01.26 Approved Minutes


CITY AND COUNTY OF SAN FRANCISCO

COMMISSION ON THE ENVIRONMENT

 

REGULAR MEETING

APPROVED MINUTES

TUESDAY, JANUARY 26, 2010, 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 (5:12), Mok (5:10), Tuchow and Wald. Absent: Commissioner King.  

 

2.      Adoption of Minutes of the November 24, 2009 Commission Regular Meeting. (Discussion and Action) Upon Motion by Commissioner Tuchow and second by Vice President Gravanis, the November 24, 2009 Meeting Minutes were adopted without objection (AYES: President Pelosi Jr., Vice-President Gravanis, Commissioners Mok, Tuchow and Wald (Absent:  Commissioners King and Martin) (Explanatory Document: November 24, 2009 Approved Minutes)  There was no public comment at this time.

 

Item 11 was heard before Item 3.

 

3.      Urban Environmental Accord 3: Energy--San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency Presentation (SFMTA) on the San Francisco Community Wide Climate Action Plan and the voter mandated Prop A which required SFMTA to reduce community wide emissions from the transportation sector 20% by 2011.  SFMTA is requesting the Commission’s support of its proposal.  Sponsor: Acting Director David Assmann; Staff Speaker:  Calla Ostrander, Climate Action Coordinator; SFMTA Speakers:  Marty Mellera, Climate Action Plan Representative and Timothy Papandreou, Assistant Deputy Director of Planning and Sustainable Streets (Explanatory Document: SFMTA Presentation Sustainable Mobility & Climate Action Strategy) (Informational Report, Discussion and Possible Action)

 

Ms. Ostrander reported that most of the community-level emissions (approximately fifty percent) are from the transportation sector. There are multiple plans to address these emissions such as (1) the Municipal Transportation Agency’s internal Climate Plan to track its municipal footprint, which is a requirement set forth by Supervisor Mirkarimi’s Ordinance; (2) the voter-mandated Proposition A which specifies that SFMTA is to reduce community-wide emissions from the transportation sector by 20% which is influencing SFMTA to go beyond its footprint and reduce emissions from the transportation sector at the entire community level; (3) regional policies from the Bay Area Air Quality Management District (BAAQMD) issuing greenhouse gas thresholds for California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) analysis; (4) state policies through SB375, which is linking land-use and transportation funding.  Recognizing that there is a lot of activity happening with climate planning on all of these multiple levels, an effort is being made to branch out of these smaller plans and look at integrating across a wider spectrum.  SFMTA is in attendance and will discuss work being done to move these efforts forward.

 

Mr. Timothy Papandreou’s presentation—(Explanatory Document: Presentation on SFMTA Presentation Sustainable Mobility & Climate Action Strategy)

SFMTA is reviewing the process of preparing an analysis through the recognition that our society is constantly mobile.  While the SFMTA is responsible for specific transportation elements for our society, the fact of the matter is that we are always mobile and temporarily resting, which has been the basis of analysis.  People are always going from here to there and everywhere, and SFMTA’s job is on how to make that more sustainable because there are specific guidelines to meet.  

 

Who SFMTA is as a transportation agency--Over the past several years, SFMTA has been amalgamating a lot of other various City functions.  It is the multi-modal transportation agency planner, designer, builder and operator of transit, pedestrian and bicycle networks in San Francisco and also operates the street network signals and system.  SFMTA supports public realm development and traffic calming; manages the City’s parking supply; assists with City department station areas, larger developments, taxi administration, and recently has been given street enforcement authority from the Police Department.

 

Key state, local and regional sustainability strategies have been being worked on over the last couple of years.  AB32 had a scoping plan and a lot of the Land Use Transportation Element was fairly open and not developed because of many reasons.  As a result, Senate Bill 375 was passed that looked at the land use transportation component of AB32, which looks at reducing green house gas emissions and setting regional target goals in metropolitan regions.  There are several regional land use and transportation plans that talk about transportation and land use and green house gas emissions.  The San Francisco Department of the Environment is working on its citywide Climate Action Plan update, and as part of Proposition A, SFMTA is required to prepare a Climate Action Plan for its own emissions and for the transportation sector.

 

SFMTA’s own emissions are well in check to meet required goals under Proposition A.  There has been a 20% reduction of 1990 levels by 2012, which is being met primarily through the implementation of hybrid and biodiesel fleets.  Sulfur dioxide has been reduced over 99% from the conversion of diesel to hybrid and biodiesel fleets, which is a tremendous improvement in air quality.  Any future recycling and sustainability efforts will help reach goals from the transit and transportation agencies perspective.  Slide 7 is a visual of the reduction in particulate matter from the transit fleet over the years, which is a result of the purchase of clean vehicles.  The transportation sector goal approved by voters is to reduce transportation sector emissions.  This goal is beyond the SFMTA’s authority and is within the transportation sector at large.  What this equates to is a 20% percent reduction to 1990 levels by 2012, which is approximately one million metric tons of CO2, which is a substantial reduction.  A framework is being proposed that looks at the best practices that is known worldwide, reviewing what is applicable to San Francisco, and then coming back to the Commission and Board of Supervisors to adopt those best practices and set the goals post 2012 as required by Proposition A.

 

The key issues that have been successfully articulated to the state and federal governments are mainly the inverse relationship between transit and transportation sector emissions.  In order to reduce the transportation sector emissions, you have to do mode shifting--people have to shift away from cars and onto transit, bicycling and walking.  In order to mode shift, you create a burden on the existing transit capacity.  In order for that transit capacity to handle the mode shifting, you have to provide more services and more facilities that can physically consume more energy.  As a result, transit emissions would need to grow in order to reduce the transportation sector emissions as a whole.  That is the inverse relationship that SFMTA is successfully educating the state and federal government on.  It is easy to say just make people, walk, bike and take transit more, but if you are at full capacity and you have limited resources, it makes it almost impossible to do that.  What may come across initially as cost effective may be quite expensive because additional transit capacity has to be added to handle the mode shift.

 

Methodology and best practices that can handle mode shifting (slide 11).  Important tools include (1) congestion management (trade-offs need to be negotiated); (2) Transit Oriented Development (City approved the majority of priority development areas), (3) energy reductions.  A review is in progress of the possibility of converting the entire transportation fleet to electric which would achieve the most emission reduction; however there are serious budget concerns, costs, and a question of electrical load capability. The question would be where that would get us if vehicle miles traveled is growing over time.  A review of containment issues that has been placed under a broad umbrella of demand management strategies should be accomplished.  These decisions on best practices are not easy because of physical, social and political costs, but they will have to be made.  .

 

In the near future, Infrastructure protection will be reviewed under the concept of climate adaptation to see which areas of the city are expected to have the greatest risk in sea level rise and stormwater issues, and then identifying and reviewing protection strategies for all infrastructures close to the shoreline. This is the worst time to be doing this kind of planning because funding is shrinking and state funding for transportation and specifically transit is almost gone.  There is an opportunity for the next federal reauthorization to move to a greener agenda, and it is believed that the administration will be moving in that direction, but there are serious funding constraints.  

 

Funding needs--A key priority is to identify state of good repair in order to maintain what we have, to handle the impending mode shift, and to look at pilot fund opportunities from federal government and other agencies.  There are specific capacity issues that are beyond the City’s ability to handle, e.g., the core transit and BART capacity on Market Street, which is a regional priority.  It is mainly about advocating and outreach to key funding sources to make sure that they are aware that we are willing as a city more so than most cities in the country to move forward in the sustainability-mobility direction and willing to move into these innovative best practices.  There does have to be clear demonstrable impacts to our existing transportation system that really needs not only regional but state and federal attention as well, and SFMTA would like that help to move the discussion forward.

 

Timeline for next steps—SFMTA is in the process of working closely with the Department of the Environment and transportation agency partners, specifically the Transportation Authority, the Municipal Transportation Commission, and other City departments, e.g. Airport and Port, to look at how to move forward.  Proposition A requires that SFMTA provide an update of future plans to the Commission by the end of this year.  Mr. Papandreou indicated that he would do his best to schedule another presentation before the Commission in November of this year.

 

President Pelosi Jr. stated that the Precautionary Principle states that the City’s budget and economic impact have to be taken into consideration for any type of plan.  He recommended that more focus should be given to achieving climate change through outreach to the community to participate in transportation forms that cost less such as biking and walking.  He stated that there is an opportunity over the next year through stimulus funding to provide outreach to the public through the Environment Now program.  The key is to be more cost-disciplined, create modesty, cooperation, and sustainable development at attractive prices that do not put a burden on the City.  Legislation is in place that will prevent spending money on programs if they don’t meet tests of job creation and budget constraints.  The reason these programs are so hard to implement is because people have to understand that this is about cooperation, and more emphasis should be placed toward this effort.  Mr. Papandreou reported that public outreach is one of the integral pieces of the plan and so are sustainable modes of walking and bicycling.

 

Commissioner Martin inquired whether emissions from the production of electricity required to run electric buses would be taken into consideration.  Mr. Papandreou reported yes, using existing resources.         

 

Vice-President Gravanis stated that the Commission did not have anything substantive to vote on, but stated that she was pleased to see the direction that this was moving in.  She suggested that SFMTA not just look at the miles traveled and mode shift, but also look at per household car ownership and work with the Planning Department to reduce parking ratios especially in new residential developments. She is looking forward to staying apprised as this project moves along.

 

4.      Urban Environmental Accord 16: Environmental Health--Consideration of Draft Resolution File 2009-06-COE recommending measures for educating the public on and reducing exposure to radiation from cell phones, including disclosure of radiation information at point of sale.  Sponsor:  Commissioner Wald; Staff Presenter:  Debbie Raphael, Toxics Reduction Program Manager (Explanatory Documents:  Presentation, Draft Resolution File 2009-06-COE. Mayor’s Ordinance Cell Phones—“Retailers’ Duty to Disclose Radiation Levels”; Public Correspondence Received) (Discussion and Action)

 

President Pelosi Jr. reported that the cell phone safety issue has been worked on by the Commission’s Policy Committee. The Mayor has submitted legislation which is similar to one of the recommendations found in the Commission’s Resolution that calls for disclosure of radiation values at the point of sale. He stated that the Commission at this meeting should consider reports and information received, and the Policy Committee’s proposed Resolution that would be presented to the Board of Supervisors and Mayor. 

 

Ms. Raphael reported that there were many members of the public in attendance to share their perspective on this topic.  Ms. Raphael referenced her presentation for discussion (explanatory document: presentation). She stated that slide 1 is a beautiful exponential curve that came from the cell phone industry that is looking just at cell phone use in the United States.  What you see on slide 2, is that up to 2008, there are 262 million Americans that have cell phones, and there is no slowing down of that trend.  The fact is that cell phone use in the United States is increasing exponentially. Ms. Raphael explained that the green numbers on the left of slide 2 show the average number of usage (minutes) per month per consumer in various countries.  An interesting fact is that in the United States, the average usage is 848 minutes per month, and the second highest country is Canada which has half the usage of the United States.  It is clear that people in the United States are very attached to their cell phones.  

 

Ms. Raphael stated that it appears that increased usage seems to correlate strongly with cost—it is much cheaper in the United States to talk on a cell phone than in other countries (slide 3).  The map from the Center for Disease Control is a report they completed on cell phone usage (slide 4) that shows that 20 percent and in some cases 30 percent of households in the United States have given up their land line and are only using cell phones (dark red section). So anytime that they are using a phone, they are using a cell phone.  The basic message is not a surprise in that we use our cell phones a lot. 

 

Ms. Raphael referenced slide 5, which is a graph that shows that there is a challenge because science is not consistent.  A review of federal websites and some large studies that were commissioned shows  statements that there is no evidence that there is harm from cell phone usage, and yet other peer-reviewed studies show that it doesn’t seem unanimous in that conclusion.  This graph that was prepared in the United Kingdom shows that the exponential rise is the number of people using cell phones.  When you do a study in a snapshot in time, which in this case would be the right hand side at zero, 85 percent of the people that you are sampling have only been using cell phones for five years.  Only 15 percent have been using cell phones for longer than five years and only 2 percent have been using them for longer than ten years.  When you are talking about health effects that take 10 to 20 years to manifest but you are averaging the impact over the entire population, you are going to have a diluted impact.  What you need to do is look at the far left side to determine who the heavy long term users of cell phones are and what the science says about that population.  This is where you may start to see the first indication of a problem. 

 

Ms. Raphael stated that a number of reputable journals/articles (slide 6) were found that had looked at aggregating data from long-term studies of heavy cell phone users and found evidence of harm.  The science is not unanimous, but there are well respected journals showing potential health problems.  Where is the United States on cell phone safety?  These are three major international studies right now looking at long-term effects of cell phone use (slide 7). The United States is participating in none of these studies.  When we look at the impacts on cell phone users, we will have no information on cell phone use in the United States.  You saw the data on how different the United States is in terms of usage in comparison to other countries.  So how do we get the United States engaged?  This is not something that can happen in San Francisco and has to happen nationally. How do we get the conversation started in this country? 

 

Ms. Raphael stated that she Google searched cell phones for young kids and what she found was disturbing (slide 8). There are phones being marketed for kids ages 3-8.  If you look at those buttons, you don’t need to know how to read--they are geared for pre-readers and these phones are all designed for that age group when kids are just beginning to read.  The more we learn about how a child’s head is constructed, the more concern this leaves us.  France appears to be the most concerned with this issue and has a public outreach campaign trying to alert parents that kids should not be using cell phones.  Slide 9 is a sign from Lyon, France that says “A mobile phone before they’re 12, No Way! Let’s keep them healthy, away from mobile phones.”    

 

How does San Francisco in law define the Precautionary Principle and therefore define the mandate on public officials—“Where threats of serious or irreversible damage to people or nature exist, lack of full scientific certainty about cause and effect shall not be viewed as sufficient reason for the City to postpone cost effective measures to prevent the degradation of the environment or protect the health of its citizens” (slide 10). Here we have lots of use, lots of exposure, serious threat, and irreversible damage.  We need to take action.  Before the Commission is a Resolution that was considered by the Policy Committee and recommended to the Commission that gives options for action to take. 

 

Public Comment—

 

Mr. Harry Lehmann stated that he is speaking on behalf of the Environmental Health Trust which can be found at www.environmentalhealthtrust.org.  He distributed “Campaign for Safer Cell Phones Briefing Book” which is a compendium that would allow Commissioners to access many different sources of data pertaining to the cell phone issue.  It is the attempt of several authors which he and others in attendance played a role in producing. In terms of new things that Environmental Health Trust has to say, he would suggest two areas that are particularly worthwhile to consider (1) although they were able to put together this compendium for reference, there is no presently existing even-handed compendium.  The City of San Francisco has an opportunity to establish its own database that could serve the whole country, and (2) recommended that in order to save a great number of lives, that emphasis be placed on headset usage so that the head is away from the phone.

 

Mr. Mark Clar stated that he a Walnut Creek resident and reported that in 2004, his son at the age of 25 was diagnosed with a brain tumor.  He had two operations, one at John Muir and one at UCSF and underwent radiation chemotherapy, and right now the tumor is stable.  The tumor he was told was in his brain for at least ten years before it was found through tingling in his fingers and a little vision problem.  He was 15 or 16 at that time.  At that time, children are learning to drive and you give them a cell phone and all of these electronics such as pagers, and they play soccer underneath high-voltage wires.  One of the things that he has been cognizant of now is all of the environmental issues that are coming to light.  If we can keep one cell from going bad, then it’s good. He recommended keeping cell phone towers out and minimizing cell phone usage for children.

 

Ms. Mindy Brown stated that she drove here from Fresno to speak on this issue.  Her husband had a brain tumor and was on his phone constantly.  She did her own study when they were sitting in the waiting rooms in UCSF.  If she would see someone with a craniotomy she would ask them if they had a cell phone, and one out of 20 persons did not have a cell phone.  The next question was which side of the cell phone they spoke on.  Sure enough wherever the scar was is where they would hold their hand up.  If there had been any kind of warning at all, it would not have happened. Ms. Brown commended the Commission for making a recommendation on this issue as people are not aware of the danger. The cell phone industry won’t tell people, they want to sell the phones.  IPhone has an application now where you can hold a phone up to a crying baby, and it will tell you why it is crying.  She stated that she prays that the Commission follows through on this recommendation.

 

Ms. Patrice Scott, City and County of San Francisco, Jobs Now program stated that she is a parent and San Francisco resident that feels that cell phone use by children in schools should be banned.  The use of cell phones by children can cause health problems.  As a parent, she would advise anyone involved in the life of their children to limit their use and exposure to cell phones.  School officials should become educated on the risks and proper use of cell phones so that students and parents can receive the proper guidance of risk factors.  Due to the life threatening amount of radiation in cell phones, cell phone distributors should post visible risk factors as well as the price of the product.  She strongly hopes that the recommendations proposed by the San Francisco Commission on the Environment are taken into sincere consideration for the safety and life of all consumers.

 

Ms. Angelica Rodriguez stated that she is a resident of San Francisco and works for the Department of the Environment Jobs Now program.  She stated that consumers in San Francisco and beyond have the right to know the level of radiation being emitted by cell phones as they make their purchasing decisions.  She stated that consumers in San Francisco should be informed of any steps that can be taken to minimize harm.  Using headsets and texting is an alternative to speaking directly into phones.  She is greatly concerned about our teenagers because she feels that they are very skeptical--she has two teenagers herself. She hopes that the Commission on the Environment will consider and support this Resolution.

 

Mr. Lee Williams stated that he is in support of cell phones being labeled at time of purchase, letting the community and people know that there is radiation coming from that phone that can cause cancer in a long-term process.  When he was a child, he learned about cancer through cigarette smoking as each package was labeled.  He saw his father and oldest sister die of cancer.  He does not smoke today but he would like to see a form of warning especially for our youth.  He sees teenagers on buses, streets, and everywhere he goes they are on their cell phones.  They are advertising cell phones.  They do some good, but they are not telling people about the harm that it causes.

 

Mr. Lloyd Morgan stated that cell phones are causing brain tumors.  No matter whether you look at studies done by industry or independently, any time a study has found more than ten years of use, they have found increased risk of brain tumors.  There are animal studies that show after a couple hours of exposure, double strand breaks of DNA in their brain.  There are many cellular studies showing genotoxic effects.  Children are far more at risk than adults.  Showed composite of brain that shows the amount of radiation an adult brain gets, and this is the amount of radiation a child’s brain gets.  We do not have to get rid of cell phones--we have to change the way we use them.  The solution is to keep the cell phone away from you—don’t hold it to your head and don’t keep it on your body.  The Resolution and Ordinance that are being considered are great and would like to see them pass.  He recommended an amendment asking that the federal government relook at the standards. The existing exposure limits are based on a false premise.  They use a 90 percentile largest marine as a measure, which is the very biggest head.  A child’s head is much smaller so it violates the very false premise exposure limit that exists when a child has it.  What we have in this country is an outrage and we have a potential pandemic of brain tumors coming at us. But we can take action now to change behavior to greatly reduce risk, just holding the phone six inches away from your head is a 10,000 fold reduction in the amount of radiation to your brain.

 

Statement from Ms. Ellie Marks—

 

She is speaking on behalf of her husband and herself and is here representing her family and the campaign for safer cell phones.  Transcript as spoken--Imagine loving someone for forty years and he gradually becomes a different person.  He too knew something was wrong but just not how wrong and is now seeking help and taking medications for eight years to no avail.  Our children begged me to fix their father.  Our loving household was turned upside down as we tried desperately to salvage our marriage and our family.  Imagine this—we excitedly packed one night to leave the next morning for our baby’s college graduation.  At 2 a.m. I woke to a nightmare that has yet to end.  Witnessing this type of seizure can never be erased from your mind.  Two hours later we learned that Alan had a golf ball size malignant mass in his right frontal lobe.  Telling our two sons who had raced to the hospital that their father’s unexplainable issues were actually a lethal brain tumor was gut-wrenching.  There was no choice but to call my daughter to tell her not to pick us up at the Denver airport.  Imagine this--ten days after Alan’s seizure and diagnosis, Ted Kennedy, who their son had interned with had a seizure with the same diagnosis.  I heard reports that his family felt it may be related to his cell phone use.  Alan used one for over twenty years, 10,000 lifetime hours always glued to his right ear, and the tumor is in his right frontal lobe.

 

My research began immediately.  I sent the experts Alan’s cell phone records and MRI’s.  We have documentation that Alan is indeed the poster boy of the cell phone glioma correlation.  I was invited to testify at Congress three months later and for the past twenty months have dedicated my life to the U.S. employing the Precautionary Principle because I have heard from hundreds of others who know their cell phone use caused their brain cancer.  Most are in their 30’s and 40’s and some are sadly now dead.  Imagine this--he has been handed a death sentence along with a brain injury and his work and home life are challenging beyond comprehension.  The reality is that brain tumors suck the life out of you and your family and then they kill.  To think this may have been avoided with a simple warning is devastating.  But imagine this, I cried last night when I saw Mayor Newsom on the news and the large caption read “Cell Phone Legislation.”  I cried tears of joy for those that will be saved by this and tears of agony for the warriors who have paved the road.  I thank and support the Commission, the City and County of San Francisco, and Mayor Newsom for the courage to move forward with cell phone legislation that will educate and raise awareness and anticipate that legislation will make it clear that even with a lower SAR phone, that any cell phone should not be held to the head or kept on or near the body.  I hope that you will reconsider wired headsets be included with every cell phone.  Thank you.

 

Ms. Renee Sharp, Environmental Working Group (EWG), stated that EWG is the first one to point out that the data is mixed and that more research is needed.  She stated that t is clear that if you look at the long-term study, there is a trend emerging and it is prudent to take precautionary action.  Many other words have been already spoken and she wants to close by saying that EWG requested a copy of CTIA’s letter via public records request.  When it was read, it was noticed that there was a great number of inaccuracies and misleading statements, so a detailed response was written to them correcting the record, which was submitted as part of the record (Explanatory Document:  EWG letter to the Commission on the Environment).          

 

Ms. Yvonne O’Hare stated that she is a mom of a teenager in San Francisco and recently attended a lecture about cell phones.  She is here representing lots of moms because none of them could attend on such short notice.  She fully supports and hopes that the Commission passes this legislation that would make available this information about cell phones at retail stores and the inclusion of headsets.  She does not see why this information has not been previously made available, and she is highly concerned about all of the kids wearing cell phones on their bodies.  When she talks to them, they just laugh at her.  She hopes that there can be more cell-free zones in stores because they are everywhere she goes.  She hopes that the Commission passes this information to the schools letting them know that there are educational materials and require that there be cell phone free zones during the day. 

 

Mr. Alan Marks stated that he was diagnosed in the summer of 2008 with a malignant brain tumor.  As his wife Ellie has said it has been proven that it was due to his cell phone use.  He thinks he has spent 10,000 hours using the phone.  President Pelosi Jr. asked Mr. Marks to elaborate on how it was proven.  Mr. Marks stated that his medical records were sent to a doctor who felt it was definitely due to his excessive cell phone use.  If a warning was available, he would have never held the phone to his head and would have taken precautions either by using a wired headset, holding it away from his head, or using a speakerphone.  He wishes that the Commission would require that any cell phone sold in San Francisco include a warning letting people understand that it is no different than holding a gun to their head.

 

Ms. Marjaneh Zarrehparvar read a statement on behalf of Dr. Joel Moskowitz, a professor and researcher at U.C. Berkeley School of Public Health and his colleagues.  She stated that Dr. Moskowitz has been a tremendous help to the Department of the Environment to uncover and understand the scientific research that has been conducted on cell phone radiation exposure.  He was not able to attend the meeting and has asked that his statement be read for the record.  Ms. Zarrehparvar summarized his statement, “Our research group at UC Berkeley School of Public Health in conjunction with the researchers from South Korea and Taiwan conducted a quantitative synthesis of 23 case-controlled studies of mobile phone use and tumor risk. The most interesting results came from 13 studies that investigated mobile phone use of ten years or longer.  Overall, we found a harmful association between mobile phone use and tumor risk. At least nine nations have issued precautionary warnings about cell phone use especially among children.  It is time for our government to mandate precautionary warnings as the public has the right to know the potential risk of mobile phone use and the steps to reduce harm.”  A copy of the statement and its references are included in the Commission packet (Explanatory Document: Statement).

 

Ms. Fish reported that additional public comment was received and included in the Commission packet from PhoneLabs, CTIA, and Ms. Sally Loveland (Explanatory Documents:  Public Comment)

 

Vice-President Gravanis thanked everyone who was in attendance to testify on this subject.  She asked the Deputy City Attorney if the Commission could pass the Resolution with the understanding that there would be grammatical edits made to the Resolution by staff.  Deputy City Attorney Owen stated that it would be sufficient to instruct whoever prepared the Resolution to make grammatical edits. Commissioner Gravanis requested that the Commission consider a substantive change presented by a member of the public to make it clear that in the federal government’s review of cell phone exposure limits, that they consider scientific peer-reviewed information.  She stated she would like to strengthen this addition with language suggesting that these changes are made based on peer-reviewed science because she believes it does exist.  She also recommended amending Resolution language on page 3 item (b) to make it clearer that we are talking about making sure that the warnings that we put on cell phone packaging will include information about the higher risk to children than adults. 

 

Upon Motion by Vice President Gravanis and second by Commissioner Tuchow, an amendment was approved to Resolution page 3, section (b) to read as follows: “Federal Government conduct a public review of cell phone safety standards and revise them based on peer-reviewed independent science, including the potential effects on children and the effects of long-term use, and consider a ban on cell phone advertising aimed at children.” (AYES:  President Pelosi Jr., Vice-President Gravanis, Commissioners Martin, Mok, Tuchow and Wald (Absent:  Commissioner King).

 

Commissioner Wald stated that this issue was heard in the Commission’s Policy Committee in mid-December.  She thanked the public in attendance that shared their stories and expertise with the Commission, particularly for those that have attended for the second time.  Based on discussions heard at the Policy Committee, she and Committee members were convinced that the time has come to take action on this matter.  The Policy Committee did develop and has submitted to the full Commission this Resolution on the issue. 

 

Commissioner Wald proposed amendments to take into account the latest information and developments that have occurred since this Resolution was developed.  Specifically, she urged prioritization of proposed amendments in order to prioritize the list to bring the notion on legislation to the top so the Commission can support the action of the Mayor in introducing legislation and hopefully ensure its passage. 

 

President Pelosi Jr. stated that his concern with the Resolution is about the legal restrictions of what can be done. He stated that certain actions can be adopted at the City level and he wants to make sure that these actions are less intrusive to the cell phone manufacturers and would not violate international or U.S. laws.  By doing a less intrusive labeling at point of sale, certain actions can be achieved in San Francisco first and would open the door to state and federal actions. He agrees with the reversal of the order so the Commission does not overstep jurisdictional boundaries. 

 

Upon Motion by President Pelosi Jr. and second by Commissioner Tuchow without objection, Resolution page 3, starting with line 4 was approved to read as follows:  (AYES:  President Pelosi Jr., Vice-President Gravanis, Commissioners Martin, Mok, Tuchow and Wald (Absent:  Commissioner King).

 

RESOLVED, That the San Francisco Commission on the Environment recommends, as a matter of highest priority, that the:

 

a.      City/County adopts legislation requiring that retailers of cell phones provide point- of-sale information on SAR values and information on safer use.  The SAR value should be as visible to the consumer as the price.

 

  FURTHER RESOLVED, that the San Francisco Commission on the Environment recommends that the following options be considered for action in the future: (Resolution text continues with item (b)).

 

Ms. Raphael proposed revising Resolution page 4 (g) to read “phones purchased by City departments minimize SAR values and come with a headset when necessary and educational material.”  This amendment to add “when necessary” was proposed because there is a concern about cost and many cell phones already come with headsets.  It was explained that not everybody is using their phone that often, and some people have cell phones only for emergency purposes. The idea was to put a headset when necessary and necessary could be defined as if the person simply wants it.  The intent is just to give the purchaser more leeway in defining how that gets implemented.  Upon Motion by Commissioner Tuchow and second by Commissioner Mok, the amendment was approved without objection (AYES:  President Pelosi Jr., Vice-President Gravanis, Commissioners Martin, Mok, Tuchow and Wald (Absent:  Commissioner King).

 

Commissioner Martin recommended that the Policy Committee discuss at a future meeting a request made by members of the public to consider cell phone free zones. She stated that at the Policy Committee she was not supportive of the inclusion of a requirement to include a wired headset at point of sale, but it is something she would consider reviewing moving forward.  Commissioner Wald stated that the wired headset discussion was addressed for City purchases. 

 

Commissioner Martin recommended that the Policy Committee discuss at a future meeting a request made by members of the public to consider cell phone free zones. She stated that the Policy Committee was questioning the inclusion of a requirement to include a wired headset at point of sale and had felt that it was potentially overstepping the Commission’s role, but it is something she would like to re-review moving forward.  Commissioner Wald stated that the wired headset discussion was addressed for City purchases.  Commissioner Martin stated that she would like to address the topic of required headsets for the public.

 

President Pelosi’s statement—

 

It is not allowable to block a cell phone signal that the law designed for emergency and other purposes. He suggested addressing this issue from a social impact point of view. The way to create a radiation free zone is to limit the use of bringing the cell phone to the place.  You can’t block the signal--you just have to leave the phone at home.  He sees a lot of good that went into the work on this legislation.  Based on the comments he heard today, there is not enough being said about the outreach program about the use of phones. 

 

Cell phones have become a part of everyday life, part of every second, which is different from when everyone in this room grew up and did not have cell phones and had pay phones.  We have moved from a place where there are pay phones on the side of the road to people using cell phones when they are driving, talking, and texting.  USA Today’s front cover has shown articles about people texting and getting in accidents all of the time. The laws will get stricter on cell phone texting and use when driving.  There are laws in place that are not being followed.  It is the social behavior around the use of the phones.  Cancer is a serious question to consider, but it is not enough to scare people to change their behavior. What is important is that this is an ongoing discussion about social behavior about how cell phones should be used.  When we were growing up, they said don’t sit too close in front of the television because of radiation—your eyes will be affected. Some of the warnings were myths, but in this case, he believes there is a clear and present threat. 

 

Many of the public’s comments had to do with the use of the phone, which should be a part of continuing outreach. He encouraged programs such as the clinic that was held last weekend at the Library that was intended to help educate teenagers on cell phone use in which 100 people showed up.  He encouraged the Department to continue these types of programs as he believes that social benefit would be achieved by changing behavior patterns. This type of action is difficult to legislate and would require outreach.  There has been a lot of public comment heard about the use of the cell phone, which is a step in the right direction.

 

His caution to the public about expectation is that there is a real legal question about the ability to pass these laws. The ability to put a warning on a label seems simple enough, but it is very difficult and there are a lot of complications.  In the City of San Francisco, you just can’t put a label on the phone and think there won’t be severe legal challenges because there are forces at work that would challenge this effort.  There are also limitations because of international and domestic laws that limit the city’s ability to act.  Social behavior has to be changed as it pertains to society’s approach to the phone.  There are cost and legality implications when taking on these types of initiatives. The Board of Supervisors and Mayor should be consulted in this effort, and the intent should not be to punish cell phone manufacturers, but to engage them in conversation so they help change social behavior on the use and application of the phone.  The legislation as it moves forward in the next couple of months will become an effective tool. 

 

He is reminded of the time four years ago today when the City tried to implement a 17 cents tax on plastic bags on supermarkets. Just today, Washington D.C. is implementing a five cents tax for the same thing.  Ordinances face legal challenges all the time.  In San Francisco, plastic bags at the supermarket have been replaced with compostable bags, which was due to volunteer efforts on the part of participants that brought forward a Resolution.  It was not legal--those challenges have not held up.  When you pass these ordinances, it is because of cooperation between stakeholders and less so because of any right or anything that will hold up in court.  The reason the Ordinances have not been challenged is because they are in cooperation with the community. 

 

When you see an issue such as cell phones, it will take community cooperation between stakeholders.  It will require outreach, social change and then you have to do it in a pro-business sense.  You have to educate cell phone businesses and let them know it is in their business interest to put a warning on the phone.  By providing outreach, they will make more money and look like socially responsible people.  Ultimately, this effort is moving forward so phones are designed better with lower radiation and they would be keeping the community and children in mind.  At the end of the day, cell phone businesses are selling a lot of phones.  If you are using it less, they are still making their money on the purchase of the phone.  It is in their interest to continue design and innovate so that more phones would be purchase.  The community would then continue to purchase more phones when it is seen that phones are designed with lower radiation levels and with the public interest in mind. 

 

There is a good movement on this issue and appreciates the audience participation, but feels that there has to be an understanding that social change is achieved through cooperation.  He does not believe that there is legal standing when you attempt this type of venture, it may or may not pass restrictions, and it may receive a lot of criticism and not be adapted nationwide.  Here we have an opportunity to work with the Mayor, with the Supervisors toward something more special, more legal, more lasting, with more cooperation with the participants involved.  This is very important because the way it is being presented is on questionable legal ground.  He cautions enthusiasm and encourages everyone to participate on the process going forward because something special could come of it in the next couple of months.

 

Commissioner Tuchow thanked the public who came to testify, Department staff, as well as members of the Commission.  He stated that the Department of the Environment is taking the lead on an extremely important issue.  The need for federal government and other scientific bodies to study this issue is apparent from the testimony today, and knowledge is power.  To warn people seems reasonable.  It will be an ongoing effort to try to do that and we shouldn’t think it will be simple.  The Precautionary Principle states the importance of doing so.  The public has testified and the Department has brought to the Commission’s attention the effects on children that was not well known and is an important part of the Resolution.  He thanked everyone for bringing the Resolution to the Commission’s attention and stated that he was in support of moving it forward. 

 

Commissioner Mok thanked the public for their attendance and providing comments.  He stated that he supports the Resolution and discussed the importance of education.

 

Upon Motion by Commissioner Tuchow and second by Vice President Gravanis, Resolution File No. 2009-06-COE was approved with amendments (AYES: Vice-President Gravanis, Commissioners Martin, Mok, Tuchow and Wald; NOES:  President Pelosi Jr.; (Absent:  Commissioner King). (Explanatory Documents:  Draft Resolution and Approved Resolution File 002-10-COE)           

 

President Pelosi Jr. had left the meeting at this time.

 

5.      Urban Environmental Accord 5: Waste Reduction--Consideration of Draft Resolution File 2010-01-COE recommending support of Carryout Bag Rebate Ordinance Board of Supervisors File No. 091211. Sponsor: David Assmann, Acting Director; Staff Presenter:  Jack Macy, Commercial Zero Waste Coordinator (Discussion and Action) (Explanatory Documents:  Ordinance File No. 091211, Draft Resolution File 2010-01-COE, and Public Comment Received) 

 

Acting Director Assmann reported that the purpose of this agenda item was for the Commission to provide comment on the Carryout Bag Rebate Ordinance proposed by the Board of Supervisors sponsor, Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi. The Small Business Commission had requested that the Commission review the Ordinance first before they schedule it for review.  Mr. Macy stated that this agenda item and the accompanying Resolution is about supporting local and state legislation to encourage bag reuse for checkout bags at supermarkets and pharmacy chains in order to reduce overall bag use and associated environmental impacts. 

 

Mr. Macy provided the following background information—

 

Five years ago and one day today, the Commission passed a Resolution calling for a fee on supermarket checkout bags asking the Board of Supervisors and the Mayor to support such legislation to reduce the proliferation of millions of bags in the City and their impacts.  Subsequently, the Mayor’s Office reached a voluntary agreement with the grocery industry to reduce the amount of bags distributed by ten million by calendar year 2006 with the idea that if a voluntary effort were successful, that maybe a bag fee would not be needed.  During 2006, the grocery industry was able to get language into a state bill that preempted San Francisco and other local jurisdictions from being able to pass any kind of fee and being able to collect any information about bag use from supermarkets, which undermined even the voluntary effort.  Subsequently, the supermarkets were not sharing the data to verify bag reduction and no reduction in bag use could be confirmed in 2006. There were claims of a reduction, but it was unconfirmed. 

 

In 2007, the Supervisors and Mayor passed legislation to ban the distribution of single-use plastic bags by supermarkets and pharmacy chains so only recycled content paper, compostable plastic, or reusable bags could be distributed.  That bag ban has been very effective in essentially eliminating plastic bag distribution at the checkout by supermarkets and pharmacy chains.  There have been exceptions where reusable plastic bags are being given out as a disposable bag, and that is a problem.  The issue now is that there are still tens of millions of bags being distributed, mostly paper bags.  Bags have a negative environmental impact in their whole life cycle even if they are made from recycled content paper and are being recycled, which is generally the case for paper bags.  Encouraging bag reuse makes a lot of sense to reduce the environmental impact. 

 

There is currently a state bill in its second year that would create a twenty-five cent fee on all bags distributed at checkout.  There is also a local ordinance that would require stores to give a rebate of ten cents for every bag that a customer brings and is reused.  Both of these measures would help encourage bag reuse.  As a general policy, a bag fee is more effective, as has been shown from experience around the world, because it is a stronger economic incentive. It really makes sense to implement this measure on a statewide level, which is why the Department of the Environment is supporting and hoping that the legislation may pass.  At one point, similar legislation made it all the way to the Governor’s desk but was lost in the budget crisis.  We will see what happens this year, but meanwhile we have this local option. There needs to be a legislative push because educational efforts and participation in regional campaigns such as Bring Your Own Bag (BYOB) have shown some increase in bag reuse, but there has not been a significant increase.    

 

Commissioner Martin inquired about the source of the statement in Draft Resolution line 16 “Bags provided for free at checkout are usually perceived as disposable products, being used on average for just a few minutes.”  Mr. Macy stated that the statement is not being used in a scientific manner, but represents a matter of minutes as opposed to hours and days.  Commissioner Martin also inquired about the source of language that states “stores in San Francisco currently spend an average 5 to 7 cents per paper bag”.  Mr. Macy reported that bag distributors selling the bags at stores provided this information.

 

Commissioner Wald stated that she had consulted with one of her colleagues, Ms. Darby Hoover, a nationally-known expert in this area who was helpful when the Department and Commission were working on their own plastic bag initiative.  Although there wasn’t a full understanding on how extensive the changes are that could be made to the proposed legislation, Ms. Hoover recommended focusing on reuse and leaving out references to plastic and paper bags in order to minimize the controversy that the legislation is likely to bring.  The point she made is reuse of any bag is better than single use of anything.  Mr. Macy stated that the intent is that any bag the customer brings, which could be any bag that the store gives out as a single-use bag, would meet the purpose.  It is not a common practice, and there needs to be an incentive. 

 

Commissioner Tuchow recommended an amendment to (1) eliminate the Ordinance File Number in the WHEREAS Clause on page 2, starting on line 10 and (2) amend the WHEREAS clause on page 2, line 8, to read “where there is current state and local legislation” and take out the reference to the specific Ordinance.  Acting Director Assmann expressed concern about removing the Ordinance file number because the legislation was referred to the Commission specifically to provide feedback to the Small Business Commission and the sponsoring Supervisor, so removing the file number would remove the feedback.  Vice President Gravanis requested additional time to review the Ordinance in order to provide feedback.  Commissioner Wald recommended referring the Ordinance to the Policy Committee for review and sending a letter to the Supervisor indicating that the Policy Committee would be providing feedback. 

 

Commissioner Wald proposed the following amendments to the Draft Resolution (1) eliminating the WHEREAS clause beginning on line 18 as it is not in the Commission’s expertise to tell stores whether they will be making a profit; (2) eliminate the WHEREAS clause beginning on line 21; (3) eliminate the WHEREAS clause on page 2 line 1 because requiring long pliable handles etc. would not be applicable to bag reuse; and (4) state that there is current state and local legislation proposed that would encourage the reuse of bags by either requiring a significant fee paid by customers on all checkout bags provided by stores/and or a rebate respectively. 

 

Commissioner Martin discouraged an amendment that Mr. Macy proposed that a sunset clause be written into local legislation if state legislation passes that requires a fee placed on distribution of bags.  She stated that the local legislation stands well on its own and serves an important role. 

 

Public Comment

 

Mr. David Pilpel stated that he supports the amendments that the Commissioners have recommended.  He recommended that future referrals received from the Board of Supervisors or Board member(s) be included in the packet for explanation of context.  He stated that since the Ordinance imposes certain requirements on the Department, it would be helpful to make clear that this Ordinance under Section (x) would require the Department to do (x), and it is believed that it can be accomplished with existing staff or the Department would need (x) to make this happen.  The policy component has been fairly well articulated, but there are operational concerns that need to be balanced.  Mr. Pilpel stated that he was in favor of the Commission approving the Resolution at this time.  Since there is no time requirement on issuing support or comments on the Ordinance, he was in support for having a further discussion and review at the Policy Committee. Vice President Gravanis stated that it was important for the Commission to review the Ordinance and the unfunded mandate. 

 

Ms. Fish reported on public comment received and included in the Commission packet from (1) Mr. Ed Florence requesting the participation of all stores, not just large stores; and (2) Ms. Howard who questioned the use of double bagging (Explanatory Document: Public Comment)

 

Upon Motion by Commissioner Martin and second by Commissioner Wald Resolution File No. 2010-01-COE was approved with amendments (AYES: Vice-President Gravanis, Commissioners Martin, Mok, Tuchow and Wald; Absent:  President Pelosi Jr. and Commissioner King). (Explanatory Document:  Approved Resolution 001-10-COE).  Vice President Gravanis requested that typographical and grammatical errors be corrected.  The Commissioners directed that the Resolution be transmitted to Supervisor Mirkarimi’s office with a cover letter thanking him for bringing it to the Commission’s attention and that additional comments would be provided as soon as feasible.    

 

6.      Approval of the Department of the Environment’s Fiscal-Year 2010-2011 Draft Budget. (Explanatory Document:  Draft Budget by Program Area and Budget by Revenues and Expenditures) Sponsor and Staff Speaker: Acting Director David Assmann, (Informational Report, Discussion, and Action).

 

Budget presentation by Acting Director Assmann--Budget sheets by program area and detailed information listing all revenues and expenditures was included in the Commission packet.

 

Acting Director Assmann reported that the Operations Committee was presented with and approved the budget at their January 20th meeting. He reported that amendments had been made since the January 20th meeting, and that budgets this year would be a constant work in progress. The City faces a $525 million deficit which has widened over the last two weeks, and it is a tremendously difficult budget year.  The Department of the Environment does not receive funding from the City’s General Fund and is a net contributor to the fund.  As a result, the Department may be in a more fortunate position than most departments; however, there have been impacts, e.g. a large amount of funding has been lost from the Department of Building Inspection.  A majority of that funding has been made up for, and there are mechanisms for dealing with the rest of the shortfall.  The Department has also lost state funding—until last year about $200,000-$250,000 was received annually from the Department of Conservation (DOC) for recycling bottles and cans, and that funding has been eliminated.  A discussion was held on the circumstances that led to the loss of funding.

 

·         Energy Program--there has been growth in funding for energy efficiency and renewables.

·         Clean Air is substantially lower and is going down by 10% as a result of fewer grants received.

·         Recycling has been reduced by 12% on paper; however, last year a substantial amount of money was provided to the Department of Public Works for their waste-related activities, which will not be provided again this year. Special reserve funds were used and there was an understanding that it was a one-time allocation.  If that is factored out of the equation, the budget remains stable.

·         Toxics Reduction stays the same as last year.

·         Green Building has increased even with the reduction in funding from the Department of Building Inspection because of stimulus funding.

·         Outreach budget was impacted because of the DOC state funding that was lost.  Outreach money is embedded in each of the program areas.  The standalone budget was aimed at a couple of projects, one of which has disappeared. That is why the budget has been reduced by 94% from the previous year.  It does not mean that there won’t be anymore outreach anymore, but that outreach specific to bottles and cans is gone. 

·         Environmental Justice is dropping by 46%, which reflects approaching the end of a $13 million-appropriation received in 2000.  There is enough funding to keep a smaller program going for the next two fiscal years.

·         The Administration budget appears as if there is a big increase. Part of the increase is a reflection of reallocating work to Administration that was not in the budget last year, chief of which are legal fees for a rate-review process next year which occurs once every five years.  It isn’t that Administrative expenses are increasing but is a result of expenses that weren’t in last year’s budget. 

·         Urban Forestry budget is miniscule and staying about the same.

 

Overall, the Department’s budget shows a 4% increase over last year predominantly because of additional stimulus money and energy efficiency work which will be carried into next year.  Presumably a year after, there will be a decline in that funding. 

 

Commissioner Mok inquired what effect the reduction in funding would have on the Outreach program area.  Acting Director Assmann reported that other Department program areas include outreach services in their budget.  He explained that the professional services budget for outreach this year is relatively similar to last year’s budget.  There is an influx of assistance to the program from the Environment Now program and will be better than in the past as a result (50+ full time staff working on Outreach until at least until September).  However, the Department of Conservation Funding of $200,000-$250,000 will not be made available. 

 

Commissioner Martin thanked Acting Director Assmann for the overview summary and commended the format of the handouts and discussion. She inquired about the implementation of offset funding for air travel.  Acting Director Assmann reported that the Department thought that it would receive $130,000 in offsets funding because it was believed the City was spending a million dollars on air travel, which was not the case. He stated that either the City has dramatically reduced air travel or estimates are off so he would verify the accounting.  Commissioner Martin inquired about the small figure allocated to Department of the Environment air travel.  Acting Director Assmann reported that the Department essentially eliminated air travel and has allocated $4000 for the whole department, which is very low.

 

Commissioner Wald thanked Acting Director Assmann for the legibility of the format and bringing the budget to the Commission after review by the Operations Committee. She inquired about the category “services of other departments” and what impact it has on budget categories.  Acting Director Assmann reported that it is money that the Department pays to other departments, e.g. administrative and for particular programs.  It was requested that this category be changed to read “services from other departments.”   Commissioner Wald inquired what impact any reduction in the Energy program would have on its programmatic goals.  Acting Director Assmann reported that nothing in this budget represents a dramatic change in the ability of the Department to perform its services.  The program area that is most effected is Urban Forestry, which experienced the same amount of stress as last year.  He explained that the mechanics to carry out goals change, but the Department is still accomplishing what it has set out to do. 

 

Commissioner Martin inquired about projects that the Department may not be able to accomplish as a result of budget cuts and whether new revenue streams would be pursued.  Acting Director Assmann reported that the Department is focusing its efforts on finding new revenues to meet goals especially in the areas of environmental justice and green jobs.  Stimulus funding for the Environment Now program is short term, and the Department is running out of Environmental Justice funding.  Securing funding for the Urban Forest program is a constant challenge and is a big priority. These are the two particular focus areas where more could be accomplished if there was funding available.

 

Public Comment:  Mr. David Pilpel recommended that a narrative component be included in the budget that relates to a work program; e.g., for each unit, list what would be accomplished with resources and attach Full Time Employee (FTE) counts. He recommended that the Commission request the Department’s organizational chart and any other materials that are required to provide to the Mayor and the Controller so the entire budget package can be seen along with how the pieces work together. The budget provided is giving a numerical snapshot and is probably accurate, but there may be programmatic pieces that are missing that would address the questions that were asked.  He referred to the Impound Account figure on page 2 of the detailed handout, and asked if it is the same total number that was projected in the five-year plan.  Acting Director Assmann stated that it is.  Mr. Pilpel recommended that the Commission approve the budget and then request additional detail and a staff report once the budget is submitted to the Mayor’s Office.  Acting Director Assmann reported that the budget is based on a Strategic Plan, and that he would supply the Strategic Plan and budget updates to the Commission at its next meeting.

 

Upon Motion by Commissioner Tuchow, second by Commissioner Mok, the Department of the Environment’s Fiscal Year 2010-11 Budget was approved without objection with the change in wording in the budget language to “services provided from other departments.” (AYES: Vice-President Gravanis, Commissioners Martin, Mok, Tuchow and Wald; Absent:  President Pelosi Jr. and Commissioner King)

 

7.      Approval of the Commission on the Environment’s 2009 Annual Report for inclusion into the Department of the Environment’s Annual Report and Efficiency Plan. (Explanatory Document:  2009 Annual Report Draft) Sponsor and Speaker:  David Assmann, Acting Director (Discussion and Action)

 

Acting Director Assmann stated that the Annual Report includes information on Commission membership, description of meetings, and Resolutions passed by the Commission and will be included as a section of the Department’s Annual Report and Efficiency Plan.  Ms. Fish asked the Commissioners whether a reference should be added to specify the functions of the Policy and Operations Committees as indicated in the Commission’s Bylaws. Commissioner Wald felt that the reference to the fact that the Committees meet is sufficient and there was not a request to add the Committee functions. 

 

Commissioner Martin inquired if there was a requirement for the Commission to submit an Annual Report, and whether the requirement gives guidance on what should be included.  Ms. Fish reported that there is an Administrative Code requirement for a Commission Annual Report and would provide additional information on its requirements.  She stated that she believes the Annual Report as presented meets the requirements for inclusion into the Department’s Annual Report and Efficiency Plan. Commissioner Martin suggested that future reports include participation by the public.  Vice President Gravanis inquired about the second page reference where it states that the “Commission sets policy and advises the Supervisors usually in the form of Resolutions and legislation.”  She stated that Resolutions are a type of legislation.  She stated that the Commission advises the Mayor, the Board of Supervisors, City Departments, and other agencies in a lot of different ways and recommended that more information be included in future reports on the role of the Commission. 

 

Public Comment:  Mr. David Pilpel stated that the requirement for an Annual Report can be found both in the Administrative Code and in the Charter.  He stated Commissions normally provide a longer Annual Report that summarizes their actions and also lists aspirations and future challenges.  He stated that the Commission wouldn’t necessarily have to change this Report, but recommended a discussion of what to include in future reports.  Since this Annual Report would be included in the Department’s Annual Report, it would satisfy those various obligations.  He is not sure the Committee functions have to be explained which is made clear through a reference to the Bylaws.  The reference to legislation and Resolutions implies both Resolutions of this Commission and legislation of the Board of Supervisors.  Ms. Fish explained that the Annual Report is actually part of a longer document as it would be included as part of the Department’s Annual Report and Efficiency Plan.

 

Upon Motion by Commissioner Tuchow and second by Commissioner Martin, the Annual Report was approved without objection with a recommendation that future reports be discussed at the Policy Committee (AYES: Vice-President Gravanis, Commissioners Martin, Mok, Tuchow and Wald; Absent:  President Pelosi Jr. and Commissioner King). 

.     

8.      Annual Election of Commission Officers.  (Discussion and Action)

 

Vice President Gravanis reported that the Commission at their November meeting nominated Commissioners Tuchow and Gravanis as candidates for President and Commissioner Martin and Mok were nominated as candidates for Vice-President.  It was stated that whoever was running for President and did not win would become one of the candidates for Vice President.  Vice President Gravanis withdrew her name as a candidate for President, and Commissioners Martin and Mok withdrew their names as a candidate for Vice-President.  Commissioners Martin and Tuchow commended Vice-President Gravanis on an excellent job as Vice-President.

 

Upon Motion by Commissioner Mok, second by Commissioner Martin, Commissioner Tuchow was elected Commission President without objection (AYES: Vice-President Gravanis, Commissioners Martin, Mok, Tuchow and Wald; Absent:  President Pelosi Jr. and Commissioner King). 

 

Commissioner Tuchow thanked the Commission, Commissioner Pelosi Jr. for his commitment and service as President over the past year, and Vice-President Gravanis for her commitment as Vice-President.  He stated that he wants to see the Commission work collaboratively as he feels Commissioners have the same mind on 99% of what they are trying to accomplish. He stated that it is a real honor to serve in this position and to support such a great Department that is doing such good work for the citizens of the City and County of San Francisco. He stated that even though there have been a great number of accomplishments, there is still a lot that has to be done. One is for the Commission to support and defend the Department of the Environment’s budget from unreasonable attacks and to bring it proper attention so that the Department can accomplish what it is supposed to.  Additionally, the Commission is in the process of finding a new leader, which will take a lot of work on the Commission’s part to be able to surface great candidates to recommend to the Mayor.  Commissioner Tuchow thanked everyone again for their support.

 

Upon Motion by Commissioner Wald and second by Commission President Tuchow, Vice-President Gravanis was re-elected as Vice-President without objection (AYES: Vice-President Gravanis, Commissioners Martin, Mok, Tuchow and Wald; Absent:  President Pelosi Jr. and Commissioner King).  

    

 

9.      Commission on the Environment Committee Appointments.  (Discussion and Action) 

 

President Tuchow requested that this item be continued to the March 23, 2010 meeting with the understanding that the Committee membership would remain the same until that time.

 

10.  Public Notice of 2010 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: Monica Fish, Commission Secretary (Information and Discussion)

 

Ms. Fish reported that the Commission’s Bylaws Article 8, Requests for Notices and Agenda, which sets forth a requirement that “Each year the Commission will ask each person on the list to reaffirm their desire to stay on the list for another year through a notice on the Commission’s January agenda.”  That requirement has been met with publication of this agenda.

 

11.  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. John Lynn Smith, Law Firm of Reed Smith, stated that he represents Waste Management of Alameda County with respect to the procurement process for disposal services that were bid out and will take effect in 2015.  He stated that Waste Management of Alameda County is the current contractor for disposal services for the City and County of San Francisco and had submitted a bid to a contract several months ago that he understands a tentative award was granted to another company.  He stated that in the prescribed amount of time, Waste Management filed a protest to that award citing 10-11 enumerated items that they took issue with. The answers to the protest issues that they raised were addressed by Recology or Norcal.  One of the primary issues that had been raised was that the contract was represented to be a disposal contract for municipal solid waste of the City and County of San Francisco. The tentative award was based on largely the transportation services that Norcal was proposing, which was a rail hail to a landfill site on a roundtrip basis approximately 200 miles away, as opposed to the Altamont.  Had Waste Management known that was a component of the bid, they and other bidders may have bid it differently and proposed rail alternatives.  Also noted was that allocation of waste was allocated 100% to Recology; whereas, the City and County of San Francisco has the ability under the Request for Proposal to allocate to different providers and divide that waste stream in order to achieve maximum diversion to zero waste and reduction in the carbon footprint, which were principal goals of the bid. 

 

Mr. Smith stated that he has not seen the bid that was awarded so does not know the moving parts and components of that bid.  He asked the Commission to re-review the proposals as disposal efforts won’t commence for several years and give the proposers the opportunity to bid and to respond on a level playing field.  If transportation is a big issue, all bidders should have an opportunity to address that component.  If dividing the waste stream is a big issue, all bidders should have the opportunity to bid on that component. The Waste Management of Alameda County on most principal elements of the bid was the number one bidder.  Price may have been a consideration, but this too is an opportunity to respond and renew the negotiations with the bidders to get the best deal they can for the City and County of San Francisco both for the environment and price-wise.  President Pelosi Jr. stated that the landfill contract was discussed at the Commission’s Operations Committee and asked Mr. Smith to provide written comments that he would discuss with the Department’s Director and at the next Operations Committee meeting.

 

Mr. Tom Bruen, Attorney-at-Law, stated that he represents Republic Services, which a little over a year ago merged with Allied Waste Industry.  His client owns and operates five landfills in Northern California in San Mateo, Santa Clara, Alameda, Contra Costa, and San Joaquin Counties.  They have the ability to offer the City a disposal contract at these five facilities and offer transportation both by truck and rail.  He stated that his client was disqualified from submitting a bid on the disposal contract because an employee inadvertently failed to attend a mandatory pre-bid meeting.  He represents a lot of public agencies, and it is common to have a mandatory pre-bid on a public works contract when you want to have the contractors do a site visit, and felt that it was unusual to have a mandatory pre-bid on this type of contract. Given the length of this contract and the dollars involved, it would not be in the City and County’s best interest to disqualify the bidder because an employee inadvertently failed to attend the pre-bid meeting.  He stated secondly, and most importantly, he was told that the nature of the procurement has changed from the original solicitation of a disposal contract to disposal and transportation.  If that is the case, both in fairness and under the law of administrative standard procurement procedures for a public contract, it would be appropriate at that point to solicit new proposals for the current scope of work.  Mr. Bruen stated that he does not know exactly what is being negotiated with Recology because not all of the documentation has been made public.  His client would like an opportunity to submit a bid both on transportation and disposal that would serve the public interest.          

 

12.  Operations Committee Report. (Information and Discussion)

Chair’s Report:  Highlights of the January 20, 2010 meeting and review of the agenda for the April 21, 2010 meeting, location to be announced.

 

Committee Chair Tuchow reported that the majority of the January 20th meeting discussion was about the Department’s 2010-11 Budget, which the Commission just heard a more recent update on.  The other issue that was reported on was that there were three qualified bidders for the landfill process.  As was heard from public testimony, one did not attend the mandatory pre-bid meeting, and the Department is now in the process of negotiating a contract. The contract will then be submitted to the Board of Supervisors for approval. Acting Director Assmann reported that depending on how long negotiations take, the contract may go to the Board of Supervisors in March.  Committee Chair Tuchow reported that the Operations Committee also discussed expansion of Department work space.  Acting Director Assmann reported that the Department has added additional space at 401 Van Ness, War Memorial, and the Environment Now program staff is operating at that facility.  The Department will be leasing additional space in the existing building in the basement to create a conference room and changing the first floor conference room into work stations to accommodate additional staff. 

 

13.  Policy Committee Report. (Information and Discussion)

Chairs Report:  Highlights of the January 25, 2010 and December 14, 2009 meetings and review of the agenda for the February 2010 meeting to be held at City Hall, Room 421.

 

Committee Chair Wald reported that the highlight of the December 14, 2009 meeting discussion was about cell phones, which was discussed at today’s meeting.  Highlights of the January 25, 2010 meeting included a briefing on Bay Friendly Landscaping, an update on the Department’s dry cleaning project that is an effort to encourage dry cleaners to switch to wet cleaning, and a discussion on the Department’s Urban Environmental Accords website and status. The Committee’s next meeting in February is hoped to include a discussion on plans for the Hunters Point Shipyard Candlestick Point Plan.

 

14.  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

 

Ms. Fish reported that Commissioners have in their packet a written report that includes an update on City legislative activity from December 2009 to January 2010.  A list of all correspondence received from the last meeting to date is included in the report that has been e-mailed to Commissioners.  Commissioner W2 forms were distributed at this meeting and or Committee meetings.  An important date to remember is the Commission’s Annual Retreat scheduled for Thursday, February 25 from 9:30 to 2:00 p.m. and will be held at the Port of San Francisco. Vice-President Gravanis thanked the Commission Secretary for providing the report and complimented the Department Energy Staff for all the grants that have been recently received.  

 

15.  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)

 

Acting Director Assmann provided a written report and discussed highlights that include—This is the first time that the Department has a list of new staff that numbers 41, 40 of which are with the Environment Now Program, a stimulus-funded initiative that has been a real benefit to the Department to provide employment and at the same time provides the opportunity for really good outreach. The program is running with a great group.  Ten staff members will be added in the near future, and the goal is to keep building from there.  He reported that one new staff member has been added to the Energy Watch team that is now fully staffed.  He announced that there are a number of new grants particularly in the area of energy efficiency that have been recently received—(1) the contract via PG&E has been renewed for another three years; (2) almost $4 million dollars will be received through the energy block grant for energy-efficiency work; and (3) three foundation grants have been received related to energy-efficiency.   Commissioner Martin asked that congratulations and welcome be given to the new hires.  Department staff was congratulated for bringing that number of hires together so effectively.  She also asked that staff be encouraged to be as involved as they would like to be in Commission meetings.  Commissioner Mok congratulated the Department for leading the way and for the success of the Jobs Now program.   

 

Public Comment:  Mr. Pilpel requested that technical terms and acronyms be spelled out when they are first used in the report for better comprehension.  He stated that he spent half a day on a tour at Tunnel Road and had an opportunity to meet the Environment Now program staff who he stated are real people that are doing a fantastic job.  He was impressed with their compelling stories and all of the work they are going to be doing for the Department and the community.  

 

16.  Announcements.  (Information and Discussion)

 

Commissioner Martin reported that she participated in the tour of the Tunnel Road facility at Pier 96 for recycling and disposal.  She stated that this tour is also open to the public and recommended that people attend to see what happens to waste after it is put in the different color bins.  She recommended that the Policy Committee discuss fine tuning of the facility at a future meeting.   

 

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

 

18.  New Business/Future Agenda Items. (Information, Discussion and Possible Action) Ms. Fish announced that the Commission Retreat topic would be on Environment Now and Green Jobs and asked the Commissioners if they would like to include additional agenda items.  Vice President Gravanis stated that the Policy Committee would be forwarding additional recommendations to the Commission in the future.

 

Mr. David Pilpel reported on his conversation with Acting Director Assmann on the idea of scheduling a presentation on how the landfill process got to this point.  He suggested at the last Commission meeting that the landfill disposal alternatives work group should be reconvened to achieve a better understanding.  In addition to the discussion at the Operations Committee, he suggested that perhaps the Policy Committee should hear more about this issue.  He stated that selection of a contractor is a huge choice that is being made for the next 20 years or (x) number of tons, on what residual waste exists, how it gets there, and how the City will be moving toward its zero waste goals.  He feels that this agreement needs more public airing and recommended bringing the discussion to the Commission or Policy Committee.

 

Mr. Eric Smith, Green Depot and Vice Chair of the Biodiesel Access Task Force, congratulated President Tuchow and Vice President Gravanis for their wonderful work.  He thanked Acting Director Assmann for their support and stated that the Biodiesel Access Task Force is grateful for its extension.  He commended the Commission Secretary for her work who he hopes to see next year as the Task Force Secretary.  He stated that he is gratified to have Mr. Pilpel’s input and is a supporter of transparency moving forward.  Mr. Smith reported that he also works at the San Francisco Bay Railyard in addition to his work with the Green Depot.  He thanks the Commission for their great work and is looking forward to 2010.  

 

Vice President Gravanis stated that in light of public testimony and in order to address the issue of transparency and to achieve more understanding about the disposal and hauling contract, she requested a public process that would provide a clear understanding of what can happen when and how it fits in with the rate-setting process.

 

19.  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.

 

20.  Adjournment.  The Commission on the Environment meeting adjourned at 7:50 p.m.

 

Monica Fish, Commission Secretary; TEL:  (415) 355-3709; FAX: (415) 554-6393

 

The next Meeting of the Commission on the Environment is scheduled for Tuesday, March 23, 2010, 5:00 p.m. at City Hall, Room 416. 

 

 

** 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 at https://sites.google.com/a/sfenvironment.org/commission/environment-commission included with minutes by meeting date; (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: March 23, 2010

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