01.18 Approved Minutes






THURSDAY, JANUARY 18, 2007, 10:00 A.M.






TASK FORCE MEMBERS:  VOTING:  Eric Bowen (Chair), Adam Hagen (Vice-Chair), Melissa Hardy, Benjamin Jordan, Karri Ving. NON-VOTING: David Augustine (Treasurer/Tax Collector), Richard Berman (Port), Sarah Dennis (Planning Department), Vandana Bali (Department of the Environment), Mike Ferry (Fire Department), Tom Franza (SFPUC), Laurence Kornfield (DBI), Dina Mackin (MOCD), Marty Mellera (MTA), Virginia St. Jean (DPH).






1.      CALL TO ORDER AND ROLL CALL.  The meeting was called to order at 10:07 a.m.  Present:  Voting: Chair Bowen, Vice-Chair Hagen, Members Hardy and Ving. Non-Voting:  Members Augustine, Bali, Franza, and Mackin. Excused (Non-Voting):  Members Berman and St. Jean.  Absent (Voting):  Members Jordan; Absent: (Non-Voting) Members Dennis, Ferry, Kornfield and Mellera.


Public in attendance included Mr. Randall von Wedel, BioSolar, CytoCulture; Mr. Richard Gillis, President, Energy Alternative Solutions, Inc., Mr. Vinicio Vides, Chief Financial Officer, Bio-Easi; Mr. Bernie Weiss, Bio-Easi; Mr. David Gavrich, LB Railco; Mr. Ron Silberstein, Alameda Climate Protection Task Force; Mr. M. Gersick and Mr. J. Gersick, Gersick Associates. 


2.      ACTION:  Approval of the December 21, 2006 Biodiesel Access Task Force Regular Meeting Draft Minutes.  Upon Motion by Vice-Chair Hagen and Second by Member Ving, the December 21, 2006 Meeting Minutes were approved with no objection. (Absent:  Member Jordan) (Explanatory Document:  December 21, 2006 Approved Minutes).  

3.      INFORMATIONAL PRESENTATION:  Presentation by the author of Not a Gas Station about starting the Biofuel Oasis.

SPONSOR:  Member Melissa Hardy

SPEAKER: Ms. Jennifer Radtke


Member Hardy introduced Ms. Jennifer Radtke, co-founder of the Biofuel Oasis, a fully permitted biodiesel filling station in Berkeley, and author of a book Not a Gas Station about the process of starting the Biofuel Oasis.


Ms. Jennifer Radtke gave a presentation about her experiences in starting the Biofuel Oasis.  It was stated that the Biofuel Oasis is a five-member worker owned cooperative corporation and is the only public pump in the San Francisco Bay Area that retails biodiesel B99.9.  Ms. Radtke stressed the importance of their effort to provide community service and education to customers as being an important element of their success. Topics discussed included:


·         History of Biofuels Oasis. Biofuels Oasis started selling biodiesel in December 2003 and has been the only place to purchase biodiesel in the San Francisco Bay Area other than a new fueling pump that just opened in the past couple of months in San Anselmo. 


·         Zoning Permit Process and Experiences.  Discussion on zoning of current and future location, Berkeley’s concerns with parking and traffic, and timing for issuance of permit (four months).


·         Building Permit Requirements.  Installation of above ground tanks presents earthquake issues (earthquake strapping required), tank containment required.  The Building Department was concerned whether the facility was structurally sound.  A floor plan was presented.


·         Hazardous Material/Toxics Approvals in Berkeley.  Discussion of HAZMAT fees, requirement for Hazardous Material Business Plan, Environmental Protection Agency rule to have 110% second containment. 


·         Fire Department Approval Requirements.  Biodiesel is a Class IIIB Liquid (combustible liquid), concern with tanks being plastic (which is combustible) instead of metal.  California Fire Code provisions allow tanks of combustible materials for Class IIIB liquids if on the site you are not storing Class I or Class II liquids.  Future plan for (1) installation of stainless steel tanks and (2) containment similar to cement blocks because of safety concerns and ease of permit approvals.


Chair Bowen stated that the San Francisco Fire Department was not in support of an indoor facility because of the difficulty to fight fires and asked if the Berkeley Fire Department had any concerns with an indoor facility.  Ms. Radtke stated that CFC7902. is only for indoor spaces. 


Public Comment:  Mr. von Wedel asked if there was a requirement for sprinklers and explained the San Francisco Fire Department’s concerns and situations a fire could present.  Ms. Radtke stated that there was not a requirement for sprinklers.


·         Public Support.  Ms. Radtke indicated that there was a lot of public support for biodiesel and that the Berkeley Mayor and relevant Departments were influenced to issue approvals.


·         California State Permits.  Certain pumps have to be certified and inspected by Weights and Measures every 18 months to make sure they are pumping the amount of gallons registered.  Fee is charged.  California Division of Measurement Standards (DMS) requires a Variance if you sell biodiesel B20 and above.


·         Independent Biodiesel Stations.  Ms. Radtke discussed the positive aspects of an independent biodiesel station selling biodiesel versus a gas station.  It was stated that an independent biodiesel station usually has better fuel quality, provides customer education, and has more of a sustainability focus than a gas station.  Ms. Radtke encouraged the Task Force to put in incentives for people starting biodiesel stations.


Member Mackin asked if biodiesel was more complicated to handle than regular diesel.  Ms. Radtke stated that biodiesel is different than petroleum and that 20% of petroleum diesel in California does not meet specifications.  Chair Bowen explained that biodiesel is less tolerant to abuse than petroleum diesel.  It was stated that the handling of biodiesel has to be different which makes it difficult to educate petroleum distribution companies because they want to treat it like any other product.  Mr. von Wedel stated that is why very stringent contracts have to be written for fleets that contain specific terms and conditions, back-up plans to resolve problems with storage, and that the distributor quickly resolves the problems or pay for replacement. 


Member Mackin inquired about the feasibility of adding additives to biodiesel.  Mr. von Wedel stated that it is preferable to have quality fuel and good practice, e.g. how the facility produces the product, how it is handled on the railcar, how it is distributed locally, how it is stored, and how the customer uses and stores it.  Ms. Radtke stated that it is important to have a program in place to test your fuel every time you get a delivery.


Vice-Chair Hagen inquired about warranty issues that people may have encountered with the use of biodiesel.  Ms. Radtke advised that the car manufacturers and dealers are aware of biodiesel and try to void the warranty if 100% biodiesel is used.  Most of the car manufacturers warranty B5.  Ms. Radtke stated that she advises her customers of this issue.


Public Comment:  Mr. David Gavrich inquired about pricing.  Ms. Radtke stated that pricing for the past year and a half has been from $3.65 to $3.70 a gallon and the price at the pump for petroleum diesel has varied, but traditionally the price is $1.00 a gallon more than petroleum diesel.  It was stated that at this time, petroleum diesel is about $3.00 a gallon.  Mr. Gafferd asked if there is a fluctuation in business as a result of petroleum diesel price increases.  Ms. Radtke stated when the price of petroleum diesel increases they do see an increase in business.  Mr. Gafferd asked if customers come in to blend in the


tank.  Ms. Radtke stated that the best way is to put biodiesel in second because it is heavier and more likely to sink down.


Member Ving inquired if Ms. Radtke would have done anything differently after gaining the experience.  Ms. Radtke stated that she would have looked for a different location because of traffic issues. 


Vice-Chair Hagen inquired about the start-up dollar cost.  Ms. Radtke stated that the cost was approximately $20,000 for permitting, equipment and rent.  It was indicted that free labor was given by the structural engineers and for building the containment.  Money was raised by employee contributions, fund raising and reinvestment.  Vice Chair Hagen asked how long the process took in order to get started selling the fuel.  Ms. Radtke explained that they got the space in August 2003 and started selling in December 2003.  It was stated that the process at a new location would take about six months just for the use permit and then they would have to get a building permit.


·         Contact information:  [email protected]; 510-665-5509; www.biofuelsoasis.com; www.backyardbiodiesel.org.


Ms. Radtke advised that she and Member Hardy will be teaching a class on starting the Biofuels Oasis from February 18-23 at the Biofuels Oasis.  Next steps are to encourage others to startup a biodiesel station.  Not a Gas Station can be purchased at www.backyardbiodiesel.org. 


4.      DISCUSSION AND POSSIBLE ACTION:  Continued Discussion on Recommendations to the Board of Supervisors on Incentives for Gas Stations to Include Biodiesel Pumps and Approval of Draft Letter to the Department of Public Health (Continued from the December 21, 2006 Meeting).  (Explanatory Document: (PDF) Draft Letter on Payroll Tax Incentives)

SPEAKERS:  Member David Augustine and Chair Bowen


Member Augustine distributed a draft letter that would be addressed to the Board of Supervisors on the topic of how a payroll tax exemption would apply to businesses that make biodiesel publicly available.  After discussion, it was determined that a draft letter merging payroll tax exemptions, fees and direct subsidies would be presented at the February Task Force meeting for formal approval.  Chair Bowen discussed LB Railco exploring the possibility of bringing bulk shipments of biodiesel to San Francisco and associated Fire Department and HAZMAT fees that could also be discussed in an incentives proposal.  It was stated that after an incentives proposal letter to the Board of Supervisors is approved, the Task Force would present the letter to Supervisor McGoldrick to sponsor and introduce to the Board of Supervisors.


Continued to the February 15, 2007 Task Force meeting.


5.      DISCUSSION AND POSSIBLE ACTION.  Update on Expression of Interest from Gas Stations on the Installation of Biodiesel Pumps (Continued from the December 21, 2006 Meeting). 

SPEAKER:  Vice-Chair Adam Hagen



Chair Bowen and Vice-Chair Hagen agreed that a letter could be sent that does not list incentives, but indicates that incentives are being worked on and could be offered in the future. 


This item was continued to the February 15, 2007 meeting for Task Force approval of a Draft Letter.


6.      INFORMATIONAL REPORT.  Update on Permitting Regulations for Biodiesel (Continued from the December 21, 2006 Meeting).

SPEAKER:  Member Benjamin Jordan


No report was given at this time.  This item was continued to the February 15, 2007 Task Force meeting.


7.      INFORMATIONAL REPORT: Citywide Fleet Biodiesel Implementation Update.

SPEAKER: Member Vandana Bali


Member Bali reported that a monthly conference call was held on Tuesday with most City managers.  Member Ferry, Fire Department, had been asked by his administration and the Fire Department to put together a tank-maintenance and an ongoing fuel quality program with cost estimates before a decision would be made whether to start Phase 2 of the project.  Since this will be an issue for every other City department, a meeting will be held next week with the City Fleet Manager, Fire Department contact, Member Jordan, and the San Francisco Airport Fleet Manager to discuss the process and key considerations. 


Member Bali reported on reports received by Departments that included:


The smaller City departments had no major issues.   Central Shops reported that they were moving along fine and have found a new qualified City vendor to supply biodiesel.  MUNI has attended all the meetings and does not have an estimated date for startup of their pilot.  Concerns were expressed with (1) getting petroleum diesel from the City vendor and (2) tank prep issues and associated costs.  The Port will report on their plan by the end of this week.  SFPUC did not provide a report at this time.  The Airport has a contracting shuttle bus company that has been running B20 for a long time, City diesel vehicles that have been running B20 since September, debris haulers, fire trucks, and backup generators.  No problems have been experienced.  A meeting would be held with the Sheriff’s Department on February 19 to start the process.


Member Bali reported that materials would be assembled to help the process along.  It was stated that people are happy to have a forum to talk about these issues across the City.  The next conference call meeting will be on the 20th and quarterly, and an in person meeting will be in March.


Public Comment:  Mr. von Wedel inquired about meeting dates.  Member Bali indicated that a meeting is tentatively scheduled for March 20th, but may be rescheduled to the week before.  Next week’s meeting will be on February 24 from 10:00 – 11:30 at the Department of the Environment.




Chair Bowen stated that the Mayor’s Executive Order for the City to use B20 was moving slowly since there had been no coordination effort and commended Member Bali for providing the coordination effort needed for the City to share their experiences and resources that has been a great accelerator for the program.


8.      INFORMATIONAL REPORT:  Status of the Joint Biodiesel Press Event with U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the City of San Francisco, City College of San Francisco, Caltrans, Bayview Hunter's Point Community Residents and Olympian Gas Station.

SPEAKER: Member Vandana Bali


Member Bali reported that February 22 is being proposed as a possible date and gas station owners are being asked if that date will work for them. 


Public Comment:  Mr. von Wedel asked if the date could be earlier than February 22 and inquired as to the location. Member Bali stated that she does not believe it would be earlier than February 22 and would be held at the Olympian Station on 23rd and 3rd Streets.  Mr. von Wedel stated that he could supply photographs from the first press event


Chair Bowen asked for additional information on the press event, e.g. goals, attendees.  Member Bali stated that representatives from the above organizations, the Local Air District Executive Officer would be in attendance.  It was stated that the press event would be from five to ten minutes and would show a joint collaboration at all levels of government and the community on biodiesel, e.g. education, availability at the gas pump, technical materials that City College is putting together, funding from EPA and CALTRANS. 


9.      INFORMATION:  New Business


Member Mackin stated that she would be adding an informational report to the next meeting’s agenda on a status update for getting a biodiesel manufacturing facility built in San Francisco.  The Mayor’s Office is in the process of meeting with different City departments today and tomorrow and organizing future community meetings.


10.  DISCUSSION:  Future Agenda Items


No additional future agenda items were discussed at this time.


11.  PUBLIC COMMENTS:  Members of the public may address the Task Force on matters that are within the Task Force’s jurisdiction and are not on today’s agenda.


Mr. Michael Gersick stated that he had attended the Marine Biodiesel Subcommittee meeting last month and is interested in what the City is doing in this field and in attending future meetings.  Mr. Gersick explained that Gersick and Associates are international business consultants who have approached the City on various alternative energy activities and expressed interest in biodiesel and in supporting initiatives of this Task Force in public affairs representation.


12.  ADJOURNMENT.  The Biodiesel Access Task Force Meeting adjourned at 11:29 a.m.


Respectfully submitted by,


Monica Fish, Task Force Secretary

** Copies of explanatory documents are available at (1) the Task Force office, 11 Grove Street, San Francisco, California between the hours of 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., (2) upon request to the Task Force Secretary, at telephone number 415-355-3709 or via e-mail at [email protected], or (3) on the meeting website as attachments to the agendas or meeting minutes.   


Adopted:  February 15, 2007


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