COMMITTEE MEMBERS: Commissioners Rodriguez Heyman (Chair); Paul Pelosi Jr. and Matt Tuchow
ORDER OF BUSINESS
1. Call to Order and Roll Call. The Operations Committee meeting was called to order at 5:07 p.m. Present: Chair Rodriguez Heyman and Commissioner Tuchow; Excused: Commissioner Pelosi Jr.
2. Approval of Minutes of the April 16, 2008 Operations Committee Meeting. (Discussion and Action) Upon Motion by Chair Rodriguez Heyman and second by Commissioner Tuchow the April 16, 2008 Meeting Minutes were approved without objection (Absent: Commissioner Pelosi Jr.) (Explanatory Documents: April 16, 2010 Draft and Approved Minutes).
3. Public Comments: Members of the public may address the Committee on matters that are within the Committee’s jurisdiction and are not on today’s agenda. There was no public comment at this time.
4. The New Eco Center at the Department of the Environment. (Explanatory Documents: (1) New Eco Center Drawings and (2) Layouts) (Informational Presentation and Discussion) SPEAKER: Shawn Rosenmoss, Fundraising Coordinator
Ms. Rosenmoss discussed the Department of the Environment’s vision for an Eco Center at 25 Van Ness when it was thought the Department would be moving to that location, and how a similar vision was applied to 11 Grove Street, since the move was cancelled. Ms. Rosenmoss discussed creating a much better community space Eco Center that would reflect the Department’s current work and vision. It was explained that the designer, Mr. Tim McNeil, has surveyed staff for their ideas and incorporated feedback into the renovation plan. A handout was distributed “Eco Center Renovation Goals” that describes the EcoCenter vision, summary of main goals, preliminary design recommendations, and green goals for fabrication and build-out.
Ms. Rosenmoss discussed programming efforts with community-based organizations to showcase their work at the Department and as a way to attract more people to the Eco Center; e.g., the St. Vincent De Paul fashion show display, Trash Mash-Up, a community group that works with kids to create art out of garbage, and others. Additional event planning includes holding a speaker and film series and a walking exhibit between the Eco Center, Arts Commission, Library and City Hall to give people an understanding of City and Department activities and help them become better environmental stewards. Plans to tie in Department events with City art galleries that are open to the public on the first Thursday of the month had also been discussed. Commissioner Tuchow inquired about current plans for holding a film and speaker series as a way to draw the public in. Ms. Rosenmoss discussed coordination of the Department’s brown bag series and showing evening films as a way to tie into other City exhibits and activities and asked Commissioners to send their ideas for speakers to Ms. Sun.
Chair Rodriguez Heyman inquired about marketing and promotion of Department activities. Ms. Rosenmoss discussed attracting more attention to City activities through posting of signage/banners outside of the building. Chair Rodriguez Heyman suggested placing signage in front of the building listing Department activities and inviting people in to view exhibits. Commissioner Tuchow suggested using a certain programming method that may not have a strong environmental emphasis that would attract non-environmentalists and potentially cause them to acquire an environmental interest. Ms. Rosenmoss discussed the World Environment student art exhibit that brought many parents into the Eco Center that would otherwise not have attended. Ms. Rosenmoss explained that the Department of Children, Youth and their Families (DCYF) have incorporated the Department as a reference in their newsletter. It was explained that the Department is also trying to tie their activities into larger events such as DCYF’s “Family Appreciation Day”, where museums were open to the public for free on a Sunday and the Department was also open to the public and 75 people had stopped by.
Chair Rodriguez Heyman asked who would be in charge of exhibits and keeping the content fresh. Ms. Rosenmoss stated that she is working on this effort at this time. Chair Rodriguez Heyman inquired about the project timeline. Ms. Rosenmoss stated that she would be meeting with Asian Neighborhood Design and specification design contractors in the next week or two, and the projected completion date would be in November or December. Chair Rodriguez Heyman asked to keep the Commissioners informed of the “grand opening.”
5. Process Review for Future Grant-making. (Informational Report and Discussion) SPEAKERS: Anne Eng, Environmental Justice Program Manager and Alexa Kielty, Residential and Special Projects Recycling Assistant
Ms. Eng introduced Mr. Jerry Bernstein, City College Evans Street Campus, who had applied for a United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) grant to develop a biodiesel training curriculum working with a team of technical consultants. It was explained that the Department of the Environment is a subcontractor administering the training in the environmental justice community.
Ms. Eng presented Committee members with a handout that provides an overview of the Department’s Environmental Justice, Zero Waste, and Used Motor Oil Recycling grant programs and the solicitation and evaluation process SFE Grant Programs Overview and Process. Ms. Eng reported that she had appeared before the Commission in April 2008 seeking approval of environmental justice grants for Fiscal Years 2008-10. A request was made at that meeting for the grant review process to be heard before this Committee so that the Commission could understand how grant proposals are reviewed, ranked, and to hear suggestions.
Ms. Eng explained that she manages the Environmental Justice grant that is a dedicated fund to address environmental and energy concerns in the Bayview and Potrero neighborhoods. Ms. Eng reported that Request for Proposals (RFP’s) are issued every year, that an announcement is distributed to private organizations, local residents and City agencies, and Department staff conducts a workshop called a bidders conference to answer questions about the RFP. It was explained that beginning in Fiscal Year 2006-07, in response to an extensive audit conducted by the Controller’s Office, the RFP and grant evaluation process for the three program areas were combined into a single, standardized RFP. Ms. Rosenmoss explained that she had worked on consolidating the grant process and based it on experience working with other city departments and other foundations.
Chair Rodriguez Heyman explained that Commissioner King had expressed his concern at the April Commission meeting that Commissioners were not given the opportunity to become more involved in the grant process and were basically asked to “rubber stamp” their approval based on staff’s recommendations. It was stated that the concern was not with revamping the grant process or that inappropriate grantees were approved, but that Commissioners were not given a choice to participate in grant review or have access to the process. Chair Rodriguez Heyman requested that a process be added that would not be too cumbersome for staff that would give Commissioners a choice whether to become engaged in the process and be more fully informed before grants are approved. Additionally, it was requested that grantees be present at the Commission meeting when grants are voted on in order to answer questions.
Ms. Eng stated that within 24-48 hours of receipt of a full set of proposals, a list is provided to Commissioners, grant staff, and the City Attorney’s Office of groups that are applying. Also, Commissioners are advised of upcoming RFP’s and given an opportunity for discussion before issuance. It was explained that in previous years, Commissioners have served on evaluation panels and have interviewed grant applicants and read proposals. Ms. Kielty advised that Commissioner Gravanis had participated and read all grant applications in the past. It was explained that there is a significant amount of time (approximately 40-50 hours) involved in reading and scoring grant applications, and it would not be effective to have to wait for long periods of time for an evaluation to be completed. Ms. Kielty questioned whether Commissioners had the required amount of time available to them to review grant applications. Chair Rodriguez Heyman recommended that expectations and responsibilities of serving on the panel be clearly stated. Deputy Director Assmann explained that no more than two Commissioners can legally serve on a panel because of quorum issues. Chair Rodriguez Heyman suggested that part of the process should be to invite Commissioners to serve on the panel, which Ms. Eng agreed could be accomplished.
Chair Rodriguez Heyman suggested that (1) once responses to an RFP are received and before the meeting for approval, that Commissioners should receive an email listing the proposals received from which organizations instead of the actual proposals and be asked if they are interested in reviewing any or all of the proposals; (2) potential grantees be asked to appear at the Commission meeting to answer questions; and (3) that a standard process be developed to invite Commissioners to participate in the grant evaluation process. Commissioner Tuchow suggested (1) holding a separate meeting before the approval meeting telling the Commissioners about the numerical ranking for all of the proposals and how choices are made; and (2) staff providing a high-level report for those Commissioners not reviewing proposals at the separate meeting. Ms. Eng explained that at this time, a report is provided to Commissioners at least three days before the approval meeting. Deputy Director Assmann explained that the Commission has to approve the proposals so it would be appropriate to provide a list and short description of the strongest grant proposals that are under consideration for funding two months before the approval meeting; however, it would not be appropriate to communicate with individual grantees during the process other than at the Commission meeting. Ms. Rosenmoss stated that staff is required to provide a signature that they can’t talk about proposals except in the panel and asked whether Commissioners would be required to do the same. Ms. Kielty asked whether a report should be provided on all proposals or just the ones being approved. Chair Rodriguez requested that a report be provided on the grants approved and a list of the ones that were not approved.
Chair Rodriguez Heyman requested that staff debrief offline and present additional ideas on amending the grant making process to address the Commission’s concerns about being more informed and provide a staff proposal at the September Commission meeting.
6. Department of the Environment FY 2008-09 Budget Update. (Informational Report and Discussion) SPEAKER: Joseph Salem, Department Budget Manager
Deputy Director Assmann reported that the handout provided SFE Submitted Budget FY 2008-09 lists budget information submitted for approval to the Board of Supervisors with two sets of figures (1) a departmental summary and (2) summary of program areas. It was explained that the budget is approved through an annual budget process that consists of a budget hearing before the Board of Supervisors Budget Committee and then hearings by the full Board that approves funding for the year. The Budget Committee had cut the Department budget by $200,000, and the full Board rarely recommends additional changes, but it does happen. Deputy Director Assmann explained that between annual budget processes, the Department receives grants and goes to the Board of Supervisors separately for approval. Those grants are listed in the budget document (explanatory document above) as “Grants Previously Approved.” It was explained that the discrepancy in the budget sheets presented at the last Operations Committee was because the totals for the “Grants Previously Approved” column was included in one summary, but not the other.
Deputy Director Assmann described the first page of the departmental summary that shows the total Department budget expenses, grants approved, grants previously approved, general accounts, impound accounts, and Department revenue. Each section lists the differences between Fiscal Year 2007-08 and Fiscal Year 2008-09. It was explained that the grant budget went down 63% because there is a large three-year grant that is ending this fiscal year, but it is expected that the grant will be renewed at a later time in the fiscal year. Deputy Director Assmann explained that numbers change depending on the timing of when grants are received.
Deputy Director Assmann reported that the second and third pages of the explanatory document shows funding by program areas and differences in funding between the two fiscal years. It was explained that the Administration 7% difference is because the Mayor’s Office and the Budget Office has apportioned more cost to other departments; e.g., costs for computer network and hookup increased by 50%; costs for Human Rights Commission increased by 100%. The Energy program area went down by 59% because of the Energy Watch grant that expires mid-fiscal year, but it is expected that a new grant would be in place that would come in mid-year, and the budget would then go up in that area. Urban Forest went down because one of the departments (Planning) that supported the Council last year did not support it this year.
Deputy Director Assmann reported that the budget shows grant money in the fiscal year that it is actually spent; e.g., if a grant is received in January 2008 and not spent until Fiscal Year 2008-09, it would show up in the 2008-09 columns. Chair Rodriguez Heyman asked whether there is a chance that the overall budget would be more than what is approved. Deputy Director Assmann stated it would depend on what is received from the Energy Watch Program. Chair Rodriguez Heyman asked about the difference between the grants column and grants previously approved. Deputy Director Assmann explained that the grants column reflects outside grants that the Department knows about when the budget is submitted; e.g., a grant allocated over the next three fiscal years. The grants previously approved column reflects grants that are not approved at the time the budget was created.
Deputy Director Assmann stated that he would provide updates at each Operations Committee meeting on quarterly expenditures and on grants that are updated monthly. It was reported that the Board of Supervisors would be hearing the Department budget for final approval on July 26.
Public Comment: Mr. Bernstein asked who the Energy Watch grant is from. Deputy Director Assmann reported that it is money from the public goods charge and comes in through an agreement with PG&E.
7. New Business/Future Agenda Items. (Discussion). Chair Rodriguez Heyman asked for a future agenda item to discuss the process for adding additional Commissioners. Deputy Director Assmann stated that he would be holding a discussion with Mr. Jason Chan who is the Mayor’s Liaison to Commissions and would provide a report at the next Operations Committee meeting. Chair Rodriguez Heyman asked that the full Commission hear an update on solar incentives and the peaker plant issue. Ms. Fish indicated that the solar financing incentives is scheduled for the July 22 Commission meeting, and that a date has not yet been set to provide an update on the peaker plant. Ms. Eng reported that she would be providing an informational report to the Policy Committee on Monday, July 21 to discuss green collar jobs. Chair Rodriguez Heyman inquired about Commissioners attending Policy Committee meetings as it relates to quorum issues. Ms. Fish reported that Commissioners could attend the meeting but not in the capacity of a Commission member. Deputy Director Assmann indicated that oftentimes Policy Committee agenda items are forwarded to the full Commission.
8. Public Comments: Members of the public may address the Committee on matters that are within the Committee’s jurisdiction and are not on today’s agenda. There was no public comment at this time.
9. Adjournment. The Operations Committee meeting adjourned at 6:20 p.m.
Monica Fish, Commission Secretary
TEL: (415) 355-3709; FAX: (415) 554-6393
** Copies of explanatory documents are available at (1) the Commission’s office, 11 Grove Street, San Francisco, California between the hours of 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., (2) on the Commission’s website https://sites.google.com/a/sfenvironment.org/commission/operations-committee as attachments to the meeting agenda or minutes, ;(3) upon request to the Commission Secretary, at telephone number 415-355-3709, or via e-mail at Monica.Fish@sfgov.org.
Monica Fish, Commission Secretary
TEL: (415) 355-3709; FAX: (415) 554-6393
*Approved: October 14, 2008