09.22 Approved Minutes

CITY AND COUNTY OF SAN FRANCISCO

COMMISSION ON THE ENVIRONMENT

 

REGULAR MEETING

APPROVED MINUTES

TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 22, 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 5:08 p.m.  Present:  President Pelosi Jr., Vice-President Gravanis, Commissioners Martin, Mok, Tuchow and Wald. Absent:  Commissioner King.  

 

2.      Adoption of Minutes of the July 28, 2009 Commission Regular Meeting.  (Discussion and Action) Upon Motion by Commissioner Wald and second by Vice President Gravanis, the July 28, 2009 Meeting Minutes were approved as written (AYES:  President Pelosi Jr., Vice-President Gravanis, Commissioners Martin, Mok, Tuchow and Wald; Absent: Commissioner King) (Explanatory Document: July 28, 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.  There was no public comment at this time.

 

4.      Urban Accord Action 16 Environmental Health. Approval of the 2009-12 Green Purchasing Priorities List.  Sponsor: Jared Blumenfeld, Director; Speaker: Dr. Chris Geiger, Green Purchasing Manager (Explanatory Document:  2009-12 Green Purchasing Priorities Summary)  (Informational Presentation, Discussion, and Action)

 

Dr. Geiger reported that the 2009-12 Green Purchasing Priorities List shows product categories that would be worked on within the next three years for the Green Purchasing Program.  The San Francisco Precautionary Purchasing Ordinance requires that this list be re-examined every three years and brought to the Commission for approval.  Dr. Geiger reported three years ago, a public process was held to identify what important criteria should be used in making purchasing decisions and is used as a reference document (Explanatory Document: Environmental & Health Criteria for Scoring Targeted Product Categories). An effort was made this year to make product categories more specific.  A staff review process was held working with the Office of Contract Administration to review contracts in progress, contract size, their cost-effectiveness, and to determine which contracts would have the most potential environmental impacts and make sense to spend time on. 

 

Dr. Geiger reported that as a result of the Mayor’s Executive Order on foods issued approximately a month ago, work has begun on a citywide dairy contract.  Graffiti-removers would be an example of a kind of product that contains hazardous ingredients and is important to identify green criteria for in order to protect City workers.  Dr. Geiger stated that a recent Examiner Article and subsequent coverage on Channel 2 this evening misinterpreted the Green Purchasing Priorities List as a report and not a list of priorities. Another important category that has a huge contract dollar value, serves an important function, and contains mostly hazardous ingredients is disinfectants. An alternative analysis is in progress for this category so that recommendations for new safer products can be made. 

 

Commissioner Martin inquired whether a recommendation is being made to paint over graffiti instead of using graffiti-removers. Dr. Geiger stated that the process for reviewing effective alternative products, such as soy and orange-oil based products is currently in progress. In a lot of cases, painting would be less hazardous than using remover, and is the common practice that the Department of Public Works (DPW) uses.  DPW also removes graffiti through the use of a baking soda machine that works well on brick and concrete and can possibly be shared with other departments.

 

Commissioner Martin inquired about the weed barriers and mulches category.  Dr. Geiger stated that there was a request made by the Integrated Pest Management Program to identify the type of  weed barriers that would get the job done, e.g., plastic weed cloth, biodegradable alternatives, or just the mulches.  Dr. Geiger hopes to compare these products in the next three years. 

 

Commissioner Tuchow inquired whether there should be another column added recommending the various criteria for the requirement listed in the San Francisco Green Purchasing Priorities List stating that “San Francisco Environment may develop green purchasing specifications, add products to the SF Approved Catalog, and/or require City departments to buy only products in the SF Approved Catalog.”   Dr. Geiger explained that it is hoped that departments either be required to use products from the list or recommend to the Department of Environment a product that they have tried, so that in the future it can become a mandatory product.  Dr. Geiger stated that as an example, for computer servers, there is a requirement to purchase either Climate Savers or Energy Star products, but this category is incomplete and is a developing area in terms of specifications.  Another example would be the requirement for food containers--there is an effort to improve the recommendations for different products to add to the contract.  For janitorial cleaners, there are four categories that are required now, e.g. window, general purpose, etc. but the rest are all suggested at this point. 

 

Commissioner Tuchow inquired whether the City still purchases a large amount of plastic bags.  Dr. Geiger explained that the City purchases plastic-trash bags and is now working on that contract in order to secure maximum recycled content in the plastic bags and a good price on compostable bags for composting.

 

Vice President Gravanis stated that in reference to janitorial disinfectants, in addition to the toxicity problems listed, recommended adding that “the overuse of antimicrobials ends up resulting in more resistant strains of bacteria and viruses and should be noted as a negative impact.”  Dr. Geiger concurred.

 

Commissioner Wald inquired whether there are additional reasons other than the screening criteria to use a product from the list.   Dr. Geiger stated that a product score sheet is also used.       He also explained that the list was so long because the Department wants to maintain its flexibility. There are some products on the list for which there are no options to work on right now.    Conversely, for some items, like carpeting, which has a high dollar value for material, there are new standards (e.g. green building) available that can be put in place.    Dr. Geiger stated that there are also unpredictable things to consider, e.g., City purchaser requirements, if there is an urgent need for a new contract, and current workloads.

 

Upon Motion by Vice President Gravanis and second by Commissioner Tuchow, the Green Purchasing Priorities List for 2009-12 was approved without objection (AYES:  President Pelosi Jr., Vice-President Gravanis, Commissioners Martin, Mok, Tuchow and Wald; Absent: Commissioner King).   

 

Explanatory Documents Distributed in Commission Meeting:  Environmental & Health Criteria for Scoring Targeted Product Categories and PPO/TPC – Product Category Score Sheet.

 

5.      Urban Accord Actions 10-12 Urban Nature.  Review and Approval of Department of the Environment Staff and Policy Committee Recommendations on the Recreation and Open Space Element (ROSE) to submit to the Planning Department. Sponsors:  Vice-President Gravanis and Commissioner Martin; Speaker: David Assmann, Deputy Director (Explanatory Document:  ROSE Comments) (Discussion and Action)

 

Vice-President Gravanis stated that the City by state law has a General Plan that includes many elements, one of which is the Recreation and Open Space Element (ROSE). The Planning Department last May issued a draft update of the ROSE, which is supposed to be updated every 25-30 years and is overdue. This topic has been a subject of a number of many different meetings, and the Policy Committee heard a presentation on the Plan from Planning Department staff members at a prior meeting.  San Francisco Environment staff members also put a lot of time into commenting on this document that were reviewed by the Policy Committee at their August and September meetings. The explanatory document reflects input from staff with revisions based on comments made at the last Policy Committee meeting.

 

Deputy Director Assmann provided an overview of staff comments on the Recreation and Open Space Element as detailed in the Explanatory Document: ROSE Comments).

 

·        The Recreation and Open Space Element should include policies to address impacts of Climate Change—specific recommendations were made to strengthen the references and the context around Climate Change. 

 

·        ROSE open space system should include the City’s water resources and land areas outside the boundaries of the City’s mainland including lands that are controlled or owned by the City that are not within the boundaries of San Francisco. 

 

·        There needs to be coordination between ROSE and other planning efforts for site specific areas.

 

·        The preservation of sunlight and open space comment should not be used to restrict the planting of tall trees. 

 

·        Integrated Pest Management (IPM) Recommendations.

 

·        Consideration should be given to privately-owned public spaces and to reference the study that was put together by SPUR recently. 

 

·        Urban Forest recommendations.

 

·        Staff’s support of the biodiversity comments put together by Nature in the City.

 

·        Agricultural use of public spaces in the city for local food production.

 

·        Recommended that a set of sustainability objectives should be included in the plan with subheadings that include water, storm-water, carbon emissions, buildings, preserving resources and achieve zero waste, and green building.

 

Commissioner Martin suggested an amendment on Staff Comments, page 3, #2, to not include weave cloth as a recommendation in order to be consistent with information reviewed by Dr. Geiger.  Commissioner Wald recommended that it say non-toxic weave cloth. Commissioner Martin added or biodegradable weave-cloth.  Dr. Geiger reported that he has not yet prepared an analysis of weave cloth and would want to compare different types. He stated that he would suspect that plastic weave cloth would fail, but would have more information when a comparison has been made.  

 

Commissioner Martin proposed an additional amendment to state that if irrigation is required, to recommend that it be computerized and reclaimed water as possible.  Vice-President Gravanis stated that because both of Commissioner Martin’s proposed amendments apply to a quotation pulled from the Treasure Island Sustainability Plan, an editorial technique would have to be made to modify the language to make it clear that the reference is to non-toxic biodegradable weave cloth, and that the use of non-potable water should always be stressed wherever possible as opposed to technology because conservation should be considered first.  Vice-President Gravanis recommended that staff consider whether to quote the Treasure Island Sustainability Plan or to add consideration of Integrated Pest Management (IPM) objectives.  Deputy Director Assmann concurred with comments made.

 

Director Blumenfeld introduced Ms. Katherine Howard of Golden Gate Parks Preservation Alliance and thanked her for work for the Recreation and Park Department while he was the Acting General Manager.  Ms. Howard was commended for being a great supporter and deserving of credit for helping to make Outside Lands happen.  Ms. Howard was on the Request for Proposal(s) Committee and worked hard to make sure that Golden Gate Park was preserved from stakes and other things during Outside Lands.

 

Public Comment:  Ms. Katherine Howard, Golden Gate Parks Preservation Alliance, spoke and provided a handout with comments and suggested language to be included in Staff’s Comments on the Recreation and Open Space Element (Explanatory Document:  Comments and Suggested Language—ROSE). Suggested language included:

 

A.     Policy 1.3 – Support the continued improvement of Golden Gate Park

 Language recommendation:

·        Eliminate: Policy 1.3, Improved Permeability and the accompanying map

·        Add:  Policy 1.3, #6.  Evaluate methods for providing increased security for both Park users and Park wildlife.

 

B.  Language recommendation, Commission document, p. 2, ROSE open space system should include the City’s water resources and land areas outside the boundaries of the City’s mainland

·        Add to Paragraph 2:   such as Crystal Springs Reservoir, Sharp Park in Pacifica, and Camp Mather....

 

Vice-President Gravanis spoke in support of Ms. Howard’s proposal.  Upon Motion by Commissioner Tuchow, second by Commissioner Wald, Ms. Howard’s proposed language on behalf of Golden Gate Parks Preservation Alliance was approved for addition into Staff Comments on the Recreation and Open Space Element (AYES:  President Pelosi Jr., Vice-President Gravanis, Commissioners Martin, Mok, Tuchow, and Wald) (Absent:  Commissioner King).

 

Upon Motion by Commissioner Tuchow, second by Commissioner Wald, Staff Comments on the Recreation and Open Space Element were approved with amendments proposed by Commissioners (AYES:  President Pelosi Jr., Vice-President Gravanis, Commissioners Martin, Mok, Tuchow, and Wald) (Absent:  Commissioner King). 

         

6.      Review and Approval of Policy Committee Recommendations Regarding the Operations and Practices of the Full Commission and its Committees. Sponsor and Speaker:  Vice-President Gravanis (Explanatory Document:  Proposed Recommendations) (Discussion and Action)

 

Vice-President Gravanis reported on the Policy Committee’s discussions about ways to streamline meetings without sacrificing content or public participation. One proposal is to focus more effort on how much time each speaker would need and enforcing that time limit through use of a timer and placement of the presentation times the speaker has agreed to on the agenda. Taking less time would be acceptable, but it would be important to give the speaker the time limit agreed upon.  

 

Vice President Gravanis reported on the second proposal that the Policy Committee is recommending on meeting management that includes establishing guidelines for agenda setting. There are sometimes more requests for agenda items than there is time for, and it is useful to have guidelines to be used by all people involved to add the most important items to the agenda.  The Policy Committee agreed that these would be used as guidelines instead of actual criteria. The idea is to periodically review the Commission’s Bylaws and for the Commission and its Committees to give precedence to items that fulfill their mission as outlined in the Bylaws and guiding documents. The criteria for agenda placement includes consideration of whether it should be an agenda item or a written report, should it go to a Committee first or would it need to go to the full Commission, and other considerations as outlined in the explanatory document.  The idea is for people who do the agenda setting to have a checklist if there is any question about what should be placed on the agenda and if there is a question about time available.   

 

President Pelosi Jr. recommended that the Commission consider a Bylaws change in order to hold monthly meetings so that more items can be heard and would result in shorter meetings.  He stated that it is important to make sure that there is Commission oversight, and that staff is recognized for their contributions and hard work.  Commissioner Martin stated that the intention is not to reduce the number of agenda items, but to apply a time limit so even more items could be added to the agenda if necessary.

 

Director Blumenfeld recommended holding special meetings as needed in order to examine the requirement for monthly meetings and then proposing a Bylaws amendment if required. He also concurred with the proposal and stated that the intent is for the Committees to do the work so Commission meetings would be more pro-forma. President Pelosi Jr. suggested moving ahead with recommendations today and considering a Bylaws amendment in the future as he felt that the special meeting process was cumbersome.  Vice-President Gravanis commended Department staff on their work and motivation and stated that the Commission should find more ways to thank and recognize them, but does not know if it is through agenda setting.

 

Upon Motion by Commissioner Tuchow and second by Commissioner Martin, the proposed Recommendations Regarding the Operations and Practices of the Full Commission and its Committees were approved without objection.  (AYES:  President Pelosi Jr., Vice-President Gravanis, Commissioners Martin, Mok, Tuchow and Wald; Absent: Commissioner King)

 

7.      Operations Committee Report. (Information and Discussion)

Chair’s Report:  Review of the agenda for the upcoming meeting of October 21, 2009 at 5:00 p.m., to be held at the Department of the Environment Eco Center.

 

Operations Committee Chair Tuchow reported that the Operations Committee was not scheduled to meet since the July 28 Commission meeting and asked Commissioners for their agenda item suggestions for the October 21 meeting.

 

8.      Policy Committee Report. (Information and Discussion)

Chairs Report:  Highlights of the August 10 and September 14, 2009 meetings and review of the agenda for the October 26, 2009 meeting to be held at City Hall, Room 421.  

 

Policy Committee Chair Wald reported that at the August 10 meeting, there was an extensive and informative discussion on the San Francisco Sustainability Plan and sustainability planning.  The Minutes of the meeting are available that outline the topics discussed.  At the September 14 meeting, there was an extensive discussion of the Department’s comments on the Recreation and Open Space Element and the Recommendations for the Operations and Practices of the Commission that the Commission has voted on at this meeting.  If Hunters Point Shipyard Candlestick Point update is not heard at the next meeting scheduled for October 26, it is anticipated that cell phone safety and pharmaceuticals would be discussed.  

 

9.      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

 

Commission Secretary Monica Fish provided a written report on legislative activities and all correspondence received since the last meeting on July 28 (Explanatory Document: Commission Secretary’s Report).  Ms. Fish asked the Commissioners to pay special attention to the requirement by the Department of Human Resources to complete the Mandatory Harassment training by December 31, 2009.  The memorandum and instructions were included in the Commission packet.

 

10.  Director’s Report. (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. (Information and Discussion)

 

Director Blumenfeld provided a written report and discussed the following topics:

 

·        The Policy Committee at their September 14 meeting recommended that specific topics from the Director’s Report be discussed at Policy Committee meetings in more detail as requested;

 

·        The September 19 San Francisco Chronicle article on the Department’s work on dry cleaning that should be brought to a future Policy Committee meeting.  A thorough analysis was made of different types of dry cleaning-chemicals and solvents used to clean garments.  Ms. Raphael’s Toxics Reduction program team did an outstanding job working on this effort for the last two years with state agencies.

 

·        Legislation is moving forward on truth in advertising that only allows the use of the words green, organic, or biodegradable if it really is. 

 

·        The Board of Supervisors Finance and Budget Committee at their September 23 meeting will be reviewing legislation on the energy-efficiency grant program as it applies to property tax and transfer of property.

 

·        The Board of Supervisors Government Oversight and Audits Committee at their September 24 meeting will be hearing the conclusions of the Peak Oil Preparedness Task Force that the Department of Environment supports.

 

·        An annual senior staff retreat will be scheduled for mid-October to discuss the Sustainability Plan and the role of strategic planning within the Department.  One of the Policy Committee members has agreed to attend the meeting.  The meeting date will be announced.  The plan will include elements that are not included in the Plan and the Department would want to focus on.

 

·        Recology, which is the successor in name to Norcal, was the winner of the Request for Proposal(s) process for landfill.  There is a fifteen-day process by which the decision can be appealed, and appeals have been lodged.  The contract will be negotiated and then will go to the Board of Supervisors for approval. It will be a three to six-month process. 

 

·        The 2008 landfill numbers were the lowest on record, a 10% reduction from 2007.  This is significant because it does not include the majority of the recession year, which should bring the numbers down even further.

 

·        Outreach—Volunteers brought green pails to 7000 apartments. 

 

·        The Department of the Environment is engaged in an effort to capitalize on President Obama’s stimulus money on the “Jobs Now” program.  The program pays 80% of the salary for folks who are 200% below the poverty line.  Department hopes to use about 100 of these folks to mobilize around the Mandatory Recycling Ordinance implementation on October 21 and sign up more businesses for the Energy Watch program.  A follow-up report will be given at the next Commission meeting.

 

Commissioner Martin inquired whether Recology’s landfill is in Nevada.  Director Blumenfeld reported that Recology is a big company that has a landfill site in Nevada, but that San Francisco’s waste would be going to Yuba County, not Nevada. Commissioner Martin asked whether carbon credit offsets could be used for the filming of “Trauma?”  Director Blumenfeld stated that carbon credit offsets could be offered for just about anything. 

 

11.  Announcements.  (Information and Discussion)  Vice President Gravanis announced (1) that the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission would be holding a “Big Blue Bucket” event this Saturday on Jerrold and Phelps Streets, which is an event where you can bring your unwanted pharmaceuticals.  There would also be other activities at this event; and (2) there has been more volunteer activity on Yerba Buena Island. She was there last Friday with the manager of the Green Hairstreak Project, a butterfly conservation effort, and counted nine different species of butterflies and more than 100 individuals. 

 

Commissioner Mok announced (1) that there is a “Bring Your Own Bag Campaign” at Andronico’s on Irving Street that will be held on Wednesday, September 23 at 10:30 a.m. which he invited Commissioners to attend, and (2) inquired how Commissioners can enroll in the West Coast Green Expo starting on October 1.  Director Blumenfeld stated that Commissioners who would be interested in attending the West Coast Green Expo should access the www.westcoastgreen.org website and relay which events they would be interested in attending to Ms. Raphael, who would make an inquiry about tickets.

 

Commissioner Martin announced (1) that she had solar installed on her building because of the City incentive and commended the success of the program and worker efforts; and (2) that she designed a “Pavement to Parks” project that is almost finished on Guerrero and 28th Streets that utilized mostly reclaimed material from Golden Gate Park.

 

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

 

13. New Business/Future Agenda Items. (Information, Discussion and Possible Action)  There was no new business or future agenda items discussed at this time.

 

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

 

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

 

** 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: November 24, 2009

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