.  

 

Commissioner Martin recommended renewing agreements in five-year intervals instead of three to further reduce the paperwork.  Mr. Khan stated that three-year intervals were selected because of how the grants are allocated.  Since this is a grant funded program, funding can be foreseen for three years in advance, but the Air District may change their guidelines in five years.  It was explained that most grants are for two year intervals.

 

Commissioner Martin left the meeting at 6:30 p.m.

 

Commissioner Mok inquired whether the Board of Supervisors would have to approve the rulemaking guidelines after the Commission’s approval.  Acting Director Assmann reported that the ordinance that was approved allocated the rule making responsibility to the Department.

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Upon Motion by Commissioner King and second by Commissioner Wald, the Commission approved the Commuter Benefits Ordinance Compliance Rule Making effective for three years effective today and at that time would revisit the rules, procedures, and funding.  (AYES:  Vice President Gravanis, Commissioners King, Mok and Wald; Noes:  None; Absent:  President Pelosi Jr., Commissioners Martin and Tuchow).

 

Clean Air Transportation Presentation

 

Ms. Canez, Transportation Demand Management (TDM) Coordinator, Clean Air Transportation Program, discussed program operations and outreach efforts for promoting alternative transportation and how alternative transportation would save employees money and help improve air quality. Ms. Canez discussed the personal and environmental consequences of commuting in single-occupancy vehicles (page 2 of presentation), e.g. expense, quality of life, air quality, stress, threats of global warming, etc.  It was explained that in the City of San Francisco, 51% of the carbon dioxide emitted into the atmosphere is due to the transportation sector. That is a big impact that residents and commuters have on air quality in the city.  The Department of the Environment’s Clean Air Transportation program is focused on reducing that impact by focusing mainly on commuters and trying to promote alternative transportation measures.  The mission is to improve air quality by reducing vehicle trips traveled and by promoting the use of clean fuels.   

 

Ms. Canez explained that outreach on promoting these efforts includes issuing transportation surveys that would ask employees what mode of transportation they are currently taking and what would incentivize them to not use their cars.  In addition, there is outreach to promote the commuter benefits program, bicycle promotion, carpool/vanpool assistance, Bike Mapper, school ride matching, and emergency ride home programs.  Ms. Canez provided a description of each of these programs (presentation pages 5-10).  It was explained that outreach is being done to two different sectors that include City employees and employees of private San Francisco businesses to promote all programs.  Assistance is offered to City departments in completing their transportation surveys to meet the goals of their Climate Action Plan.  After review of the surveys, a determination will be made as to what the outreach effort should be to promote which program.  The transportation survey is also being used on the commercial sector with different businesses to determine what programs they can be implementing to achieve the same goal. 

 

Ms. Canez explained that the Department of the Environment is trying to lessen the impact that employees have by the programs that are offered and through outreach.  A hotline has been established for contact 415-355-3727 as well as a website commuterbenefits@sfgov.org.   Ms. Canez explained that at the City department level outreach includes new employee orientations, all staff meeting presentations, tabling, and answering hotline questions.  Outreach efforts at the commercial level include transportation survey consultation, determining what modes of transportation and incentives to promote, tabling, and giving presentations at different business associations and luncheons.

 

Commissioner King stated that he is more in favor of expanding bicycle facilities downtown instead of congestion management proposals.  Commissioner King stated that there is a high concentration of people who work downtown that may be interested in bicycling there were adequate facilities similar to what is offered at City Hall, e.g., bike lockup and shower facilities.  It was explained that there is empty office space downtown that can be used for this purpose.  Mr. Khan reported on existing facilities at the Cal train station at 4th and King and the Embarcadero Bike Station.  For City employees, discussions are being held with the Department of Real Estate who is in the process of setting up a bike room at 1 South Van Ness Avenue and consideration is being given for doing the same at 1660 Mission Street.  A list of other locations is also being considered that Mr. Khan indicated he could provide.  Commissioner King recommended that one of the Commission’s Committees hold a discussion with relevant agencies to discuss future plans for facilities.

 

Commissioner Wald suggested making a recommendation to the Planning Department that they create a requirement for bike rooms and showers in new commercial buildings that are constructed in San Francisco. Commissioner Wald stated that this is the appropriate time to adopt such a measure since new construction is not as prevalent.  Mr. Khan reported that the Planning Department, as part of their TDM plan, has noted that bike facilities should be considered and encouraged as part of new permitting, construction or redevelopment.  A certification program exists that would issue points for planning a bike room and shower facilities inside a building.   

 

Vice President Gravanis inquired whether lockers for bicyclists and public transit users could be available for people who visit City Hall and other public places. Mr. Khan reported that locker rooms are limited to Commissioners and City employees as there was theft and other enforcement issues at the time they were available to the general public. Vice President Gravanis indicated that MUNI station locker rooms were helpful but are no longer available.

 

Vice President Gravanis inquired about liability of ridesharing.  Mr. Khan reported that is the biggest concern for funding agencies and most jurisdictions have a third party in charge of the software and services.  In Contra Costa County’s ride matching program, the county and the school district did not want the liability, so a third party private company was hired who purchased insurance on their software that they were offering to the county in their contract. The school district and the county including the contractor had a disclaimer on the website that this is only an information sharing resource.  Mr. Khan discussed additional layers of security available for this program. Commissioner King recommended the possibility of fingerprinting.  Mr. Khan stated that fingerprinting was not considered as an option at this time. Commissioner King discussed the need for screening to insure credibility of people providing the ridesharing.     

 

Commissioner Wald commended the emergency ride home program and stated that her employer, NRDC, participates in the program and on the first day of sign-up they needed it and would be willing to testify on behalf of the success of this program.

 

7.      Description of the Overall Process of the Mayor's Office to Develop Projects for American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) Funds, the Projects Being Developed by the Department of the Environment, and the Process Going Forward. Sponsor:  Acting Director David Assmann; Staff Speakers: Cal Broomhead, Energy and Climate Programs Manager, Vandana Bali, Manager Clean Vehicles Program, Bob Hayden, Clean Transportation Advisor (Informational Report and Discussion) (Explanatory Documents:  Energy Presentation (PDF) and Clean Cities ARRA Grant Presentation)
 
      Acting Director Assmann reported that the Department of the Environment’s involvement with the stimulus package is related to the energy program and clean air as it relates to fuels and vehicles.

 

Energy Presentation
 

Mr. Broomhead reported that the stimulus package is a disappointment to many people because there were higher expectations. The money is competitive and there are a lot of federal and state bureaucracy rules and regulations. It was explained that the Mayor’s staff is the point person for the funds--Ms. Rhonda Simmons is in charge of workforce development and is researching funding related to education and workforce. Mr. Wade Crowfoot is in charge of the transportation and energy group, and there are several other groups related to health care and other programs.  Mr. Broomhead reported that the energy efficiency block grant money was not competitive, and the City received $7.7 million dollars to use over a three-year period. In comparison, the Energy Watch program was funded at $6.7 million for this calendar year, so the stimulus funds received is a modest increase in existing funding levels.

 

Mr. Broomhead reported that the Mayor’s Office decided to split the energy efficiency block grant funds 50 – 50 between the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) and the Department of the Environment (SFE) ($3.85 million). The first program proposal is on heating systems, primarily boilers in multi-family buildings.  Over half of green house gas emissions are on the natural gas side and over half of the natural gas being burned is in the residential sector. The Energy Watch program cannot effectively address this sector because the way the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) has written the rules, building owners could only be offered a little bit more than the tax on the equipment as an incentive. As a result, there is a disincentive to being involved in the residential market in upgrading older systems, which is what is in San Francisco.  So, the money that is being received will be applied to this particular market sector as it is underfunded.   

 

Mr. Broomhead reported that for the heating systems project, in addition to the energy efficiency block grant funds, there is a 30% federal tax credit, rebates, a new law, and a tax lien financing system to help building owners finance energy projects.  The funding received will also generate a lot more jobs.  Another program would be to target single-family and the two- to four unit home-owner market. They have a forced air furnace in the basement that provides heat to the units, which is a different technological issue to address than boilers.  There would be two parts to this program, which includes community outreach and doing a home assessment/performance test.  The home performance test would require a skilled workforce that will be doing technical assessments of the home and looking at the home as a system.  An incentive program would be offered to help building owners decide to do the home improvements.  Community based organizations would be utilized to promote home performance and educate the community about energy, water, disaster preparedness, etc.

 

Ms. Bali reported that for the federal stimulus package, there are three main options in the transportation sector--diesel, alternative fuel vehicles and infrastructure, and transportation electrification.  There is $300 million from the United States Department of Energy for petroleum reduction technology projects for the transportation sector, specifically to address alternative fuel vehicles and infrastructure from a regional standpoint.  For the $300 million Request for Proposals (RFP), there are approximately 30 potential grants that would be made available that would range from $5 to $15 million each.  The Department of Energy is expecting broad public private partnerships across regions.  Ms. Bali indicated that this funding falls under the Department of Energy’s Clean Cities program, a program that was formed in 1993 in response to the Energy Act of 1992.  The goal of these national Clean Cities Coalitions is essentially petroleum reduction, e.g., acquiring clean fuels, clean vehicles, advanced demonstration technology projects, putting CNG fueled, hydrogen and electric vehicles on the market, and building the infrastructure to fuel the vehicles of tomorrow and moving away from petroleum. 

 

Ms. Bali explained that nationally, there are 90 Clean Cities Coalitions around the nation.  In the Bay Area, there are three, the San Francisco Clean Cities Coalition (Ms. Bali is the Coordinator), Silicon Valley, and East Bay Clean Cities Coalitions.  For the $300 million opportunity, it is required that the public entity that makes the application partners with at least one or more Clean Cities Coalitions in the nation.  Ms. Bali reported that she has been working with the Bay Area Air Qualities Management District (BAAQMD) as has Mr. Hayden since this RFP was issued early this year. The BAAQMD is the entity submitting the $15 million application for the region, which is due on May 29th, and they have been actively working with the California Energy Commission (CEC) to secure the required 50% match.  Ms. Bali stated that the CEC has written a letter of commitment and support of BAAQMD’s application for $11 million in matching funds, and the BAAQMD’s Board approved a match of up to $5 million dollars that would complete the $15 million match to make this a regional project of about $30 million.  The funding would essentially be used to advance alternative fuel vehicles and secure the infrastructure necessary to fuel those, whether it is electric, compressed natural gas, or hydrogen vehicles. 

 

Ms. Bali reported that she has coordinated the regional Clean Cities Coalitions to conduct the education and outreach in support of the projects in the BAAQMD’s application.  In that small piece, there is $1.5 million that has been put forth for the three Clean Cities Coalitions. The San Francisco Clean City Coalition has been written in for $500,000, $250,000 from the Federal Department of Energy, approximately $155,000 from the CEC, the remaining match from the BAAQMD, and other supplemental funds from SFE.  The programs that will be worked on will provide education and outreach to inform residents, businesses, and other government sectors on what options are available so people can drive cleaner cars and know how to fuel those vehicles. The Clean Cities portion of $1.5 million would target education and outreach of institutions like community colleges, fleets, auto providers, fuel providers, and getting the word out through the media about all of the emerging technologies choices, so consumers can try these products and understand what the health and other benefits are in moving away from petroleum products as a society.

 

Clean Cities ARRA Funds Presentation
 
Mr. Hayden reported that for the Clean Cities $300 million competitive grant from the United States Department of Energy, the assessment was quickly made that in order for the Bay Area to be competitive in acquiring funds, a regional proposal was needed.  There was a joint effort with other cities and counties throughout the nine-county region, through the Bay Area Air Quality Management District, to identify projects that would add up to $15 million in requests from the Department of Energy.  The focus would be on electric vehicle (EV) programs so that the region is EV ready and would serve as a magnet for electric vehicles as they started coming out in the market in the next year or two.  Work has been done on the best way to do that with the money that would be available through this funding opportunity and was categorized into three different project areas (1) EV chargers; (2) Plug-in hybrids--converting a large number of the hybrid vehicles that are in the City’s fleet to operate as plug-in vehicles; and (3) EV Vans--purchase a few all battery electric vehicles that would be available now that could be used in the fleet (presentation page 1). 

 

Mr. Hayden explained that for the EV chargers, the focus was to identify where publicly accessible chargers could be placed.  It was determined that city-owned garages where we already have electric-vehicle chargers would be a location. The largest number is at the Civic Center garage where some electric vehicles are still in the City fleet, and there are eleven other garages in San Francisco where there are a number of older and for the most part obsolete EV chargers still in place.  Mr. Hayden discussed the electrical survey of those facilities that was done with electrical engineers from the PUC to determine how many chargers could be put in those locations within the confines of the existing electrical load capacity that they can serve and came up with a formula for each garage and figured out what the optimal number of chargers were that could be put in as a starter set.  All together it comes up to 240 chargers including those 12 garages downtown and four garages at the Airport where electric vehicle chargers could be placed now. Mr. Hayden discussed the distribution of funding requested for the EV chargers from federal, state, PUC, and vendor funds and described the proposal and distribution of funding for the plug-in hybrids and EV vans (presentation page 1). (Note: typo error in presentation – “140” chargers should be 240.) It was explained that if funding is not received at this time for the purchase of the battery electric vehicles, there would be additional state and federal grant opportunities in the next year.  Mr. Hayden stated that under the Clean Cities grant, the Bay Area stands a good opportunity for funding from the Department of Energy as it is a strong regional proposal.

 

Mr. Hayden discussed a separate proposal for the transportation electrification program which is also another stimulus fund that was set up and is operated through the Department of Energy. This fund was set up for companies to identify large scale demonstrations in multiple cities or metropolitan locations around the country.  SFE has contacted companies in the industry who were doing electric vehicle transportation projects to be part of their project and were written into vehicle projects by 1) Better Place, (2) Coulomb Technologies; (3) Nissan and AeroVironment; (4) Chrysler; and (5) Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI) “Project Get Ready” (presentation slide 2).  

 

Mr. Broomhead stated that San Francisco represents about 1/300th of the population of the country.  If you think of a pot of money that is $300 million, our pro-rata share should be about $1 million, so receiving $1.5 million would be good.  Commissioner Wald asked approximately how many jobs would the proposals bring to San Francisco and the Bay Area since the stimulus package is all about creating jobs. , Mr. Broomhead provided a calculation for approximately 60 jobs for the $3.85 million from the block grant money.  Mr. Hayden reported that conversion of the plug-in hybrids would be done by about three garages within San Francisco and the Bay Area that have been licensed or certified to do so and could provide approximately a dozen jobs a year.  Ms. Bali reported that for the Clean Cities program, there would be jobs involved for education, outreach, and workforce training components.  It was explained that the BAAQMD has a formula that would indicate how many jobs they are projecting will be created from the entire $15 million application for the region, and data can be provided to Commissioners.

 

Commissioner King stated that from his understanding about the Prius’s, a lot of people are forced to go to the dealerships which don’t always provide the best service deal, but feel they have to go there because they are the only place certified to work on this type of car.  Commissioner King recommended creating an alternative fuel-friendly vehicle environment that would include more American-made vehicles. Commissioner King inquired how many alternative vehicles there are in San Francisco. Ms. Bali stated that she could report back on that information from information from the new Eco Map program that provides Department of Motor Vehicle data for San Francisco on how many registered vehicles there are that are alternative fuel and what types they are.  Ms. Bali reported that there are a lot of options in the market now for American hybrids and alternative fuel vehicles.  It was explained that part of the education and outreach component is to make the Bay Area the magnet market for bringing in the curriculum, professors, teachers and leaders to make this the nucleus of the nation for making this the cutting edge on education for clean vehicles and alternative vehicles.  Commissioner King stated that the Hunters Point Shipyard is still looking for research and development ideas and that there is a lot of space there.  Commissioner King asked that the Shipyard be considered as a potential location. Commissioner King also recommended providing more service capability of alternative vehicles in San Francisco in order to bring in more revenue for the city.

 

Commissioner Wald asked when a response would be received on the stimulus fund package.  Mr. Broomhead reported that for the energy block grant money, the proposal should be submitted in the next ten days.  The Department of Energy would have to review about 2500 applications all of which are due by the end of June.  It is projected that there would be an answer on the energy block grant and the vehicle proposal by October or November.  It was explained that approvals have to be received from the Department of Energy, then checks have to arrive, then an accept and expend resolution has to be approved by the Board of Supervisors, a review would have to be done by the Budget Analyst, and once that is all in place, people would have to be hired to put the programs in place.  Commissioner Wald asked whether anything could be started in advance.  Mr. Broomhead reported that on the boiler retrofit program, discussions with building owners can be held now to find out what levels they are interested in, reviewing calculations, and putting together the curriculum for the home assessment community resilience assessment. 

              

8.      Commission Questionnaire to Solicit Legislative Ideas from Environmental Organizations.  Sponsor:  Commissioner Jane Martin, Staff Speaker: Mark Westlund, Program Outreach Manager (Explanatory Document:  Questionnaire)(Discussion)

 

Vice President Gravanis announced that Commissioner Martin, the sponsor of this item, had to leave the meeting at 6:30 p.m. and requested that this item be referred back to the Policy Committee for refinement. 

 

Commissioner Wald moved to adjourn, second by Commissioner King without objection.  Vice President Gravanis announced that written reports had been provided for review on Items 11-12.

 

9.      Operations Committee Report. (Information and Discussion)

Chair’s Report:  Report on the April 15, 2009 Meeting and review of the agenda for the upcoming meeting of July 15, 2009 at 5:00 p.m., to be held at the Department of the Environment Eco Center.  No report was given at this time.

 

10.  Policy Committee Report. (Information and Discussion)

Chairs Report:  Highlights of the April 13 and May 11, 2009 meetings and review of the agenda for the June 8, 2009 meeting to be held at City Hall, Room 421.  No report was given at this time.

 

11.  Commission Secretary’s Report. (Explanatory Document: Commission Secretary’s Report) (Information and Discussion)

         Monica Fish, Commission Secretary

·         Communications and Correspondence

·         Update on Pending City Legislation

 

No verbal report was given at this time.  Commissioners were asked to review the written report.

 

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

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.

 

No verbal report was given at this time.  Commissioners were asked to review the written report.

 

13.  Announcements. (Information and Discussion)  There were no announcements made at this time.

 

14.  President’s Announcements. (Information and Discussion) There were no announcements made at this time.

 

15.  New Business/Future Agenda Items. (Information, Discussion and Possible Action).  No new business or future agenda items were heard at this time.

 

16.  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.

 

17.  Adjournment. The Commission on the Environment meeting adjourned at 7:49 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 meeting website with each agenda or meeting minutes at https://sites.google.com/a/sfenvironment.org/commission/environment-commission; and (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: July 28, 2009

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