CITY AND COUNTY OF SAN FRANCISCO
COMMISSION ON THE ENVIRONMENT
TUESDAY, JULY 28, 2009, 5:00 P.M.
CITY HALL, ROOM 416, SAN FRANCISCO, CA 94102
COMMISSION MEMBERS: Commissioners Paul Pelosi Jr. (President), Ruth Gravanis (Vice-President), Angelo King, Jane MarieFrancis Martin, Alan Mok, Matt Tuchow, Johanna Wald
ORDER OF BUSINESS
Public comment will be taken before the Commission takes action on any item.
1. Call to Order and Roll Call. The Commission on the Environment Meeting was called to order at 5:10 p.m. Present: President Pelosi Jr. (6:00), Vice-President Gravanis, Commissioners King (5:15), Martin, Mok and Tuchow. Excused: Commissioner Wald.
2. Adoption of Minutes of the May 26, 2009 Commission Regular Meeting. (Discussion and Action) Upon Motion by Commissioner Martin and second by Commissioner Mok, the May 26, 2009 Commission Meeting Minutes were approved without objection (AYES: Vice-President Gravanis, Commissioners Martin, Mok and Tuchow; Absent: President Pelosi Jr., Commissioners King and Wald). (Explanatory Document: May 26, 2009 Approved Minutes)
3. Public Comments: Members of the public may address the Commission on matters that are within the Commission’s jurisdiction and are not on today’s agenda. There was no public comment at this time.
4. Presentation of Mayoral Certificate of Honor for Commissioner Emeritus Darian Rodriguez Heyman and Approval of Commission Resolution File No. 2009-03-COE commending Commissioner Emeritus Darian Rodriguez Heyman for his Service on the Commission on the Environment. Speaker: Vice-President Gravanis (Discussion and Action) (Explanatory Documents: Certificate of Honor and Approved Resolution No. 003-09-COE)
Upon Motion by Commissioner Tuchow and second by Commissioner Mok, Resolution File 003-09-COE commending Commissioner Emeritus Darian Rodriguez Heyman for his service to the Commission on the Environment was approved without objection (AYES: Vice-President Gravanis, Commissioners Martin, Mok and Tuchow; Absent: President Pelosi Jr., Commissioners King and Wald). Vice-President Gravanis presented the Mayoral Certificate of Honor to Commissioner Emeritus Darian Rodriguez Heyman who was present to accept the Certificate.
5. Approval of Resolution urging the San Francisco Planning Department to Prioritize the Completion of the Urban Forest Plan and Identify and Expedite Funding for Key Portions of the Plan. Sponsor: Commissioner Jane MarieFrancis Martin; Speaker: David Alumbaugh, San Francisco Planning Department (Explanatory Document: Resolution File No. 2009-04-COE) (Discussion and Action)
Commissioner Martin reported that Mr. Andres Power of the Planning Department at the request of Policy Committee members attended the July 13 Policy Committee meeting to report on the status of the revision to the Urban Forest Master Plan. It was explained that funding was cut for continued work on this Plan because of the current budget situation, and there is no current plan for restoring funding. The Committee, recognizing the environmental benefits of a solid Urban Forest Master Plan, strategized ways to select key elements that can be completed by staff instead of the initial idea to complete it through consultant contracts. Commissioner Martin stated that before the budget shortfall, the Supervisors had dedicated $200,000 to this project, $85,000 of which was spent, leaving $115,000 of work remaining. There was just shy of enough work completed to capture a good data analysis. It was learned that San Francisco’s publicly-owned trees are divided among many stakeholders that include City agencies consisting of the Port, San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD), Department of Public Works (DPW), Recreation and Park Department, etc. and also includes private property owners. Street trees in most cases are owned publicly but are maintained by private citizens - owners of adjacent properties, which results in uneven treatment of the urban forest. Commissioner Martin explained that an effort is being made to better understand the Master Plan and what it seeks to achieve in order to encourage others to help restore efforts to work on the Plan. Mr. David Alumbaugh of the Planning Department was introduced to discuss the current status of the Plan.
Mr. Alumbaugh stated that there is frustration on the part of Planning Department staff that work on the Urban Forest Plan cannot continue because of the current budget situation. It was agreed some years ago that there is a need to work on the Urban Forest Plan, so it was added to the budget last year. When the budget crisis happened, it was obvious that the Planning Department’s consultant funding budget had to be reduced so the project was terminated before the first phase was available. Mr. Alumbaugh stated that the importance of this work can’t be understated and is very well laid out in the Resolution. It was explained that the Planning Department is including the work of planning for a robust urban forest with other work efforts wherever possible and cited the Better Streets Plan as an example.
Commissioner Tuchow asked if there were private or foundation funds that are being sought to pursue completion of the Plan and whether there was anything the Commissioners could do to make sure work progresses. Mr. Alumbaugh stated that staff is just finding out now what the budget actions of the Board of Supervisors are and are turning attention to that. The potential for grant funding or partner funding has not been explored. It was stated that it is frustrating that $120,000 could have completed the consultant work to produce what is believed to be a robust urban forest plan, but funds are not available. Mr. Alumbaugh stated that the Commission’s Resolution discusses the possibility of City staff working on the Plan, which he will review and then report back to the Commission. It was explained that work would primarily encompass an economic analysis about how to better manage the urban forest. Mr. Alumbaugh stated that he would review the cost of completing an economic analysis and determine whether staff could complete this effort.
Public Comment: Mr. Terry Milne, Chair, Urban Forestry Council, reported that he has been working on the Urban Forest Plan for the past three to five years. Consultants have been called in to do surveys and money has been expended before the Plan was turned over to the Planning Department. Mr. Milne stated that he believes the problem with the urban forest is a result of the different departments that handle trees in the city. It is hoped that that this Urban Forest Plan can ultimately end up in the City’s General Plan that is more enforceable and not just a policy document that is put on a shelf. The Supervisors and Planning Commissioners would then have a say about issues that may disrupt City policy in regard to its urban forest. It was explained that other people who are interested in the urban forest are also frustrated that the Plan is not moving forward. The Commission was urged to approve the Resolution and move it forward to the Planning Department.
Upon Motion by Commissioner Tuchow and second by Commissioner Mok, Resolution 004-09-COE urging the Planning Department to prioritize the completion of the Urban Forest Plan and identify and expedite funding for key portions of the Plan was approved without objection. (AYES: Vice-President Gravanis, Commissioners King, Martin, Mok and Tuchow; Absent: President Pelosi Jr. and Commissioner Wald) (Explanatory Document: Approved Resolution No. 004-09-COE)
6. Mandatory Recycling and Composting Ordinance Implementation Update. Sponsor: David Assmann, Deputy Director; Staff Speakers: Jack Macy, Commercial Zero Waste Coordinator and Jean Walsh, Outreach Specialist (Informational Report and Discussion)
Deputy Director Assmann reported that the Ordinance is a momentous step forward and is unprecedented nationwide to have a mandatory recycling and composting ordinance in place. Mr. Macy reported that the Mandatory Recycling and Compositing Ordinance otherwise known as the Universal Recycling and Composting Ordinance is landmark legislation that for the first time anywhere requires that everybody participate in composting food scraps. As a result of this Ordinance, everyone has to participate in composting and recycling throughout the city. This legislation was signed by the Mayor on June 23rd at a well-attended press event at the Ferry Building Farmers Market, which is a model participant in the program diverting over 90%. It was explained that the Department has spent over a year working on the Ordinance with a lot of stakeholder input, and a lot of stakeholders participated in the press event. As a result of the press event and outreach in this area, a significant impact has already been seen particularly in the area of composting, where improvement is needed the most. There has been a 15% increase in the amount of tonnage diverted in the composting program. Also seen is a ten-fold increase in green cart distribution and more people are joining the program, particularly multi-tenant properties, which is the top priority in terms of outreach into joining the program.
Mr. Macy reported that three sector areas are being targeted, City government, residential, and commercial, where a lot of work is being accomplished in terms of outreach and assistance. The goal is to have full City department compliance when this ordinance is in effect on October 21st, which is 120 days after the Mayor has signed. There is three months to get as much compliance as possible. Right now 91% of all City departments have recycling, but almost half don’t have composting. The larger compost generators, e.g., hospitals and Recreation and Park Department are already in the program, but there is a big push for City departments to serve as a model for the rest of the city. Recently, a commitment was received from the Department of Real Estate that they would have all of their facilities/properties fully in compliance.
Mr. Macy reported that there has been tremendous progress in the residential area. The priority now is to target apartment buildings. There is pretty good compliance among single-family units, and will increase with the outreach that will be done. It was explained that 97% of apartment buildings have recycling, but only 30% have composting, which means there are about 7000 buildings that are needed to join the composting program. There is an aggressive effort being made that might take more than three months to accomplish. A lot of breakthroughs are being made, particularly within the large complexes, where the largest apartment complex in the city, Park Merced, is on the program. A lot of large properties, including Citi Apartments, Trinity, and Laramar Group, for example, are on the program, and work is in progress with the two largest property management associations, the Coalition for Better Housing and Professional Property Managers Association (PPMA). Mr. Macy stated that he feels good about what is being done on the residential side and tremendous headways are being made.
Mr. Macy stated that a lot of outreach and work is being done on the commercial side through organizations such as the Building Owners and Managers Association (BOMA) and other business associations. The big challenge is to influence multi-tenant properties not only to recycle, as there is wide spread participation in recycling, but to add composting. The news that is being relayed is that this Ordinance is simple, clear, universal, everybody participates, and on-site assistance can be provided if needed. A team of consultants has been out in the field for several years and they will continue. Staff is also working closely with Recology staff and confident that tremendous headway can be made to influence all of these properties to join. It will be seen how quickly full compliance can be reached. The Ordinance provides a tremendous tool that was not available before. Discussions were previously held about savings that could be achievable on trash bills, how the program is easy, and there is free assistance, but now it is the law and that will influence people quicker.
Mr. Macy stated that the Department of the Environment is working with other City departments that include the Department of Public Health (DPH) and Department of Public Works on Ordinance enforcement. Both departments have new powers, particularly DPH, who now has the ability to levy commercial liens if a commercial property does not pay for adequate service. Mr. Macy stated that he is excited about how this Ordinance will help the City reach 75% diversion and zero waste.
Ms. Jean Walsh, Department of the Environment Outreach Specialist, described outreach efforts to educate the public on the Universal Recycling and Composting Ordinance. Outreach efforts will include a mailing to Norcal customers, all 150,000 residential customers, approximately 15,000 commercial and approximately 20,000 multi-tenant apartment buildings. The Department of the Environment is also sending a mailer of its new recycling and composting guide in October, about the same time the Ordinance will take effect, which will include information about the new Ordinance. Neighborhood door-to-door grassroots outreach will be in progress to businesses and apartments that will include a team of volunteers that go out every Wednesday and deliver green pails and talk to residents. The Department will update their website with information and Norcal has done the same. The Department also sent Information via their e-newsletter, and Norcal would be providing a hard copy newsletter to all of their customers. Ms. Walsh stated that Mr. Macy had previously discussed the other partnership building efforts that are underway with BOMA and some of the apartment associations.
Commissioner Martin discussed the Commission’s 2008 retreat focus on green jobs and how this Ordinance could provide opportunities for this type of endeavor. It was recommended that either the Department or another entity could create a business model for cleaning green bins at a nominal fee. Commissioner Martin stated that she has found that people don’t want to compost because it is dirty and after the collection it remains dirty, so it is difficult for people and they don’t have the space or ability to do the cleaning of the bins. Commissioner Martin stated that she had contacted Sunset Scavenger, who indicated that they were not providing this service. Mr. Macy stated that that effort is being accomplished to some extent in Europe and there is a company in Colorado that drives around and does on site washing on their truck as opposed to taking the cart back to the facility to clean. It was explained that Sunset Scavenger and Golden Gate Disposal have a washing service but it is more expensive because they take the cart back to their central facility. The program that is being recommended would involve having specialized trucks washing on site. There was some interest expressed, but the companies were not quite ready to offer this type of service partly because of the business plan involved. This is a good time to revisit this service because there is such a bigger push for composting. Commissioner Martin recommended offering the service once a month or on an on-call basis.
Commissioner Tuchow inquired whether there was a grace period for people to learn about the Ordinance before enforcement. Mr. Macy stated that multiple warnings would be issued, and that fines would be issued as a last resort and would not exceed $100 for residents and small generators that have less than a cubic yard of service per week. The Ordinance is seen as an outreach tool that would serve as an opportunity for providing all of the assistance necessary for everyone to comply. The enforcement priority is to make sure that multi-tenant property managers/owners provide the service so their tenants can participate. Most calls are from residential apartment dwellers that do not have recycling or composting in their building or from commercial tenants. The concern expressed by apartment associations and businesses was if they set up a program and tenants did not participate properly. The Ordinance addresses property manager responsibilities, which includes the requirement for setting up the program with the appropriate number and size and location of containers and provide basic level of education to tenants. If that is done, they won’t be fined if people did not sort properly. The Ordinance states that after July 2011, the potential penalties for mixing for multi-tenants would be revisited, and the intent is to do this through the rate-setting process, so there will be a higher rate for people that don’t sort their trash properly.
Commissioner Tuchow inquired which agencies would serve as the enforcement vehicle. Mr. Macy stated that the Department of Public Health and the Department of Public Works would ensure that basic adequate service is provided, and the Department of the Environment would play the most active role, particularly to make sure that multi-tenant properties institute adequate programs. The three departments would be working together and sharing resources.
Commissioner King asked that all fines that are issued be tracked and the Commission apprised of where they are applied. Commissioner King expressed his concern that people are using fines as another revenue source for shortfalls, which he is opposed to. It was stated that fines are to change behaviors and encourage folks to participate in a program, but not to find ways to fill existing gaps. Commissioner King stated that it is becoming a very expensive time to live here and that we don’t want to unintentionally give people a tool to finance future revenue shortfalls. An example given was the increase in downtown parking meters and fines.
Vice-President Gravanis congratulated all staff that worked on the Ordinance.
7. Department of the Environment’s Landfill Search Update. Staff Sponsor and Speaker: David Assmann, Deputy Director (Informational Report and Discussion)
Deputy Director Assmann reported that the Department embarked on the landfill search process about two years ago and held a series of public meetings. After the meetings were held, a policy document was established to outline what considerations there should be as part of this process. A Request for Qualifications (RFQ) was issued and sent to every landfill that was registered with the California Integrated Waste Management Board in the state. Applications were received from three firms, which were all deemed to be qualified to bid.
Deputy Director Assmann reported that it is expected that San Francisco would run out of landfill capacity in approximately 2014 and maybe as late as 2015 depending on whether disposal numbers continue to go down at the current rate. It is projected that additional capacity will be needed in approximately 2014. San Francisco’s disposal has dropped dramatically to about 450,000 tons annually. At this rate, we will be below 400,000 tons in the future and should keep going down beyond that. The RFQ asks for five million tons or capacity until 2025, whichever comes first. Three qualified responses were received. A Request for Proposals (RFP) was then issued and a mandatory pre-bid conference was held. One of the firms did not attend the conference so was disqualified as a result. The first round of interviews with the two finalists had been held, and a recommendation will be made this fall to the Board of Supervisors, who has the ultimate authority over the landfill contract. The Board of Supervisors will refer the recommendation to a Board of Supervisors Committee for approval and then it would be heard at the full Board.
Deputy Director Assmann stated that preliminary negotiations will be held with the winning firm prior to the Board of Supervisors hearing, and then final negotiations will be held after the Board of Supervisors has made their determination. It is anticipated that the entire process of selecting a finalist and negotiating a contract would be completed in the winter of 2010. That would allow for three to four years before the contract has to be in place. Additional details would be provided to the Commission once a report is ready to send to the Board of Supervisors.
Commissioner Martin inquired about the location of the two finalists. Deputy Director Assmann reported that one finalist is the Altamont Landfill, which is the current landfill, and the other is the Ostrom Road landfill which is near Marysville. One is owned by Waste Management and the other is owned by Recology, which is the new name for Norcal. Commissioner Martin inquired why a contract is being negotiated for landfill until 2025 if San Francisco is supposed to reach zero waste by 2020. Deputy Director Assmann stated that the agreement will be for five million tons of landfill and is being set up as a tiered rate so if less is disposed there is a lower rate, and more would be a higher rate. All plans are assuming that San Francisco follows a straight line down to zero waste by 2020.
8. Approval of Commission Questionnaire to Solicit Legislative Ideas from Environmental Organizations. Sponsors: Vice President Gravanis and Commissioner Jane Martin, Staff Speaker: Jean Walsh, Outreach Specialist (Explanatory Document: Questionnaire) (Discussion and Action)
Vice President Gravanis reported that the Policy Committee has been discussing how to strategically increase public involvement in the activities of the Commission and the Department. One of the first steps agreed to would be to survey active local environmental organizations to determine why there isn’t more participation. A questionnaire in the packet was drafted for this purpose.
Ms. Jean Walsh, Outreach Specialist, was present to accept comments on the draft and move forward with sending the survey to environmental groups. Deputy Director Assmann recommended inviting the prominent city environmental organizations to the Commission retreat or future meeting to brainstorm how the Commission could be more interactive with environmental organizations. It was stated that there would be groups that may respond to the questionnaire, but many would not. Setting up a situation with interaction on a one-to-one basis either through a separate meeting or retreat would be more likely to generate feedback. Vice-President Gravanis recommended adding a question as to whether there would be interest in attending a Commission retreat in the fall to the questionnaire.
Commissioner Tuchow inquired about the goal of survey. Vice President Gravanis explained that in addition to what was discussed previously, the survey would answer why environmental organizations go directly to Supervisors with environmental legislative ideas and bypass the Commission or Department and would provide education that there is a body that could assist in this effort. Vice President Gravanis reported that she had recently attended a meeting of the San Francisco Tomorrow Board of Directors, and that half of the Board members had not heard of the Commission, but there were members that had previously worked with Department staff on a number of issues throughout the years. The questionnaire would begin the effort of making the Commission better known throughout the environmental community.
Commissioner Martin reported that the Bylaws state that one of the charges of the Commission is to conduct outreach, which this questionnaire would apply to. The intent is to approach environmental organizations to provide awareness that there is a Commission and Department of Environment and solicit specific ideas so that the Commission is reflecting the interests and needs of the community at large.
Commissioner Tuchow inquired whether the Department’s outreach program already provides this type of service to environmental organizations. Vice President Gravanis stated that the Department has an outreach program but has not targeted environmental organizations to inquire about what they are working on and how work efforts can be joined. Ms. Walsh explained that the Department has partnered with various environmental organizations on an as needed basis issue by issue, but has never reached out broadly and asked these questions. Deputy Director Assmann stated that each program area deals with organizations that have interests that align with their program areas, but have not approached groups with an inquiry about the types of issues they think the Department and Commission should be working on. It is valuable to have this type of input. Deputy Director Assmann reported that environmental groups have said to him that the Commission is so progressive, they don’t need to come to the Commission, but do not see the Commission as an ally for pushing legislation through.
Commissioner King stated that it may be too much of a burden for people to work a full day and then attend an additional meeting. Commissioner King discussed the correlation between the community’s meeting attendance at various City Commissions and interest in topics that include listening to complaints or issuing funding for programs. It was stated that the Commission often times does not see the projects that grant funding is being issued for. It was recommended that the Commission also consider the passionate fights that community members are advocating for as future topics of discussion. It was explained that in the Bayview community, the Precautionary Principle is quoted quite a bit, but yet community members never attend Commission meetings. It was recommended that the Commission spend time on educating the community on what the Commission safeguards and provides oversight to.
Commissioner Martin stated that this questionnaire would not only invite groups to provide input and to attend meetings, but advise them that there are other ways to work with Commissioners and staff. Commissioner Martin recommended that (1) the cover letter reference that Commission meetings are held in Room 416, City Hall; (2) that a specific date be added indicating when the questionnaire is sent out; (3) to add a date when responses should be received; and (4) the cover letter should appear in the text of the email with a link to the survey that can be filled out online with an option to send an email to staff requesting a printed copy. Vice Chair Gravanis indicated that she would assist in providing a list of environmental groups to send the survey to. Commissioner Tuchow recommended rewording the section where it states “recently public attendance has been low…” to “if you haven’t attended a Commission meeting, could you indicate why” and asked that the section on “we would like to hear your views on the organization” be moved into the body of the survey.
9. Approval of Integrated Pest Management (IPM) Report for 2006-2007. Speakers: Chris Geiger, Ph.D., IPM Program Manager, Department of the Environment and Ralph Montana, IPM Coordinator, Recreation and Park Department (Explanatory Document: 2006-07 IPM Report) (Informational Report, Discussion and Action)
Dr. Geiger reported that the Calendar Year 2006-07 report is being provided in 2009 because of ongoing database problems converting to a web-enabled pesticide-use reporting system. It was explained that San Francisco is one of the few cities requiring its employees to report pesticide use and the previous system was taking over hundreds of staff hours. The 2008 data should be presented in a shorter time than it took to provide 2006-07 as database problems are being resolved.
Dr. Geiger reported on good news as far as pesticide use trends and referred to the numbers located in the summary of statistics on page 11 of the report. It was explained that pounds of pesticide products used has been reduced by 88% since the beginning of the report period, and the active ingredient that is in the pesticide product has been reduced by 83%. Since the last report was issued, it has continued to decrease in most products, except there was a 4% increase in Tier 1 products, which is the highest hazard pesticide used. Much of that increase can be attributed to herbicide used on golf courses, some emergency applications on palm trees, and other uses that tend to fluctuate year to year. However, the overall statistics have been very good.
Dr. Geiger showed a graph of pounds of products used over the years. In the beginning of the program, there was a big drop the first year when everyone stopped using the herbicides, and then there was deferred maintenance in 1998. It was reported that there was an increase in insecticide and herbicide use for the 2005 golf tournament and an increase in insecticide use for the treatment for mosquitoes due to the West Nile virus. However, most of these applications were of the least hazardous products. It was explained that throughout these reports mosquito and rodenticide treatments are separated out from everything else because they apply to public health hazards and are not discretionary in many cases. The goal is to influence the use of the least hazardous product possible.
Dr. Geiger stated that he has done a lot of reporting on active ingredients this year because it is the most accurate way to portray risks. There has been a huge decrease in usage of herbicide over the years, which can be attributed to City staff that are running these programs and doing the weeding and weed prevention. Fungicide use has also decreased dramatically. Insecticide use has gone up and down and the most hazardous insecticides have been removed from that list during that period. Golf is one of the challenging areas. It was reported that Sharp Park Golf Course is now pesticide free in order to protect the endangered species in the area--the red-legged frog and San Francisco garter snake.
Dr. Geiger reported that lessons learned include the importance of landscape design for determining how much pesticides are used and how well pests are managed. An example given was the planting of palm trees that are not well acclimated in San Francisco and oftentimes require fungicide to keep them alive. Another example given was that even in green LEED-certified buildings, pest contractors have reported that false ceilings are an extra floor for rats, so there should be better design guidelines. Other trends include the importance of staffing and budget. When labor availability is reduced, the pressure to use Roundup and other herbicides is greatly increased. It was stated that there has been a reduction of staff at the Recreation and Park Department, and that Mr. Montana is doing extra work serving as the IPM Coordinator and as most of the IPM staff for the department.
Mr. Ralph Montana reported on the increase of fungicide use at Candlestick Park due to an outbreak last year, and the current use of compost teas in order to reduce future outbreaks and establish a healthier turf. A safer formulation of dry Roundup was being used, which had knocked down liquid usage; however, next year it will be necessary to revert back to the liquid product because the dry product will no longer be produced. Mr. Montana stated that he is looking for grants in order to purchase a steam machine that would help reduce the use of Roundup in parks and squares, specifically for edging and tree basin work and is researching basin crop covers to eliminate Roundup use in tree basins. Mr. Montana reported that Sharp Park and Julius Kahn Park are pesticide free, but the biggest challenge is the golf industry. It was explained that heavy applications of pesticide are used for Harding Park because of the golf tournament and the pressure that it is under as opposed to other golf courses, e.g., Sharp Park, Lincoln, and the nine-hole golf course in Golden Gate Park, which only has one staff member maintaining all nine holes. Mr. Montana reported that the Recreation and Park Department has come a long way from using toxic pesticides to a level-line with small glitches and continues to research and develop new techniques.
Commissioner Martin inquired about the cost for the steam clean machine. Mr. Montana reported that it would cost approximately $15,000. Commissioner Martin recommended the possibility of tool sharing with other City departments that may already have this machine. Commissioner King acknowledged the efforts of City gardeners in implementing this harm-reduction policy.
Upon Motion by President Pelosi Jr. and second by Commissioner King, the 2006-07 Annual Report was approved without objection (AYES: President Pelosi Jr., Vice-President Gravanis, Commissioners King, Martin, Mok and Tuchow; Absent: Commissioner Wald).
10. San Francisco Carbon Fund Program. Sponsor: David Assmann, Deputy Director; Staff Speaker: Calla Ostrander, Climate Action Coordinator (Informational Report and Discussion)
Ms. Ostrander distributed an informational sheet describing the Carbon Fund program (Explanatory Document: Carbon Fund Program Informational Sheet) It was reported that the impetus for the local carbon offset program came from Mayor’s Directive issued in 2007. The program has been developing over the past two years and is now up and running. There were two major challenges that were faced. One is that it is a major project that was not accomplished anywhere else. There were no offset projects locally that were available and so it was necessary to develop the project ourselves. The second obstacle was financing the project and integrating it into City code, City workings and budgets, which had been accomplished this year. Final approval came through a budget hearing from the Board of Supervisors today, so the fund is actually now in place and ready to receive funds.
Ms. Ostrander provided background on the program. It was explained that the funds that are initially going into the fund are coming from activities that are hard to reduce. We are only looking to offset emissions that can’t be mitigated otherwise. Air travel was the perfect place to start and 13% of all money spent in the city on air travel would be going into this fund. It is a fee on air travel to mitigate the climate impacts of what is a highly impactful activity, flying. Funds will also be received for launch of a carbon kiosk program at the San Francisco Airport that is scheduled for August 19. A portion of those funds will be directed to the Department of the Environment. The offsets for that program are primarily from the Garcia River National Forest project, which is a Climate Registry certified project.
Ms. Ostrander explained that the San Francisco Carbon Fund is a portfolio of local carbon offset projects and other carbon mitigation projects that invest in climate protection as well as a variety of other ecosystem services and social benefits that aren’t currently valued in the market. Monies are being taken from emission-intensive activities and being invested in activities that will reduce our carbon footprint. The program is local, transparent, and methodologies have been developed for all of the projects and where applicable, the Climate Registry methodologies or the Gold Standard are used for carbon offsets. Where not applicable, we have developed our own methodologies that are highly transparent and are open to the public for review and anyone to comment on. A lot of times people have concerns about offsets being real, and part of what we are proud of with this program is because we have such vigorous methodologies, because it is local, because it is transparent, we are actually able to show the projects and track the emission reductions that will come from them over time.
Ms. Ostrander reported that the first two projects that are in the fund and being launched are for a local biodiesel waste grease station (Dogpatch Biofuels) and an urban forest program. Dogpatch Biofuels is the first biodiesel fueling station in San Francisco, and the San Francisco carbon fund helped get this local fueling station up and running. People had been previously driving across the bay to purchase biodiesel. The carbon benefits are being counted through the replacement of petro diesel with waste grease biodiesel. That is where the carbon offsets are coming from. The second project is an urban forestry project. It will not only be for carbon, but will have additional benefits from the fruit trees that are planted. That program is being implemented in conjunction with urban tree planting programs that will provide education to community members who receive the trees on how to harvest the fruit, how to gain access to markets, and then how to capture the carbon benefits of planting those new trees here in San Francisco.
Commissioner King asked where the carbon offset portfolio was being pulled from and how to follow it. Ms. Ostrander reported that our own portfolio is being developed and that part of the next steps of this program is to solicit project development ideas from the community. A Request for Qualifications (RFQ) will be issued for community-based projects, e.g., forestry, energy efficiency, solar hot water on low-income homes--specifically projects that would not take place otherwise without this additional funding. The portfolio currently consists of the waste grease biodiesel and the urban trees which are current projects. For tracking purposes, work is in progress to set up a webpage on the Department’s website which will list the projects and contain descriptions and pictures. Commissioner King inquired whether credits being taken in already. Ms. Ostrander stated that one of the challenges with creating a commodity carbon offset is that you are not allowed to use the money to finance the project upfront. You are only allowed to give the money to the project once the carbon offset has been produced so it does not violate the financial additionality clause and other issues surrounding verification for some of the mandatory market standards to provide upfront capital financing.
Ms. Ostrander stated that projects that our community really needs are upfront capital financing. Essentially, they are unable to get off the ground without it, so what we are doing in this case is investing in these projects and providing the upfront capital and are not creating a commodity grade offset (Verified Emission Reductions-VERS) at this point in time. The offsets from the Carbon Fund as it is today would not be acceptable in a mandatory market. So if a business gets regulated by AB32 and they have to meet certain emission reduction requirements and they are allowed to buy some credits, this will not be an appropriate place for them to invest their money because these are not VERs-offsets. Commissioner King asked if this would potentially be limiting in terms of support that can be provided to these eco-friendly carbon-reducing businesses. Ms. Ostrander stated that it would actually give more opportunity to provide support and get money back to the community. This mechanism really allows us to invest in the community in a way that is highly progressive and flexible in terms of municipalities using carbon revenue and investing it locally.
Commissioner Martin asked whether it is possible for a company or private citizen to contribute to the fund. Ms. Ostrander stated that the pilot phase is only open to City departments and the contributions that come in through the kiosks in the airport. When someone purchases an offset through the airport, $1.50 of every ton goes to the carbon fund, so that is a mechanism. We are looking at having alternative bodies or organizations being able to invest in these projects on a larger scale. In terms of getting it out to the public that is something that may be implemented in the second phase where there is a website with a carbon calculator and we market that specifically to individuals and businesses in the community. Commissioner Martin inquired where the airport kiosk would be located and when it would be available. Ms. Ostrander stated that the scheduled launch date is now August 19 and an event will be planned around it. The kiosks will be primarily located in the international terminals past the security area. The idea is to place them where people have time and might be interested. There are screens with animation, and people can go up and calculate their carbon footprint and choose to offset. There also may be two kiosks going in outside of the international terminals. Vice Chair Gravanis thanked Ms. Ostrander and stated that the Commission would look forward to hearing updates.
11. Planning for the Commission on the Environment’s Annual Retreat. (Discussion)
Commissioners in attendance reported that they would be available for a Commission retreat in October and were happy with the Port facilities from last year’s retreat. President Pelosi Jr. recommended that agenda item selection be discussed by Director Blumenfeld and Deputy Director Assmann and for Commissioners to email additional recommendations. Ms. Fish stated that she would email the Commissioners a list of potential dates for the retreat and additional information as it becomes available.
12. Operations Committee Report. (Information and Discussion)
Chair’s Report: Report on the July 15, 2009 Meeting and review of the agenda for the upcoming meeting of October 21, 2009 at 5:00 p.m., to be held at the Department of the Environment Eco Center.
Committee Chair Tuchow provided an overview of the July 15, 2009 meeting discussions. It was reported at the meeting that the Department’s budget was approved by the Board of Supervisors Budget Committee and that today the full Board would be voting on approval. The news was optimistic. There were no layoffs or major project cuts, but there was a need to pay $865,000 to the Department of Public Works as required by the Mayor’s Office. Because impound accounts had gone up, the ultimate effect to the Department was relatively low.
The other subject of discussion was the Energy Watch program. It was reported that there was a delayed start for the 2006-2008 cycle caused by PG&E, but the program did tremendously well even with only 22 months to achieve a three-year goal. We saved 34.5 million kilowatts and practically achieved a three-year program goal in 22 months. Committee Chair Tuchow stated that it was reported that for the 2009-11 program cycle, the utilities have again delayed the project. We have already seen a seven-month delay, but in that interim period, we saved 11.5 kilowatt hours.
The Committee also talked about the stimulus funds particularly with regard to the Energy Watch block grant. It was reported that the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC) is taking the lead and there is funding available for both municipal and community projects. The projects that the Department and Commission are working on are considered community projects. Funding has been requested to upgrade multi-family heating systems and to do single-family and two- to four-unit energy efficiency assessments. There is also funding available for outreach worker training on energy-efficiency. This program was referred to as a community-resiliency program that focuses on tenants (a big population in the city) as well as home owners.
13. Policy Committee Report. (Information and Discussion)
Chairs Report: Highlights of the June 8 and July 13, 2009 meetings and review of the agenda for the August 10, 2009 meeting to be held at City Hall, Room 421.
Committee Vice-Chair Gravanis reported that the Policy Committee met twice since the last Commission meeting in May. The June 8 meeting major topics included a presentation by Mr. Timothy Papandreou of the Municipal Transportation Authority (MTA) on the Bicycle Plan and a presentation by Ms. Claudia Flores, Planning Department, and Ms. Astrid Haryati, Director of Greening, on the Recreation and Open Space Element (ROSE) of the Master Plan. Mr. Papandreou provided background on litigation that is currently holding up the Bike Plan but indicated that despite that, there has been a surge in transit ridership and bicycling and the Environmental Impact Report (EIR) is now on its way. It was explained that there is likely to be an appeal filed, and if that is the case, the implementation of the Bike Plan would be delayed until mid- November. Committee Members provided good suggestions to incorporate into bike planning and asked Deputy Director Assmann to write a letter of support to MTA that he has since issued.
Committee Vice-Chair Gravanis reported that it has been 25 years since the ROSE has been updated, and there is a requirement to update the plan. Ms. Flores and Ms. Haryati spoke on the framework, vision and action plan that is in progress that is supposed to provide implementation of policies over the next ten years. There was quite a good discussion about the ROSE and members of the Committee and the public provided input. The end of September is the deadline to submit comments to the Planning Department, and Department staff is reviewing the Element in order to provide input. Deputy Director Assmann reported that he has asked all program managers to provide input by this Friday and will then consolidate the information, hold discussions, and then put together a set of comments. Committee Vice-Chair Gravanis stated that the comments would be provided to the Policy Committee at their August 10 meeting for review and then to possibly recommend a position for the full Commission to take.
At the July 13 meeting, the Committee discussed the Urban Forest Plan which the Commission approved a Resolution for earlier in the meeting and discussed refining the questionnaire to environmental groups as was also previously discussed. A discussion was held about creating a similar questionnaire directed to neighborhood organizations in the future. An additional item of discussion included recommendations regarding the procedures and practices for Commission and Committee meetings. The Committee hopes to recommend an action item to the Commission at their September 22 meeting. The discussion was centered on making meetings more efficient. Recommendations included influencing the use of the existing agenda item scheduling form and reducing the length of meetings and making them more efficient. One of the suggestions was to set up criteria for deciding what goes on the agenda, which things can be accomplished through a written report, which should go to the Committee instead of Commission, and how to limit the items that go on a Commission agenda. If that can’t be done, it was suggested that the Commission could consider holding monthly meetings. A discussion was also held about negotiating presentation times of speakers and ways to make enforce presentation times agreed to. It was suggested that the agenda item sponsor and a speaker agree on a time, and that particular time be added to the printed agenda. It was stated that some Commissions add estimated times on the agenda, but it was not felt that there is a way to anticipate how long discussions and public comment would take. Additional recommendations are available for review in the July 13 meeting minutes.
The next Policy Committee meeting is scheduled for August 10. Meeting agenda items will include a discussion of the Recreation and Open Space Element staff comments and Commissioner Martin has secured a speaker for discussion on insuring the success of an overall sustainability strategy. Additional recommendations for agenda items as time allows include an update on the Urban Forest Plan, Bike Plan, and then to refine the list of meeting practices. The Committee won’t be hearing a presentation on the Hunters Point Shipyard Candlestick Point item since speakers are not available, but may hear a report on the status of Treasure Island planning. Treasure Island was selected as a model project under the Clinton Climate Initiative and it would be useful to hear an update.
14. Commission Secretary’s Report. (Explanatory Document: Commission Secretary’s Report) (Information and Discussion)
Monica Fish, Commission Secretary presented a written report on Communications and Correspondence received for the Commission since the May 24, 2009 meeting and an update on pending City legislation. Ms. Fish also provided Commissioners a Commission future agenda item checklist.
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)
Deputy Director Assmann presented a written Director’s Report for review. No additional discussion was held at this time.
16. Announcements. (Information and Discussion) Commissioner Martin inquired about the Eco Center renovations. Deputy Director Assmann stated that the Eco Center is under construction and the demolition is complete and rebuild has started. It will be a four-week process and the Department is about a week and a half into the process at this time. The renovation is financed by an outside grant that was received for redesigning the Eco Center.
Commissioner King requested that he not be provided with paper files in the future and that all Commission documents be provided by email to him through a PDF file. It was requested that the Commission Secretary bring a disk of the packet to the meeting as a backup. Commissioner King indicated that he would be bringing his laptop to future meetings in order to access the electronic version of the packet. Ms. Fish reported that would be possible. Deputy Director Assmann stated that he would discuss what possibilities would be available with the staff IT person and suggested the possibility of providing laptops so information could be provided electronically to all Commissioners. Commissioner Mok stated that it may be difficult to make notations through a screen version of a PDF file.
Item 17 was heard after Item 18.
17. President’s Announcements. (Information and Discussion) President Pelosi Jr. reported that the most significant initiatives at this time are the energy-efficiency and solar programs. It was explained that there is over $7 million distributed in a partnership with the PUC and PG&E for energy-efficiency programs that are creating jobs, reducing San Francisco’s carbon footprint, and providing opportunity for government to work with individuals and companies in a positive way. President Pelosi Jr. stated that the Commission should look to the retreat to organize around other principles that can foster this good working relationship between the community and government.
18. New Business/Future Agenda Items. (Information, Discussion and Possible Action) Vice President Gravanis thanked Ms. Fish for providing a Future Agenda Checklist and stated that it would be helpful in identifying future agenda items. Commissioner King requested an update on congestion management pricing. President Pelosi Jr. recommended focusing on community outreach and identifying which of the Department’s legislative interests and initiatives the Commission could provide assistance on as well as finding a balanced approach to identifying programs.
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 meeting adjourned at 6:52 p.m.
** Copies of explanatory documents are available at (1) the Commission’s office, 11 Grove Street, San Francisco, California between the hours of 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., (2) on the Commission’s meeting website with each agenda or meeting minutes at https://sites.google.com/a/sfenvironment.org/commission/environment-commission; and (3) upon request to the Commission Secretary, at telephone number 415-355-3709, or via e-mail at [email protected].
Respectfully submitted by,
Monica Fish, Commission Secretary
TEL: (415) 355-3709
FAX: (415) 554-6393
*Approved: September 22, 2009
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