Policy Committee‎ > ‎2007 Meetings‎ > ‎

02.12 Approved Minutes








Monday, February 12, 2007, 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




1.      CALL TO ORDER AND ROLL CALL.  The Commission on the Environment Policy Committee meeting was called to order at 5:07 p.m.  Present:  Chair Wald, Commissioners Gravanis and King (5:12 p.m.)


2.      ACTION:  Adoption of Minutes of the January 16, 2007 Rescheduled Meeting. Upon Motion by Commissioner Gravanis and second by Chair Wald, the January 16, 2007 Meeting Minutes were approved without objection.  (Absent:  Commissioner King)  (Explanatory Document:  Approved Minutes of the January 16, 2007 Rescheduled 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:  Department of the Environment Strategic Plan for 2007-2009 for Toxics Reduction, Outreach, and Environmental Education (Continued from the January 16, 2007 Meeting) (Explanatory Document:  Strategic Plan 2007-09).

SPONSOR/SPEAKER:  Jared Blumenfeld, Director


Commissioner King joined the meeting at this time.


Director Blumenfeld discussed the Strategic Plan Goals, Objectives, and Action Steps for Toxics Reduction, Outreach and Environmental Education program areas.


Toxics Reduction Program


Director Blumenfeld discussed the Precautionary Principle as a guideline for environmental and public health policy in San Francisco.  Goals that were discussed included safeguarding human and environmental health from exposure to toxic chemicals in household and institutional products through an alternatives analysis process, training, outreach and legislative mandates, the Green Business program, maintaining and enhancing opportunities for recycling and disposal of unwanted toxic products, and increasing the availability and use of safer alternatives and promoting product stewardship among manufacturers and retailers.


Commissioner Gravanis made the following comments:


·         Page 18, first paragraph add “the” or “a” before “Precautionary.”

·         Page 18, Objective A, use “environmentally sound,” “environmentally friendly,” or “least harmful alternative” instead of “eco-products.”

·         Category Pesticides, Number 11, to consider incentives for nurseries to carry non-harmful IPM alternatives.

·         Green Business Program: add supermarkets to the list in the program.

·         Used Oil:  provide locations for do-it-yourselfers to do car work.


Commissioner King asked that the Commission put forth a recommendation to the Board of Supervisors to strengthen the Bureau of Urban Forestry so that they can provide better maintenance for new young trees that have been planted.  Director Blumenfeld advised that San Francisco spends more on lawsuits defending the poor maintenance of trees than on maintenance itself, e.g. trees uprooting sidewalks. 


Commissioner King asked if work groups have been established to determine how the community is fitting recycling into their life style.  Director Blumenfeld advised that 150 volunteers have been going door to door providing outreach and recycling education in the Sunset District.  Commissioner King recommended gathering information from additional neighborhoods such as Chinatown and Bayview so a diverse cultural perspective could be assessed.   


Public Comment:  Ms. Carolyn Blair stated that in addition to funding for maintenance, protection is needed so trees are not cut down for redevelopment and construction reasons.


Chair Wald asked that an external document be created that would be more comprehensive to the public and include methods of measuring accountability.  The following suggestions were made:


·         Bundle Objectives B and E.

·         Pesticide:  Encourage residents to use alternatives.

·         Commended Action Step 27.

·         Change heading on Objective C to not say “Increase.”


Public Comment:  Ms. Nancy Wuerfel (1) cited the narrative “San Francisco has eliminated the use of the most toxic pesticides in city parks and buildings and has decreased its overall pesticide use by over 50 percent” and asked that additional effort be made to encourage alternatives in locations such as Harding Park, all golf courses, and the Recreation and Park Department Natural Areas program who are high users of Roundup; (2) recommended that Action 12 be moved to another topic heading other than “Pesticides” and (3) requested creating a user-friendly web printout with smaller print.


Environmental Education Program


Director Blumenfeld advised that the Department’s Environment Education Program reaches approximately 20,000 students annually in San Francisco and advised that the first goal is to use recycling and composting as a way of educating kids as well as influencing schools to institute food-composting programs.  Goals discussed included increasing waste diversion, promoting water pollution prevention awareness, supporting the greening and gardening movement in City schools; diversifying the environmental topic areas in order to diversity types of behavior change; and training future environmental professionals to promote sound and effective environmental education that teaches students to protect nature.  It was stated that the Department is talking with schools about how to use Berkeley as a model in order to facilitate more sustainable food in the schools.


Commissioner Gravanis made the following suggestions:


·         Encourage children to not waste food as part of the curriculum.  Instead of recycling an item that can’t be eaten, to bring it home.

·         Goal 3, Objective B, provide more definition for the word “nature.”

·         Goal 5, change “protect nature” to “protect and restore biodiversity.”


Director Blumenfeld stated that the schedule of school assemblies would be forwarded to the Commissioners.


Commissioner King made the following comments:


·         Commended the Garden in Every School program.  Commissioner King stated that his child’s school produces herbs and spices that he uses in food preparation and encouraged the message of producing items that can be used at home.

·         Promote the natural areas in San Francisco, e.g. Golden Gate Park, Bayview top of the hill, Crocker Amazon.

·         Encourage additional field trips to wilder parks.

·         Provide children with ways to warm up lunches brought from home in order to contribute to zero food waste.


Chair Wald commended the School Education Program and asked whether there are methods available to determine its impact on children.  Director Blumenfeld advised that the only impact measured is the recycling rate of the schools through waste audits.  Chair Wald suggested adding measured impacts to the Strategic Plan.  Chair Wald recommended that the public version of the Strategic Plan include stories from people who have benefited from the individual programs and would encourage people to do their share.


Public Comment:  Ms. Nancy Wuerfel supported Objective B as it is written in that nature should have a very broad meaning and that all of nature should be embraced.  Ms. Wuerfel (1) stressed the importance of influencing children to be outside; (2) to not suggest to children that something is only nature and natural if it is native; and (3) to generate excitement and respect in children to other living things. 


Public Comment:  Ms. Carolyn Blair recommended that Goal 3 on page 29 include promoting fruit trees.  It was suggested that children should have trees to climb and that students deliver the food they produce in their gardens to homeless shelters.  For Goal 5, to add that children should be taught more about protecting and preserving trees as well as their value and history.


Commissioner King left the meeting at this time.


Public Comment:  Mr. Bill O’Brien commended the School Program and recommended encouraging ride sharing.  Director Blumenfeld stated that the Clean Air Transportation Program is working on this effort.


Public Comment:  Mr. David Miller asked if there is a tracking mechanism for how many children are reached and which schools are visited.  Director Blumenfeld advised that a detailed log is maintained on schools visited and how many kids are talked to, and that a goal is to determine what behavior changes have been achieved as a result.


Outreach Program


Director Blumenfeld stated that the Department’s Public Outreach Program is a tool for promoting Department programs to the public in order to achieve a desired behavior change.  The goal to design and deliver outreach activities that will achieve the behavior change goals of Department programs and the objectives to achieve this goal were discussed.


Commissioner Gravanis made the following suggestions:


·         Install and publicize an interactive display in the lobby at 11 Grove.

·         Add demonstrations to the recycling and composting outreach program to neighborhoods.

·         Page 31, second paragraph, to rewrite the second sentence as it sounds as if solutions have to be found to the Precautionary Principle.

·         Action 9, change “concept” to “conceptualize” or “conceive.”

·         Advertise more of the recycling and compositing television commercials that were just produced.


Commissioner Wald recommended changing the “Outreach” Program Area name to “Communication” and that the program area help the Department with its strategic planning.  Director Blumenfeld advised that the Department had reorganized the Outreach Program to include Department program areas, such as Outreach Toxics Reduction, Outreach Recycling, etc. and staff in these program areas make strategic decisions aimed at particular Department programs.


Public Comment:  Ms. Nancy Wuerfel (1) requested that the Department make the Annual Report easily available to the public (Action 16) and (2) asked whether the Department wanted to have legislation that is approved by both the Commission or Department (Action 19).  Director Blumenfeld stated that he would clarify the wording of Action Item 19. 


Public Comment:  Ms. Carolyn Blair requested that the Department add the Landmark Tree Program to the outreach effort by making it available on the Department’s website.  Director Blumenfeld stated that this could be added to the Urban Forest Program Strategic Plan, page 12, and requested that Ms. Blair send in written comments to that section of the Plan.


Director Blumenfeld asked that the Commissioners and the public send their written comments on the Strategic Plan by March 14.


5.      DISCUSSION AND POSSIBLE ACTION:  United Nations World Environment Day Accords—Prioritizing three key actions for adoption by the Commission on the Environment for 2007.  The Committee received public comment on what the priorities for the Urban Accords should be for the second year (Continued from the January 16, 2007 Meeting) (Explanatory Document:  Urban Environmental Accords Review). 

SPONSOR/SPEAKER:  Jared Blumenfeld, Director


Director Blumenfeld advised that last year, the Commission selected Urban Accord Actions 12, 17 and 21 as priorities, and that items were selected based on availability of either Department staff or other Department staff resources.  The following status report was made on last year’s selections:


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.


·         A level of understanding has been reached.  Invest in working collaboratively with other stakeholders on a backyard wildlife habitat program to encourage people through related programs to get involved as to what a backyard habitat should look like.  It was advised that Supervisor Peskin, Director Blumenfeld and Commissioner Gravanis held a meeting to discuss the concept of Victory Gardens to grow food.


Action 17:  Environmental Health.  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.


·         The Department spent a lot of time with this Action as it relates to the school district but was difficult to achieve.  The Department is currently a part of a food-policy working group sponsored by the Department of Public Health to create a citywide and interdepartmental food policy. 


Action 21:  Water.  Adopt municipal wastewater management guidelines and reduce the volume of untreated wastewater discharges by 10 percent in seven years through the expanded use of recycled water and the implementation of a sustainable urban watershed planning process that includes participants of all affected communities and is based on sound economic, social, and environmental principles.


·         Accord 21 was selected because the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission had a commitment to achieving this goal through the Waste Water Master Plan, and that it was useful for the Committee and the Department to engage with the SFPUC in the discussion. 


Director Blumenfeld stated that the Department and the Commission should continue to work on last year’s priorities and made the following recommendations for this year’s priorities: 


Action 3:  Energy:  Adopt citywide greenhouse gas reduction plan that reduces the jurisdictions emissions by twenty-five percent by 2030, and which includes a system for accounting and auditing greenhouse gas emissions. 


Director Blumenfeld stated that a plan could include steps that the community can do within the next year to reduce greenhouse gases as individuals and institutions.  This step would afford the Department to bring in other agencies to focus on this effort.


Action 5:  Waste Reduction:  Adopt a citywide law that reduces the use of a disposable, toxic, or nonrenewable product category by at least fifty percent in seven years.


Director Blumenfeld recommended a focus on the use of bottled water as part of this priority.


Action 16:  Environmental Health:  Every year, identify one product, chemical, or compound that is used within the city that represents the greatest risk to human health and adopt a law and provide incentives to reduce or eliminate its use by the municipal government.


Director Blumenfeld recommended a focus on the use of phthalates or another issue of concern as part of this priority.


Public Comment:  Mr. Bill O’Brien recommended that Urban Accord Action 8 be selected as it would address half of the other action items, reduce average daily trips, and presents an opportunity for planning on the Hunters Point project.


Public Comment:  Ms. Chloe Good, Neighborhood Parks Council urged the adoption of Accord Action 10 and stated that this goal could be achieved under Action 8.  Chair Wald asked whether baseline information could be provided to determine whether this goal has been achieved.  Ms. Good stated that the Neighborhood Parks Council has a GIS gap map of open space in the City and is working on an overview of the green and open space and inequities in the City.


Public Comment:  Ms. Nancy Wuerfel supported Action 11 as trees clean the atmosphere and would support the greenhouse gas issue.  It was requested that the Recreation and Park Department be added as a relevant organization to this Action.  Ms. Wuerfel also spoke in support of implementing Action 10.


Public Comment:  Ms. Carolyn Blair supported adding Action 11 as a priority because San Francisco has the lowest canopy of any major city in the United States, over half of the City’s trees have been cut down, and trees should be protected.  Ms. Blair also spoke in support of Action 10 and stated it presents a possibility of creating linear and mini pocket parks.  


Upon Motion by Commission Gravanis and second by Chair Wald, Urban Accord Action Items 5, 8 and 15 were selected as priority items to forward to the Commission for their consideration and adoption at the March 27, 2007 meeting. (Absent:  Commissioner King)


Action 5:  Waste Reduction:  Adopt a citywide law that reduces the use of a disposable, toxic, or nonrenewable product category by at least fifty percent in seven years.


Action 8:  Urban Design:  Adopt urban planning principles and practices that advance higher density, mixed use, walkable, bikeable and disabled-accessible neighborhoods which coordinate land use and transportation with open space systems for recreation and ecological restoration.


Action 15:  Transportation.  Implement a policy to reduce the percentage of commute trips by single occupancy vehicles by ten percent in seven years. 

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


7.      DISCUSSION:  FUTURE AGENDA ITEMS.  Director Blumenfeld stated that McCloud would be asked to speak on Action 5 and MUNI on Action 15.  Commissioner Gravanis inquired about the status of a meeting on Treasure Island sustainability and whether it should be on a Policy or full Commission meeting agenda in the future.  Chair Wald asked that Mr. Dan Sider, the Greening Director speak at a future meeting.  Director Blumenfeld advised that Mr. Sider would be speaking at the February 20 Senior Staff Meeting and invited one of the Committee Members to attend. Commissioner Gravanis requested that the Hunters Point Shipyard Land Use Plan include a discussion on walkable parks and clustered housing around retail and transit hubs. It was recommended that the Redevelopment Agency be included in the next discussion on the Hunters Point Shipyard Plan Phase 2.  Director Blumenfeld stated that additional future agenda items would also include organic food, backyard habitat, and Wastewater Master Plan updates.


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 6:55 p.m.


The next Policy Committee meeting will be held on Monday, March 12, 2007 at 5:00 p.m., Room 421, City Hall.


** 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 [email protected].


Respectfully submitted by,



Monica Fish

Commission Secretary

TEL:  (415) 355-3709

FAX: (415) 554-6393


Adopted:   March 7, 2007

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