08.05 Approved Minutes

 

CITY AND COUNTY OF SAN FRANCISCO

PEAK OIL PREPAREDNESS TASK FORCE

 

REGULAR MEETING

APPROVED MINUTES

TUESDAY, AUGUST 5, 2008, 3:00 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, Jason Mark, Cal Simone; 1 Vacant.

 

ORDER OF BUSINESS 


1.      Call to Order and Roll Call. The Peak Oil Preparedness Task Force meeting was called to order at 3:02 p.m.  Present: Chair Rosenmeier, Vice-Chair Meyerson, Members Gerber, Katz, Mark (3:10) and Simone.

 

2.      Approval of the July 15, 2008 Peak Oil Preparedness Task Force Regular Meeting Draft Minutes.   (Discussion and Action). Upon Motion by Member Gerber and second by Member Katz, the July 15, 2008 Meeting Minutes were approved as written without objection (Absent:  Member Mark) (Explanatory Document: July 15, 2008 Approved Minutes).

 

3.      Update on the Task Force Sunset Date Extension Request. (Continued from the July 15, 2008 Meeting) (Informational Report and Discussion).  Members discussed the need to extend the sunset date in order to have adequate time to complete their final report. Chair Rosenmeier reported that she had brought a letter to Supervisor Mirkarimi’s office today asking what action he would like to take on the extension.  Ms. Fish reported that the Clerk of the Board’s Office Rules Assistant Clerk advised that the Board of Supervisors Rules Committee had been hearing Charter Amendments and scheduling of other business such as Committee appointments or possibly an extension request could not be heard until September. 

 

4.      Discussion of the Societal Functioning Section of Report. (Discussion).  Chair Rosenmeier asked the Task Force to consider what would be appropriate to include in this report section and how it would interact with other sections of the report. Member Gerber explained that Member Simone included a communications component in his list of topics to address in the societal functioning section of the report and recommended that the communications component address how we can do as much as possible to save as much of our communications systems as we can, both through the transition time and into the post-carbon era. Member Gerber stated that the communications component stands in the intersection of both the infrastructure and societal functioning sections of the report and explained that Vice-Chair Meyerson would be assigned to police, fire, ambulance, and emergency communications, and Member Simone would be assigned to all other aspects of communication.  Member Katz stated that he felt that the public-relations communications component is a core issue that all sections have to provide input into. Member Simone asked members to provide additional input into the communications section.

 

Member Simone explained that he would be presenting a new report section outline at the next Task Force meeting that would incorporate feedback from Task Force members, Mr. Nick Parsons, and Mr. Richard Heinberg. Member Simone reported that he believes that societal functioning should include vulnerabilities and scenarios, psychological issues, communications, education, health, a list of necessities and non-necessities, community involvement, and recommendations.  Additional detail was provided for each of these sections.  Member Simone reported that he was planning on presenting his section of the report either on the first or second meeting in September, but could present the outline sooner.   

 

Vice-Chair Meyerson stated that there are sections of the report that are clearly societal functioning and would not be included in other sections, e.g. education, neighborhood organizations and their structure, non-governmental and charitable/social organizations and their role.  Member Mark stated that originally this section was intended to address how policy makers and government leaders would communicate to the public about the scope of the peak oil/post-carbon challenge, and recommended that there be an introductory paragraph to address this challenge and to discuss opportunities.  Member Mark also recommended that Member Simone check in with Mayor Newsom’s aide, Mr. Daniel Homsey, who leads the Neighborhood Empowerment Network to discuss that group’s ideas. 

 

Members provided additional recommendations and commentary on what this report section should and should not address throughout the discussion of this agenda item. Chair Rosenmeier reported that Deputy City Attorney Barnes advised that the report would have to be complete and presented to the Board of Supervisors before its sunset date, which at this time is October 5.  However, an extension has been requested, which if approved, would provide for additional time to complete the report.

 

5.      Review of Infrastructure Section of Report. (Continued from the July 15, 2008 Meeting) (Discussion) SPEAKER:  Vice-Chair Meyerson

 

Task Force members reviewed components of the Infrastructure section of the report and held discussions on topics that include:

 

·         The Hetch Hetchy power system and whether there could be the possibility of not having enough power to run basic City functions. Vice-Chair Meyerson stated that the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC) is more concerned about the city’s total power needs and their relationship with PG&E in terms of providing back-up power. SFPUC supplies power to city agencies, not to the public.  It was explained that Hetch Hetchy supplies power to other jurisdictions, and that San Francisco only receives a percentage of power; however, contracts would be renegotiated next year and recommendations can be made.

·         Viability of solar installations as it relates to peak oil considerations.

·         The relationship between water and electricity and how a shortage of water could affect the supply of electricity. 

·         Mayor’s initiative for businesses to pay for their staff to use public transportation.  It was stated that a provision does not exist for providing funding to expand the capacity of the public transportation system.

·         San Francisco General Hospital’s proposal to change their emergency system that is now fueled by natural gas to a diesel generator and their use of co-generation.

·         Board of Supervisors 2004 Resolution 431-04 calling for a transition of all general fund units from PUC subsidized rates to full service rates—status of implementation.

·         Grey water systems—whether to include this subject in the infrastructure section of the report. 

·         City should determine if it provides incentives such as subsidized or free parking for employees who commute in autos instead of low-carbon alternatives; determine whether employees are commuting in city-owned vehicles, and if so develop a plan to phase this out.

 

Public Comment:  Mr. Eichelberger provided comments that include: (1) build infrastructure to get people out of their cars that could be funded through a gas tax; (2) does not support the cap and trade system as investors would benefit and it would not reduce fossil fuel use; (3) called for a complete ban on all fossil-fuel production in the City with the exception of emergency services; (4) did not support the use of biodiesel from non-local sources and recommended that administrators consider other alternative fuels; and (5) supports co-generation at General Hospital.  Mr. Eichelberger asked that members review the Energy Section that he had produced for additional comments.

 

6.      Discussion of Introduction Section of Report. (Discussion)  Chair Rosenmeier asked members to provide their recommendations on what the Introduction Section should accomplish and include.  An Introduction Report Draft was distributed for review. Members indicated that they would provide their input into this section for Chair Rosenmeier to assemble and finalize.  Comments/recommendations for the Introduction Section included:

 

·         Should be a quick overview, 1000 words with a graph.

·         There will be a 1-2 page executive summary with explanations.

·         Point out that peak oil does not exist in a vacuum; that it is happening at the same time that a lot of other things are happening that are related but also independent of each other; e.g. the water situation, financial structure under stress; etc.

·         The unknown should be an important part. We are getting to a stage where we don’t really know the impacts. To move ahead to find out what we know, don’t know, and what we need to know. 

·         Key elements to move forward on are food security, then water, shelter, physical, energy, and generation security in City limits.

·         Member Gerber and members discussed her list of concepts (see explanatory document—Introduction Section Pat Gerber Recommendations).

·         Include a discussion on timing predictions of peak oil impacts.

·         Report tone should be one of strength, e.g., San Francisco recognizes that peak oil is a real phenomenon. 

·         Executive Summary should summarize recommendations.

·         Introduction should specify the purpose of the report, why report is here, and define peak oil.

·         Possible inclusion of a section on how to deal with the community’s denial of peak oil.

 

Member Mark proposed and members concurred that the Executive Summary should be no more than two pages that would be the last thing written, that is a condensed version of the report, include a one sentence definition of peak oil, and would discuss recommendations.  The Introduction Section should be multiple pages that would include Chair Rosenmeier’s definition of peak oil, address the other themes that Member Gerber discussed, state that there aren’t solutions and only responses, challenge policymakers, and then go into separate sections. Member Simone recommended adding the purpose of why this report exists in the first or second paragraph of the Introduction. He recommended that this be drawn from the Resolution, i.e., assess the vulnerabilities and make recommendations to the Board of Supervisors.  Chair Rosenmeier reported that she would work on the first draft to present at a future meeting.  

 

Public Comment: 

 

Mr. Eichelberger recommended that all members submit their sections to an editor.  Recommendations to the section included: (1) to make the case for peak oil as succinct but complete as possible so each section can make their recommendations and analysis, and not have to defend itself; (2) start with what we need to do, and then state how we want to do it; (3) add that there are reasons to guard the way we utilize oil because of the Middle East situation, and that we may be at the peak of what we are able to produce; and (4) there are many reasons to cut back on oil use, and alternatives should be studied even without the advent of peak oil, but when adding peak oil to the situation, there is a long-term problem. 

  

Mr. Nick Parsons stated that prices could skyrocket at any moment based on political tension/attacks in the Middle East, the oil-producing region of the world.  It was recommended that a discussion be included on how difficult it is to think about peak oil and the need to puncture people’s level of denial on this issue and to discuss what the scarcity and high prices over time could mean to society. 

 

7.      Discussion of How to Structure Recommendations for each Section of the Report. (Discussion)  Chair Rosenmeier

 

Chair Rosenmeier asked members for their input on how recommendations should be structured and prioritized.  Member Simone recommended including a primary set of recommendations early in the report maybe at the end of the Executive Summary, possibly three total.  Vice-Chair Meyerson recommended including an appendix of the recommendations that can be mitigated that would appear first on the priority list and then followed by the low-hanging fruit.  It was stated that the Board of Supervisors should be made aware of what the most important recommendations are to consider.  Chair Rosenmeier asked that members not send her all the recommendations unless it applies to the Economy Section of the report.

 

Public Comment:  Mr. Eichelberger recommended that recommendations be formatted in three major sections (1) major recommendations that require systemic changes to make happen; (2) then the laundry list of regular recommendations; and (3) recommendations that the City could work with other regional, state and federal agencies to make happen; e.g., carbon taxes. 

 

8.      New Business/Future Agenda Items. (Information and Discussion)  Chair Rosenmeier reported that 22 people had participated in first of the Presidio School of Management webinars.  Member Katz reported that he would be presenting on the Transportation Section of his report at the August 19 meeting. Vice-Chair Meyerson discussed an article that he read in the New York Times about a Columbia University Professor of public health who was moving forward on a project he called “vertical farming.”  Vice-Chair Meyerson stated that the Professor had agreed to present a PowerPoint presentation on his project at the Department of the Environment.  Vice-Chair Meyerson discussed the possibility of having UC Davis provide oversight on a small model and analyze the viability of the idea.  Member Mark reported that vertical farming is heavily dependent on chemicals and would require energy to move the water, which may not be a viable solution in a post-carbon world.   

 

Public Comment:  Mr. Nick Parsons inquired about the infrastructure cost of doing hydroponics on a large-scale and whether pumps would have to be used to keep hydroponics actually working.  Mr. Parsons stated that he did not believe the population in San Francisco would increase on a large-scale because it is already dense, and that gentrification would be the issue.  It was stated that over-population would be more of an issue for the entire Bay Area. 

 

9.      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.  There was no public comment at this time.

 

10.  Adjournment.  The Peak Oil Preparedness Task Force adjourned at 5:25 p.m.

 

Approved: August 19, 2008

 

** Copies of explanatory documents are available at (1) the Task Force office, 11 Grove Street, San Francisco, California between the hours of 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., (2) upon request to the Task Force Secretary, at telephone number 415-355-3709 or via e-mail at Monica.Fish@sfgov.org, or (3) at the Peak Oil Preparedness Task Force meeting website as attachments with each agenda or meeting minutes.

 

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