05.24 Approved Minutes







TUESDAY, MAY 24, 2011, 5:30 P.M.



*The Tuesday, May 24, 2011 Commission Meeting was rescheduled from 5:00 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.


COMMISSION MEMBERS:  Commissioners Matt Tuchow (President), Ruth Gravanis (Vice-President), Angelo King, Alan Mok, Rahul Prakash, Heather Stephenson and Johanna Wald



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 convened at 5:40 p.m.  Present:  Commissioners Tuchow (6:20), Gravanis, King (5:50) Mok, Prakash, Stephenson and Wald.  Commissioner Stephenson introduced herself and discussed her professional career as a Digital Media Consultant communicating sustainability initiatives through digital media.  Commissioner Stephenson founded a company called Ideal Bite, which sends tips and information to 550,000 subscribers about how to make their lives greener. 


Director Nutter introduced Mr. Adam Stern, Climate Program Manager, who will be leading the Green Building, Renewable, and Climate teams.  Mr. Stern introduced himself and discussed his background in environmental work with the Environmental Defense Fund, TerraPass, and E2.  He looks forward to leading efforts to revitalize San Francisco’s carbon fund, updating the Climate Action Plan, focusing on climate adaptation and working with the Director and Commissioners.  


2.      Approval of Minutes of the March 22, 2011 Commission on the Environment Meeting. (Explanatory Document: March 22, 2011 Draft and Approved Minutes) (Discussion and Action)   Upon Motion by Commissioner Wald, second by Commissioner Mok, the March 22, 2011 Meeting Minutes were approved without objection (AYES:  Commissioners Gravanis, Mok, Stephenson and Wald; Absent:  Commissioners King, Prakash and Tuchow).  


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 and Approval of Draft Resolution File No. 2011-03-COE Commending Debbie Raphael, Toxics Reduction Program Manager for her service to the Department of the Environment and to the Commission on the Environment. (Explanatory Documents: Mayoral Certificate of Honor, Draft and Final Resolution File No. 2011-03-COE) Speakers:  Melanie Nutter, Director and Commission President (Discussion and Action)


Commissioner Gravanis read the Draft Resolution and Mayor’s Proclamation into the record.  Commissioners and Director Nutter individually commended and thanked Ms. Raphael for her service to the Department and to the Commission on the Environment and wished her all the best in her future work with the State of California.   Upon Motion by Commissioner Wald, second by Commissioner Mok, Draft Resolution File No. 2011-03-COE was approved without objection (AYES: Commissioners King, Gravanis, Mok, Stephenson and Wald; Absent:  Commissioners Prakash and Tuchow).


Public Comment


Ms. Miriam Gordon, California Director of Clean Water Action, discussed her personal and Clean Water Action’s work with Ms. Raphael and commended her creativity, knowledge, and ability to get things done.  She stated that this is the best gubernatorial appointment she has seen in her 30 years working in the environmental field.


Former Commissioner Rebecca Evans commended Ms. Raphael’s work for the City in the toxics reduction area and particularly on the Integrated Pest Management Program.  She wished Ms. Raphael success in her future work as the Director of Toxic Substances with the State of California.


Ms. Deanna Simon commended Ms. Raphael from a staff perspective for her leadership and inspirational skills and for encouraging staff to develop themselves professionally in order to take San Francisco to the next level of environmental programs.  She discussed Ms. Raphael’s influence over environmental programs across the country, the loss for the Department, but the positive contribution she will make working for the state.


Ms. Raphael discussed the successful relationship between the Commission and the Department of the Environment (“Department) and how it helped her accomplish the Department’s environmental objectives and goals.  She thanked and expressed her appreciation to individual Commissioners and Director Nutter.


5.      Review and Approval of the Department of the Environments 2011-13 Strategic Plan.  (Continued from the March 22, 2011 Meeting) Sponsor and Speaker:  Melanie Nutter, Director (Presentation Time: 30 minutes) (Explanatory Document:  Draft Strategic Plan) (Discussion and Action)


Director Nutter highlighted changes that were made to the Draft Strategic Plan from the Draft Plan presented to the Commission on March 22, 2011.   She explained that the front section is the Departmental cover page that lists department-wide priorities, vision and values and subsequent pages include each program area’s impact opportunities as well as specific actions, objectives and strategies for 2011-2013.   As a result of a request made by Commissioners at the March 22 meeting, department-wide priorities and why they are priorities have been highlighted in the Draft Strategic Plan.  Priorities include:


·        The Community Wide Climate Action Plan.

·        The Community InSight project.

·        Greening the economy with the clean tech sector on job-training programs ensuring that programs not only protect the environment, but improve the economy and create green jobs.

·        The Department’s role in ensuring sustainability at the America’s Cup, mitigating impacts, and ensuring long-term benefits would be provided to the city from America’s Cup activities.

·        The addition of sections on existing program priorities and the need to focus on funding and partnerships that are critical to the Department’s work.

·        The addition of a section on Biodiversity for 2013 plans and beyond and possibly before then if funding is secured.  This calls for a focus on protecting the natural environment beyond trees, which is the focus of the urban forestry program.


Commissioner King stated that each program area listed in the Strategic Plan should contain conclusions and analysis on the potential economic impacts and benefits for the city of these programs.  Director Nutter reported that the section called “Department Wide Priorities and Impact Opportunities” contains a section on “Greening the Economy with the Cleantech Sector and Job Training”, where it states that:


“Our programs need to deliver on multiple promises simultaneously.  Yes, they must be good for the environment; but in order to have community-wide impact, they also have to address the economic needs of individuals, improve the local economy, and reverse social inequalities.  San Francisco Environment is more deeply engaging in the arena of green jobs and green economy to broaden our reach on integrated sustainability.” 


Director Nutter reported that this Department priority is contained in the front section because the Department is now in the process of doing an inventory for each program area of jobs created and economic impacts of certain policies and programs.  Findings will be reported on at the Commission Operations Committee meeting in July.  Director Nutter stated that the Department is also involved in an economic forum with the Office of Economic and Workforce Development to discuss this topic.  The Department is a leader in bringing together a lot of the different parties from the workforce development field from government and business to discuss where the green economy is in San Francisco and what more can be done to ensure there are jobs and economic opportunities based on sustainability and the environment. 


Commissioner King explained that this process is not only beneficial to jobs and sustainability, but is a better way to do things in the future because it has the potential to free up resources by doing things differently.  He is looking forward to seeing that component added to all program reports over the next year.


Commissioner Wald thanked Director Nutter and all members of the staff for their willingness to come before the Policy Committee to present their section’s Draft Strategic Plan at its earliest stages of creation.  It provided Committee Members a meaningful opportunity to help shape the Plan, and she suggested institutionalizing this process going forward.  She thanked Director Nutter for her openness to suggestions in order to improve the Plan and for recognizing the need to call out priorities.   The best Strategic Plans are living documents for people to refer to and use as a guide and focus for their activities, but can also be adapted and changed going forward.   Commissioner Wald asked that Director Nutter provide a report to the Commission at some point in the future as to how the Strategic Plan is working as a living document that provides guidance for the Department’s activities, and what changes could be made going forward.  She also requested that a Table of Contents be added and that pages be numbered.


Commissioner Gravanis concurred with Commissioner Wald’s comments about the process. She suggested that future Draft Strategic Plans be made available for public review at least 72 hours before the meeting.  Commissioner Gravanis stated that she is pleased that a biological diversity section has been added, one area in which San Francisco cannot claim to be an international leader, and is looking forward to working closely with staff to make that happen.   She suggested that the Climate Adaptation Plan address that our own indigenous biological resources are imperiled by climate change and the invasion of exotic species in particular.   


Commissioner Gravanis stated that there are things that can be changed along the way because this is a living document.  She suggested that the Zero Waste program section emphasizes reduce and reuse.  The City is doing great on recycling and composting, but better labeling of compostables is needed, and more information should be included about biodegradable plastic.  There should be a focus on reusable products and on the reduction of overall consumption as part of the Zero Waste program as the Plan moves forward.   


Public Comment


Ms. Rebecca Evans, Sierra Club, spoke in support of Director Nutter’s addition of biodiversity to the Strategic Plan, which was further expanded on by Commissioner Gravanis.  She stated that she attended a meeting of the San Francisco League of Conservation Voters where a discussion was held on San Francisco making biodiversity a priority.  It is time for the city to look at this issue and embrace it.  The Golden Gate National Recreation Area has more than 1200 endangered species, more than any other park in the lower forty-eight and we are on the Pacific flyway.  There are a lot of opportunities to work together to combine efforts of groups such as Nature in the City, the Sierra Club, and other parks organizations to try to make San Francisco a greener city in this regard.


Ms. Miriam Gordon, Clean Water Action, spoke to the Zero Waste component of the Strategic Plan and expressed her organization’s disappointment that the Plan replicates a mistake that has been made at the state and federal level, which is equating diversion with zero waste.  She stated that an ambitious goal has been set to have 75% diversion from landfill, which does not necessarily get us to zero waste or save our planetary resources that are being devoted to products that become municipal solid waste.   She suggested that a revision be made to the Zero Waste section so that it focuses more on source reduction as the number one in the hierarchy of waste management, as has been accepted at the state and federal level. 


Ms. Gordon stated that it is laudable that the City has invested so much and is doing such a great job with recycling.   However, source reduction is about not making materials that become waste to begin with.  There have been missed opportunities at the local, state, and federal levels in that area of waste prevention. Thirty-percent of our municipal solid waste is food, beverage, and product packaging, which is the aspect of waste that is contributing to litter in our streets and also marine ocean litter.  A significant savings can be achieved in greenhouse gas reductions, energy and water use as well as extraction of natural resources by source reduction of packaging waste.   Clean Water Action has developed model ordinances and is working in other localities across the bay to adopt legislation that specifically focuses on where the opportunities are to promote more reusable packaging.  San Francisco has achieved a lot with bags, but there should also be a focus on cups and containers.  She stated that she would also like to talk about compostable packaging or bio-plastics to reiterate Commissioner Gravanis’s comments.  Ms. Gordon stated that she has encouraged the Department for many years to influence the use of plant products in packaging because they have extremely high environmental life cycle impacts.


Commissioner Gravanis moved to approve the Strategic Plan with additional language in the Zero Waste Section to state that we will actively be pursuing the topics of increased reuse, source reduction, and waste prevention.  Director Nutter reported that the intent was to reflect Commissioner’s concerns and public comment, which is to amend the Zero Waste Section, second sentence hierarchy, to state “waste prevention (source reduction, recycling, composting).”  She stated that the Department Zero Waste team is now actively discussing the Ordinances that were mentioned in public comment, and additional language would be added about the need to explore more thoroughly the issue of compostable plastics.  Commissioner King and Wald expressed their concern about approving a redlined document in draft form, but in the interest of time, agreed that the Department should move forward with the Plan.   There was no second to the Motion.  Commissioner Gravanis withdrew her motion.   


Commissioner Wald moved to approve the Strategic Plan with amendments as discussed and asked the Director to commit to an update to the Commission at a future date.  Commissioner King requested an amendment to the motion that once amendments to the Plan have been made, that the Final Strategic Plan would be sent to Commissioners before the next meeting.  Commissioner Mok seconded the Motion.  The Strategic Plan was approved with amendments discussed throughout the meeting (AYES:  Commissioners Tuchow, Gravanis, King, Mok, Stephenson and Wald; Absent:  Commissioner Prakash).


6.      Department of the Environment Fiscal Year 2011-12 Budget Update.  Sponsor:  Melanie Nutter, Director; Speaker:  Joseph Salem, Budget Manager (Explanatory Document: Budget and Legislative Analyst Department Budget Recommendations) (Informational Report and Discussion)


Mr. Salem reported that the Board of Supervisors approved the Department of the Environment’s budget at the Board hearing with recommended cuts by the Budget Analyst totaling $263,903.00, which the Department has accepted.  A majority of these cuts ($200,000) are temporary salaries that are funding the EnvironmentNow program for next fiscal year.  However, with savings that will be made in the next fiscal year, this will not impact the overall level of positions in this program. The other cuts that were recommended and agreed to were $8000 in travel and training, $31,000 in professional services, and a small increase in attrition.  The overall reduction was 1.5 percent of the submitted budget, which is the only change to the budget that was approved by the Commission.


Commissioner Tuchow discussed the importance of maintaining funding for the EnvironmentNow program and inquired about the reasoning for this cut.   Mr. Salem reported that all recommended cuts were from the Impound Account project character that is from funding dedicated to EnvironmentNow for next fiscal year.  The cut was received the date of the hearing, so there was not an opportunity to justify the expense. He explained that Deputy Director Assmann feels that the program can be maintained at its current level even with the proposed cuts.


Commissioner Wald concurred with Commissioner Tuchow’s concern about the cutting of funds for this program.  She stated that the EnvironmentNow program is the best job training program in this city, so it must be that we have not made the public, the Board and Mayor familiar enough with the accomplishments of this program.  She suggested that a sub-group of the Commission work with the Department Director to identify a plan to publicize the accomplishments of this program and obtain third-party validation for its uniqueness and its accomplishments.  There are other people in the City who are in the job-training business who know what a great program this is and should be marshalling the support of those people in order to make sure this doesn’t happen next year, and on the contrary, that people will celebrate the program for how great it is.


Commissioner King concurred with Commissioner Wald’s comments.  He stated that we should do a better job marketing some of the incredible programs that the Department has.  It is the only program that took stimulus funding and is still active.  Every major department had this type of program, and none of those people still have jobs.  He applauded the Department’s efforts to redirect funding to keep some of those workers.  Commissioner King thanked Operations Committee Chair Mok for chairing a fantastic meeting about the budget and for Deputy Director Assmann’s presentation.  He commended the Department’s efforts to divert funding directed to outreach consultants for outreach to EnvironmentNow staff.   He offered his assistance in publicizing the accomplishments of the program.


Commissioner Tuchow asked if Commissioner Stephenson could assist in publicizing this program with her marketing background.  Commissioner Stephenson concurred. 


7.      Commission on the Environment’s 2011 Annual Retreat Update.  Sponsor and Speaker: Melanie Nutter, Director (Discussion) 


Director Nutter reported that the Commission Retreat is scheduled for Thursday, June 9, 2011 from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.   The agenda focus will be on communications and outreach and on the Community InSight project that the Department has launched.  There will be a discussion about how some of our programs receive a lot of air time while others do not.  The Department has excellent programs functioning and achieving its goals on environmental protection and job creation that are not in the public sphere at the moment.  The retreat will be an excellent time to look at all of the Department’s programs and communicating those, as well as discussing existing partnerships, channels, and opportunities and ones that may be missing. There will also be a section to discuss Commission priorities and how they relate to the Strategic Plan, and if there are other items the Commission would like to work on in the next six to twelve months.  Commissioners were asked for their feedback on agenda topics.


Commissioner Tuchow stated that communications is an interesting topic about how to publicize all of the terrific programs that the Department is promoting, not only to praise the Department, but to make sure that citizens of San Francisco understand why these programs are important and why our budgets should be retained.  It is also important for other communities to understand and learn from us in order to have a broader impact.  Commissioner Tuchow suggested adding a discussion on communications metrics and reporting, e.g., what sort of metrics could the Department use in order to measure its success and how is that conveyed.


8.      Operations Committee Report. (Information and Discussion)

Chair’s Report:  Highlights of the April 7, 2011 meeting and review of the agenda for the July 20, 2011 meeting to be held at the Department of the Environment Eco Center, 11 Grove Street.


Committee Chair Mok reported that the April 7th meeting discussions included a discussion on the Fiscal Year 2011-12 Budget, approval of the Department’s Solar Monitoring Grant, and the status of the Department’s office move due to the need to expand office space.


9.      Policy Committee Report. (Information and Discussion)

Chairs Report:  Highlights of the April 18 and May 9, 2011 meetings and review of the agenda for the June 13, 2011 meeting to be held at City Hall, Room 421.


Policy Committee Chair Wald reported that the April 18 meeting included discussions on San Francisco’s Green Finance Program and planning for America’s Cup and potential involvement by the Policy Committee and the Commission.   The May 9 meeting included an update on pharmaceutical waste initiatives, which Ms. Raphael was instrumental in working on, and an informative discussion on the San Francisco Home Improvement, Green Home Assessment, and San Francisco Boilers Incentive Program, activities that were undertaken with federal stimulus funding.  The Policy Committee on June 13th is scheduled to hear a presentation of an America’s Cup Draft Sustainability Report by Environmental Science Associates’ consultant.   A discussion will also be held on the ongoing effort to develop an electronic mailing list to inform people of meetings and encourage them to attend, and how to fold this list into the work of the Community InSight project in order to avoid duplication of efforts.


Commissioner King suggested that the Policy Committee evaluate the impact of the bag initiative because people are not bringing their bags to supermarkets.  He stated that plastic bags were used originally because they are sturdier than paper, and people were opposed to cutting down trees for paper bags.  Now, there is more use of paper bags resulting in more logging of trees. Committee Wald suggested that this topic be discussed possibly at the July 11 Committee meeting and asked Director Nutter for her assistance in evaluating the impacts of the Ordinance.  Commissioner King inquired whether Supervisor Mirkarimi’s office prepared an evaluation of the Ordinance.  Director Nutter reported that the Supervisor’s office prepared an evaluation on expanding the Ordinance, which is currently on hold and awaiting feedback from the City Attorney’s Office about a pending state case, with a decision to be made possibly in August or September.  Commissioner King suggested that the Department provide guidance to this issue as this was one of the landmark pieces of legislation that went through this Department and Commission. 


Commissioner King suggested that the Policy Committee request an update on Congestion Management Pricing as it relates to the traffic calming measure proposed for downtown.  He stated his opposition to taxes disguised as environmental measures that would burden the public.   


10.  Commission Secretary’s Report. (Explanatory Document: Commission Secretary’s Report) (Information and Discussion)

         Monica Fish, Commission Secretary

·        Communications and Correspondence

·        Update on Pending City Legislation


Commission Secretary Fish provided the Commissioners with a written report listing all communications and correspondence received and pending City legislation since the March 22 Commission meeting.  She reported on her (1) work adding information to the new centralized database for City Boards and Commissions.  Commissioners received a press release announcement from the Mayor’s Office with information on how to access the database.  To search the centralized online database of City commissions and boards, go to www.sfgov.org/commissionsdatabase or call 3-1-1 and (2) attendance at a training session on how to add Commission and Committee meeting audio recordings to the meeting website.  An announcement will be made when meeting audio recordings will be available online.


11.  Director’s Report. Updates on Department of the Environment administrative and programmatic operations relating to Budget Planning, Strategic Planning, Clean Air/Transportation, Climate, Energy, Public Outreach and Education, Environmental Justice, Green Building, Zero Waste, Toxics Reduction, and Urban Forestry. (Explanatory Document: Director’s Report) (Information and Discussion)


Director Nutter provided a written Director’s Report and highlighted the following updates:


·        The Board of Supervisors passed the first Yellow Pages opt-in Ordinance that is a ban on blind distribution of Yellow Pages.  It is an excellent waste reduction measure, the first in the nation,

·        Supervisor Avalos introduced an amended version of the Cell Phone Right to Know Ordinance that required cell phone retailers to post cell phone Specific Absorption Rate (SAR) levels near the point of sale.  It is now apparent that this is not a good scientific metric for comparison purposes, so it has been taken out of the Ordinance as the right-to-know requirement.  The requirement is now that cell phone retailers must provide a flyer and post information near where cell phones are sold about the fact that cell phones do emit cell phone radiation and provide information to the public on how to reduce exposure.  The Ordinance is on a 30-day hold and is being sent back to Committee. 

·        Commended Staff Member Clark Hatchet for his work on Earth Day.  She stated that he worked miracles turning out hundreds of volunteers to all of the Earth Day events in the city and also helped launch the Community InSight project at the Earth Day events.  Volunteers were going around asking people about what their sustainable vision is for San Francisco, initiating a lot of in-person dialogue, and directing people to the Ideas4SF website that was launched.  There are now a few hundred votes on the website for the different ideas of how San Francisco can become more sustainable, healthy, green, and cleaner.  It was a valiant effort with staff and volunteers that made Earth Day outreach a great success.

·        America’s Cup Zero Waste team prepared a well received and detailed Draft Waste Management Plan.  The consultant that is working on the overall Sustainability Plan worked on the Waste Plan, which is now a model for all of the plans for the America’s Cup events in terms of detailed analysis, budget and timeline for how to handle such a large event. 


Commissioner Gravanis inquired about the status of the balloon release ordinance that was started about four years ago and is now being resurrected.  Director Nutter stated that she is working on this topic internally and suggested a discussion at the July 11 Policy Committee meeting.


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


13.  President’s Announcements.  (Information and Discussion) Commission President Tuchow asked Commissioners to contact him at least two weeks before each Commission meeting with ideas for Commission agenda items.  He reported that in addition to agenda topics that are referred by Committee, he would like to hear from Commissioners on any suggested agenda topics.


14.  New Business/Future Agenda Items. (Information, Discussion and Possible Action)  Commissioner Mok requested that explanatory documents for Commission Retreat agenda topics be provided well before the meeting in order to better review agenda topics.  Director Nutter reported that a presentation on the Community InSight project that was presented to the Policy Committee at its May 9 meeting would be updated and distributed to Commissioners.  She stated that explanatory documents would be provided no later than June 6th, three days before the meeting.   


Public Comment:   Ms. Miriam Gordon, Clean Water Action, expressed disappointment that Senator Leno’s Bill, SB147, Consumer Choice Fire Safety Act, did not pass the Senate Business Committee.  She reported that this bill would have provided consumers with a choice whether to have children’s products and furniture doused with or coated with flame retardants.  Eight senators were opposed to the bill that would have given all of us free choice whether we want to be exposed to very toxic Polybrominated Diphenyl Ethers (PBDE) flame retardants that cause many health problems.  The documentation and scientific research on flame retardants is so extensive that California has already moved to ban one class of flame retardants.  This might be an opportunity for San Francisco to support our senator’s proposal and take action at the local level. 


Ms. Gordon reported that she is a San Francisco resident who was able to lease solar panels for her home.   As a result, she is saving $30 to $50 per month on her electric bill and is locked into an electric bill rate over the next ten years; whereas, the rates for PG&E electricity are likely to rise.  In addition, she received a $500 credit from the leasing company who is also insulating areas of her house for free.  Ms. Gordon suggested that the Department of the Environment promote the idea of solar leasing because it is such a good way to increase the number of panels on residences and businesses throughout the city.


15.  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.


16.  Adjournment.  The Commission on the Environment Meeting adjourned at 7:00 p.m.


The next meeting of the Commission on the Environment is scheduled for Tuesday, July 26, 2011, 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 [email protected].


Respectfully submitted by,

Monica Fish, Commission Secretary

Tel:  (415) 355-3709, Fax: (415) 554-6393


Approved:  July 26, 2011

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