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06.11 Approved Minutes

CITY AND COUNTY OF SAN FRANCISCO

COMMISSION ON THE ENVIRONMENT

POLICY COMMITTEE

 

REGULAR MEETING

APPROVED MINUTES

Monday, June 11, 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

 

ORDER OF BUSINESS

 

1.      CALL TO ORDER AND ROLL CALL.  The Commission on the Environment’s Policy Committee meeting was called to order at 5:05 p.m.  Present:  Chair Wald and Commissioner Gravanis (Absent:  Commissioner King).

 

2.      ACTION:  Adoption of Minutes of the May 7, 2007 Policy Committee Rescheduled Meeting. Upon Motion by Commissioner Gravanis and second by Chair Wald, the May 7, 2007 Policy Committee Meeting Minutes were approved with a correction to the spelling of Ms. Dianna’s name from “Dianna” to “D’Anne” (AYES:  Commissioners Wald and Gravanis, Absent:  Commissioner King).  (Explanatory Document:  Approved Minutes of the May 7, 2007 Policy Committee 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.      INFORMATIONAL PRESENTATION and DISCUSSION:  Urban Environmental Accord Action 15-Transportation. Implement a policy to reduce the percentage of commuter trips by single occupancy vehicles by ten percent in seven years. The Committee will hear about policy recommendations relating to transportation demand management. (Explanatory Document Received in Committee Meeting:  Urban Environmental Acccord Action 15-Transportation.)

SPONSOR:  Commissioner Johanna Wald

                                SPEAKER: Faiz Khan, Department of the Environment

 

Mr. Faiz Khan discussed current conditions of trips taken per day in San Francisco for auto, transit, walk, and bike trips citing figures derived from the San Francisco County Transportation Authority.  It was indicated that if we eliminate all Single Occupancy Vehicle (SOV) trips 29.61 days per year or 2.5 days per month, our Strategic Plan annual goals of eliminating 71 million SOV vehicle trips per year would be met.  Mr. Khan presented policy recommendations relating to transportation demand management and actions to implement recommendations to replace SOV trips.  Policy recommendations included:

 

·         Promote walking through implementation of the Walk2School Program, the Pedestrian Master Plan, and promotion of the telecommuting policy and monitoring emissions reduction.

·         Promote bicycle use through the development of online bike mapping application and a multilingual bicycle outreach program, promoting the City Bicycle Fleet Program, and working with other agencies to promote and encourage bicycling in the community.

·         Promote rideshare (carpool/vanpool) by using GIS, developing and promoting the vanpool program, maintaining an information website on carpool/vanpool incentives and driving alternatives, and supporting the efforts of community groups to encourage the use of alternative modes of transportation.

·         Increase the use of public transit, discourage driving and promote employer based transit encouragement programs by the Commuter Benefits Ordinance and program outreach/marketing, maintaining and expanding the Emergency Ride Home Program, and implementing subsidized transit programs for students at all San Francisco colleges/universities in partnership with transit agencies.  Mr. Khan asked for the Commission’s support of the Commuter Benefits Ordinance.

 

Programs discussed that would increase the use of public transit and discourage driving include the Transbay Transit Center & Downtown Rail Extension, Congestion Pricing, the Regional HOT Lanes Network, Bus Rapid Transit, and the Van Ness BRT; Geary Corridor BRT.  Director Blumenfeld and Chair Wald discussed taking an official position against the HOT lanes because (1) they would still encourage SOV trips as long as people are willing to pay to use them; (2) the revenue received from the HOT lanes would not be substantial; and (3) there would be a cost to implement the lanes as San Francisco does not currently have HOT lanes.  It was explained that HOT lanes are HOV lanes that SOV’s can pay extra to use.  Commissioner Wald requested a copy of the MTA Plan that would discuss the HOT Lanes.  Director Blumenfeld reported that New York has received more press on Congestion Pricing than San Francisco, but San Francisco is the first to actually receive funding to do a federal study.  Mr. Khan stated that he would provide the Committee members with a written report on the Congestion Pricing study in San Francisco.

 

Public Comment

 

Mr. Rodriguez Heyman recommended contacts at Google maps and similar businesses to help develop the bikemapper program.  Mr. Khan stated that the Municipal Transportation Commission is developing this program on ESRI Arc IMS software. 

 

Ms. Lurilla Harris recommended considering special lanes for skateboarders.  Mr. Khan stated that skateboarder special lanes have not been considered and would be included in the pedestrian trips for strategic goals purposes.

 

Mr. Eric Wohlgemuth suggested that residents who own more than one car be sought after more aggressively by means of additional incentives that would lead them to consider owning fewer cars.  Mr. Khan stated that organizations such as City Carshare, Flexcar and Zipcar provide the biggest incentives at this time as well as the Commuter Benefits Program.

 

For additional information on this topic, click on the explanatory document link above.

 

5.      INFORMATIONAL PRESENTATION and DISCUSSION:  Urban Environmental Accord 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. This Meeting will continue the Committee’s focus on reducing use of bottled water in San Francisco. The Committee will hear about the environmental and ecosystem impacts from large-scale water extraction concentrated in communities where bottling plants are located.  

SPONSORS:  Commissioner Johanna Wald and Director Jared Blumenfeld

                                SPEAKER: Brian Stranko, Chief Executive Officer, California Trout

 

Mr. Brian Stranko discussed California’s long-term water future, the threat of water bottling operations to our water future particularly in rural communities, and Nestle’s proposal to establish a bottling operation just north of the town of McCloud and along Squaw Valley Creek.  Topics discussed included:

 

The water picture in general:

 

  • California's long term water future (for the environment, people, and the economy) is increasingly under pressure because of our growing population, growing, economy, growing use of water and because of global warming;
  • Spring, surface, and groundwater are all important for our future, but are all at risk of being utilized unwisely;
  • Planning for sustainable, comprehensive management of our water resources for the long run is the most important thing we can do to ensure a healthy future for our rivers, streams, fish, people, and economy.
  • Mr. Stranko encouraged the City of San Francisco to continue helping California Trout (CalTrout) lead in this direction.

 

Water Bottling and Rural Communities:

 

  • Water bottling operations individually and collectively are one of the many potential threats to our water future, particularly in rural communities where there are coveted spring, ground, and surface water sources;
  • Areas such as Mount Shasta, the North Coast, the Tahoe Area, and the Eastern Sierra have valuable water sources and are looked upon as possible inputs for the water bottling industry;
  • Water bottling at a large scale currently has environmental impacts beyond the use of water (plastic bottles, etc.), but the impacts on rural communities are mainly focused on 1) potential impacts to aquatic ecosystems, 2) potential impacts to recreational economies, 3) potential air, noise, and water pollution, and 4) potential concentration (versus diversification) of the economy which can make rural communities vulnerable to economic shocks among other things;
  • CalTrout has regional offices in rural communities around the state to protect and restore rivers and streams, particularly those cold, clean waters that host wild trout and steelhead species;
  • These waters provide essential inputs to rural community's water supplies, recreational economies, wild and scenic values, biological values, and ecosystem service values (such as filtering nutrients and counteracting warming trends);
  • Water bottling plants, therefore, can threaten CalTrout's work and mission, so they are a concern for the organization;
  • Water bottling plants may be able to be established in such a way that is not harmful to the environment or rural communities. CalTrout seeks to ensure that any particular plant does not have these negative results by advocating for full, comprehensive scientific assessments of potential impacts from operations, and long-term adaptive management programs for any plants that are established;
  • CalTrout also seeks to be sure that rural communities are able to choose their own destiny in relation to water bottling plants; this requires transparency of operational plans, open community engagement, and diversified economic structures.

 

McCloud and Nestle:

 

  • Nestle has proposed to establish a 1 million square foot water bottling operation just north of the Town of McCloud and along Squaw Valley Creek (the major tributary of the McCloud River);
  • The operation, if established, would utilize spring sources that feed Squaw Valley Creek for its water bottling;
  • Nestle, having already bought property in this location, has also claimed a water right that was established by the previous land owner; this water right is approximately 8,500 acre feet and is diverted from sources that feed the Upper McCloud River (which runs almost parallel to Squaw Valley Creek) and also feeds the lower McCloud above Shasta Dam;
  • Nestle has also established a contract with the Town of McCloud that would allow the organization to pump unlimited amounts of groundwater from the McCloud Basin as the first priority water use for 99 years;
  • CalTrout and its partners are concerned that one or more water sources that Nestle may utilize (the springs feeding Squaw Valley Creek, the Upper McCloud Source, and/or groundwater) could be used to such an extent that the health of the McCloud watershed would be impacted.
  • If the watershed is impacted, vulnerable species could be at risk; water supply for the Town of McCloud, for the surrounding area, and for the state could be at risk; and, a vibrant recreational economy, let alone a great place to visit could be at risk;
  • Siskiyou County issued a Draft EIR in 2006 regarding Nestle's plant proposal; however, CalTrout does not feel that the DEIR adequately addressed potential impacts to the watershed;
  • CalTrout filed comments on the DEIR (these comments are available upon request)
  • CalTrout and its partners seek to have comprehensive scientific studies completed by Nestle on the potential impacts of the organization's water use plans (all plans) on the biological, chemical, and physical character of the McCloud River system;
  • Additionally, CalTrout and its partners seek to have a rigorous adaptive management plan established if a plant and operations commence that would protect the biological, chemical, and physical character of the river system and mandate operational changes if agreed upon impact thresholds are breached;
  • Beyond these scientific assurances, CalTrout and its partners seek to 1) avoid any long-term, unlimited use of groundwater (which is a 'great unknown' with many risks, particularly given the advent of global warming) and certainly sustainable use of groundwater if any at all, 2) ensure that any diversion of water from the Upper McCloud does not compromise the health of the water system or aquatic resources, 3) ensure that the community of McCloud is not adversely impacted by air quality changes or other results of bottling operations;
  • Currently, the comments (over 4,000 of them) on the DEIR are being reviewed by Siskiyou County, the regulatory agency overseeing the EIR process;
  • A Final EIR is expected late July/August or even later;
  • CalTrout encourages all those concerned to contact the County to express any concerns and to encourage the County Board of Supervisors to be rigorous and diligent in incorporating comments in a Final EIR; CalTrout can provide examples of comments and alert letters if they would be helpful;
  • CalTrout and its partners have met with Nestle to discuss concerns and seek a mutually acceptable resolution to the situation; no firm conclusion has yet been arrived at, but CalTrout is encouraged by the organization's response thus far;
  • CalTrout encourages the Commission to invite Nestle to provide comment on water bottling in general and on the McCloud situation

 

California Trout’s comments on the Draft Environmental Impact Report for the Nestle Waters North America McCloud Water Bottling Project were requested (see links to documents:  California Trout Comment Letter Draft EIR and Exhibits)

 

Commissioner Gravanis expressed support for the efforts to protect the McCloud River Watershed and said she was dismayed to hear that a compromise was being entertained that would allow any bottling plant at all.  She said that the issues to be weighed had statewide significance and included the materials and energy used in the manufacture of the bottles, the fuel consumed and gases emitted in transporting the bottles to the site, toxins in the plastic, the transportation of the filled bottles to the stores, the contribution of the used bottles to the landfills, the environmental costs of shipping the collected bottles to China for recycling, etc., etc.  Commissioner Wald seconded Commissioner Gravanis’ concerns about the environmental impacts of bottling water and suggested that a representative of Nestle be invited to address the committee at its next meeting.

 

Discussion ensued regarding the importance of becoming involved in the decision-making process for the proposed McCloud bottling plant, and it was agreed that a representative of Nestle be invited to the next Policy Committee meeting.    

 

6.      DISCUSSION:  GreenPoint Rated Residential Green Building Program. Following-up from the May 2007 Commission meeting, the Committee will discuss ways of implementing the GreenPoint system in San Francisco.

SPONSOR:  Jared Blumenfeld, Director

SPEAKER:  Mr. Rich Chien, Green Building Specialist

 

Mr. Rich Chien, Residential Green Building Coordinator, was requested to follow up at the Policy Committee on the  GreenPoint Rated (GPR) presentation given at the last Commission meeting, answer specific questions, and discuss any potential actions for the Commission on this item. Mr. Chien reviewed important points about green building rating systems that include:

 

          LEED-New Construction:  national award program targeting top 25% of commercial, institutional, and high-rise residential buildings, third-party verified;

 

          LEED for Homes:  national award program targeting top 25% of low-rise (<3 stories) residential buildings, third-party verified, w/18 prerequisites, third-party verified;

 

          GreenPoint Rated:  California-based accessible yet credible entry point for mainstream builders of single family, multifamily (low-to-high rise and mixed-use) buildings, 4 prerequisites, third-party verified;

 

          LEED-Homes and GreenPoint Rated (GPR) have an MOU in California that acknowledges the role that each system plays in advancing residential green building.  They have developed equivalency tools for cross-ratings, will refer potential builders to the system that is appropriate for their skill level, and are conducting cross-trainings of raters.

 

Mr. Chien also stated that the Mayor's Green Building Task Force is finalizing their recommendations and that GPR is referenced as a residential standard.

 

Director Blumenfeld stated that much of future San Francisco residential development would be largely affordable/multifamily, which GPR's multifamily program is well suited for.  In general, GPR is much simpler and less expensive to administer than LEED, and as a result will be able to affect a larger share of the development pipeline.

 

Commissioner Gravanis mentioned that the “Bay Friendly Landscaping” element of GPR, as practiced in Alameda County, could be an important addition to San Francisco’s green building program.

 

Chair Wald stated that it is important that GPR be updated regularly to increase the performance standards over time.  Director Blumenfeld responded that as a local jurisdiction we would be able to add local priority measures or simply establish higher point levels.  Mr. Chien stated that Build it Green would continue to update the standard in sequence with the State Title 24 updates.

7.      INFORMATION:  New Business/Future Agenda Items

 

·         Develop a policy when to use carbon offsets in City government and discuss what standards are appropriate (Cal Broomhead).

·         Sustainability Plan updates.

·         San Francisco Giants celebratory balloon releases.

·         Effective methods of communicating Department updates to the Commission and to the public.

·         Reformatting of Commission meeting agendas and minutes to switch the order so that the topic is listed first.

·         Tidal power update.

 

Public Comment:  Mr. Rodriguez Heyman recommended that the agenda be structured in a docket format that would include staff reports listing the highest priority and biggest accomplishments first, and requested that all explanatory documents be sent out ahead of time.  A request was made to include Committee Reports as part of the packet.

 

Public Comment:  Ms. Lurilla Harris asked that future agenda items include a discussion on the Blue Angels’ noise, air and fuel issues and the negative aspects of military recruitment.

 

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 7:15 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

 

Approved:  July 16, 2007  

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