CITY AND COUNTY OF SAN FRANCISCO
PEAK OIL PREPAREDNESS TASK FORCE
TUESDAY, MAY 20, 2008, 5:00 P.M.
CITY HALL, ROOM 421
ONE DR. CARLTON B. GOODLETT PLACE
SAN FRANCISCO, CA 94102
TASK FORCE MEMBERS: Jeanne-Marie Rosenmeier (Chair), Bernard Meyerson (Vice-Chair), Patricia Gerber, Richard Katz, Jan Lundberg, Jason Mark, Cal Simone.
ORDER OF BUSINESS
1. Call to Order and Roll Call. The Peak Oil Preparedness Task Force meeting convened at 5:00 p.m. Present: Chair Rosenmeier, Vice-Chair Meyerson, Members Gerber, Katz, and Simone; (Excused: Members Lundberg and Mark).
2. Welcome to New Member (Discussion). Member Cal Simone was welcomed to the Task Force as a new member.
3. Approval of the May 6, 2008 Peak Oil Preparedness Task Force Regular Meeting Draft Minutes (Discussion and Action). Upon Motion by Vice-Chair Meyerson and second by Member Katz, the May 6, 2008 Meeting Minutes were approved without objection with amendments to identify public comment speaker names (Absent: Members Lundberg and Mark) (Explanatory Document: May 6, 2008 Approved Minutes)
4. Establishing Contact with Department Heads—Review of Letter to Department Heads (Discussion and Possible Action) (Continued from the May 6, 2008 Meeting) (Explanatory Document: Draft of Letter to Department Heads
Task Force Secretary Monica Fish reported that Member Lundberg had submitted a letter for the Task Force to consider (Explanatory Document: Draft Letter), and that Deputy City Attorney Barnes had suggested edits to the letter (see explanatory document above). The Task Force members discussed both letters but referenced Deputy City Attorney Barnes’ letter at this meeting when preparing their final letter.
Mr. Cal Broomhead, Department of the Environment Energy Manager recommended that the paragraph that starts with “We are seeking your input as we proceed with our assessment and eventual report…” should be the first paragraph so that department heads immediately get an idea what is being requested of them. It was suggested that an introductory letter be sent initially and then a follow up letter with specific requests be sent at a future time.
Public Comment: Mr. Don Eichelberger asked what the purpose of the letter is. Vice-Chair Meyerson reported that the letter is not looking for a course of action, but is saying that the Task Force is dealing with these issues and asking if there is anything or anyone that might be able to assist in this process. Mr. Broomhead stated that the first paragraph of the letter discusses goals that are being reviewed; e.g. food production and distribution, transportation, etc.—so if there is any City department that has anything to do with that effort, please respond accordingly.
Chair Rosenmeier stated that the Task Force should assure that a workshop is scheduled as is referenced in the letter. It was reported that Member Lundberg’s original idea was to schedule a reception for department heads in order to present peak oil to them. Member Gerber stated that the original letter was to be addressed to the Board of Supervisors as well as department heads, and requested that the Task Force discuss issuing a separate letter to the Board of Supervisors at a future meeting in order to assure that the report has impact.
Members questioned the effectiveness of sending the letter to department heads. Mr. Broomhead stated that he thought it would be more effective if the letter were to be addressed to a particular department head or even state or federal agency making a specific request for information. Vice-Chair Meyerson indicated that he has been speaking to department heads directly for information on his section of the report (infrastructure), and does not see the need for a broad-brush approach. Member Gerber stated that part of Member Lundberg’s intent is to create an awareness of peak oil by department heads.
Mr. Broomhead stated that the first paragraph of the letter would address this goal and suggested adding a paragraph on who to contact for further information. Mr. Broomhead also suggested asking for information on anything that department staff could shed light on; such as the department’s response to energy price shocks and its impact on the department, and to state that the Task Force would contact them at a future date. Vice-Chair Meyerson stated that a copy of the Resolution should be sent along with the letter. Member Gerber recommended a paragraph stating if you have any questions or comments, please feel free to contact the Chair, have the letter signed by the Chair, and add the Chair’s email address and telephone number.
Public Comment: Mr. Don Eichelberger stated that he disagrees with the department head naming a contact in their organization, and suggested that the Task Force follow up in person, not to expect that the letter would take care of everything. Mr. Eichelberger stated that the next step would be to work on who would incur the biggest oil impact, e.g., the Department of Public Works, the Welfare Department, e.g., whichever department uses a lot of cars, etc. Mr. Eichelberger stated that he is unclear about the goal of the report whether it is to receive input into what the problems are or in providing solutions that can be recommended for using less oil. It was suggested that the Task Force not focus on problems that have already been addressed repeatedly by the newspaper.
Upon Motion by Vice-Chair Meyerson and second by Member Gerber, without objection, the Task Force approved a letter for distribution to department heads that would state the following (Absent: Members Lundberg and Mark):
Dear Department Head:
We are contacting you as members of the Peak Oil Task Force and are seeking your input as we proceed with our assessment and eventual report. The Board of Supervisors established the Task Force by Resolution to accomplish three tasks: to coordinate the assessment of the City’s vulnerability to energy price shocks; to determine appropriate measures to mitigate municipal vulnerability; and to draft a comprehensive response plan for possible adoption by the Board of Supervisors.
A copy of the Resolution is attached.
We would like to know who in your department should be our contact person as we move forward. We look forward to collaborating with you as we proceed. Thank you for your attention. We invite you to call Chair Jeanne Rosenmeier at this telephone number, email address, should you have any input at this time.
Member Simone recommended generating a list of departments that the Task Force would like to receive specific information from.
5. Assignment of Report to New Member (Discussion).
Member Simone reported that there are three areas of work that he would like to be involved in: the overview of the Executive Summary; Energy as it relates to current generation sources and capacity; and Societal Functioning as it pertains to vulnerabilities, social order, inter-government collaboration, communications, plastics, lifestyle change, community involvement, and collaboration methods (Explanatory Document: Draft Outline)
Chair Rosenmeier reported that she is working on the energy section also and would collaborate with Member Simone on this effort. Chair Rosenmeier recommended adding education as a topic to societal functioning. Vice-Chair Meyerson stated that early impacts and up front impacts have to be staged, and to state that these are the things that we have to start doing to prepare for a future time when things might get worse. It was suggested that job loss and its psychological and economic impacts be added as well.
Mr. Broomhead stated that the focus should be on the City’s vulnerabilities and energy price shocks, and suggested dealing with the near term, not thinking in terms of the forecast 20 years from now; e.g., here are the effects of what price shocks are going to have, here is how people are going to respond and what they are going to need, and here is how the City might think about responding. The future recommendations could state that there should be some ongoing responsibility for this area because there are going to be ongoing changes happening in the future. Mr. Broomhead recommended researching articles and surveys to gather information on how people are responding today.
Member Gerber quoted Member Emeritus Carl Duisberg’s view of the Energy Section as follows:
“I think the task has rather straightforward parameters. Very simplistically, I believe we need to prepare an “energy balance” for the City which would illustrate the energy demand…, what supply sources, any conversion transformation, waste are. Once the primary energy flows and needs are defined, each to do with energy can be evaluated for the potential to increase efficiency, shift to other forms or alternatives. Of course the overlaps with other Task Force members’ assignments are at all levels, and the challenge will be to integrate this component.”
Chair Rosenmeier reported that the Task Force is working on the effort exactly this way. Member Gerber stated that her understanding is that a large portion of the energy component is laying out a Master Plan for how the City is going to have energy in the carbonless era, the time between now and then, and accessing alternatives such as tidal and solar. Member Gerber reported that she had asked Member Simone to take over the tidal shore power resolution that was discussed at a previous Task Force meeting. Member Gerber also recommended that this section stay in the realm of “current and credible data” and not include science fiction or anything that does not have a long and good track record.
Public Comment: Mr. Steve Vitka proposed that a master social plan for the City be worked on and offered his assistance in this effort. It was stated that culturally and socially, if that aspect can be developed first, a lot of other solutions would be revealed and become more politically feasible. Chair Rosenmeier suggested inviting the public for a discussion on this issue and recommended that she meet with Member Simone and Mr. Vitka to brainstorm this issue. Mr. Vitka recommended starting with a brainstorming process and then making it into a collective innovative social process. Vice-Chair Meyerson stated that the focus should be on what the Task Force was created for and can ask the Board of Supervisors to do to move the societal functioning area forward.
6. Presentation of Buildings Section Outline (Informational Presentation and Discussion) (Explanatory Document: Draft Outline ) Speaker: Patricia Gerber.
Member Gerber discussed the architecture (buildings) section outline discussing LEED critique, proposals for better building standards, retrofits, economically vulnerable populations, and miscellaneous comments. See explanatory document above for detailed information. Member Gerber stated that the scope of this section is on how we should build all new buildings in San Francisco and how we should retrofit whatever can be retrofitted. Task Force members were asked to review the report and provide feedback through email.
Mr. Broomhead stated that he expected to see something more about the commercial and residential sectors that use natural gas in this section. It was stated that the targets for this section of the report should be on existing residential buildings with some attention to the commercial enterprises that are most affected by natural gas price increases or to those using vehicle fuels and what their response would be. Mr. Broomhead reported that the primary purpose is to coordinate the assessment of the City’s vulnerability, explaining that LEED is not a priority and that issues focusing on oil should be the first priority. Mr. Broomhead stated that LEED could be reviewed in terms of transportation and oil related scenarios. It was explained that one percent of the square footage of the City is renovated or built out in one year, so the focus should be about existing building stock. Mr. Broomhead explained that renovation is not that critical, but suggesting a retrofit ordinance at the time of sale or something that requires other energy alternatives that are related to natural gas that can happen now or in the next five years would be valuable.
Chair Rosenmeier suggested researching what has already been accomplished and recommended by the City so as not to duplicate efforts. It was explained that energy is more about cars and trucks than buildings when it comes to fossil fuels. Vice-Chair Meyerson stated that the Task Force could make a recommendation to the Board of Supervisors to go beyond peak oil in the future so that recommendations for peak energy can be made. Member Katz discussed the Association for the Study of Peak Oil conferences he has attended where the conversation is all about peak energy. It was explained that peak oil is the indicator, but peak energy is what it is all about. Member Simone stated that there would be an affect on other energy supplies when oil is depleted.
Mr. Vitka stated that (1) the City has to deal with the fact that a lot of the carbon neutral and operational solutions have high-embodied energy to implement those solutions. There has to be a balance between embodied energy and how much energy a building uses; (2) he has a problem with super insulation in very tight buildings as being the optimal solution; (3) he is working with an inventor in designing architectural solutions and discussed the trouble he is having dealing with the existing building code and insulation requirements and noted ways to overcome problems with the building code; and (4) in regards to new building, that the idea of going carbon neutral by 2030 is too far away and recommended a target date of 2015. This would create an impetus in the venture capital community to deliver solutions in that area and make retrofitting of buildings faster.
Mr. Don Eichelberger agreed with Mr. Broomhead’s points on keeping the focus on what can be done immediately to reduce use of oil. It was stated that related to infrastructure problems, building efficiency seems to have a long lead time that is expensive and does not lead to immediate gratification. It was explained that a focus on auto transport would be immediate, and that a focus on buildings would only yield a 10% savings over the next 10-20 years. Mr. Eichelberger explained that reducing carbon from auto transport is immediate and can be done through traffic suppression, parking fees, street use fees, and finding ways to get revenue streams out of carbon. Mr. Eichelberger also discussed his conversation with Mr. Broomhead about on site solar generation with reversible metering.
7. Planning for Peak Oil Preparedness Task Force Informational Table at “The Big One” Sustainability Event at Golden Gate Park (Discussion).
Chair Rosenmeier reported that the event is scheduled for June 21 and 22 and recommended that the Task Force should have a table at the event. Vice-Chair Meyerson reported that he would be at the event, and Member Gerber reported that she could staff a table part of the time. Commission Secretary Monica Fish reported that if more than a quorum of members would be hosting a table and talking about Task Force business, it would have to be advertised as a special meeting. Member Gerber indicated that there would not be more than a quorum of members at the table at one time. Vice-Chair Meyerson reported that he would contact the head of the event to discuss hosting an informational table.
8. Disaster Planning for Peak Oil (Discussion).
Chair Rosenmeier reported that she had called the head of the City’s Disaster Planning Department to make a presentation at either this meeting or a future meeting, but has not received a call back and will try again. A presentation would be scheduled once a response is received. This agenda item was continued to the call of the Chair.
9. Report on Food Security Design Charrette and Plans for Public Outreach (Discussion) Speakers: Jason Mark and Jeanne Rosenmeier.
Chair Rosenmeier reported that Member Mark is not available today to present a report on his very successful charrette. It was recommended that all members should host similar events in their topic areas. Member Gerber reported that she is considering putting together a brainstorming afternoon with green architects and requested guidance and advice on making it better.
Public outreach: Chair Rosenmeier discussed the availability of five students who are interested in creating online presentations on peak oil topics that include (1) what is happening with oil; (2) personal preparation for energy descent; (3) transportation in a post peak world; (4) creating communities in local communities; (5) growing food in an urban environment and (6) keeping healthy in a post peak world. It was explained that the Presidio School of Management Masters of Business Administration Program is looking for people to supervise the students in creating the online presentations that would be presented in August. Chair Rosenmeier explained that it is hoped that the presentations would be recorded and posted on the Peak Oil website. A professor would be working along with the students on this effort and the students would receive course credit, and a letter of recommendation from the Chair. Chair Rosenmeier asked that the Task Force officially sponsor the presentations and would check with the Deputy City Attorney on the legality.
Mr. Vitka stated that doing charrettes is one part of the task of creating a social infrastructure, that he fully supports this effort, and would like to be able to participate in a presentation as well as inviting participants to attend.
Mr. Eichelberger asked where the issues of consumers, job loss, and retraining are going to be and would like those topics covered in the report. Mr. Eichelberger stated that he has not seen the Resolution that set up this Committee and what it is supposed to do. Member Gerber explained that the Resolution is online. Mr. Eichelberger stated that he is having a hard time from this discussion figuring out what the report is supposed to do, whether to identify the problems and offer solutions or present solutions to existing problems.
This agenda item was continued to the June 3, 2008 meeting.
10. Schedule for Presenting Draft Report Sections (Discussion).
Chair Rosenmeier reported that at a previous meeting, Task Force members agreed that their draft sections would be ready by June 17 for presentation. Member Gerber requested that Task Force members send in their draft sections to the Task Force Secretary a week before their scheduled meeting presentation date so that drafts can be sent to members, and there is time for adequate review before the meeting. Chair Rosenmeier offered to present her report on June 17 and stated that Member Mark may be able to present on June 17 on Food as well. Members agreed to the following meeting schedule for presenting their draft report sections (note that Member Mark’s presentation date was changed after the meeting):
June 17 – Chair Rosenmeier, Economy
July 1 – Member Mark, Food
Vice-Chair Meyerson, Infrastructure
Member Gerber, Architecture
August 1 – Member Katz, Transportation
11. New Business/Future Agenda Items (Information and Discussion).
Vice-Chair Meyerson stated that it is going to be important to have an ongoing proactive group that keeps things moving by following current issues and is related to disaster planning. Member Simone proposed that an agenda item be scheduled on the possibility of having an ongoing group. One concern discussed is the potential of multiple dry years and the important relationship between water supply and energy in the Hetch Hetchy system. It was stated that the Public Utilities Commission is trying to access alternative sources, but it is a race against time and what would happen if the race is lost. Vice Chair Meyerson explained that alternative sources of energy all have a timeline that may not be available during crisis periods; e.g., tidal has not been appropriately demonstrated yet on a large scale.
Vice-Chair Meyerson also discussed the “black and white” police cars that have an exemption from using alternative sources of fuel, and suggested that someone or any organization such as the International Society of Police Chiefs or the League of Cities work on influencing the big car manufacturers to develop police cars that are not going to use gasoline.
Chair Rosenmeier recommended that this topic be discussed with the City’s Disaster Planning department. Vice-Chair Meyerson stated that there are people that have a wide knowledge base that can offer input into the process, but no one has pursued them for information; e.g. the education sector--UC Berkeley, Stanford and the commercial sector. It was stated that this effort is not in the timeframe of the Task Force and a group should be formed that would address issues on an ongoing basis and access resources of information. Chair Rosenmeier stated that a discussion of public outreach by holding charrettes and tapping experts would be scheduled for discussion at the June 17 meeting.
Member Katz distributed a document on the population density of selected United States cities for informational purposes.
Member Simone asked that a link be established on the www.sfgov.org page so that when you do a search for peak oil, you would be directed to the Task Force page. Member Katz requested that Member Simone work on this effort with Department staff to link the site. Task Force Secretary Monica Fish recommended contacting Mr. Mark Westlund or Ms. Thea Hillman from the Department of the Environment Public Outreach program area.
12. Public Comments: Members of the public may address the Task Force on matters that are within the Task Force’s jurisdiction and are not on today’s agenda.
Mr. Don Eichelberger stated that there seems to be a hesitancy to talk about peak oil in a critical mode so that people understand that they should operate in a crisis mode. It was stated that there are going to be economic downturns and a severe economic impact, and we need to embrace that so that the City can operate in the best way it can in spite of that and not try to run away from it as something recessionary. Mr. Eichelberger also discussed nuclear power coal sequestration which Stanford is reviewing, suggested identifying specific ways to implement strategies on what actions should be taken, and working on regional issues as well as relocalization.
13. Adjournment. The Peak Oil Task Force meeting adjourned at 7:30 p.m.