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08.13 Approved Minutes

CITY AND COUNTY OF SAN FRANCISCO

COMMISSION ON THE ENVIRONMENT

POLICY COMMITTEE

 

REGULAR MEETING

APPROVED MINUTES

Monday, August 13, 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 Jane MarieFrancis Martin

 

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, Commissioners Gravanis and Martin.

 

2.      Approval of Minutes of the July 16, 2007 Policy Committee Rescheduled Meeting (Discussion and Action).  Upon Motion by Commissioner Gravanis and second by Chair Wald, the July 16, 2007 Meeting Minutes were approved (AYES:  Chair Wald, Commissioners Gravanis and Martin) (Explanatory Document:  Approved Minutes of the July 16, 2007 Policy Committee 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.      Civil Grand Jury Report.  An informational report will be given on the Civil Grand Jury Report and the Committee may make recommendations to the Commission concerning the Department's responses to the Report (Informational Report and Discussion) (Explanatory Document:  Civil Grand Jury Report).

SPONSOR:  Chair Johanna Wald

SPEAKERS:  Cal Broomhead, Energy Manager and Melissa Capria, Climate Action Coordinator

 

Mr. Broomhead reported that Ms. Shirley Hansen and two other members of the Civil Grand Jury contacted the Department of Environment to discuss the Civil Grand Jury Report topic on greenhouse gas emissions.  It was stated that the report contains 42 findings that cover areas that include building, energy efficiency, policy, and MUNI and transportation issues.  The key finding is that while there has been significant progress on the amount of greenhouse gas emissions reductions in the City, we are not on track to meet our 2012 goal.  The Report lists 50 recommendations.  One of the key recommendations is that we engage other City departments and the community in this effort.  Another recommendation is to enforce an energy tax similar to the one in Boulder, Colorado, a climate-tax added to utility rates. 

 

Mr. Broomhead explained that City departments are required to respond to the report, and the Department of the Environment has been directed by the Mayor’s Office to coordinate the effort between departments.  The Department of the Environment has already created a first draft of its responses that is in the process of being edited.  Seven other departments have sent in their drafts that have to be read and commented on; 13 department reports are pending receipt.  Ms. Capria reported that departments have to submit their responses by August 20 and by August 27 the Department will review the responses, create a draft for review by department heads, with final responses due on August 27.  When everybody is in agreement, the report will be sent to the Civil Grand Jury by the due date of September 4.  The Board of Supervisors is also required to respond on certain recommendations within 90 days.  The Department will be making a report on its responses to the Board of Supervisors Government Audit and Oversight Committee on September 10.  Mr. Broomhead stated that this coordination effort would help stimulate inter-departmental communication and cooperation.

 

Mr. Broomhead reported on the report’s recommendation for an energy tax.  It was explained that the City currently has a franchise fee that is billed to every electricity and gas customer in the City.  PG&E collects the fee, turns it over to the City, and it goes to the General Fund as the law that sets up that tax said it should.  Boulder, Colorado’s tax does essentially what our franchise tax does but it allocates the money to climate work.  The tax is about 3%, which is almost equivalent to our public goods charge fund that is added on to everybody’s bill by the utilities and collected and handed out as energy efficiency in renewable energy programs.  Mr. Broomhead stated that the Department agrees with the report recommendation about engaging the community and has a campaign that Ms. Capria will report on.

 

Ms. Capria stated that the theme of the report is that we are not meeting our 2012 target and that the Department is being looked at as the lead agency.  To quote the report, “Department of the Environment will need to promote an unprecedented combination of programs, new ordinances, and public outreach campaigns to reach the City’s goal.”  Commissioner Martin asked what has to be done to achieve the goal.  Ms. Capria explained that one of her responsibilities is to coordinate the quantification of our green house gas inventory, which includes an inventory of municipal and community wide emissions.  We have very detailed information about municipal emissions and an inventory of community wide emissions is in process.  It was reported that from an initial review, we are on a trajectory to help us achieve what the Kyoto protocol target is (to reduce emissions 7% below 1990 levels by 2012).  However, our target for the city is to reduce by 20%.  It was explained that the Civil Grand Jury process includes the production of an annual continuity report so progress can be measured on previous recommendations. The big challenge is how the City will institutionalize climate change as part of the decision-making process, and this is a step in that direction.

 

Chair Wald inquired where we are in terms of the municipal reduction vis-à-vis the rest of the community.  Ms Capria stated that an assessment can be provided but there are problems with methodology issues.  It was explained that part of the program is to identify a rigorous and credible quantification methodology. Chair Wald asked whether we are meeting our targets in the municipal sector.  Ms. Capria explained that there are discrepancies in determining the outcome; e.g., if you expand MUNI by putting more lines in, that will increase emissions from MUNI whereas it will be reducing community-wide emissions.  Expansion of the Airport also increased our profile.  Ms. Capria stated that she would be researching where the City is internally.  Director Blumenfeld stated that the report would be a great opportunity because it is focusing and magnifying the issue of climate change and what the City can do.  The Climate Action Plan indicates that 49% of our emissions are transportation related.  It was explained that other cities and countries do not always have a climate profile, as they have not devised a methodology that can measure the differences in emissions from 1990 to 2007.  Hopefully, what we can get out of this is more of a concerted political effort to deal with this in a strategic way so when some of our more controversial things like RECO are brought to the Board, it can be set in the context of a response to this report.  Director Blumenfeld stated that public transportation is something that has to be worked through by initiating ballot measures. It was stated that there are many initiatives, but they don’t go far enough to meeting this goal. 

 

Commissioner Martin inquired about the approach that is being taken on the recommendations.  Director Blumenfeld reported that there are specific areas that will be reported on: (1) Recycling is on track towards meeting the goal; (2) Energy has a huge amount to do with the main area of focus on energy efficiency and renewables for existing buildings. Director Blumenfeld explained that targets can be better achieved if (1) every house in San Francisco had solar panels; (2) every house conducted an energy audit and implemented to the letter the report recommendations up to $10,000; (3) all new construction met GreenPoint rated standards; and (4) people would use another mode of transport other than a car to reduce emissions, which would solve 49% of the problem. 

 

Chair Wald asked what the Department is going to do in response to things that they have control over and what the Committee and Commission can do to help.  Chair Wald indicated that one possibility would be for the Environment Commissioners to meet with the Municipal Transportation Commission to discuss problems with HOT lanes.   Director Blumenfeld stated that the Clinton Global Initiative is partnering with Seoul, Amsterdam and others to review how information is gathered around climate indicators.  Ms. Capria and Director Blumenfeld will be working on what the CAFÉ standard is for San Francisco. Toyota reported that more Prius’s are being sold in San Francisco than anywhere else combined which can be used as a calculator.  An effort to get more precise numbers on transit-use indicators would be helpful; e.g., how many people bike to work, etc.  Commissioner Martin discussed the benefits of live-work reducing commute trips to work.  It was recommended that revitalization be done for City areas that do not have everything accessible to them within a three-block radius.  Mr. Broomhead stated that this issue is represented in the Climate Action Plan. Ms. Capria stated that there would be dialogue with the Planning Department in order to incorporate climate change into the CEQA process.  It was stated that there will be an informal interdepartmental team working together and it will be an opportunity to bring in departments that have not been participating in the process. 

 

Commissioner Gravanis asked when a public draft would be available.  Mr. Broomhead advised that the document would become a public document when it is ready to go to the Grand Jury on September 4.   Commissioner Gravanis asked if all of the recommendations would be addressed.  Ms. Capria stated that usually the Civil Grand Jury has very specific recommendations in their reports that are tangible. In this case, details for some of the recommendations cannot be provided in the amount of time given for a response and because of the tangibility of the recommendations, a range in specificity of the answers is expected.  Commissioner Martin asked what happens with the September 4 document.  Ms. Capria stated that the report would go into next year’s tracking system for the continuation report and that the department would be working on some of the recommendations. Ultimately, we want to give the Civil Grand Jury an answer as to how we can meet the goal. 

 

Commissioner Gravanis stated that she would like to see more emphasis on reducing car ownership per capita.  For example, in various references in the report, they are very precise about buying a more fuel-efficient car to replace one that isn’t.  In other places they make it sound that you save the environment by going out and buying a car.  If I buy a Prius, it is not going to help the environment because I do not have a car now.  Mr. Broomhead indicated that half of the energy that an automobile will use in its lifetime is in the manufacturing of the automobile itself. Commissioner Gravanis stated that the fact that cars are bad for the earth is lost.  It was suggested that additional recommendations should be made to encourage MUNI employees to use MUNI to get to work and to eliminate double-parking and parking in bus zones.  Director Blumenfeld recommended that Commissioners work with Ms. Capria on what they would like added to the department’s responses right away before the draft is completed. 

 

Commissioner Martin asked if there are any big glaring omissions, e.g. water was not discussed in the report.  Mr. Broomhead stated that food was not referenced either.  Ms. Capria stated that there are a lot of things probably missing, but not big glaring ones.  Mr. Broomhead stated that food is not counted in the emissions inventory because it is difficult to count.  The current inventory also does not count the amount of plane flights people take in and out of the City.  Commissioner Martin asked if there is a way to list these items so they can be reviewed the next time.  Ms. Capria stated that additional items could be suggested in the responses to the report, when updating the inventory report, or during discussions about what wasn’t included in the Climate Action Plan.  Chair Wald discussed the recommendation not to expand the Airport.  Director Blumenfeld discussed the benefits of high-speed rail and how far behind California is in comparison to Europe.  

 

Chair Wald stated that there was no discussion on providing incentives in the report.  Ms. Capria advised that the report did address Commuter Benefits.  Chair Wald recommended influencing people to take transit by allowing them to ride free one day of the month.  Commissioner Martin recommended the day of your birthday as a possibility.  Mr. Broomhead explained that incentives are difficult because you need a funding stream that supports them, and you want to make sure you are incentivizing something that will produce the desired results and not something that was going to happen anyway.  Director Blumenfeld discussed a previous presentation that was given to the Policy Committee discussing a MUNI class pass that students would receive as part of registration.  It was stated that in Geneva, when you book into your hotel, they give you an equivalent of a MUNI fast past for the duration of your stay.  Commissioner Martin and Director Blumenfeld discussed making it easier to access MUNI, e.g. better access to change, electronic ticketing, or to pay by credit card. 

 

Commissioner Martin discussed educating others within the state and country on our ideas.  Director Blumenfeld reported that there will be a conference in Santa Monica next week to discuss designing laws and practices and also discussed the amount of time and funding required for this effort. Ms. Capri advised that ICLEI has a new survey tool that was designed in an effort to compare information on different projects, implementation costs, etc. but it is not quite right yet—it is either too detailed or not enough information is provided. Mr. Broomhead advised that the Department of Energy had a grant program a number of years ago to help local governments transfer technology and ideas and held regular meetings annually, but funding stopped about eight years ago.  It was reported that we received a solar cities grant and all the cities that have received a grant will have regular networking opportunities to share information.   Director Blumenfeld reported that we are working with ten different entities from BAQMD, MUNI, BART, Norcal, every agency that has some direct role with dealing with climate change. The goal is to have a public outreach campaign so when you take MUNI, put in an energy efficiency measure, etc. you get a sense that you are helping the climate goals for the city. 

 

Commissioner Gravanis discussed the Municipal Transportation Commission’s funding mechanisms for transit-oriented community programs, how they work and if it really relates to San Francisco.  Commissioner Gravanis discussed ways to plan land uses so communities have everything accessible to them within walking distance.  It was stated that it would be relatively easy to do within new developments such as Treasure Island and Hunters Point and would make it easier later to get people to take MUNI, join CarShare, etc. 

 

Commissioner Gravanis stated that the report does not acknowledge that parking is a car magnet and causes congestion and traffic problems.  It does mention the existing-transit first policy, which says that parking policies must be designed to encourage the use of public transit; however, there are no recommendations to strengthen that.  Director Blumenfeld stated that a recommendation could be made that a report should be commissioned to examine the impact of parking on CO2 and to review congestion pricing.  Chair Wald recommended revisiting the idea for charging extra for cars that make a larger than average impact.  Director Blumenfeld advised that the state deals with vehicle license fees, so the city cannot write laws that deal with vehicle license fees at this time.  Commissioner Martin discussed the value of land and why we are we offering the portion of the road that is dedicated to the storage of private vehicles for no fee.  Mr. Broomhead stated that there are studies that show that the more surface area that cities devote to an automobile the less economically competitive the city becomes. 

 

Public Comment:  Ms. Aliza Wasserman, Green Guerrillas Against Greenwash, recommended that all responses to the report should be given in percentages of the total and to give explicit reasons why targets have not been met, listing the specific obstacles.  Ms. Wasserman stated that we should identify the people that should be targeted in order to move goals forward as well as identifying what kind of specific budgets are necessary.  It was suggested that there be a focus on big ticket items—50 recommendations are not going to happen.  If we can get enough political will, we can get a handful of things through. In particular, community choice aggregation is one of those huge big-ticket items.  It was stated that PG&E is obviously doing a huge campaign against this, and the City should stand up for this issue.  Ms. Wasserman discussed the existing technology and huge benefits of electric cars.  It was recommended that San Francisco dealerships be granted permits on the basis of them stocking a certain ratio of electric cars in order to meet a state level zero-emission mandate.  It was stated that the energy tax idea is problematic and not scalable in other cities.  We have to think about how San Francisco as a leader should be looking at policies that can be implemented throughout the country.  Ms. Wasserman recommended imposing an energy tax on PG&E, Chevron, and gas stations, and not giving the responsibility to every individual. Ms. Wasserman disagreed with the report recommendations to focus on public education for individual action in that it is a tactic that PG&E and Exxon uses and there is no evidence that it works.  Ms. Wasserman recommended placing more emphasis on what actual results are achieved from public education.  It was stated that shifting responsibility from the government taking a systemic approach to an individual approach is not the way to go about it.

 

Public Comment:  Ms. Nancy Wuerfel stated that this is a complicated topic that has to be made more manageable to understand for the average person—how do you think about 9.7 million tons of emissions per year and how was that calculated.  Recommendations included (1) having CarShare in neighborhoods where people are, not just downtown; (2) not allowing cars to idle their engines; (3) trip bundling—do not use the car unless you have a minimum of 2 to 4 adventures; (4) enforcing airport expansion limitations; and (5) consider the regional transportation issue.

 

Director Blumenfeld discussed the positive aspects of local tourism and teleconferencing.  Chair Wald stated that high-speed rail is an answer for traveling throughout California. Mr. Broomhead asked how a person would travel once they got to their location by high-speed rail. Ms. Capria discussed the CARB meeting on the Draft of the State 1990 Emissions Inventory, which will be used for the baseline for AB32 and reported that there was a discussion to exclude domestic air travel emissions.  If it is excluded from the baseline, then it is not subject to the cap of AB32.  Their rationale is that is the federal government’s domain. 

 

Commissioner Gravanis recommended that part of the public outreach program should explain what a ton of carbon dioxide is in order to help people visualize the concept.  Ms. Capria stated that the climate-action calculator should be less scientific and more oriented towards action and contain a points system where people could understand the value of an action. Director Blumenfeld stated as an example, what would two million tons that we are trying to reduce do for example?   Ms. Wuerfel asked to explain how many tons would equal how many trees, an entire Amazon basin?  Chair Wald recommended figuring out something that is San Francisco equivalent.  Mr. Broomhead recommended developing literature in order to influence people to move into action--people have to see how their little action will contribute to the whole.  A menu of actions should be developed that people can pick from.  Chair Wald suggested developing a method to track actions (a scorecard) so it counts.  Commissioner Martin discussed the effectiveness of the water bottle pledge.

Public Comment:  Ms. Janice Sitton stated that she is a MUNI rider and does not have a car.  Ms. Sitton stated that oftentimes people do not take MUNI because of the time involved.  It is not about the money or having a free day; it is about how long it takes because time is money.  People are not taking MUNI because they may have an appointment that requires them to be somewhere at a certain time, and MUNI does not always meet the time target.  Ms. Sitton recommended car-free zones similar to Golden Gate Park on Sundays in other areas of the city, e.g. Market Street.  Additional suggestions included (1) getting a rebate for annual fast pass holders to get people to buy into the system; and (2) providing a social incentive—link people together to make behavioral changes.  As more people realize that other people are engaging in a certain behavior, they are more likely to engage in the same behavior. Ms. Capria discussed BART’s social networking campaign that offers discounts and events at different BART stops in order to create a community around these efforts instead of making people feel something is being imposed on them.  Mr. Broomhead reported on a contest for reducing energy use that is explained on www.SFClimateChallenge.org where you can win up to $5000 in prizes. 

 

5.      New Business/Future Agenda Items (Information and Discussion).  Director Blumenfeld discussed the interdepartmental food-working group that includes the Alliance, the Department, Public Heath and others who are working on a City food policy that will be brought to the Commission for discussion at a future meeting.  It was stated that the Slow Food Nation will be holding their first big slow food conference in San Francisco in May.  Chair Wald reported that food was one of the three urban accords that were picked last year and the Commission/Committee heard excellent presentations on this topic.  Director Blumenfeld stated that consideration is being given to requiring everyone that provides food to the City to provide information on the source of the food, e.g. what farm, etc. so that an inventory can be made.  The focus will be first local, small farm, then sustainable, then organic. 

 

Chair Wald reported that the next meeting’s topic would be on wildlife.  Commissioner Gravanis requested that (1) a future agenda checklist be made available; (2) events on City property should include a prohibition on the sale or giving out of single-serve water bottles, and instead providing a large jug of water.  Director Blumenfeld advised that there is an Executive Order that contains this requirement for City events and concessions.  Commissioner Gravanis asked how the Executive Order is being enforced.   Director Blumenfeld advised that vigilance is important, and staff will be providing training for producers in San Francisco.  Commissioner Gravanis requested a discussion on a comprehensive Wildlife Management Plan that would become a product of the Department, Animal Care & Control, Recreation and Park Department, the Police Department and other agencies.  Commissioner Gravanis stated that there should be a mechanism for departments to work together on this effort, which will help implement the nature portion of the Urban Environmental Accords for San Francisco and the Biodiversity Element of the Sustainability Plan.

 

Public Comment:  Ms. Wuerfel suggested that consideration be given to the role of the Animal Welfare Commission in considering this topic in order to avoid Commission/Commission conflict of interest issues.  It was recommended that the Animal Welfare Commission Chair be included as part of the discussion group at the next Policy Committee meeting.

 

6.      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.

 

7.      Adjournment.  The Policy Committee meeting adjourned at 7:15 p.m.

 

The next Regular Meeting of the Policy Committee is rescheduled from Monday, September 10, 2007 to Tuesday, September 18, 2007 at 5:00 p.m., Room 421, City Hall.

 

Approved: 

 

** 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.

 

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