Monday, December 10, 2007, 5:00 P.M.
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 November 19, 2007 Policy Committee Rescheduled Meeting (Discussion and Action). Upon Motion by Commissioner Gravanis and second by Commissioner Martin, the November 19, 2007 Meeting Minutes were approved (AYES: Chair Wald, Commissioners Gravanis and Martin) (Explanatory Document: Approved Minutes of the November 19, 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.
Public Comment: Ms. Lurilla Harris stated that she is a member of the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC) Citizens Advisory Committee on Water and asked whether the Committee Members would be interested in receiving Committee agendas and minutes. Commissioners Gravanis and Martin stated that they receive agendas, and Chair Wald expressed interest in receiving relevant information. Ms. Fish requested that the agendas be sent to her attention to forward to interested Commissioners.
Ms. Leah Grant, Friends of Potrero Hill, discussed the Recreation and Park Department’s agreement with City Fields Foundation to install artificial, plastic turf over 80 sports fields in San Francisco. Ms. Grant noted her concerns that an Environmental Impact Report (EIR) had not been completed, and that artificial turf is a carcinogenic, plastic product. A concern was also expressed on the adverse impact to existing wildlife and trees as a result of this project. (See Commission Secretary Report Explanatory Document in Agenda Item 8 for background information.) Director Blumenfeld suggested that Ms. Grant contact the Department’s Toxics Reduction Program Manager, Ms. Debbie Raphael, who is researching environmentally preferable astro turf products. Commissioner Martin inquired about the trees that would be removed. Director Blumenfeld stated that Ms. Mei Ling Hui, the Urban Forestry Coordinator, would be consulted about what trees would be removed as a result of this project.
4. Green Roof Bus Shelter Demonstration Project Update. (Discussion) (Continued from the November 19, 2007 Meeting) (Explanatory Document: 120507 Municipal Transportation Authority (MTA) Letter)
Director Blumenfeld reported that the MTA Director recommended that the Green Roof Bus Shelter Demonstration Project propose a three-month Pilot Program to Clear Channel Outdoor (the transit shelter contractor), for review and approval, such as a prototype demonstration using one existing shelter in front of the Main Library on Larkin Street (see Explanatory Document above). Commissioner Gravanis stated that she would advise the Green Roof Bus Shelter Demonstration Project Committee members about MTA’s project recommendations. This agenda item is scheduled for discussion at the January 22, 2008 Commission meeting.
5. Public Hearing to examine strategies and protocols for dealing with future oil spills and other environmental emergencies affecting San Francisco and the Bay Area (Discussion).
SPONSOR: Jared Blumenfeld, Director
SPEAKERS: Vicki Hennessy, Deputy Director, Office of Emergency Services
David Lewis, Executive Director, Save the Bay
Howard Levitt, Chief of Interpretation, Golden Gate National Recreation Area
Director Blumenfeld requested that the recent Cosco Busan oil spill experience be reviewed to determine lessons learned and how the Department and Commission can work with state, federal and non-profit sectors to be involved in future actions.
Ms. Hennessy, Deputy Director of the Office of Emergency Services reported that her department was the coordinator-facilitator for the incident. On the Friday after the Wednesday oil spill, the Office of Emergency Services discussed volunteer opportunities to help clean up the oil spill. It was stated that the only immediate volunteer opportunity that was available through the area’s contingency plan was to go to Cordelia and train on saving birds affected by the spill. This was frustrating to many people who wanted to start volunteering on cleanup efforts immediately. The Office of Emergency Services convened a meeting with a state Fish and Game representative in attendance to discuss additional volunteer opportunities. It was explained that there were legal issues about what volunteers could do and whether the City would be liable if they sent volunteers to clean up beaches without the proper training and supervision. Volunteers could not be sent out without the approval of the Unified Command (the center of the response team). A number of organizations did go out on their own to collect oil and some were very well organized.
On the Saturday after the Wednesday oil spill, the state held a presentation at the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium attended by over 300 people to discuss volunteer opportunities. A press release had been issued before the presentation that indicated that it was not an opportunity to volunteer, but was a workshop on how to volunteer. The Office of Emergency Services took everyone’s contact information and was told by the Unified Command that a volunteer effort could be started on an unaffected beach. The City and County of San Francisco organized by the Department of Public Works started the effort on that Sunday at Heron’s Head Park with over 100 people picking up over 8 ½ tons of garbage, etc. The Animal Care and Control Department and the Audubon Society were there and did find some oiled birds that sought refuge in that area.
In the meantime, at the Unified Command, an agreement was made between the Environmental Protection Agency and the National Park Service that volunteers would be required to have a minimum of a four-hour HAZMAT training and would be sent to beaches in teams supervised by hazardous material training staff. A training event was put together that Monday with 188 people in attendance with a number of agencies participating; e.g., the NPS, EPA, State Fish and Game, SF Connect, and SFPUC hazardous material training staff. The Department of Human Resources and Office of Emergency Services issued credentials to qualified volunteers and names were put in a volunteer database of disaster service workers to access in the future. Additional trainings were held with 1440 people receiving credentials.
Mr. Howard Levitt, Chief of Interpretation, Golden Gate National Recreation Area, reported that he is head of interpretative and educational programs in the park and had been working with the City to help facilitate volunteer efforts on the beaches of the Golden Gate National Parks. It was stated that most of the San Francisco sandy beaches are within the national park. Mr. Levitt commended the Office of Emergency Services, Fire Department, Department of Public Works, Water Department and other participating City departments on their tremendous efforts. It was stated that San Francisco was the first municipality that put together the resources to provide the required training to work with hazardous material. Mr. Levitt explained that absent an initial coordinated public agency response, the agencies managed to coalesce around a Unified Command to figure out complicated legal issues. As a result, temporary credentials that provide workers compensation coverage were issued specific to the Cosco Busan incident. Mr. Levitt stated that in order for a volunteer program to be sustainable, an infrastructure, staff, and resources should be in place to manage volunteers.
Mr. David Lewis, Executive Director, Save the Bay, presented testimony to the Policy Committee (Explanatory Document). Mr. Lewis reported on the outpouring of volunteer interest and the organization’s decision to follow the advice of designated officials to direct their officials and volunteers to Cordelia. A discussion was held on the failure to plan to use trained personnel with relevant skill sets on hazardous material and wildlife and the larger failure to initially prepare for emergencies. Mr. Lewis stated that it was hard to prepare an adequate response geared towards a type of event that very rarely happens; however, emergency responses may have a lot of common elements. It was suggested that the City try to encourage more of a coordinated emergency response and planning effort, not just for man-made hazards such as oil spills, but for other kinds of environmental and natural disasters, such as earthquakes. Mr. Lewis also recommended that volunteers be utilized whenever possible and that education programs be created on tasks that may be needed for all types of emergencies, such as first aid, as well as other non-emergency volunteer efforts, such as tree maintenance, keeping the City clean, etc.
Mr. Lewis suggested that the Oil Spill Response Plan be updated to plan for the use of resources and volunteers. It was recommended that the Commission encourage the Mayor to galvanize emergency preparedness in the Bay Area and suggested contacting the Fritz Institute, an entity that has recently been formed to study how to improve disaster preparedness in the Bay Area and to identify how to include communities and faith based organizations for disaster response. The Institute is focused on earthquakes, but some of the information can be useful for oil spills and other emergencies. It was also suggested that research be done on how to develop partnerships among emergency practitioners from the public, private and non-profit sectors and to create standards for preparedness. Mr. Lewis recommended requesting information from Contra Costa County on their efforts to improve local preparedness for oil spills and to improve existing coordination among existing cities in the county so there could be more prepared volunteers and trained personnel.
Director Blumenfeld reported that Mr. Kevin Drew, Ms. Hennessy and he have been working on how to use volunteers before an emergency in order to reduce the scale of the emergency and how to connect sustainability into the concept of emergency preparedness. For example, every designated emergency shelter would have solar power so that it could run when there was no energy, and every household would be given a sustainability kit for emergencies. A review is also being done on everything from biodiesel, to local food production, volunteer activities, and methods to not duplicate agency efforts.
Commissioner Martin discussed additional considerations such as improving response time, validity of information, creating supplemental San Francisco-specific training programs, coordinating and not duplicating efforts, and lines of communication that are not electronically related. Ms. Hennessy stated that additional methods of receiving information would be from radios and a siren system. Commissioner Martin reported that she has been trained on the NERT program, and that she had not been contacted to volunteer.
Ms. Hennessy discussed the creation of a NERT light program and stated that the Office of Emergency Services is trying to institute community hubs (e.g. designated clinics) for larger emergencies. Mr. Levitt discussed the HAZWOPER (Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response) Light and Super Light trainings. Commissioner Martin suggested that there be a better source for public knowledge of emergency services. Chair Wald recommended adding emergency services information to the telephone book. Mr. Kevin Drew, Department of the Environment Residential Recycling Coordinator discussed his efforts to contact relevant agencies to research what the required resources and staff would be to effectively do this right. Chair Wald suggested contacting Project Connect as they have a large number of volunteers. The San Francisco Volunteer Center, a group that brings all volunteer agencies together and is the clearinghouse for all volunteer information was discussed.
Commissioner Gravanis agreed that the focus should be on volunteers but also stressed the importance of making sure that trained agency personnel have been contacted. Commissioner Gravanis also discussed a Green Connect program’s requirement that in order to sign up to volunteer, you had to give out personal information and sign a waiver that your photograph can be used for any purpose. It was stated that requirement could end up losing a lot of volunteer interest and suggested that other programs refrain from similar measures. Commissioner Gravanis inquired as to who would have access to certified volunteers to deploy for ongoing needs. Ms. Hennessy reported that the Office of Emergency Services houses the database and would have to send an email seeking interest.
Ms. Lurilla Harris stated that she had been through the NERT, CPR, and Red Cross trainings, San Francisco Animal Care and Control and SPCA training for rescuing animals, but neither one of these trainings mentioned oil spills. It was suggested that the Department of the Environment or Commission make the suggestion to relevant agencies to include oil spill training. Ms. Harris expressed her concern that animals were not properly cared for due to bureaucratic barriers.
Mr. Christopher Lyman, Senior Engineer, Aquarium of the Bay Pier 39, reported that the Aquarium pulls its water from the bay and that the water is tested, but methods to extract the PAH’s out of the water are not available. Mr. Lyman stated that it was difficult to assess what is normally in the bay versus what was caused by the Cosco Busan incident, as information was not easily attainable from a designated agency. It was stated that the City lacks fundamental baseline knowledge of what is going on in the bay from day to day; e.g., what is the normal amount of oil in San Francisco Bay? Mr. Lyman recommended that the City of San Francisco create its own organization to do testing and data collection on a daily basis and that could supply information to the public. It was also suggested that a NERT team with sole responsibility to the waterfront be established. Commissioner Gravanis advised that the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) conducts water quality monitoring. Mr. Lyman sated that the PUC does not test for PAH’s. Mr. Lewis reported that the San Francisco Estuary Institute runs a regional monitoring program through the Regional Water Quality Board, is implementing the federal Clean Water Act, and publishes an annual report. However, real time data may not be available. Mr. Lewis reported that a large body of historical data and sampling is available at the Academy of Sciences.
Ms. Leah Grant stated that artificial turf is full of PAH’s which are harmful to people’s health. It was reported that there is pending legislation in New York to ban this artificial turf that will be installed in the Potrero Hill sports fields. Ms. Grant stated that a $185 million bond measure for refurbishment of all the parks will be passed and expressed her concern that the bond does not take account of the proposed artificial turf.
6. New Business/Future Agenda Items (Information and Discussion). Future agenda items discussed included (1) Hunters Point Shipyard and Candlestick Sustainability Plan update--February meeting (Director Blumenfeld); (2) Report on City and County of San Francisco savings from bottled water reduction (Chair Wald); (3) Department of the Environment and Commission assurance of maximum sustainability into the SFPUC Wastewater Master Plan (Commissioner Gravanis); (4) Prioritize three Urban Environmental Accords for 2008—January meeting; (5) Wildlife Plan update; and (6) Carbon tax proposals—January meeting.
7. Announcements. There were no announcements made at this time.
8. Commission Secretary Report on Correspondence Received (Informational Report and Discussion) (Explanatory Document: Commission Secretary Report). Ms. Fish reported on correspondence received that included:
· “Protect America’s Water: Creating a Trust Fund to Keep our Water Clean and Safe” Resolution from Adam Scow, California Organizer, Water-for-All Campaign, and Food & Water Watch.
· Email dated December 8, 2007 from Jill Savery requesting that a Commissioner participate on the Green Team. The Committee Overview is described in the explanatory document.
· Emails and correspondence from Ms. Leah Grant requesting that the Commission oppose installation of artificial, plastic turf over 80 sports fields in San Francisco.
Additional supporting documentation on correspondence received is included in the explanatory document above. Commissioner Gravanis reported that she would review the correspondence on Mr. Adam Scow’s request for Commission support of the Clean Water Trust Fund.
9. 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.
10. Adjournment. The Policy Committee meeting adjourned at 6:45 p.m.
Monica Fish, Commission Secretary
TEL: (415) 355-3709; FAX: (415) 554-6393
** 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 meeting website https://sites.google.com/a/sfenvironment.org/commission/policy-committee with each agenda or meeting minutes, or (3) upon request to the Commission Secretary, at telephone number 415-355-3709 or via e-mail at [email protected].
Approved: January 14, 2008