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09.11 Approved Minutes

CITY AND COUNTY OF SAN FRANCISCO

 

POLICY COMMITTEE

 

APPROVED MEETING MINUTES

 

Monday, September 11, 2006, 5:00 P.M.

City Hall, Room 421

One Dr. Carlton B. Goodlett Place

San Francisco, CA 94102

 

 

COMMITTEE MEMBERS:  Commissioners Johanna Wald (Chair), Ruth Gravanis, Angelo King

 

Commission Secretary:  Monica Fish (Excused) (Nelly Sun, Senior Management Assistant in attendance and Minutes transcribed by)

 

 

ORDER OF BUSINESS

 

Public comment will be taken before the Committee takes action on any item.

 

CALL TO ORDER AND ROLL CALL

 

The meeting was called to order at 5:04 pm.  Present: Commissioners Wald, Gravanis and King.

 

ACTION:  Adoption of Minutes of the June 12, 2006 Regular Meeting (Explanatory Document:  Draft Minutes of the June 12, 2006 Regular Meeting).

 

Upon motion by Commissioner Wald and second by Commissioner Gravanis, the June 12, 2006 Regular Meeting Minutes were adopted with a correction to spelling of “Audubon” in the minutes. There was no public comment at this time. (Explanatory Document:  Approved Minutes of the June 12, 2006 Regular Meeting).

 

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.

 

PUBLIC MEETING:  INFORMATIONAL PRESENTATION and DISCUSSION:  Urban Environmental Accord Action 17: Promote the public health and environmental benefits of supporting locally grown organic foods. Ensure that twenty percent of all city facilities (including schools) serve locally grown and organic food within seven years.  An informational presentation will be given on what the city can do to promote the new mainstream sustainable food and farming through local procurement and other policies (Explanatory Documents:  Health Commission Resolution No. 11-06 and San Francisco Department of Public Health Policy and Procedure).

SPONSOR:  Commissioner Johanna Wald

SPEAKERS:  Director Jared Blumenfeld; Mr. Chris Geiger, City Toxics Reduction Coordinator; Mr. Michael Dimock, Executive Director, Roots of Change Fund; Ms. Anya Fernald, Director, Buy Fresh/Buy Local Campaign for California Alliance of Family Farmers; Ms. Paula Jones, Director, San Francisco Food Systems; Ms. Christina Carpenter, Department of Public Health; Ms. Susana Hennessey-Lavery, Department of Public Health.

 

Commissioner Johanna Wald indicated that the goal of the discussion on Action 17 of the Urban Environmental Accord was to create an operational food policy for the City.  Director Jared Blumenfeld echoed Commission Wald's remarks, by stating that several internal and external meetings have taken place to address food security and local food access, and this meeting seeks to secure direction for the Commission in recommending a food policy for the City.  Director Blumenfeld introduced the three speakers for this issue: Mr. Michael Dimock, Executive Director - Roots of Change Fund, Ms. Anya Fernald, Director - Buy Fresh-Buy Local for the California Alliance of Family Farmers and Ms. Paula Jones, Director of the San Francisco Food Systems.

 

Michael Dimock, Executive Director for Roots of Change Fund, stated that the mission of the Roots of Change Fund is to create a sustainable food system in California by year 2030.  The Fund invites the City of San Francisco to become the first U.S. city to embrace an urban-rural partnership in developing a sustainable food policy.  This vision consists of empowering the food system labor force, developing a localized food production and distribution with concern for creating access to quality food for local income people, recognizing the interdependence of cities and rural communities, and developing meaningful incentives for large-scale farming operations to become biologically integrated.

 

Mr. Dimock reported that the Fund has completed Phase 1 of their three-phase 2030 strategy by developing The New Mainstream, a report that describes the attributes of a year 2030 sustainable food system.  The report provides a comprehensive list of 76 indicators for measuring progress, and outlines an approach focused on creating incentives that promote health, diversity, social equality, interconnectedness and ownership.  In the coming months, the Fund will move to Phase 2 to develop a detailed strategy for implementing initiatives.  Phase 3 will involve the identification of leader-collaborators to implement the new food system, with goals to become the mainstream in food and farming approaches across the U.S.  In five years, the Fund hopes to invest nearly $10-15 million in developing a funding stream for supporting individuals and institutions that are working to achieve the 2030 sustainable food system goal.

 

Mr. Dimock believes that the City of San Francisco is uniquely poised to assume a leadership position in revolutionizing a nationwide sustainable food system.  He invites the City of San Francisco to (1) Appropriate City-owned land or retain farmland in neighboring counties to produce food for its facilities, schools and hospitals (2) Create tax incentives for triple bottom line companies dedicated to food production (3) Support on-farm energy production in Bay Area counties (4) Encourage new retail stores and more farmer's markets in low income areas where food stamps and coupons can be used  (5) Sourcing only for commodities that are raised within the Bay Area (i.e. prohibit the purchase of grapes or peaches from other countries in the winter) (6) Support the Gravenstein apple crop in Sonoma County by purchasing the fruit during harvest season (7) Purchase salmon or crab that are caught locally  (8) Joining the Slow Food Nation movement.

 

Mr. Dimock acknowledged that these measures cost more, but will produce more jobs, City revenue and the improved health of City residents.  He encouraged the City to support local, seasonable and sustainable food, and he was of the opinion that an improved food system creates an overall healthier community, which will pay for itself in time.

 

Anya Fernald spoke before the Commission to discuss the mission of the California Alliance of Family Farms (CAFF), the Buy Fresh Buy Local campaign, and the statewide Farm to School Program.  She indicated that changing trends in California agriculture has shifted the mission of the California Alliance of Family Farms from an organization involved in assisting farmers with infield improvement of farming practices to a direct consumer marketing approach aimed at saving the family farms from extinction, and reshaping consumer and institutional thinking on supporting local, seasonable and sustainable produce.  Since the market is the engine to drive this change, the Buy Fresh Buy Local campaign was launched to create a local food sourcing from hospitals, corporations, supermarkets and large institutions.  The organization has developed a successful partnership with Kaiser Permanente, in which local fruits and vegetables from small, local, minority farmers from the Central Valley and coast are making their way into Kaiser's 19 hospitals, where 7,000 inpatient meals are served per day.

 

Ms. Fernald believes that food production is an important key issue since it is nexus to issues related to human health, obesity and environmental health awareness.  The organization has created a good partnership with Kaiser, and CAFF has made a recommendation that enable the hospital system to reduce its carbon footprint to 20% without no additional cost or change to their systems.  She challenges San Francisco to tighten the radius from where it purchases its food, to empower local farmers and connect consumers to the food producers.  She indicated that family farms have limited resources, and most are first generation Latino and Southeast Asian immigrants.  Investing in these smaller, limited resources farmers will ensure their survival.  While most of these farmers may not all be "organic," investing and working with them is a way of creating a sustainable food system.  Ms. Fernald acknowledged that working with smaller family farms is an investment not only of money but also of time.  Produce orders cannot be delivered next day, and may require 3-4 days advance notice.  She noted that there are inefficiencies in working with smaller food producers, but equally, there are also positive externalities associated with those inefficiencies that triumph efficiencies.

 

Ms. Fernald said CAFF welcomes a partnership with the City of San Francisco in bringing the Buy Fresh Buy Local campaign to 50 Bay Area supermarkets and 200 restaurants in the next two years.  CAFF hopes to create a network of incentives for working with limited resources minority farmers around the state, create a seasonal meal planning shift and develop a switch towards local food sourcing.   

 

Director Blumenfeld commended Sraddha Mehta of the Dept of the Environment Environmental Justice Program for running a successful farmers market in Bayview and acknowledged Chris Geiger of the Department of the Environment Environmentally Preferable Purchasing Program for working with Susana Hennessey-Lavery of the Department of Public Health on food security issues. 

 

Paula Jones, Executive Director of the San Francisco Food Systems Council, spoke on the work of the council on food-related issues, and has developed a City-wide community food assessment tool.  The Council was created from the Department of Public Health (DPH) Environmental Health Section and it is charged into looking at ways of improving the food security needs of San Francisco's most vulnerable residents, and at the same time, supporting regional agriculture.  Ms. Jones reported that the Council has worked since 2002 with the school district on the Student Nutrition Policy, as well as piloting the access of fresh seasonal produce in school meals programs.  It has piloted a salad bar in elementary schools, selecting local and organic produce for the project.  Due to district financial constraints and limited capacity to prepare food, the program focused on purchasing whole food that are seasonal and produced in the most environmentally and sustainable way possible.  While the San Francisco Unified School District supports purchasing higher quality local and organic produce, Ms. Jones stated that these products do cost more, and the budget amount of a piece of fruit in the school district is about 12 cents.  She remarked that this is something that can be supported through additional funding, or through negotiated purchasing.   

 

Ms. Jones reported that another effort that is being discussed at the Department of Public Health is a Healthy and Sustainable Food Policy for the department.  The Department of Public Health adopted this policy in July 2006, and contains criteria to prioritize environmental, social and economic policy of food purchases from DPH departments and institutional contractors.  She stated that DPH is committed to implementing this policy, and calls for Laguna Honda and the San Francisco General Hospitals to present a 2-5 year Sustainable Food Procurement & Processing Plan within a year.  An interagency working group with DPH, San Francisco Food Systems, and the Department of the Environment was organized to create strategies for implementing sustainable food procurement through City institutions and ensuring that all agencies are working together towards a common vision. 

 

In summary, Ms. Jones said that to manifest the value and vision of a local food sourcing system, additional funding is needed to adequately support this program in San Francisco.

 

Commissioner Angelo King welcomed the idea of allocating land for local food production, as a way of addressing the food security needs of those who need it the most.  He asked on how a major cultural and social transformation can be jumpstarted to change young mindsets to rejecting less healthy food alternatives, and embracing fresh and healthier food choices.  He noted that there is broader need to expand those values, and create a deeper appreciation to things grown locally and seasonally. 

 

Ms. Jones stated that the City has a network of school gardens through the San Francisco Green School Yard Alliance, and school children are learning to grow produce, and are learning to appreciate the rewards and tasteful outcomes of their gardening efforts.  Another is the health education provided in schools through the School Health Program.  City school children also visit nearby farms, and Mr. Dimock suggested the idea of renting City land to farmers to create more educational programs to support urban-rural connections.  He further stated that annual events bringing farmers to get in contact with urban residents, in a celebratory way, is a good way of connecting inner cities to the farming communities.

 

Ms. Fernald observed that most people are not necessarily learning about food at home anymore.  Losing the home as a place to learn about food is the common experience that her organization is encountering in their Farms to Schools Program.  She reported that the school cafeteria is the only place where 80% of school children in low-income neighborhoods learn how to prepare and experience new food.  Even in farming communities like Ventura or Fresno County, Ms. Fernald said that in many cases, a joint CAFF/local farmer produce outreach to their school is the first opportunity for these school children to taste a honeydew melon.  She remarked at the level of disfranchisement in common food items such as nectarines, watermelons or different varieties of apples that are not red.  This observation is also common with inner-city San Francisco school children, which view these as new tasting experiences.   Cafeterias are becoming learning laboratories for agricultural geography and taste explorations, and are providing opportunities to teach school children about healthy food eating and respect for the land and people who make these produce possible.

 

Mr. Dimock commented on the implication of the U.S. Farm Bill and encouraged the City to help small farmers by supporting a subsidy initiative aimed to pay higher prices for their produce.

 

Commissioner Gravanis inquired the potential of obtaining inventory of how much San Francisco land can be appropriated for farming.  She supported the idea of providing educational farming tours for school children, and recommended labeling to identify food source, so that consumers can exercise that choice.  Labeling can be extended in San Francisco markets and restaurants, in which menus will list where the salmon was caught.  The City's Precautionary Principle Preferable Purchasing allows such stipulations into its purchasing contracts, but new legislation is needed to allow the City to write this as part of RFP requirements for services.

 

Commissioner Wald asked how the Kaiser Permanente local food sourcing works, and Ms. Fernald answered that the hospital works with Tarantino, the purveyor with whom CAFF works with.  Ms. Fernald added that the local food sourcing initiative was well received because the Kaiser administrators recognized this policy fulfills the hospital's overarching mission and corporate responsibility, as well as the benefits for their members.   A local magazine feature on this joint effort resulted in their inpatient approval ratings going up.  Ms. Fernald perceives that Kaiser administrators recognize that supporting seasonal and local produce is good preventative medicine in combating obesity and promoting healthy well-being.  They recognize the emissions produced from California agriculture, and equate its asthma impact.  CAFF worked with the purveyor and other key players in writing an MOU that allowed the small family farmers to sell their produce through Tarantino, and CAFF assisted in setting website profile of farmers and the purchase of products that California does well (grapes, broccoli, stone fruits).   

 

Mr. Dimock suggested that the City should look into contracting farmers to grow produce on its land, or look into providing a warehouse for farmers coming on Farmers Market days to drop products. A consolidation point was recommended.  Ms. Fernald remarked that most businesses prefer working with farmers with 40,000 acres as opposed to 3 acres due to the inherent inefficiencies in working with smaller farmers and stronger economic case in working with bigger farmers.  Mr. Dimock added that there is a population of family farms that may not necessarily compete with bigger players nor produce heritage breeds, but are entrepreneurial, and have a commodity-oriented approach.  These type of family farmers are excellent scales for City for procurement policies that have State and Federal limits on pricing, and can deliver links to scale farms.

 

Public Comment: Jonathan Kaplan suggested the idea of creating certifications for environmentally- and sustainable products, and that the City can play a role. 

 

Commissioner King remarked on quantifying the externalities of instituting a local food system, by drawing experiences with the bag policy initiative.  A benefit analysis to support arguments in favor of new policy is advised.  Ms. Fernald mentioned that her organization did analysis on carbon footprint in terms of miles, and other complimentary studies, such as emissions and asthma, have been addressed by the Oakland group, Redefining Progress.

 

Public Comment:  Pinky Kushner inquired about planting more fruit trees in San Francisco, as a component for local food sourcing. 

 

Director Blumenfeld stated that local labeling is preempted by State level from requiring labels.  In the case of fruit trees, maintenance expenses and risk of lawsuits are reasons commonly cited for the relative absence of fruit trees in schools.  He indicated that the Commission seeks guidance in recommending policy that can be implemented fairly easily, and allow for clear and concise language for the City's RFP process. 

 

Ms. Jones inquired about the intent of the Commission, and Commission Wald replied that the Commission is exploring options for encouraging City to adopt policies that will expand the kind of goals that are being discussed.  She stated that the Commission can urge the Board of Supervisors to adopt or significantly advance local purchasing within City institutions and schools.  She commended the good work already in progress, and expressed idea of bringing policy drivers to make pilot project into a system-wide, and City-wide initiative.

 

As practitioners in the emerging local food movement, Director Blumenfeld remarked that the Commission and City staff look up to the speakers' expertise in helping them promote an initiative that is both catalytic and has potential to effect major impact.

 

Commissioner Gravanis indicated that the Commission can urge the Board of Supervisors to pass a resolution or ordinance, and commended the work being done at the Health department.  Director Blumenfeld suggested that the Commission invite the three speakers again at the next Policy meeting, to discuss the specifics that were recommended at this meeting.  The goal for the next meeting is to discuss concrete policy recommendations, and share this information at a public meeting.

              

 

INFORMATIONAL REPORT and DISCUSSION:  Urban Forest Plan.

SPONSOR:  Commissioner Johanna Wald

SPEAKER:  Alexis Harte, Urban Forestry Council Coordinator

 

Alexis Harte, Urban Forestry Council Coordinator, stated that the Urban Forestry Council Ordinance was passed by the San Francisco Board of Supervisors in 2001, and began operating in 2003.  The Council is a 15-membership group composed of individuals from City, private, education, and non-profit sectors to help coordinate tree management for the City.  The military were the first City tree planters, which was followed through concerted civilian efforts in late 1800.  The next wave of tree planting was done in the 1950s, which tailed off in the late 1970s.  The Department of Public Works and local non-profit groups have assumed tree planting and management at that point. 

 

The Urban Forestry Council produced the UFORE report, which provided for the comprehensive inventory of street and institutional trees in the City, including partial and open spaces where basic canopy exists.  The City of San Francisco has 668,000 trees, which provides 12% canopy coverage.  The blue gum and the Monterey pine trees dominate the San Francisco landscape, and collectively, San Francisco's canopy provide an annual benefit of $1.3M, removing 280 tons of atmospheric contaminants and 5,000 tons of carbon are removed per year.  Additionally, the trees provide social, psychological benefits, including higher valuation for real estate properties.  The Mayor has set goal of planting 5,000 trees each year for 20 years.  There is room capacity to plant 125,000 more, and 44% have been planted. 

 

The biggest challenge facing the Urban Forestry Council is sustaining funding for the program, which requires political will and support.  Operational and administrative support of the Council is directed through the Department of the Environment.  The staff assists in coordinating public workshops in tree management, and the program at the Department is the City's clearinghouse for the public to obtain information on tree issues.  The Council is exploring potential sources for permanent funding streams, such as partial tax assessments and allocations from Sunday parking fees. 

 

Mr. Harte asserted that maintaining and expanding San Francisco's urban forest requires the involvement of residents, local, corporate and organizational support.  The goals of the Urban Forestry Council is to assist in (1) maintaining and conserving the existing urban forest (2) expanding the urban forest through new planting (3) fostering a shared set of values about the urban forest through education and action (4) managing the urban forest in a coordinated and effective manner (5) identifying sustainable approaches for the funding and implementation of urban forest initiatives.

 

Director Blumenfeld expressed his thanks and appreciation for the great work that Alexis Harte has provided in coordinating the Urban Forest Council.  Mr. Harte is leaving City employment in mid September.

 

Commissioner Gravanis provided her comments on the Urban Forestry Plan, and remarked that the report provided for uniform, rather than distinct, management for trees growing in San Francisco streets and those growing in natural areas.  She noted that the Plan's provisions were done outside the context of the City's total biodiversity.  It made references to the parks section of the City's Sustainability Plan, but lacked references to the biodiversity section.  She would like to see the broader biodiversity aspect addressed to include wildlife factors and ecological restorations.  Additionally, Commissioner Gravanis commented on the reference of the collection of trees as "urban forestry," which was somewhat arbitrary, and does not accurately differentiate standard trees and those found in naturally occuring forests.  She calls for integrating the ecosystem element, and suggested adding text in the introductory section that will explain the urban forest concept and terminology, which will provide people a better comprehension and understanding of its use.  Commissioner Gravanis praised the Plan's policy and assessment on street trees. 

 

Public Comment: Pinky Kushner stated that she will take a copy of the report to the Conservation Committee of the San Francisco Sierra Club for their review and comment.  She reported that new trees were planted on a narrow sidewalk in front of a building on 3rd & Cesar Chavez, and questioned whether the trees were placed in the best location to thrive, and whether the Planning department should get involved.

 

Public Comment: Jake Sigg supported the goal of achieving no net loss for street trees and would like this applied to trees growing in natural areas, such as Mt. Davidson.  He advocated for appropriate measures in canopy replacements.

 

Public Comment:  Paul Martinez urged for the reintroduction and use of native species trees as first choice for planting in San Francisco.  He also called for the use of water-permeable planting of native species.                     

            

INFORMATION:  New Business.  There was no new business discussed at this time.

 

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.

 

ADJOURNMENT The meeting adjourned at 7:43 p.m.

 

Respectfully submitted by,

 

Monica Fish, Commission Secretary for Nelly Sun, Senior Management Assistant

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,  (3) upon request to the Commission Secretary, at telephone number 415-355-3709, or (4) via e-mail at Monica.Fish@sfgov.org within three business days of a meeting.

 

Adopted:  October 30, 2006

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