04.18 Approved Minutes

CITY AND COUNTY OF SAN FRANCISCO

COMMISSION ON THE ENVIRONMENT

OPERATIONS COMMITTEE

 

REGULAR MEETING

APPROVED MINUTES

Wednesday, April 18, 2007, 4:00 P.M.

Department of the Environment

11 Grove Street, Ground Floor Conference Room

San Francisco, CA 94102

 

 

COMMITTEE MEMBERS:  Commissioners Alan Mok (Chair); Paul Pelosi Jr. and Ruth Gravanis

 

Commission Secretary:  Monica Fish

 

 

ORDER OF BUSINESS 

 

Public comment will be taken before the Committee takes action on any item.

 

 

1.      CALL TO ORDER AND ROLL CALL.  The Operations Committee meeting was called to order at 4:10 p.m.  Present:  Chair Mok and Commissioner Gravanis; Excused:  Commissioner Paul Pelosi Jr.

2.   ACTION:  Adoption of Minutes of the October 18, 2006 Operations Committee Regular Meeting and the January 17, 2007 Operations Committee Regular Meeting.  (Explanatory Documents:  Approved Minutes of the October 18, 2006 Meeting and the January 17, 2007 Meeting).  Upon Motion by Commissioner Gravanis and second by Chair Mok, the October 18, 2006 and January 17, 2007 Operations Committee Meeting Minutes were approved without objection (Absent:  Commissioner Pelosi Jr.).

 

3.   PUBLIC COMMENTS:  Members of the public may address the Committee on matters that are within the Committee’s jurisdiction and are not on today’s agenda.  There was no public comment at this time.

 

4.   INFORMATIONAL REPORT:  Status Report on Public Outreach Team Activities for the past six months.

Staff:  Mr. Mark Westlund, Public Outreach Program Manager

 

Recycling.  Mr. Westlund reported that the Department is currently looking at statistics received from Norcal to gage the impact of the Department’s television and bus shelter recycling and composting advertising campaign.

 

Mr. Westlund reported that the Department began a pilot outreach program that ran from January through early March in San Francisco’s Sunset District that focused on the use of the green pail for household compostables in single-family homes.  One of the program’s objectives was for residents to try a new kind of green pail collection system called the “Max Air” which is a ventilated green kitchen pail that is cleaner and easier to use because the air circulates around the compostables in the bag so it dries and is not as wet as the original closed green pail. 

 

Mr. Westlund explained that a combination of outreach methods had been implemented on seven different routes in San Francisco’s Sunset District.  Over 100 volunteers went door to door educating the community on the use of the green pail system.  On one route, the “Max Air” pails and compostable bags were distributed; on another route the old fashioned closed pails and compostable bags were distributed; and another route included only information.  If people had a pail, they were just given the bags.  Residents were also offered a choice of pails. Mr. Westlund reported that when people had a choice between pails, it was almost exactly 50-50 between the new “Max Air” and the closed green pail.  On another route, Norcal delivered the pails with no door to door conversation or information on use.  Informational leaflets on the new pail were included in English and Chinese and several bilingual volunteers participated. 

 

Mr. Westlund indicated that Norcal will submit a final results report broken down by route in the next couple of months, and the Department will analyze if there is a difference in community participation by using any of these methods.  The Department will also determine if it is viable to implement this program citywide.  Deputy Director Assmann explained that information will be reviewed in April for the month of March and will be compared to the month and year before. 

  

Ms. Rachel Buerkle, Department Grants Manager, asked how long results would be tracked.  Mr. Assmann reported that three months would be reviewed, but that Norcal information is available on a regular basis.  Deputy Director Assmann stated that this program provides good information on what works as far as door to door outreach. 

 

Commissioner Gravanis inquired about the cost of compostable bags.  Mr. Westlund reported that the bags cost approximately $1.50 for 30bags for each home.  The cost of purchasing the bags at the store would amount to $1.50 for 10 bags.  It was stated that compostable bags have to be used for the new pail, whereas with the old pail you could use another type of bag.  Commissioner Gravanis stated that people will be able to get compostable bags free from the supermarket as a result of the new compostable bag Ordinance.

 

Chair Mok stated that you can use the same bag a maximum of one to two times because of odors.  Mr. Westlund stated that the new pail helps to control odors as the contents dries out, but will create a measurement problem because it will be lighter so what will be looked at is not only the amount of tonnage in the green bin but to see if there are any decreases in the black bin.

 

Commissioner Gravanis asked how volunteers were recruited.  Mr. Westlund explained that Ms. Sunshine Swinford-DeVries, the Department’s Volunteer Coordinator, recruited over 100 volunteers by signing people up at public events that she had attended, calling folks, and networking.  It was stated that Ms. DeVries was previously a political organizer and previously did canvassing for women’s clinics in the East Bay.  Ms. DeVries also scheduled volunteer training sessions and walkthroughs.       

 

Food Service Waste Reduction Ordinance.  Mr. Westlund reported that the polystyrene food wear ban Ordinance passed and will be in effect July 1.  It was stated that an official informational document was developed about polystyrene and its alternatives that was mailed to every restaurant and every registered restaurant owner in San Francisco.  Mr. Westlund explained that three food service fairs were held in Chinatown, Mission and the Avenues neighborhoods, in which 300 restaurants and 7-10 vendors were in attendance at each fair.  Approximately 10% of San Francisco restaurants were present at the events, so good penetration to that market was achieved.

 

Chair Mok stated that restaurant owners are concerned with the safety of compostable items as far as ability to withstand high temperatures.  Mr. Westlund explained that the Ordinance allows for use of other packaging other than polystyrene if there is no functional alternative to a compostable or recyclable product.  Chair Mok stated that many restaurants do not know which manufacturer is approved or if there is a guideline to follow.  Mr. Westlund stated that there is a chart on the Department website of approved manufacturers and types of products they sell, and approved products will be labeled BPI compostable.

 

Commissioner Gravanis asked what sort of penalties would be enforced on July 1 if restaurants do not comply.  Mr. Westlund explained that there is a monetary policy and that the amounts are included in the Ordinance.  It was stated that there is a 6-month grace period that was agreed to with the Restaurant Association and the Chamber of Commerce. Commissioner Gravanis asked if it was up to the public to report a violation.  Mr. Westlund explained that the Public Health Department would report violations when they do their inspections.

 

Chair Mok stated that Oakland started their ban on January 1, but there is not much of a penalty so people have not changed their behavior.  Mr. Westlund stated that the Oakland Ordinance was flawed in that it defined affordable as being the same cost or less, so if there was any differential in the price, a cheaper product could be used.  It was stated that the San Francisco Ordinance is stricter, as it has more than a 15% limit before a non-recyclable non-compostable alternative can be used.  

 

Deputy Director Assmann stated that the differential price between styrofoam and a compostable or recyclable product has not been determined at this time.  Mr. Kevin Drew, Recycling Coordinator stated that styrofoam shouldn’t be used as a base because it is inexpensive. 

 

Commissioner Gravanis asked if it will be obvious to the public to put the new take out containers in the green bin and recommended a more conspicuous label be put on the container.  Mr. Westlund stated that many manufacturers are putting a green band on the label.  Commissioner Gravanis asked whether the Outreach program budget could accommodate the production of signs that vendors can put in stores that states “our containers are compostable, put them in your green bin when finished.”  Mr. Westlund stated that he would like more effort put into working with companies to do the labeling. 

 

Compostable Bag Ordinance.  Mr. Westlund stated that the compostable bag Ordinance has had a lot of coverage in every major newspaper and television outlet, and the Department has devoted a lot of time to answering many telephone calls.  Mr. Westlund reported that he participated in a huge canvas bag giveaway at City Hall in the week right before and after the vote.  It was stated that the next order of 2000 canvas bags are expected to arrive the first week of May.

 

Wonder Waste.  Mr. Westlund reported on a new campaign for the Toxics Program called Wonder Waste that incorporates various campaigns together, e.g. hazardous waste, fluorescent bulbs, batteries, etc.  The Department will be moving ahead on citywide advertising campaigns and television ads in the next fiscal year. The message will be if you wonder what to do with an item call us or go to the Department’s website EcoFinder and do a search.   

 

Chair Mok asked whether there was any radio advertising.  Mr. Westlund stated that there was advertising on Spanish radio and in Chinese and neighborhood newspapers, but not a lot of radio as of now.  Radio advertising would be considered in the future.

 

Global Warming Campaign: Mr. Westlund reported that a meeting was held two weeks ago with PG&E, MUNI, PUC, the Bay Area Air Quality District, and the Flex Your Power Campaign to discuss pooling resources to do a joint climate change campaign.  Details are being worked on, e.g. how to work together and how it will be paid for.  PG&E has offered to let the Department use their international advertising agency, Venables, that ran the “Lets Green the City Campaign.”  There will be a meeting on Friday this week to get a work plan together and then to see how to pull all these agencies together to work on a campaign.  The idea is that each of these agencies has components that relate to global warming, e.g. the Department has a solid waste impact, MUNI has public transportation and spare the air messages, PG&E has energy efficiencies.  Each agency would possibly include the same art, the same slogan, and same type of language and then work in pitches for their own individual specific campaign areas. 

 

Mr. Westlund reported that each of the Department’s campaigns is thought of in three year components.  The Toxics Wonder Waste Program first component would be to drive participation in the drop off centers; the second component would be to phase in the home pickups with Norcal; and the third phase would be to educate people about alternatives so it’s not just how to get rid of waste or recycle it, its what you can do not to make it in the first place. 

 

Mr. Westlund explained that the first phase of the global warming campaign is to send out basic information to let people know that they can have an impact by taking public transportation and recycling; the second phase would be around public participation and focus on individual approach, a contest for reduction; and the third would be to influence people to carry on with the program.

 

Chair Mok inquired about program funding.  Mr. Westlund stated that there is funding from the Impound Account that can be used to do solid waste related messages and reference its advantage to the climate.  For example, PG&E might have the same language but talk about rebates for energy efficient appliances and MUNI might have the same basic message but talk about purchasing a fast pass.  The idea would be to make our specific requests and promote our own specific programs, but to do it in a way that looks like a citywide coordinated campaign.  This effort would expand the impact of the campaign because it is being spread out instead of individual campaigns.

 

Chair Mok discussed the purchase of new school buses and the high cost of $440,000 for each bus. Mr. Kevin Drew stated that there was a discussion about the SFUSD purchasing school buses that were supposed to be energy efficient and if they were diesel, they could convert to biodiesel and be cleaner.  Chair Mok stated that it would be expensive to convert each individual school bus from diesel to biodiesel at $440,000 for each bus.

 

Biodiesel.  Mr. Westlund reported that Monday is the Mayor’s Earth Day Breakfast.  On Tuesday, there will be an event at the Olympic Gas Station at 3rd and 23rd Streets to announce progress towards the Mayor’s Executive Order which asks that 20% of the City fleet be converted to diesel by December.  It was reported that an announcement will be made that the City is now at over 50%, and Norcal is at 100% for their collection vehicles.  On Wednesday, there will be a press conference announcing the City’s 69% recycling diversion rate that will be held at the Recycling Center, Pier 96.  Mr. Westlund stated that he and the Mayor’s Press Office will be sending out press announcements

 

Commissioner Gravanis stated that Treasure and Yerba Buena Islands have not achieved a diligent separation between blue and black bins and are not on the green bin system yet.  Commissioner Gravanis inquired whether the Outreach Team or Golden Gate Disposal could become more involved by implementing an education program and distributing literature as to what goes into each bin. Mr. Drew stated that he believes outreach may be part of the Golden Gate contract, but the Department can become involved in this effort.  It was stated that duplexes encompass most of the housing on the Islands.  Mr. Drew suggested as one alternative that the property management company insert literature as part of their next announcement.  Commissioner Gravanis stated that another outreach method could be through the Islands’ monthly community meetings.      

 

5.   INFORMATIONAL REPORT: Status Report on the Environmental Justice Program Fiscal Year 2006/07 Request for Proposal (RFP), issued jointly with the Recycling Program on December 21, 2006.  (Explanatory Document: Request for Proposal)

Staff:  Mr. Raymond Manion, Environmental Justice Program

 

Mr. Manion stated that a joint RFP between the Environmental Justice and Recycling Program areas was issued on December 21st.   Mr. Manion reported that Environmental Justice received approximately 14 applications and Zero Waste received 23.  Mr. Manion explained that the first phase of the evaluation, a review panel of readers, had been completed, and that the next phase would be the interview process for selection of grantees that is scheduled to be completed by the end of April.   A proposal to recommend funding will be presented to the Commission at their May meeting.  Mr. Manion indicated that from the initial 14 applications, 8 made it to the interview phase.

It was stated that the Environmental Justice program has $500,000 to grant out for Fiscal Year 2006/07.  Ms. Buerkle asked why the grant would be administered for Fiscal Year 2006/07.  Mr. Manion explained that the Request for Proposal was issued in December 2006 so encompassed that time period.

 

Mr. Manion reported that the process used to evaluate grant applications was in response to the Controller’s Office Audit request for a more objective evaluation panel.   The evaluation panel consisted of one Environmental Justice staff person, one outside person, and two Department staff members that were not related to Environmental Justice. 

 

Mr. Drew, Recycling Coordinator reported that 23 applications were received and that a similar evaluation panel was implemented where there was one Recycling staff person accompanied by Commissioner Gravanis and two other staff people from other Department program areas.  It was stated that the same process would be repeated with the interview process that is scheduled for May, and a recommendation would be forthcoming to the Commission in June.  Mr. Drew stated that only one of the 23 applicants would not be interviewed because they were technically disqualified.

 

Commissioner Gravanis stated that the Commission does not meet in June unless a special meeting were to be scheduled and recommended starting the interviews as soon as possible so that it could be heard at the May Commission meeting.  Ms. Buerkle reported that grants have to be approved by July 1 in order to become effective on time.

6.      INFORMATION:  New Business.  Commissioner Gravanis stated that it is a good policy for the Commissioners to review their meeting packet ahead of time and suggested that the full Commission consider printing their meeting packets from the email sent by the Commission Secretary in order to avoid duplication and to save paper.  Paper copies would then not be made available to the Commissioners at meetings.  Copies would still be made available to the public and one Commission copy would be available.  Chair Mok recommended that the issue be brought before the Operations Committee as an agenda item for consideration and possible action and then possibly to the full Commission. 

7.      FUTURE AGENDA ITEMS.  Chair Mok stated that Deputy Director Assmann would report on Administration work in process for the July 18 meeting.

 

8.   PUBLIC COMMENTS:  Members of the public may address the Committee on matters that are within the Committee’s jurisdiction and are not on today’s agenda.  There was no public comment at this time.

 

9.   ADJOURNMENT.  The Operations Committee meeting adjourned at 5:05 p.m.

 

 

The next Operations Committee Meeting will be on Wednesday, July 18, 2007 at 4:00 p.m. at the Department of the Environment, 11 Grove Street, San Francisco, CA.

 

 

Monica Fish, Commission Secretary

TEL:  (415) 355-3709

FAX: (415) 554-6393

 

** 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 Committee’s website https://sites.google.com/a/sfenvironment.org/commission/operations-committee as attachments to the meeting agenda or minutes, ;(3) upon request to the Commission Secretary, at telephone number 415-355-3709, or via e-mail at Monica.Fish@sfgov.org.

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Approved: July 11, 2007

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