09.02 Approved Minutes

 

CITY AND COUNTY OF SAN FRANCISCO

PEAK OIL PREPAREDNESS TASK FORCE

 

                                                  REGULAR MEETING

                                                 APPROVED MINUTES

TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 2, 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 3:05 p.m.  Present: Chair Rosenmeier, Members Gerber, Katz, Mark, and Simone (3:10); Excused:  Vice-Chair Meyerson.

 

2.      Approval of the August 19, 2008 Peak Oil Preparedness Task Force Regular Meeting Draft Minutes.   (Discussion and Action) Upon Motion by Member Mark and second by Member Gerber without objection, the August 19, 2008 Meeting Minutes were approved as written (Absent:  Vice-Chair Meyerson) (Explanatory Document:  August 19, 2008 Approved Minutes).

 

3.      Presentation of the Food Section of the Report. (Explanatory Document: Draft Food Section of the Report) (Informational Presentation and Discussion) Speaker:  Member Mark

 

Member Mark presented the Food Section of the Report and explained that he would be reviewing the recent San Francisco Foodshed Assessment prepared by SAGE and American Farmland Trust (a resource for understanding food production in Northern California), which was just released Friday for Slow Food Nations, in order to capture additional information and would be adding additional graphics to the report.  Member Mark discussed report topics that include:

 

·         Harvesting Chaos: Peak Oil and Food Security: the global food system’s dependence on petroleum and how fossil fuel price increases pose a food security challenge.

·         A Metropolis Within a Bread Basket: the San Francisco region’s agricultural and cultural assets, food production in Northern California, transportation of food, and creating a largely oil-free food system.

·         A Garden within the City: increasing food production within the City.

·         A Vision for the City: San Francisco Food System design charrette recommendations to boost city food production.

·         Conclusion: steps/policy initiatives to take to reduce the amount of petroleum required to meet most basic human needs; and

·         Recommendations: Peak Oil Preparedness Task Force recommended actions and policies for the Board of Supervisors and City Department Heads to take.

 

Member Katz provided the following comments:

 

·         Consider how to influence people to grow essential products instead of ones that produce the most economic gain.

·         Add that it is important to lead by example.

·         Research and quantify how much food was grown locally during World War II.

·         Provide an assessment of what percentage of land would be useful for growing on. 

·         Did not support the idea of rooftop gardens because of structural and seismic considerations.

·         Create or reference a booklet on what type of crops to grow in San Francisco.

·         Research methods of providing water for fruit trees that are recommended for planting

 

Chair Rosenmeier provided the following comments:

 

·         Discussed the Scientific American article on no till agriculture that discusses the large amount of herbicide that has to be used.  Member Mark stated that it would have to be done organically for it to be feasible.

·         To support the Department of the Environment’s effort of working with the produce market to provide possibilities for small local farms to bring their produce in bulk into the produce market.

·         Local food would not be more energy-efficient if it is not transported properly.  Member Mark recommended adding a line that states there should be ways to influence small growers to aggregate their shipments.

·         Dutch study shows that cooking your own food is less energy efficient than having it cooked by craft in large production.  People at home waste an immense amount of food.

·         Green space is being paved over to add parking—should a policy be established opposing losing any more green space even if it is privately held?

 

Member Gerber provided the following comments:

 

·         Anticipate vulnerabilities in terms of transporting food into San Francisco--will there be worry there and how to address it?  

·         If asphalt really does poison soil and make it unusable, should we recommend that asphalt not be an acceptable material? Member Mark explained that concrete is more energy and carbon-intensive than asphalt.

·         On tonnage of food currently consumed—does this include restaurants that feed tourists? Member Mark stated that it does and he would elaborate on this section.  Member Gerber stated that if horses are going to be used for transportation, they would be competing with people for certain foods, e.g. oats. 

·         How is San Francisco going to compete with other areas for the food in the 100-mile radius?  Member Mark stated that the entire Bay Area is consuming 5.9 million tons of food annually, and the region is growing 20 million tons, so there is a surplus of 14 million tons.  If the yield drops 50%, there would still be a surplus.

·         Given soil degradation in the Central Valley, should we assume that production is going to go down or remain constant?  Member Mark recommended accessing reports at www.sagecenter.org or www.americanfarmlandtrust.org on this topic.   Member Gerber asked if we have to worry about soil degradation within the 100-mile radius of San Francisco. Member Mark stated that yes it could reduce the amount of food produced unless it is managed well.

·         Having less water would decrease the amount of food that could be produced.

·         Green jobs associated with agriculture could feed into the vulnerable populations section of the report.

·         When there are fewer autos and we don’t need auto lanes as much, can we get a greater amount of the acreage for planting?

·         Reluctant to recommend roof top gardens as they are problematic.

                                   

Member Simone provided the following comments:

 

·         Consider recommending a less meat-intensive diet.

·         Discuss whether people would grow food in their backyards for their own households as opposed to growing food for the community.  Member Mark stated there could be a property tax incentive to encourage blocks to take away their fences in between parcels and have block or neighborhood garden or composting centers.  It was explained that collective efforts toward cultivation are usually more effective than individual efforts, and the food economy would evolve in new ways. 

·         Recommended against roof top gardens because roofs may not be able to sustain them as well as seismic and other considerations. Member Gerber stated that she felt that rooftops would be needed for solar.

·         Recommend setting up a Bureau of Agriculture.

·         Inquired about using golf courses for cultivating crops. Member Mark stated that the Recreation and Park Department should study what portions of park land could be transitioned from recreational to food production.

 

Mr. Cal Broomhead, Energy Manager, Department of the Environment, provided the following comments:

 

·         Rooftop gardens would require a permit to be granted by the Department of Building Inspection (DBI), who would inspect the mechanics of a house and whether or not it can support such a function. Drawings would have to be submitted and seismic concerns would be considered.

·         Commended Member Mark on the report’s intelligent, strategic view of the subject and the ability to incorporate the design charrette.  Mr. Broomhead recommended that the key findings be presented as bullet points and that recommendations should be numbered for ease of reference.

·         Recommend that if there were enough of one product being grown in an urban area, that there be a requirement for the grower to start producing another product more in demand.

 

Public Comment:

 

Mr. Mike Adams discussed the possibility of closing roads to cars so additional space could be added for planting.  Mr. Adams questioned the actual dollar figure that restaurants would use to determine their food costs--whether it would be the amount they charge a patron for a meal or the actual purchase price of the food.  Mr. Adams stated that the 1,880 acres of backyard space in San Francisco might be an overestimation.

 

Mr. Vitka provided the following comments:

 

·         Agrees that availability of water is the main consideration for rooftop gardens but explained that the problem could be circumvented through methods such as drip irrigation or vertical aeroponics.  These systems are going to be developed, and to not have incentives for rooftop gardens if they can be done according to certain guidelines, would be a big mistake.  Inquired whether DBI is going to have the capability to evaluate those systems.  It was recommended that DBI review buildings individually and propose upgrades to the infrastructure to accommodate these types of gardens. If technically viable, would like to see the same incentives as is being proposed for backyards.    Mr. Vitka stated that his company is trying to build on vacant lots and would be installing rooftop gardens on all those lots where there are steel structures. It was explained that rooftop gardens would be more viable on new buildings.

·         Discussed local centralized food production in neighborhoods and the idea of holding community dinners.

 

Ms. Friedemann provided the following comments:

 

·         Agriculture is limited by sunlight, space, soil quality and water. Consideration should be given to providing for more underground storage for water.  Water storage is a key factor for peak oil planning. Water bladders that contain thousands of gallons could be put under the house to harvest roof water. Discussed the cisterns that are available for the Fire Department.

·         Most organic agriculture is grown by conventional farmers that are contracted to grow organic foods.  Someone could find a business opportunity to bid a farmer to grow x crops. 

·         The cold chain for fruits and vegetables will not be profitable once there is less energy.

·         Discussed just-in-time marketing so it arrives before it spoils and would free up space for other crops we need. 

·         Recommend against people cooking at home and refrigerating.  Member Gerber discussed using one oven for every couple of blocks, which was common in earlier times, where you did not have every family cooking in their own kitchen. 

·         Discussed the stability of the delta which provides a large portion of the food within 100 miles. 

·         Russia and China are likely to outbid Americans in the global food market.

 

Mr. Brumm provided the following comments:

 

·         Consider the use of underground streams.

·         There would not be enough room in small backyards for storage devices to store the amount of water that can be accessed from rainwater.  It was stated that individual cisterns may be a good idea. 

·         It is less efficient to have a single truck bringing food in, but there may be fewer options for doing things on a bigger scale. 

·         Recommended distribution of food into local smaller markets that exist in the city (produce markets, etc.) rather than big markets. 

·         Building owners would have to be insured if their residents were involved in rooftop gardens. 

 

4.      Identifying Possible Mitigations for Vulnerable Populations. (Discussion)  Chair Rosenmeier reported that the Task Force’s enabling legislation requires that special attention be given to this topic.  Members Mark and Gerber recommended that this topic be embedded in all report sections rather than in an individual section.  Member Mark suggested that all of the different sections could have a subheading addressing issues about vulnerable populations.  Chair Rosenmeier explained that there may be certain subjects that may not fall within one of the sections.  Member Gerber asked members to review her list of recommendations that addresses this topic Economic Vulnerable Populations Recommendations.  Member Katz requested that the next meeting agenda contain a substantive discussion on ideas to consider.  Member Gerber asked that members send in their recommendations to the Task Force Secretary so they can be reviewed before the meeting.  This agenda item was continued to a future meeting.

 

5.      Land Use Aspects of the Final Report. (Discussion)  Chair Rosenmeier stated that there was previous agreement that each individual section would discuss the impact to land use; however, it has not been included other than in the Food Section.   Member Gerber discussed (1) the Oakland report’s section on transit oriented-development through a peak oil lens; (2) the idea of buildings getting re-commissioned every two years.  Commissioning is where you fix everything that needs to be fixed; (3) promoting walking, biking, and modes of transportation that don’t rely on carbon; and (4) Portland’s report reference to preventing infrastructure investments that would not be prudent given fuel shortages or higher prices.  Member Gerber asked if this topic should be addressed in the architecture section in the context of the transition or post carbon time.  Member Mark and Chair Rosenmeier reported that they are reviewing the transition time in their sections.  Member Simone discussed recommending that ordinances be written for issues such as buildings shadowing sunlight.  Member Gerber reported that she has addressed shadowing in her report section.  Member Mark recommended that members bring in their almost final drafts and then synthesize the information thereafter.  Member Katz proposed adding this item to a future agenda item, throwing ideas in a bucket, and allowing an hour for discussion.  This agenda item was continued to a future meeting.   

 

6.      Societal Functioning Section of the Final Report. (Discussion)  Member Simone reported on recommendations received from Mr. Richard Heinberg on how to address societal functioning in the report.  Members Katz and Gerber requested that Member Simone prepare a presentation on this section.  Member Simone provided the following comments:

 

·         Suggested that this section include some context but to indicate that specific recommendations are beyond the scope of this report and recommend that the City study it;

·         Stated that he has spent a considerable amount of time reviewing neighborhood and community models;

·         Suggested studying the vulnerability of cell networks and other things that are not reliant on city government power sources and inquired about the priority given to power allocation;

·         Discussed Mr. Heinberg’s recommendation not to rely solely on the internet as priority power may not be allocated to this source and the importance of keeping schools and libraries open for neighborhood organizational meetings.

 

Mr. Broomhead reported that there are areas in the city that would have high-priority power allocation, e.g. SF General Hospital is in one of those areas.  Mr. Broomhead offered his assistance to members in locating informational sources on their report subject areas.  Member Gerber stated that communications is in the purview of societal functioning and requested further discussion on this topic from Member Simone.

 

Public Comment:  Mr. Brumm discussed how neighborhoods were selected to receive priority power during the rolling blackouts in San Francisco. 

  

7.      New Business/Future Agenda Items. (Information and Discussion) Member Katz reported on a discussion held at the last SF Post Carbon meeting about equitable solutions to requests for people to cut back on environmental, energy, or resource use.  Member Katz asked that this item be put on a future agenda for discussion.   Member Mark reported that the Public Utilities Commission or East Bay MUD should have information on this topic.  Member Mark requested a future agenda item on outreach for a freelance copy editor and graphic designer for post production of the report.  Member Gerber suggested the Bay Area Editors forum as a possibility.  Chair Rosenmeier and Member Gerber requested to be excused from the next meeting.  Member Gerber presented a graphic for discussion at a future meeting.   

 

Public Comment:  Mr. Adams recommended that Member Katz’s agenda item be called “alternative routes to rationing.”

 

8.      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. Brumm announced SFBay Oil’s peak oil party on September 27.

 

9.      Adjournment. The Peak Oil Preparedness Task Force adjourned at 5:28 p.m.

   

Approved: October 7, 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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