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11.13 Approved Minutes

CITY AND COUNTY OF SAN FRANCISCO

COMMISSION ON THE ENVIRONMENT

POLICY COMMITTEE

 

REGULAR MEETING

APPROVED MINUTES

Monday, November 13, 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 and Angelo King

 

Commission Secretary:  Monica Fish

 

 

ORDER OF BUSINESS

 

1.      CALL TO ORDER AND ROLL CALL

 

The meeting was called to order at 5:08 p.m.  Present:  Commissioners King and Gravanis. Excused: Chair Wald.  The Committee members voted to elect Commissioner King as Chair for this meeting.

 

2.   ACTION:  Adoption of Minutes of the October 30, 2006 Special Rescheduled Meeting.  Upon Motion by Commissioner Gravanis and second by Commissioner King the October 30, 2006 Meeting Minutes were approved with no objection (Absent:  Chair Wald). (Explanatory Document:  Approved Minutes of the October 30, 2006 Meeting.)

 

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 was no public comment at this time.

 

4.   DISCUSSION:  Implementation of Urban Accord Action 12:  Urban Nature.  Pass legislation that protects critical habitat corridors and other key habitat characteristics (e.g. water-features, food-bearing plants, shelter for wildlife, use of native species, etc.) from unsustainable development.  (Explanatory Document: Nature in the City Memo Comments on Accords.)

SPONSOR:  Commissioner Ruth Gravanis

SPEAKER:  Josiah Clark, Executive Director, Habitat Potential

 

Commissioner Gravanis reported that the Policy Committee discussed Urban Accord Action 12: Urban Nature, at their January and June 2006 meetings.  At the June meeting, Urban Accord 12 was selected as one of the three priority accords to address for 2006.  It was stated that the Policy Committee would be focusing on developing specific action steps within the next year in order to move further in implementing Accord 12.

 

Mr. Josiah Clark discussed his background as a native San Franciscan and his experience with habitat restoration and exploration, which led him to community and habitat stewardship.  Mr. Clark described his work with organizations and on projects throughout the Bay Area advocating for habitat needs, addressing specific conservation efforts in the Bay Area, serving underserved youth, and leading environmental education field trips locally and abroad.  Mr. Clark has written a draft report for the Recreation and Park Department called “Enhancing Wildlife Habitats.”   A discussion was held on the favorable forces that nature in the city creates, e.g. reducing crime, and the opportunity to bring more nature in the city as an excellent way to serve the San Francisco community.  The importance of preserving diversity among species for future sustainability was stressed.

 

Mr. Clark discussed four preliminary ideas developed by members of the Nature in the City Steering Committee and conservation colleagues to implement Urban Accord 12 that include: 

 

·        Habitat Values Mapping and Habitat Goals Project—Acquire funding through legislation for a comprehensive mapping project to create a GIS inventory of all open spaces and potential wildlife/biodiversity corridors in San Francisco for the purpose of meeting citywide restoration and conservation objectives.  Mr. Clark discussed outlining San Francisco areas that have the most potential for increasing the native and naturalized plant community.  This effort would require input from San Francisco citizens and current stewards to assign values to City blocks for the purpose of creating a more productive habitat.  It was stated that creating more productive habitats is currently underway in City parks and through existing projects.

 

·        Residential (Backyard Habitat Conservation Program)—Legislation to establish a residential habitat conservation and certification program to encourage homeowners and renters to increase the habitat values of their backyards, front yards or setbacks, roofs, and sidewalks.  Mr. Clark stressed the importance of open space planting areas and preventing paving or mulching of gardens.  A discussion was held on instituting programs where backyards could be turned into nurseries and wildlife habitats.  Photographs of City stewardship projects as well as degraded low value systems that could potentially be turned into productive wildlife systems were shown.  Providing habitat improvement incentives to increase green space and the availability of appropriate vegetation was recommended.  Mr. Clark described a current project in the Bayview neighborhood where residents turned open space into a productive planting area.

 

·        Biodiversity Management Mandate for all City Departments.  Legislation to require all City departments that manage land and water to integrate biodiversity conservation and natural resource management best practices into their operations and capital projects.  Mr. Clark discussed developing partnerships with City departments, Schools, City residents, and Communities to develop natural resources that exist in San Francisco in order to enrich City neighborhoods and meet objectives of the Sustainability Plan.

 

·        Local Indigenous Biodiversity Public Education and Celebration Campaign.  It was suggested that the Department of the Environment be responsible for implementing a citywide biodiversity publicity campaign articulating the significance of shared ecological heritage.

 

Commissioner Gravanis inquired as to what role the Department of the Environment could assume to encourage a residential planting program.  Mr. Clark suggested the Department play a networking role by (1) providing habitat improvement incentives to participating residents, e.g. a certification program; (2) developing a website for residents to access examples of a virtual habitat garden and listing locations for acquiring recommended plants; (3) influencing schools to grow plants as part of an environmental classroom or project; and (4) creating a Department of the Environment position to provide education and outreach to teach residents how to improve habitats through propagating affordable native plants.

 

Commissioner King commended Mr. Clark’s work and described his son’s interest in planting as a result of his school’s garden project.  A recommendation was made that the Commission publicly award residents for participating by issuing proclamations.  The need to work on acquiring funding was also suggested.

 

Director Blumenfeld inquired as to whom would be implementing the four ideas contained in the memo.  Mr. Clark suggested that the City be responsible and that ideas that can be implemented immediately be a priority.  Director Blumenfeld stated that the City does not have assigned staff to implement the recommendations at this time.  Mr. Clark recommended that priority be given for native plants to be grown by nurseries for people’s gardens and suggested that City agencies find land for private non-profit organizations that are interested in starting native plant nurseries. 

 

Director Blumenfeld asked if there was a City model of a residential habitat garden that was done well.  Mr. Clark recommended Seattle, but did not know of a City that is specifically growing and distributing native plants.  Mr. Clark suggested that the Department of the Environment issue grants to be administered through groups such as Nature in the City, Habitat Potential, etc. for nurseries to grow native plants.  Commissioner King discussed an individual who received a grant to create a nursery in Candlestick Point and suggested that their grant source be researched. 

 

Public Comment:  Mr. Jake Sigg recommended that the Department’s website list ideas and potential suppliers that could increase the habitat value of backyards.  It was stated that there is a lot of demand but no one to satisfy the demand at this time. 

Commissioner King discussed organizations such as SLUG and St. Mary’s Farm that could be asked to provide input into this subject.  Director Blumenfeld stated that each year and in January 2007, three new accords would be selected to work on and that it was important to select items that can be implemented through a staff level.  The public was asked for implementation recommendations.

 

Public Comment:  Ms. Nancy Wuerfel discussed previous meeting public requests for term definitions contained in Urban Accord 12, e.g. ”unsustainable development”, “corridor”, how big is a corridor, what is it connecting, who are we making a corridor for? Ms. Wuerfel recommended that the Committee make clear its action steps to implement this Accord as written and start with definitions.   Director Blumenfeld stated that the Accords were written by Non-Profit organizations and Mayors for World Environment Day and do not specifically pertain to all cities in the same way. 

 

Public Comment:  Ms. Linda Shaffer advised of a native plant garden nursery in San Luis Obispo that the community utilizes.

 

Public Comment:  Ms. Linda Yacabuchi requested definitions of “critical habitat”, “unsustainable development”, and “types of corridors”.  Commissioner King agreed that translations should be clearly defined and stated that he found that in certain instances, definitions may also be subjective and left to the individual’s interpretation.

 

Commissioner Gravanis suggested that implementation start with small-scale work on the rear yard habitat recommendation by having the Commission on the Environment use a similar certification and award process of the National Wildlife Federation.  The process can then be escalated to the Board of Supervisors to pass a Resolution adopting an award and certification program.  Commissioner Gravanis advised of work that has been done, e.g. the Audubon Society and Recreation and Park Department have produced a brochure and the Public Utilities Water Conservation staff’s recommendations for recommending appropriate plants for San Francisco.   It was recommended that the Golden Gate Park City Nursery could be propagating plants not only for Recreation and Park gardeners but for other department gardeners.  Commissioner Gravanis discussed a project at Laguna Honda Hospital that is going to be a pilot LEED certified building, but the landscaping has no potential for wildlife.

 

Commissioner King recommended that future developments include a requirement for more nature and green space.

 

Director Blumenfeld stated that the components of a backyard program should be decided on and outreach be implemented so the community knows it exists.  Mr. Clark suggested that land be acquired for nurseries to plant native plants as a priority.  Director Blumenfeld stated that he did not feel that this request would be feasible at this time and recommended deciding on other components of this program that could be implemented. 

 

Public Comment:  Ms. Carolyn Blair, San Francisco Tree Council, asked if Urban Accord 12 pertains to trees and what the Commission would do to protect existing trees from future development. It was recommended that diagonal parking be implemented and that street trees be placed in between parked cars for developments such as Treasure Island.  Ms. Blair indicated that examples can be seen in Novato and Sacramento and complimented this greening effort.  Commissioner Gravanis advised that Urban Accord 11 pertains to the Urban Forest.  Ms. Blair spoke in support of a backyard program as written in the Nature in the City memo.  A request was also made for the Commission to consider the preservation of large mature trees in San Francisco.

 

5.   DISCUSSION:  Department of the Environment Strategic Plan for 2007-2009 (Explanatory Document:  Strategic Plan 2007-09 Draft November 13, 2006).

SPONSOR/SPEAKER:  Jared Blumenfeld, Director

 

Director Blumenfeld stated that three years ago, the Board of Supervisors required that the Department submit a Strategic Plan with their Budget.  The Department has since developed a three-year Strategic Plan that is updated annually.  Staff has spent six months reviewing and updating the elements of the previous Strategic Plan.  It was advised that the November 13 Draft does not incorporate the revisions made at the Strategic Planning Retreat, but is a good indication of where the Department is moving.  It was stated that this Strategic Plan is focused on results opposed to outcomes and the focus is to replace the superfluous with what is meaningful that can produce results. 

 

Director Blumenfeld discussed the Carbon Neutrality Program that was previously the Energy Program and advised that it would be internalized into each of the Strategic Plan elements.  The goal is to reduce 1990 level carbon emissions 20% by 2012 by internalizing goals into actions within categories of energy, transportation, and solid waste.  A discussion was held on objectives required to reduce climate emissions.    Director Blumenfeld stated that the umbrella of carbon neutrality would be cross-indexed with Recycling and Clean Air Transportation goals.  It was advised that science dictates that the goal should be to eventually reduce 1990 level carbon emissions by 50% and discussed the extent of current goals.

 

A discussion was held on the Urban Forest and Environmental Justice Programs focus.  The direction that the Department is moving is towards specific tangible goals with external indicators for accountability.  The Department is working with the Mayor on a monthly department head process called SFSTAT. The Department of Public Works, Recreation and Park Department, and the Department of the Environment are in charge of developing accountability measures around Clean and Green, e.g. number of trees planted, maintained, etc. on a monthly basis.  Climate change has specific indicators so the Department worked with MUNI to develop an indicator of number of fast passes sold on a monthly basis in order to increase participation. 

 

Commissioner Gravanis complimented the staff work on the Strategic Plan and inquired as to how measurements were reached.  Director Blumenfeld advised that averages are used for measurements of vehicle miles traveled and trips taken.  It was advised that San Francisco is the first city in the nation to register its emissions with the California Climate Registry.

Director Blumenfeld advised that the next Strategic Plan document would be focused on Toxics Reduction, Outreach, and Environmental Education.

 

Commissioner Gravanis inquired as to whether the Toxics Reduction section would include wastewater management and biological diversity.  Director Blumenfeld stated that the Strategic Plan is a document that is used to develop the Department’s work plan and internalized into the performance review.  At this time, funding is not available for a staff person to work on wastewater or biodiversity so is not included as part of the Strategic Plan.

 

Director Blumenfeld advised that an updated version of the Strategic Plan would be brought to the Commission as part of the Department’s budget packet at their January 2007 meeting.   

 

Public Comment:  Ms. Carolyn Blair (1) recommended that the City utilize more electric vehicles, (2) inquired what percentage of planting of large trees is being done and stated that it would contribute to sequestering of carbons; (3) suggested additional bike network lanes; and (4) recommended eliminating waste by using recycled tires for uplifting concrete and trees.  Director Blumenfeld advised that Page 12, Objective E states, “promote clean fuel in vehicles reducing CO2 emissions by 86,000 tons per year” is just for City fleets.  If the entire City emissions were deleted, that would reduce the goal from 20% to 18%, so it is only about a 2% difference.  Carbon sequestration from trees and vegetation is about .05% of the total carbon goal.  The Department works with the Bike Coalition and the Department of Parking and Traffic closely and has received funding to do a web based bike-mapping route.  There is a huge amount of tires that can be recycled.  The obstacle is for the Planning Department and DPW to agree to the engineering standards.  Ms. Blair asked what the largest amount of carbon emissions is.  Director Blumenfeld advised that 49% of carbon emissions relates to transit.

 

6.   DISCUSSION:  Programmatic and legislative schedule for Policy Committee one-year calendar for 2006 (Continued from the October 30, 2006 Meeting) (Explanatory Document:  Programmatic and Legislative Schedule).

SPONSOR:  Commissioner Johanna Wald

SPEAKER:  Jared Blumenfeld, Director

 

This item was eliminated for consideration from future agendas, as it is no longer relevant for 2006.  The Strategic Plan will be the guiding document for future work.   Commissioner King stated that the Policy Committee would discuss portions of the Strategic Plan in the future.

7.      INFORMATION:  New Business.  Ms. Fish reported that a presentation by the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC) on the status of the Wastewater Management Plan is scheduled for the December meeting.  Commissioner Gravanis asked that speakers from the SFPUC and Citizens Advisory Committee to the SFPUC make a presentation at the next meeting.  Commissioner King requested that Redevelopment Agency representatives be invited to a future meeting to discuss integrating development policies so that redevelopment communities such as Bayview and South of Market can receive the benefit of these policies. The November 28 Commission agenda items were discussed that included the Precautionary Principle Three-Year Review Report, two agenda items regarding Treasure Island, and BAYCAMP report on air monitoring in the Bayview District.   Commissioner King indicated that he was participating in both the Policy and Operations Committee and would be considering resigning from one of the Committees.

 

8.   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.

 

9.   ADJOURNMENT.  The Policy Committee meeting adjourned at 6:40 p.m.

 

** 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 Committee’s website https://sites.google.com/a/sfenvironment.org/commission/policy-committee as attachments to the meeting agenda or minutes, (3) upon request to the Commission Secretary, at telephone number 415-355-3709, or via e-mail at Monica.Fish@sfgov.org.

 

 

Respectfully submitted by,

 

 

Monica Fish

Commission Secretary

TEL:  (415) 355-3709

FAX: (415) 554-6393

 

Adopted:  January 16, 2007

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