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01.14 Approved Minutes

CITY AND COUNTY OF SAN FRANCISCO

COMMISSION ON THE ENVIRONMENT

POLICY COMMITTEE

 

REGULAR MEETING

APPROVED MINUTES
 

Monday, January 14, 2008, 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

 

1.      Call to Order and Roll Call.  The Commission on the Environment Policy Committee meeting convened at 5:03 p.m.  Present:  Commissioners Wald, Gravanis and Martin.

 

2.      Approval of Minutes of the December 10, 2007 Policy Committee Regular Meeting. (Discussion and Action) Upon Motion By Commissioner Martin and second by Commissioner Gravanis, the December 10, 2007 meeting minutes were approved (AYES: Commissioners Gravanis, Martin and Wald) (Explanatory Document: Approved Minutes of the December 10, 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.      United Nations World Environment Day Accords—Prioritizing three key actions for adoption by the Commission on the Environment for 2008.  The Committee will receive public comment on what the priorities for the Urban Environmental Accords should be for the third year (Explanatory Document:  Urban Environmental Accords Recommendations and Accord Recommendations Memo) (Discussion and Action).

SPONSOR:  Chair Johanna Wald
SPEAKER:  Director Jared Blumenfeld

 

Commissioner Gravanis volunteered her assistance in updating the Urban Environmental Accords Recommendations document to include more detailed information on (1) additional work that has been done on the accords by various agencies and (2) work that still needs to be done.  Deputy Director Assmann suggested adding links to the Department’s Strategic Plan and related activities by other City departments. 

 

Deputy Director Assmann discussed reasons for not recommending Accords 2, 10, and 13 as follows:

 

Action 2: Energy. Adopt and implement a policy to reduce the city's peak electric load by ten percent within seven years through energy efficiency, shifting the timing of energy demands, and conservation measures.  Reason: The Department of the Environment and PG&E are engaged in a program to achieve 1% efficiency p/y. This accord was not chosen because there isn’t funding to reasonably achieve this goal in a short period of time. 

 

Action 10: Urban Nature.  Ensure that there is an accessible public park or recreational open space within half-a-kilometer of every city resident by 2015.  Reason: Community parks will be added in the coming year, but a baseline is needed to evaluate whether the goal has been achieved.  Mapping is being worked on and will be evaluated to see if the goal has already been achieved. Commissioner Martin suggested consulting the Neighborhood Parks Council on their work on the mapping project.

 

Action 13: Transportation.  Develop and implement a policy which expands affordable public transportation coverage to within half-a-kilometer of all city residents in ten years.  This exists in San Francisco so has been completed.  Director Blumenfeld indicated that he would reflect that this action had been completed in the Accords Recommendation status document and memo.

 

Commissioner Gravanis stated that on Action 19, the Department of the Environment could work with the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC) to assist in educating the public on the concept of green building and low water use, low maintenance, and habitat-friendly landscaping. Commissioner Martin discussed reducing water consumption by water recycling methods and capturing of storm water.  Director Blumenfeld stated that the Department’s Green Building team could work on coordination of this effort.  Deputy Director Assmann stated that Tamar Hurwitz, Department’s School Education program, works on water conservation educational programs in schools.

 

Director Blumenfeld discussed work completed on Action 1 Energy: Adopt and implement a policy to increase the use of renewable energy to meet ten percent of the city's peak electric load within seven years. It was stated that there is $4 million dollars in funding for training programs for at risk youth and former gang members to be solar installers, to become gardeners in the Bayview, and for biodiesel activities. A discussion was held on additional funding mechanisms for energy related work (1) $125 million Energy Bill authorization that would include funding for research and project implementation of green jobs; (2) $7 million a year from the City and County to focus on green jobs, and (3) state funding for energy training and jobs.  Director Blumenfeld stated that a report is being commissioned from San Francisco State University on all the green collar jobs that exist in San Francisco.  In addition, a new Clean Tech Coordinator has been hired that would be spending half of his time at the Department and the other half in the Mayor’s Office of Economic Development. 

 

Chair Wald discussed turning off lights in buildings during evening hours when people are not working.  Director Blumenfeld indicated that the lights are left on for building maintenance.  Cal Broomhead, Energy Manager, discussed the possibility of installing building occupancy sensors.  It was stated that a discussion had previously been held with Unions and the Building Owners and Managers Association (BOMA) on this topic without resolution.  Commissioner Martin suggested adding a requirement to building maintenance contracts.  A discussion was held on providing employer incentives for reducing energy usage.  Director Blumenfeld discussed (1) the Department working on getting approval from the SFPUC for a pilot project to install LED streetlights on an approved street possibly in front of 11 Grove Street and (2) creating a priority work list for discussion with the new SFPUC General Manager.  Chair Wald and Commissioner Martin asked that the Policy Committee review the prioritized list at a future Policy Committee meeting.

 

Commissioner Gravanis requested that on Accord Action 8, “reconstruction” be changed to “restoration.”

 

Asked which product would be chosen for reduction or elimination under Action 16, Director Blumenfeld indicated that Debbie Raphael would be asked to make the selection.

 

Upon Motion by Commissioner Gravanis and second by Commissioner Martin, the Committee recommended the following Urban Environmental Accord Actions for the Commission’s consideration at the January 22 meeting (AYES:  Commissioners Gravanis, Martin and Wald):

 

Action 9: Adopt a policy or implement a program that creates environmentally beneficial jobs in low-income neighborhoods.

 

Action 16: 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.

 

Action 19: Adopt and implement policies to reduce water consumption by ten percent by 2015.

 

5.      Carbon Tax Proposals (Discussion and Action) (Explanatory Documents: Draft Resolution File 2008-02-COE and "The Business Case for a San Francisco Waste Offset Fee".)  
SPONSOR:  Director Jared Blumenfeld
SPEAKERS:  David Assmann, Deputy Director and Melissa Capria, Climate Action Coordinator, Department of the Environment

 

Director Blumenfeld reported that there are three elements to carbon emissions: transportation, building energy, and waste.  It was stated that in order for a carbon tax to be effective, financial incentives have to be created in order to reduce carbon in three of those areas. Energy:  The City has a Utility User Fee (UUF) of 7.5% of a businesses’ energy bill that goes to the City and adds up to $70 million a year. The original thought was to offset the payroll tax with an increase of the UUF fee—if the total amount of revenue and the UUF was $100 million and you increased it to $150 million that $50 million would go to repay everyone paying payroll tax equally.  The issue would be that it would not create any incentive direct relationship between the increase in the UUF and action to reduce energy. One of the current ideas is a way to create a carbon fund with that additional $50 million to pay for energy efficiency and companies that wanted to be more energy efficient could use that money.  Chair Wald suggested researching ways to reward companies for reducing their energy use.

 

Transportation:  Director Blumenfeld discussed structuring the payroll tax in such a way that the employer would pay less payroll tax for those employees who use the commuter benefits program. 

 

Waste:  Deputy Director Assmann discussed implementing a fee on carbon emissions from waste in order to incentivize further reductions and increase diversions from the landfill.  A discussion was held on the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) instrument “Warm Model” that was used to run calculations on disposal of material sent to landfill at the Altamont landfill and by the Presidio School of Management report “The Business Case for a San Francisco Waste Offset Fee.”   It was found that if in 1990, all recyclable and compostable material that went to landfill would have been recycled and composted, carbon emissions would have been reduced by 877,000 tons.  In 2005, if everything was recycled and composted, carbon emissions would have been reduced by 649,000 tons.  There were gains made in 15 years—carbon emissions had been reduced by 228,000 tons by recycling and composting; however it was found that 62 ½ percent of all the waste that is sent to landfill is either recyclable or compostable. 

 

Deputy Director Assmann discussed implementing an offset fee on a per ton basis in order to decrease the amount of material going to landfill. That fee money would be put into a local carbon offset fund.  Methods to achieve that would be to (1) charge a waste offset fee on every ton going to landfill that is either compostable or recyclable; and (2) to use the fee as a vehicle to make sure the City reaches its target of a 75% diversion goal by 2010.  If the target is not met, a waste fee would be charged on the percentage not achieved.  Director Blumenfeld discussed mandatory recycling that would be implemented in the 2011 rate cycle, so that a fee would be charged to those not recycling (commercial and residential). Deputy Director Assmann stated that the funds to reduce waste could also be used for alternative waste reduction programs.  Commissioners discussed working on solutions to illegal dumping.  Chair Wald suggested a virtual warehouse concept for residents. 

 

Director Blumenfeld discussed the Presidio School’s research on looking at the carbon content of purchased items and the possibility of mandating a fee so that consumers are responsible for emissions related to consumption. Chair Wald suggested a public involvement effort to determine how to implement this concept and think of solutions so there is a system in place by 2011.

 

Commissioners discussed editing the Draft Resolution Resolved clause as follows: “Resolved, That the Commission on the Environment supports the concepts of mitigating carbon emissions associated with transportation, waste, and building energy and encourages Mayor Newsom to determine how best to achieve this mitigation through appropriate carbon taxes and other means and how best to expend the funds that are so raised.” Chair Wald suggested adding the Board of Supervisors to the Resolution. Commissioner Martin stated that the Resolution seems to be focused on businesses and recommended emphasizing consumer responsibility. Deputy Director Assmann stated that the waste section would address consumer responsibility. 

 

Commissioner Gravanis requested that there be an understanding that the Department will come back to the Commission with a definition of how the carbon tax that is raised will be expended. Director Blumenfeld stated that the Department would be making a future presentation to the Commission to describe the local carbon offset program that the Department is currently working on and to articulate what the funds would be used for. Director Blumenfeld stated that he would work with one of the Committee members to wordsmith the Resolution to bring back to the full Commission for their January 22 meeting. 

  

6.      Announcements.  New business was discussed during this agenda item.  Commissioner Martin requested a status report on the synthetic turf installation discussed at the December Policy Committee meeting.  Director Blumenfeld presented a recommendation letter that he had sent to the Recreation and Park Department (RPD) General Manager (Explanatory Document: Artificial Turf Letter to RPD).  Commissioner Martin reported that she had received an inquiry from a member of the public asking about the effects of synthetic turf on birds.  Director Blumenfeld stated that the Department has minimal information on this topic at this time. Commissioner Gravanis discussed voters’ possible opposition to Proposition A because of the artificial turf installation project.  It was stated that the language in Proposition A does not require that artificial turf be installed.

 

Chair Wald asked that the newly appointed Climate and City Greening Directors be invited to a future Policy Committee meeting. Commissioner Gravanis requested that SFPUC staff, Ms. Rosey Jencks and Ms. Arleen Navarett be asked to attend a future Policy meeting to discuss the Commission’s additional questions on Low Impact Development (LID) measures as part of the Wastewater Master Plan.  A request was also made to schedule a follow-up discussion to include the Commissioner’s suggestions on San Francisco County Transportation Authority’s (SFCTA) congestion management proposal. Director Blumenfeld stated that the SFCTA may be suggesting a Resolution for the Committee to consider at their February Policy meeting.  Commissioner Gravanis asked that Mr. Michael Cohen do a follow-up presentation on the Treasure Island and Hunters Point Candlestick Plan.  It was stated that the project now has a new name “Bayview Waterfront Project.”  Commissioner Gravanis asked that presentation materials be provided to Commissioners in advance of the meeting for better review.  Chair Wald asked that Commissioner King or a representative from the Bayview Hunters Point Project Area Committee attend the next Policy Committee meeting in order to hear their comments on the Bayview Waterfront Project Plan.  Director Blumenfeld announced that Commissioner Mok would be leaving the Commission and would be replaced with Commissioner Matthew Tuchow.   

 

7.      Commission Secretary Report on Correspondence Received (Informational Report and Discussion). Ms. Fish reported that the Mayor’s Office had requested Commissioner’s Résumés and birth month and days.  

 

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 6:43 p.m.

The next Policy Committee Meeting is scheduled for Monday, February 11, 2008 at 5:00 p.m., Room 421, City Hall.

 

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 Monica.Fish@sfgov.org.

 

Approved: February 11, 2008

 

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