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09.18 Approved Minutes

CITY AND COUNTY OF SAN FRANCISCO

COMMISSION ON THE ENVIRONMENT

POLICY COMMITTEE

 

*RESCHEDULED MEETING

APPROVED MINUTES

Tuesday, September 18, 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

 

*The Monday, September 10, 2007, 5:00 p.m. Policy Committee Meeting was rescheduled to Tuesday, September 18, 2007 at 5:00 p.m.

 

ORDER OF BUSINESS

 

1.      Call to Order and Roll Call.  The Commission on the Environment’s Policy Committee meeting was called to order at 5:10 p.m.  Present:  Chair Wald, Commissioners Gravanis and Martin.

 

2.      Approval of Minutes of the August 13, 2007 Policy Committee Regular Meeting (Discussion and Action).  Upon Motion by Commissioner Gravanis and second by Commissioner Martin, the August 13, 2007 Meeting Minutes were approved (AYES:  Chair Wald, Commissioners Gravanis and Martin)  (Explanatory Document:  Approved Minutes of the August 13, 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.         Draft Wildlife Management Plan for San Francisco.  The Policy Committee will consider requesting that Commissioner Gravanis coordinate the development of a plan to address San Francisco wildlife issues and that a draft plan be brought back to this committee (Discussion and Action).

SPEAKER:  Commissioner Ruth Gravanis

 

Commissioner Gravanis stated that there has been a significant amount of interest in educating people about San Francisco’s wildlife resources.  It was explained that the City has bits and pieces of wildlife plans and policies; e.g., an out of date Biodiversity Section in the Sustainability Plan and segments in the City’s General Plan, Recreational and Open Space, and the Environmental Protection Element of the Master Plan, but there is not a comprehensive wildlife plan.  Commissioner Gravanis discussed the idea of creating such a plan and what it would require; e.g., scoping of the plan, writing grant proposals for funding, recruiting interns to start gathering background data and the various pieces that currently exist, and putting together plans for public outreach and relevant agency involvement.  Commissioner Gravanis stated that she is willing to volunteer her time to work on a plan with the Committee’s approval.  Commissioner Martin requested that the plan include a study of wildlife habitat. Commissioner Wald asked that emphasis be given as to how the Urban Environmental Accord that references wildlife can be integrated into the project. 

 

Public Comment

 

Ms. Sally Stephens, Animal Control & Welfare Commissioner and Chair of SF Dog, spoke personally, not as a Commissioner, stating that wildlife management is not within the purview of the Commission of the Environment; it is in the purview of the Animal Control and Welfare Commission.  Ms. Stephens reported that the Animal Care & Control Department and the Commission engaged in a recent discussion about making changes in the way wildlife is approached and would be working on policies and plans. The Commission on the Environment was encouraged to work on this plan in conjunction with the Animal Control and Welfare Commission and the Animal Care and Control Department, as they are the ones that are called when there is a problem with wildlife and have been selected because they have expertise and interest in wildlife.  Commissioner Martin asked Ms. Stephens if habitat is in the purview of the Animal Control & Welfare Commission and Department.  Ms. Stephens stated that it is not explicitly unless it impacts animal welfare.

 

Ms. Danyielle Yacobucci stated that she had contacted Mr. Carl Friedman, Director of the Animal Care & Control Department who was surprised that the Commission on the Environment’s Policy Committee is considering taking on this responsibility without notifying him or the Animal Control and Welfare Commission.  Ms. Yacobucci felt that the Department and Commission should be advised of any program or policy that the Commission on the Environment might undertake that deals with wildlife or animals.  Concern was expressed with the controversy that this type of plan might cause.  Ms. Yacobucci requested that the SPCA, who is another animal expert, be involved during the plan’s creation and asked that the Audubon Society not be allowed to lead this effort as they had on the Natural Areas Plan.  It was also explained that the public would usually look for animal issues on the Animal Control & Welfare’s Commission’s agenda, not the Commission on the Environment’s.  Ms. Yacobucci asked that the Recreation and Park and Police Departments be involved.  It was also requested that this effort not stay at the Committee level for a long time before it is forwarded to the full Commission.

 

Ms. Nancy Wuerfel stated that she would want to identify what problem is being addressed and expressed the following concerns: (1) that the Wildlife Plan would be as immense of an effort to work on as the Quail Recovery Plan; (2) the Animal Welfare and Control Commission/Department would not be the lead agency; (3) that there was no purview or financial resources allocated to the Department of the Environment to create the plan.  Ms. Wuerfel stated that she would be looking carefully at how the Plan would be put together and working with auditors to make sure that there is no waste of resources that is not part of the Department’s charge.  Ms. Wuerfel inquired about the long-term implementation, whether it would go the Board of Supervisors for adoption, and whether City departments would be in charge of implementing and funding the plan.  It was also asked how the Urban Environmental Accords would be interpreted along with this effort and questioned the need, the mechanism, implementation and money. Ms. Wuerfel asked that the City Attorney’s Office provide an opinion as to how this issue would correlate to the interest of the Animal Control and Welfare Commission.

 

Mr. Peter Brastow, Nature in the City, stated that he supports the Department of the Environment’s effort to create a Wildlife Management Plan as it is the umbrella of environmental policy for the City and staff analysis is critical.  It was stated that the City should have a set of comprehensive policies that deal with wildlife habitat as it only has bits and pieces of information everywhere, but not in a single place, as a single eco-system in terms of wildlife ecology and our variety of wildlife habitats. Mr. Brastow agreed that there should be coordination with all the other appropriate Commissions in the City, and people should be brought together in the appropriate ways at the right time to put together the best product and process.  It was stated that creating the plan would be a really good way to move Accord 12 forward and ties together nicely discussions about backyard habitat, interagency cooperation, mapping, etc.

 

Ms. Lurilla Harris stated that if the Animal Control and Welfare Commission had this idea previously, they would have begun work on a plan and commended Commissioner Gravanis for her idea to create such a plan.  Ms. Harris stated that all of the groups involved in wildlife should be brought together, but does not think that the Department of Fish and Game should be encouraged to attend, work in the city, and shoot any more coyotes. 

 

Ms. Nancy Stafford stated that the Animal Control and Welfare Commission would be able to better serve this program as their jurisdiction includes wildlife issues and have already been presented with plans developed by experts on wildlife management. Ms. Stafford asked who the Department of the Environment would consult on this plan, who would be responsible, and how would it be funded.  It was requested that unbiased scientific sources should be consulted as well as outside experts from other cities and other urban areas. 

 

Ms. Andrea O’Leary encouraged the Policy Committee/Commission on the Environment to take on this effort and stated that it was the appropriate place for it to happen, as it is an environmental concern.  Ms. O’Leary felt that there would be a lot of support for the Committee/Commission.  It was stated that drafting of the Plan should not go to the places it has already been to in terms of animal management in the City; e.g. the Recreation and Park Department who is more concerned with recreation and are not the experts. Ms. O’Leary stated that the issue is about how domesticated humans can be integrated into the wildness in our midst.   

 

Commissioner Gravanis reported that she intends to request input from all of the involved agencies from the very beginning. It was explained that a colleague spoke with Mr. Friedman recently about working with this Commission, the Department, and other relevant departments on this effort, and she was surprised that he remarked that he was surprised that the Policy Committee would be considering this plan.  Commissioner Gravanis stated that wildlife fits into the purview of the Commission of the Environment as biological diversity is one of the essential elements of sustainability, and sustainability is what the Department is all about.  Commissioner Gravanis stated that wildlife and habitat could be the start of a larger biodiversity plan.

 

Commissioner Gravanis explained that this effort would not duplicate the Recreation and Park Department’s work on the Natural Areas Plan as that plan only deals with recreation and park properties and wildlife is throughout the entire city. The issues go beyond the purview of the Recreation and Park and Animal Care and Control Departments.  It was also explained that the coyote is one of the most dramatic examples right now, and if coyote issues are entirely being taken care of by Animal Care and Control, then they don’t have to be studied in this process.  It was explained that funding is required and grant proposals have to be written, but preliminary work has to be done before that. 

 

Commissioner Gravanis explained that she envisions a series of recommendations to stakeholders and relevant agencies, and that no unfunded mandate would come out of this effort.  It was stated that one of the things that the Department is supposed to be doing is updating the Sustainability Plan, and that wildlife would be an excellent place to start on updating the Biodiversity Chapter. The Wildlife Plan would also help fulfill Accord 12, which is in the purview of the Department of the Environment.  Commissioner Gravanis reported that she would have to write a grant to hire experts in this field and would rely on scientific studies to base recommendations that come out of this project.

 

Director Blumenfeld stated that the Department of the Environment does not have funding at this time for the Wildlife Plan, but that a discussion has been held on how Commissioner Gravanis could go forward; e.g., to work with interns who would help write funding proposals.  It was explained that City resources would not be expended until they existed to expend. 

 

Chair Wald asked if this item would have to go to the Commission for approval.  Director Blumenfeld stated that the first task is to determine what needs to be done and then bring the information back to the Policy Committee.  It was explained that it is in the Committee’s jurisdiction to ask a member to work on this effort.

 

Upon Motion by Commissioner Martin and second by Chair Wald, the Motion to request that Commissioner Gravanis pursue creation of a Wildlife Plan for San Francisco was APPROVED. (AYES:  Chair Wald, Commissioners Gravanis and Martin).

 

5.         Carbon Credit Program.  The Policy Committee will hear a presentation and hold a discussion on a carbon credit program that would provide projects in San Francisco limits and could be purchased by citizens, businesses and visitors (Presentation and Discussion).

SPONSORS:  Commissioner Johanna Wald and Director Jared Blumenfeld

SPEAKERS:  Cal Broomhead, Energy Program Manager; Melissa Capria, Climate Action Coordinator; Center for Resource Solutions Representative

 

Director Blumenfeld stated that what is lacking at any level of government is a policy on what are good credits, what are credits that make sense, what credits should be bought, and at what period does it make sense to buy a credit.  Financial Times estimates that by 2010 it will be a 10-billion a year voluntary market so it is a huge market of people that are buying offsets with no regulation.  It was stated that the Intent today is to initiate a discussion with this Committee and eventually the Commission on defining a City policy for carbon offsets, how offsets would be measured, defining additionality, and whether it should it be local or global. 

 

Mr. Broomhead stated that there are several areas where things become inexact and people begin to question the validity of the carbon credit program.  The first area is how to calculate the amount of carbon that you are trying to offset, and then, what do the projects look like, what kind of protections and standards are in place to make sure you are getting the offsets that you claim that you are getting.  Mr. Broomhead introduced Mr. Lars Kvale from Creative Resource Solutions who has helped other organizations develop their procedures around carbon credits and would be making a presentation today.

 

Ms. Capria discussed calculators that people and City departments may use.  A discussion was held on what we already do in terms of quantifying emissions from the city from municipal operations, residential, and business sectors. There are two different methodologies that are being used right now, one is for municipal emissions using California Climate Action Register software, which is an online tool where we enter all our electricity use, therms for natural gas, etc. and get other detailed accounting of our emission sources, and then a third party verifier certifies our emissions.  The second tool is a calculator called the Clean Air and Climate Protection software that was developed by ICLEI Local Governments for Sustainability, which has two components.  One is an inventory component, which is used to measure total emissions on an annual basis that is based on aggregate information about electricity use, therms for natural gas, transportation and waste.  The other side of the tool has a component for measuring emissions reduction.  If there is a specific project, e.g. a project to switch to biodiesel use, we can make a comparison of what emissions would be using biodiesel to regular diesel, and then determine what the emissions reduction benefit would be. 

 

Ms. Capria discussed the type of calculator that would be used to measure something like air travel in order to purchase offsets.  The principles and calculator would be the same one used for a project. It was explained that there are all kinds of calculators available ranging from very simple to more complex.  Ms. Capria stated that Mr. Kvale would discuss some of the pitfalls in using different methodologies and giving examples of the different ranges of calculators.  There is a report that Tufts University issued on assessing calculators for air travel, and they found that from using ten different calculators for the same flight information from Boston to Frankfurt round trip, that the range was from 1 ½ tons to about 4.14 tons.  Ms. Capria explained that we should identify the method that we want to use and to also rely on experts and expertise to balance accuracy with being user friendly.

 

Mr. Lars Kvale, Center for Resource Solutions presented an overview on offset issues discussing topics that included: 

 

·         Background on Center for Resource Solutions, a non-profit organization, focusing on environmental issues, renewable energy, energy efficiency and greenhouse gas policy.  The Center for Resource Solutions wants to make sure that in this voluntary market, that consumers that are spending their money on buying renewable energy get what they are paying for and expect.

·         Definitions of Offsets and Offsetting.

·         Project types to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

·         Issues to do with Offsets:  (1) Additionality (determining if projects are eligible for credits by performing additionality tests); (2) Technical (how to actually calculate the emissions reductions from these projects); (3) Double Counting (ownership of credits—will someone else be claiming these credits for these reductions?).

·         Additionality Tests:  Why did this project happen, how to determine additionality—financial additionality, benchmarks, and barriers.

·         Technical:  How do you calculate emission reductions: international protocol guidance and requirement for independence between the project developer and verifier.

·         Double Counting:  (1) Who gets credit? (2) Interaction between voluntary action and government policy: mandates and emission caps.

·         Process: (1) making it transparent as possible, develop policies with stakeholders, (2) substantiate all claims; (3) future green house gas reductions or real time.

·         Cheap or Expensive Offsets:  is it better to have cheap or expensive offsets?  Cheap offsets may bring in more people in the marketplace, but the question is whether the offsets are legitimate if they are cheap.  Expensive offsets are easier to drive new projects because prices that were not previously feasible may now be, but can the market really support this?

 

Director Blumenfeld asked if the Center for Resource Solutions is close to developing an additionality standard.  Mr. Kvale stated that standards are developed through a stakeholder process and there has not been an agreement.  A discussion was held on various tests that are used to determine additionality; e.g., if it would be a requirement to put solar panels on your roof by legal mandates through a state or legal policy, no credits would be issued.  Another test is a timing test—projects that happened in the mid 1990’s are not eligible because there was not a greenhouse gas market then.  The year 2000 was adopted by the Clean Development Mechanism, which came out of the Kyoto Protocol that came out of the United Nations initiatives to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.  Mr. Kvale explained that it has been left up to the marketplace and the protocols that are being developed to demonstrate which one of the tests to use.  It was stated that some additionality tests are better suited for some sectors than others.

 

Director Blumenfeld asked if there is a percentage of total cost for each ton for financial additionality.  Mr. Kvale stated that has not been determined and is one of the difficulties.  An example of determining financial additionality included: most people that install solar panels are not doing it to make money, but to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. They would receive tax deductions and incentives, but are not making money from the project.  Would that be considered an additional project?  It does not qualify for financial additionality because you are not installing the solar panels to make a financial profit. You would qualify if your purpose for installation would be to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

 

Chair Wald explained that when you are purchasing carbon credits, you would not own anything, but you would be spending money for psychic satisfaction.  Mr. Kvale explained that it is the idea that a public good has been created by being part of reducing greenhouse gas emissions.  Director Blumenfeld asked if it is a transferable right.  Mr. Kvale stated it is in terms of the way the markets function for voluntary and compliance markets that you trade the credits back and forth.  Chair Wald stated that the city would get a reduction that could be pointed to, calculated, and relied on from our municipal greenhouse gas emissions reductions.  Director Blumenfeld stated that we would be doing something that would have a tangible benefit for the City and discussed the benefits of some projects over others; e.g., planting a tree would have additional benefits other than CO2 reduction.  Mr. Kvale stated that there are protocols for every project being established.  

 

Commissioner Martin requested a list of items that the City would like to achieve; e.g. everyone using Energy Star appliances and suggested that she could brainstorm creating programs toward specific items on the list.   Mr. Broomhead stated that one of the ideas to fund a video conferencing center so city employees who would normally travel to conferences can use the facility instead.  Chair Wald stated there would have to be a facility at the other end also.

 

Commissioner Gravanis stated that it was noted that the idea of buying offsets should only be done as a last resort and discussed a verification process as to whether the initial emission would be avoidable in the first place before offsetting is considered.  Commissioner Gravanis inquired about the validity of PG&E’s “Climate Smart” offsets as she did not find information on their projects on their website. Ms. Capria stated that the Department is participating in the Advisory Committee and involved in the CPUC proceedings, and that all of PG&E’s offsets are through the California Climate Action Registry.  It was requested that more research be done on carbon sequestration before including it in the program.  Commissioner Martin stated that people should first consider avoiding a particular action, then decreasing, and then offsetting.

 

Mr. Broomhead suggested working on a process for the policy areas and then bringing back recommendations to the October 22 Policy Committee to discuss options.  It was stated that once all the policy areas are included, that recommendations could be brought to the Commission.

 

Public Comment

 

Mr. John Behanna. P.E. stated that he is working on a project where they are building a community of about 10,000 and are projecting 10-megawatt peak demand and inquired whether he could negotiate with PG&E to offset their carbon credits or get carbon credits for using equipment that would cut down about 30% of the energy demand.   

 

Ms. Lisa Vittori stated that trees are being cut down for public projects, e.g. Powhattan, Bernal Heights, and City College to build a Health Center.  Ms. Vittori stated that people receive more points for planting small trees than preserving mature trees and would like to see more incentives for planting and the preservation of mature trees.  It was stated that there are the same number of trees in San Francisco as there were 20 to 30 years ago as there are so many incentives for cutting and replanting.  Ms. Vittori stated that greening the streets makes them more walkable and has its own rewards. 

 

Ms. Anne Eng, Department of the Environment introduced Ms. MeiLing Hui, the Department’s new Urban Forestry Specialist.  Ms. Eng discussed the Environmental Justice Program’s support of energy efficiency programs and remarked that the carbon credit offset program is a lot more complicated than she envisioned, especially since we don’t have control of PG&E’s transmission system or power generation facility.

6.      New Business/Future Agenda Items (Information and Discussion). 

 

Commissioner Martin stated that she would like to hold a discussion on food security related to the Urban Environmental Accord on food policy and would prioritize this item after reviewing other future agenda items that are scheduled. Commissioner Gravanis discussed the need for an ongoing checklist of agenda items and expressed interest in hearing a report on the backlands project. Chair Wald had explained that a list had been created and recommended that the list be updated to include additional information; e.g., separating the Urban Environmental Accord agenda items from general interest items, creating ongoing status reports on each Accord, and possibly changing the list to landscape format. It was also requested that each agenda item include the Accord that it refers to. Commissioner Martin asked to review the checklist to determine priorities and asked to review transcripts from previous meetings on the food policy.  Commissioner Martin discussed a possible agenda item on door hanger advertisements/solicitations.  Chair Wald discussed the placement of free newspapers in plastic bags and methods to have newspapers stop doing so. 

 

7.      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. 

 

Ms. Lisa Vittori stated that there seems to be an unfortunate split between the animal welfare and environmental community that is a false split.  Ms. Vittori stated that she would like the animal people who are also environmentalists to work more constructively with the Native Plant Society and the Department of the Environment and noted the benefits to constructive collaboration. 

 

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

 

Approved: October 22, 2007 

 

** 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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