10.20 Approved Minutes

CITY AND COUNTY OF SAN FRANCISCO

COMMISSION ON THE ENVIRONMENT

OPERATIONS COMMITTEE

 

REGULAR MEETING APPROVED MINUTES
WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 20, 2010, 5:00 P.M.

 

Department of the Environment Eco Center

11 Grove Street

San Francisco, CA 94102


COMMITTEE MEMBERS: Commissioners Alan Mok (Chair), Jane MarieFrancis Martin, and Angelo King

 

ORDER OF BUSINESS

1.      Call to Order and Roll Call.  The Operations Committee meeting convened at 5:10 p.m.  Present:  Commissioners Mok and King.  Excused: Commissioner Martin. 

2.      Approval of Minutes of the July 21, 2010 Operations Committee Rescheduled Meeting. (Explanatory Documents: July 21, 2010 Operations Committee Draft and Approved Minutes) (Discussion and Action) 
 

Upon motion by Commissioner King, second by Commissioner Mok, the July 21, 2010 Meeting Minutes were approved without objection (AYES: Commissioners Mok and King; Absent: Commissioner Martin)

 

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 were no members of the public present at this time.

 

4.      Department of the Environment Outreach Priorities for 2011.  Sponsor: Commissioner Jane Martin; Speaker: Mark Westlund, Outreach Program Manager (Explanatory Document: Outreach Priorities List) (Informational Report and Discussion)

 

Mr. Westlund reported on plans for future outreach campaigns, schematics, and projects. In November, city-wide zero-waste mailers will be distributed to every San Francisco residence and P.O. Box that explains what goes into what cart and will provide information on the home-collection and toxics-reduction programs (approximately 30,000 mailers).  A series of focus groups were held in the beginning of the year to discuss translations and multi-cultural communication methodologies (Spanish, Chinese, and English) on how to effectively sort between the carts.  In addition to the mailers, there will be (1) online advertising that will include a Facebook campaign; (2) a poster contest specifically for people learning English in the Bayview and Excelsior districts; (3) Spanish and Chinese television station advertising; and (4) U-Stream, an online streaming broadcast with the Mayor and Jack Macy of the Zero Waste project.

 

The mandatory recycling message will continue to be reinforced so people know that it is the law, and there will be a focus on future communications on reuse and consumer responsibility. The main focus in the Toxics Reduction area will be to (1) promote home-collection--the previous citywide mailing resulted in a huge increase in reservations for home-collections and drop-offs at centers; (2) continue the message to influence people to use alternative less-toxic products; (3) continue work with grass-root organizers that speak Chinese and Korean to visit dry cleaners to influence them to convert from dry to wet cleaning--ten dry cleaners have been converted so far.  There will be continued outreach and financial incentives offered to dry-cleaners who convert to wet-cleaning; and (4) based on recent legislation at the Board of Supervisors toward nail salons, plans are to work with Vietnamese-speaking grass-root teams to visit nail centers to influence them to use less toxic products. 

 

Work was accomplished this year focusing on a message in Spanish for do-it-yourself oil recycling, which will now expand to both Chinese and Spanish.  There will be outreach on home improvement energy-efficiency programs, offering residential and commercial incentives funded by different sources.  Outreach will continue on commuter benefits and transportation demand management programs. In order to promote behavior change, plans are to expand grassroots outreach with more people on the street visiting specific businesses.  The Department is also expanding its use of social media, such as Facebook and Twitter.

 

The Department is starting to redesign its web page.  Commissioner Gravanis is involved in the process and attended the initial meeting of the Working Group.  The Eco-finder that is currently on the Department website will be redesigned to be more user-friendly.  A partnership is planned with Palo Alto, San Jose, and Alameda County to replace the Eco-Finder and to build a regional database that can be shared with other cities.   

 

Commissioner King discussed the difficulty of recycling in multi-family units that do not have composting.  He reported on his discussions with Sunset Scavenger about the contamination found in the recycling bins. 

 

Commissioner King indicated his interest in social media.  Mr. Westlund reported that the campaign from last year included residents who told their recycling stories and highlighted recycling heroes. There were also bus shelter ads, printed ads, and web-based recycling comments.  Department Director Nutter stated that it takes the people in the community to make our programs successful, so every opportunity to thank them should be seized.  It is important to be reminded about how to always integrate that into the message to the community.

 

Deputy Director Assmann discussed the problem with recycling in apartment buildings due to past inability to provide service and accessibility.  Deputy Director Assmann reported that the second obstacle involved logistics as there was only one chute in the building and in order to make it work, you either had to have three or no chutes, not one. Commissioner King asked to be kept abreast of progress in this area.

 

Deputy Director Assmann stated that more work on peer-to-peer education and outreach will be required in conjunction with the Housing Authority, noting the success of the EnvironmentNow campaign in the Bayview last winter was a good start and resulted in organics participation doubling in the neighborhood. 

 

Commissioner Mok inquired about the public relations firm and in-house staff assigned to the outreach team that works on media. Mr. Westlund stated that a lot of outreach and media campaigns are done in-house, and that the department engages a multi-cultural consultant for specific press outreach to the Chinese and Spanish newspapers.  Commissioner Mok suggested more review and follow-up with the public relations firm to ensure that they are doing the right job.  Commissioner Mok asked about the viability of maintaining a Chinese and/or Spanish website.  Mr. Westlund discussed the problems with keeping the website up-to-date through the service provider. 

 

Commissioner King stated that he would like to see a report from the consultant about the online content for social media before it is implemented and/or at the next Operations Committee meeting in January.  Director Nutter suggested that Commissioner King contact Lawrence Grodeska of Department staff who is assigned to the Facebook and Twitter accounts to provide feedback and exchange ideas. Deputy Director Assmann stated that it is a year-long process so it is a good time to join in. Director Nutter stated that the Neighborhood Empowerment Network (NEN) website www.Empowersf.org sets a good example of how to use a video-Twitter website.

   

5.      Department of the Environment Budget Update and Future Process. Sponsor:  Commissioner Alan Mok; Speaker: David Assmann, Deputy Director (Explanatory Document:  Department of the Environment Fiscal Year 2010-11 Budget) (Informational Report and Discussion)

 

Deputy Director Assmann presented the Department of the Environment’s Fiscal Year 2010-11 first quarter budget summary by fund (see explanatory document). He reported that the Department is under-spent in every area and not over-spent in any category. It was explained that the budget is categorized as a General Fund budget, but funding does not really come from the General Fund--it is money received from other City departments, Environmental Justice grant funding, the Impound account for recycling and toxics, outside grant funding, a pass-through account to the Department of Public Works (DPW), federal stimulus money received, and a small gift fund.  The majority of funding in the first category (money received from other City departments) is from the Public Utilities Commission for energy and climate work and from other City departments to administer the commuter-benefits program. 

 

Deputy Director Assmann discussed the anomaly in the City’s accounting system for the second category (Environmental Justice grant funding), which looks at totals only and does not allow for movement between line items, but allows for expenditures until the money is gone. There is no budget line for salaries, but there is a large amount in other categories with no expenditures.  He explained that there is enough money left for two more years in the Environmental Justice grant program that is left over from the original $13 million appropriation. Other grants are being used to pay for salaries for Environmental Justice staff (a $250,000 grant was just received), and some of the responsibilities from the Environmental Justice staff are being transferred into other program areas.  The exception is the twenty-one staff members from the EnvironmentNow program that the Department will be retaining even though the federal program ended on September 30 and falls under the environmental justice category.  The Department of the Environment is the only City department that will continue this program.

 

The third category is the Impound Account for toxics and recycling which was under-spent in every category.  Part of the reason is because it takes time to get programs up and running at the beginning of every fiscal year.  Even though the budget starts July 1, it is not finally approved until the end of July so there is uncertainty about what is available.  The fourth category (outside grant funds received) is under-spent partly because grant funds are for multiple years. A number of grants were received that started recently and have not been spent yet. One grant was received in August for a duration of twenty-four months, so the entire budget is there, but work only started 1 ½ months ago. A mid-year report that shows an annual budget and more applicable comparisons will be provided at a future meeting.

 

The fifth area is a pass through from the Department of the Environment (Department) to the Department of Public Works (DPW) for a cigarette-litter fee. Department staff is providing a service to DPW for collecting this fee and passing it through at the end of the year. Commissioner King suggested that DPW either do this work directly or provide the Department with compensation for this service.  He stated that it is not appropriate to add this to staff’s job descriptions if they are not being compensated for this work.  Acting Director Assmann stated that DPW does not have enough staff to do finance and planning, but that he is having discussions with DPW’s Director about devoting resources for DPW to do this work directly. The sixth section is federal stimulus funding received, which is under-spent because it got started late and was not activated until last month. The last section is a small amount of gift money that has not been spent yet, but will be by the end of the fiscal year.

 

Deputy Director Assmann reported that there would be a new process for next year’s budget that would require two-year budget planning.  The Department will face challenges because it is so heavily dependent on grants, which are hard to predict far out in advance. The budget can be updated, but a forecast will have to be made and will require extra work.  The other change is that the Department is working on arrangements with the Controller’s Office to be categorized with other Enterprise departments instead of General Fund departments.  The budget is scheduled to be heard at the Commission Operations Committee in January for recommendation to the full Commission at their January meeting, and then submitted to the Mayor on February 20th. 

 

Deputy Director Assmann reported that several budget areas are secure--the impound account, environmental justice money for another year, energy, clean air, and federal grants for one-and-a-half to two years.  Challenges include the Urban Forestry program that is always short of money and there is no outside funding. The EnvironmentNow program has funding set aside from the rate-review process that was not spent this year, but will require more funding the following year when the money has to be directed to the rate-review process.  He explained that we were the only City department that continued the program when the federal subsidy ended on September 30th.  He asked Commissioners for their feedback on the budget process and what preferred format they would like to have the budget presented to them at their January Operations Committee meeting, e.g., narrative of interest, budget tied to program objectives. 

 

Commissioner Mok asked that the budget document be sent to the Operations Committee members two weeks before the meeting so a productive discussion can be held before it goes to the Commission and Mayor’s Office.  Commissioner King requested narrative tied to funding objectives in order to better understand and make recommendations on funding priorities. Deputy Director Assmann suggested a format that states here is the project, here is the funding received, and here is where it starts and ends. Commissioner King suggested presenting the funding in a timeline fashion similar to scheduling for projects. The budget is scheduled to be heard at the next Commission Operation’s Committee on January 19, 2011.

 

6.      Review of Operations Committee Duties as described in the Commission on the Environment Bylaws Article VII.  Sponsor: Commissioner Ruth Gravanis (Explanatory Document:  Article VII of the Bylaws and Memo to Operations Committee from Commissioner Ruth Gravanis) (Discussion)

 

Ms. Fish reported that Commissioner Gravanis at the last Operations Committee meeting in July sponsored an agenda item and attended the meeting to discuss coordination of responsibilities between the Operations and Policy Committees.  She read Commissioner Gravanis’s memo to Commissioners (see explanatory document), and Commissioners considered ways for the Committees to work together and whether a Bylaws amendment would be required.  Commissioner Mok stated that at the July meeting, the Operations Committee members agreed that the Policy Committee has a lot of work, and it was agreed that the Operations Committee would retain budget, administrative oversight, structure, education and outreach responsibilities. He suggested that the Commissioners assigned to each Committee review each other’s minutes as an effective tool for communication.  Acting Director Assmann stated that the duties of the Operations Committee are clear with the exception of the overlap regarding addressing issues regarding the environmental well-being of the City.  Commissioner King stated that the Policy Committee is responsible for programmatic oversight and development, and the Operations Committee is responsible for administrative oversight.  He explained that there may be an overlap in outreach because the Policy Committee is responsible for planning and development of zero waste and toxics programs and inherent in that responsibility is education and outreach of how to involve the community and City departments to support these efforts.

 

Committee members and Deputy Director Assmann stated that the best way for Committee members to work together and avoid violating quorum rules is to have one person from each Committee work with a person from another committee.  Commissioner King suggested a place holder in the agenda for the Operations Committee to make recommendations to the Policy Committee.  Ms. Fish stated that the Policy Committee often has agenda items for recommendation to the Commission and the same can be done for the Operations Committee to the Policy Committee and vice-versa.  Commissioner King suggested providing feedback to the Policy Committee that Operations Committee members see their responsibilities to be fine as written in the Bylaws and while there are overlaps, it is believed that the separation comes between administrative oversight and program development and planning, and that the Operations Committee members will work to stay within the confines of those discussions and anything outside of this scope, would be moved to the appropriate Committee for discussion.

 

7.      Department of the Environment Office Space Update. Sponsor:  Commissioner Alan Mok; Speaker:  David Assmann, Deputy Director  (Informational Report and Discussion)

 

Deputy Director Assmann reported that the Department is now overcrowded and its lease does not run out until May 31, 2012.  We currently have two locations, 11 Grove and War Memorial and would like to find a space and consolidate into one space by the May 31st date.  He reported that an initial meeting was held with the Real Estate Department to request a space, but there was nothing suitable from a list of options that were made available.  The criteria for the space is that (1) it has to be big enough to accommodate 150 people in the Department, especially if it is a long-term lease; (2) it has to available by May 31, 2012 in order to avoid having to renegotiate and ask for an extension of the current lease; (3) have accessibility or be within a radius to City Hall, e.g., in close proximity to the Powell or Montgomery MUNI stations; (4) to have ground level Eco Center display space; and (5) reasonable rent. 

 

Commissioner Mok inquired whether the office space has to be in a government building.  Deputy Director Assmann stated that his preference would be a City-owned property, but the next choice would be a leased building such as we have now.  The Real Estate Department is supposed to be able to find the space, but it may be necessary for the Department to find a space. The War Memorial is supposed to be renovated in another year so the twenty-one staff members will not be able to stay there.  Commissioner King inquired whether there is a potential for growth beyond the 150 staff members.  Deputy Director Assmann stated that the 150 number includes staff that have not been hired yet and does not foresee any growth spurts in the near future.

 

Deputy Director Assmann stated that 250 square foot per individual will be sought after, which amounts to 25,000 to 30,000 square feet of office space.  Right now, staff is being crammed into 18,000 or 19000 square feet.  It was suggested that the Commission write a letter to the Real Estate Department relaying the urgent need for space, the timeline, and what is required and in the meantime initiate its own searches. Commissioner Mok inquired about the cost per square foot of space.  Deputy Director Assmann reported that he would provide more accurate figures, but approximated that it is about $27 to $28 a square foot.  There is approximately14000 square feet and another 3000 or 4000 square feet at the War Memorial building.       

 

8.      New Business/Future Agenda Items. (Discussion)  Future agenda items include a budget discussion in January.  Commissioner Mok suggested that the Commission discuss retreat planning and topics at an upcoming meeting and suggested a discussion on the Strategic Plan.  Commissioner King asked that the January meeting only include one other item in addition to the budget in order to allow for adequate discussion time. 

 

9.      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 were no members of the public present at this time.

 

10.  Adjournment. The Operations Committee meeting adjourned at 6:25 p.m.

 

 

Respectfully submitted by,

Monica Fish, Commission Secretary

TEL:  (415) 355-3709; FAX: (415) 554-6393

 

*Approved: January 19, 2011

 

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