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03.17 Approved Minutes

CITY AND COUNTY OF SAN FRANCISCO

COMMISSION ON THE ENVIRONMENT

POLICY COMMITTEE

 

*RESCHEDULED MEETING

APPROVED MINUTES

 
Monday, March 17, 2008, 5:00 P.M.

City Hall, Room 421

One Dr. Carlton B. Goodlett Place

San Francisco, CA 94102

 

*The Monday, March 10, 2008, 5:00 p.m. Policy Committee Meeting was rescheduled to Monday, March 17, 2008, at 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 Policy Committee meeting convened at 5:05 p.m.  Present:  Chair Wald and Commissioner Gravanis; Excused:  Commissioner Martin.

 

2.      Approval of Minutes of the February 11, 2008 Policy Committee Regular Meeting (Discussion and Action).  Upon Motion by Commissioner Gravanis and second by Chair Wald, the February 11, 2008 Meeting Minutes were approved (AYES:  Chair Wald and Commissioner Gravanis; Absent:  Commissioner Martin) (Explanatory Document:  Draft and Approved Minutes of the February 11, 2008 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.

 

Status Update on the Proposed Aerial Spraying of the Light Brown Apple Moth in San Francisco and the Bay Area (Discussion) (Explanatory Documents Received in Committee Meeting: San Francisco Environment March 17, 2008 Issue Summary on California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) 2007-08 Light Brown Apple Moth Action Plan and Department of Public Health (DPH) Issue Brief March 2008 on CDFA 2007-08 Light Brown Apple Moth Action Plan).

SPONSOR:  Commissioner Ruth Gravanis and Director Jared Blumenfeld

SPEAKERS:  Debbie Raphael, Toxics Reduction Program Manager and

Chris Geiger, Ph.D. Green Purchasing and Integrated Pest Management Programs

 

Commissioner Gravanis reported that she has received public inquiries about the safety and effectiveness of the proposed aerial spraying for control of the light brown apple moth and requested a report on the Department’s position.  Ms. Raphael and Dr. Geiger presented the Department’s Issue Summary and discussed the Department’s position (see Explanatory Document above).

 

Commissioner Gravanis inquired as to the damage caused by the moth.  Dr. Geiger explained that there has been an estimated reported damage of up to 25% to 40% on various crops caused by the light brown apple moth, but that is not necessarily reliable data.  It was reported that the moth is a leaf roller that causes surface scarring on fruit, which causes growers concern because scarred fruit is rejected at market. It was stated that the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) and State’s (CDFA) objective is to try to eradicate the moth before it reaches the Central Valley where there would be a spike in pesticide use.  Ms. Raphael explained the risks of doing nothing; e.g., it could damage the economy, crops, and could lead to a huge amount of pesticide application in the Central Valley.  It was reported that the moth is showing up in the Bay Area in urban areas, and spraying is being done in nurseries as well as restrictions being placed on moving nursery stock around the state.

 

Dr. Geiger explained that the CDFA had issued a Request for Proposal (RFP) for pheromone products which do not pose a threat to environmental or human health, but disrupt the moth’s mating cycle.  Dr. Geiger reported on concern around inert ingredients that could be irritants, but at the concentrations that these would be used in, the risk would be minimal.  It was reported that the Department of the Environment and the Department of Public Health concur with the State’s assessment that there is no serious health hazard, but precautions should be taken when there are uncertainties.  Ms. Raphael stated that she felt that aerial spraying is the most invasive exposure and questioned whether it was necessary.  It was stated that the USDA and CDFA’s goal is eradication so the moth never reaches the Central Valley.  It is believed that aerial spraying is the only way to achieve eradication, but may not solve the problem long-term.  Ms. Raphael asked if eradication is the proper goal and suggested that more options be examined.  It was suggested that Checkmate be used in ground applications, twist ties, on hot spots, but not applied by aerial spraying.  There is a lot of fear around aerial spraying that won’t be solved no matter whether it is safe or not.  

 

Dr. Geiger stated that the pest was found within 11 counties in one year which leads to the belief that there is no way to eradicate it.  If you are only thinking of eradication, you are not thinking of long-term suppression.  The best way to solve an introduced species problem is to bring in classical biological control (natural enemies; e.g. wasp).  It was stated that even though the plan calls for ground-level programs and the parasitic wasp, there does not seem to be a lot of emphasis on those methods.  Ms. Raphael reported that the Department of the Environment’s position is that resources should go towards developing long term biological control and to the immediate targeted applications of pheromones in areas of high concentrations of moths, not into hiring helicopters and airplanes to spray entire urban areas.

Chair Wald asked whether the Department is engaged in discussions with the CDFA.  Dr. Geiger reported that he has attended two state meetings, and there is another public meeting scheduled on Wednesday, March 19 at 9:30 a.m. at the Fox Plaza, 1390 Market Street, Room 227. Meetings were held with local officials, and now a series of Environmental Impact Report scoping meetings are scheduled as well as public education meetings.  Ms. Raphael explained that the Department of Public Health had submitted a good scoping document and is the official point department in terms of hierarchy.  It was explained that the Department of the Environment does have opportunities to weigh in through the EIR scoping.  A recommendation was made that the Commission prepare a statement questioning the effectiveness of aerial spraying and requesting reconsideration of the eradication goal and reinforcing that natural enemies would be the only long-term solution should the pest become established.  Dr. Geiger stated that in Australia, the natural enemies are present.  Dr. Geiger reported that it is not anticipated that the EIR would be completed by August, and there is an emergency exemption that allows for the spraying to be done at that time.  Director Blumenfeld requested that the Department of Public Health’s Issue Brief be added to the Department of the Environment’s website for public information. 

 

Dr. Geiger reported that the USDA and CDFA had pushed out the dates for spraying to August and are talking more about ground options.  Dr. Geiger reported on different methods being discussed to reduce the population such as bait-and-trap.  Director Blumenfeld reported that the state is doing an application of twist ties in Treasure Island.  Dr. Geiger stated that it takes millions of twist ties in the city of San Francisco alone, and CDFA had said this is more than the entire world production and it would take many people to install them.  However, there would be a focus on the key areas which are known to attract the moth, which is Golden Gate Park.  Chair Wald asked if volunteers would require training in order to install the twist ties.  Dr. Geiger reported that twist ties is a professional grade product, and people would need to have basic pesticide safety training, but there may be other obstacles as well.  The application would be effective for about two months.  Dr. Geiger stated that a decision has not been made as to what specific product would be used in San Francisco, and indicated that a pheromone would probably be selected.  It was stated that aerial spraying would probably be implemented several times a year. 

 

Chair Wald asked whether the Department is organizing with other local environment and health departments to share information.  Dr. Geiger stated that he is not doing any organizing other than distribution to the Integrated Pest Management (IPM) group which covers a lot of different agencies.  Ms. Raphael stated that it was a good idea to share work and research that has been done.  Chair Wald noted that there are people who are requesting hearings, public notifications, and certification of safety, but the question should be whether eradication is the right goal.  Commissioner Gravanis asked who would be responsible for public education and information, and Dr. Geiger reported that it is supposed to be the CDFA.  Commissioner Gravanis asked if the state could be called on to do more public education.

 

Ms. Raphael stated that the spray is not supposed to make people sick, but people are reporting that they are getting sick.  Commissioner Gravanis stated that pheromone does not make people sick; however, it is the other ingredients that may be a problem. Dr. Geiger explained that we can’t do an estimate of exposure without knowing the percentage of the ingredients being used. Director Blumenfeld indicated that pheromone may be the best approach.  Chair Wald recommended that the Department of the Environment and Department of Public Health prepare an Op-Ed for public education purposes.  Commissioner Gravanis reported on the University of California Santa Cruz study and asked whether the state had prepared a formal rebuttal.  Ms. Raphael suggested that the Op-Ed request that the state do more public education.  Dr. Geiger reported that the Department of Public Health has taken on the responsibility of tracking adverse health effects from spraying if that is the method that will be used.   

 

Director Blumenfeld indicated that the moth does not damage fruit and that it just leaves blemishes.  A discussion was held on the public’s perception of fruit aesthetics and how that could solve part of the problem.  It was suggested that color photos of fruit be included as part of the Op-Ed in order to educate the public that blemished fruit does not damage the fruit itself. 

 

Commissioner Gravanis requested information on whether the surfactants associated with the spray were tested on other wildlife.  Dr. Geiger reported that there is language to the effect that you should bring your kid’s toys inside as a precaution, and there is a mention of precautionary action that residents should take.    It was reported that the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) supports the pheromone tactic but questions the use of aerial spraying similar to the Department of the Environment’s position.  Commissioner Gravanis asked if there was an estimated time frame for research for finding biological control.  Dr. Geiger reported that it could take a couple of years to find it, bring it back, and screen it.  Then it would take a couple of more years before it is established if you have chosen the right wasp. 

 

Public Comment:  Ms. Janice Sitton stated that she had read A Silent Spring and can’t believe that aerial spraying is still an option after reading that book. Ms. Sitton stated that she is trying to become more educated and understand the moth’s threat to agriculture and what a huge problem that is to the state as well as all of the farmers that do commerce here and in other states and countries.  Ms. Sitton inquired about the best option for dealing with this pest and indicated that she would be willing to put ties on trees and anything she could to avoid spraying if she were properly trained.  Ms. Sitton asked if there is an estimated number of moths in San Francisco, and how that relates to the City’s population.  Would the spraying be over the entire City even though our trees are concentrated in parks?  Dr. Geiger explained that there are hundreds and hundreds of traps all over the state, and the latest tally indicates that they have caught about 11,000 moths statewide.  It is understood that if you can catch that many in a trap, there are thousands more out there. It is an established pest.  Dr. Geiger indicated that from his conversations with the CDFA, they were not planning on doing aerial spraying over the entire city and had a patchwork of techniques.  Their reasons for wanting to do aerial spraying are that pheromones need to be applied uniformly in order to confuse all of the moths instead of some.  Ms. Raphael explained that their goal is eradication so it obligates them to do a uniform spraying.  Ms. Sitton asked if the moth is situated near any particular trees or plants and asked for additional information on the number and location of the moths.  Dr. Geiger stated that the moths target hundreds of different species, and there are problems with it attacking native species.  Ms. Raphael stated that she would include links to other relevant websites on the Department of the Environment’s website. Ms. Sitton announced that she already purchased commercially- challenged fruit. Commissioner Gravanis stated that farmers could help in this effort by putting up a simple display at the Farmers Market that shows a commercially challenged piece of fruit that asks if it is so bad in comparison to spraying.      

 

Ms. Sitton presented a quote “We all live under the haunting fear that something may corrupt the environment where man joins the dinosaurs as an obsolete form of life and what makes these thoughts all the more disturbing is the knowledge that our fate could perhaps be sealed 20 or more years before the symptoms.” 

 

5.      Urban Environmental Accord 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.  Discussion of criteria for selection of the product, chemical or compound (Discussion and Possible Action).

SPONSOR:  Director Jared Blumenfeld

DEPARTMENT STAFF SPEAKERS:  Chris Geiger, Ph.D. Green Purchasing and Integrated Pest Management Programs and Debbie Raphael, Toxics Reduction Program Manager

 

Director Blumenfeld reported that he had attended a regional meeting of all of the cities that had signed the Accords.  It was stated that most of the cities had picked one accord a year, and some two, but they went through the same process as the Department of the Environment.  Director Blumenfeld stated that Ms. Raphael and Dr. Geiger would be discussing what criteria can be used to help determine the selection of a product, chemical or compound, and that selection would be brought back to the Policy Committee at a future meeting for a decision. 

 

Dr. Geiger stated that during initial implementation of the Precautionary Purchasing Ordinance, a score-sheet had been developed to rank and compare product categories that were being purchased by the City and to prioritize the ones that were most important to work on with the City’s green purchasing efforts (Explanatory Document:  PPO/TPC Product Category Score Sheet).  The score-sheet could be used for this purpose as it has broad coverage of useful information that includes details on whether it is a carcinogen, reproductive toxin, whether there are existing ordinances and identifies the potential for national-impact leadership as well as other relevant categories. Ms. Raphael reported that the score-sheet was created after holding well-attended public meetings and through a lot of emphasis on outreach.  Consideration is being given to using the score-sheet as a tool for the Accords.  Dr. Geiger reported that there had been three public meetings to develop the score-sheet as well as work done with consultants to decide what a product category was and then how to fit all considerations into one page.  Chair Wald asked when the score-sheet was developed and how many times it was used in the Precautionary Principle.  Dr. Geiger stated that it had been used only once as an initial prioritization list and that it is reexamined every three years. 

 

Director Blumenfeld asked Policy Committee members for their ideas on what products should be banned.  Ms. Raphael discussed the original San Francisco bill that banned Bisphenol A and phthalates from children’s products.  It was explained that the European Union (EU) had banned phthalates since 1999, and the ban had been strengthened in 2005. It was felt that there was a lot of scientific evidence and pre-existing examples of policy worldwide to stand on to implement the ban locally.  In the case of Bisphenol A no government entity in the world had every ruled against it.  When the EU prepared their analysis recently, they found it was ten times safer than they thought it was originally.  Ms. Raphael stated that they felt that putting the two products together was not good policy and would be too much of a burden on both local retailers and local government, so a strategic decision was made to postpone a decision on Bisphenol A and tighten the ban on phthalates so it could be implemented and carry penalties.  San Francisco and the state had passed their phthalate ban so now a recommendation would be made to suspend San Francisco’s ban as we are preempted by the state, and in addition Senator Feinstein would be proposing a ban at the national level.

 

Ms. Raphael explained that the Department of the Environment is charged with presenting a recommendation on Bisphenol A to the Board of Supervisors.  It was reported that the EU had prepared an assessment, and the United States National Toxicology program is working on their assessment. There is a lot of acceptance in the fact that science has changed in the last ten years, so it is time to look at the new data and make a new determination. The Department asked the Board to wait until the National assessment would be finalized which should be in the next couple of months.  It is believed that the assessment would determine that they are not concerned with Bispenol A.  Ms. Raphael stated that it is important to consider where the risk is biggest and may have the biggest impact and propose a ban in that area, such as polycarbonate baby bottles.  It was suggested that the Commission discuss making a recommendation to the Board to consider alternatives to bans such as asking grocery stores to not stock the product. 

 

Ms. Raphael discussed additional products for consideration e.g., the shiny lining in cans, such as formula and tomatoes, which has been shown to leech out.  It was suggested that a science based alternatives assessment be done on alternatives to dry cleaning solvents. Ms. Raphael explained that wet cleaners are not disclosing the surfactants used in their products.  Director Blumenfeld recommended working on a campaign this year on the packaging of organic products that are sold in hard plastic and styrofoam containers.  Director Blumenfeld indicated that there is more science associated with the score-sheet categories on PVC than in Bisphenol A.   Director Blumenfeld also suggested bromoenol flame retardants as another possibility. Commissioner Gravanis stated that she supports the ideas of targeting certain areas such as baby bottles and working on bromoenol flame retardants and Bisphenol A.  Commissioner Gravanis also suggested consideration of bubble packs.  Ms. Raphael stated that PVC is in a lot of products and is also an environmental justice issue because many of the factories are located in those areas where this product is being produced.  Director Blumenfeld discussed the idea of charging a recycling fee for battery purchases.  Ms. Raphael indicated that she would talk with other colleagues to see if there are other products that are being worked on that cause a disproportionate impact and would bring a list of products back to the Policy Committee for selection.

 

Public Comment:  Ms. Sitton suggested connecting the product selection with reducing waste.   

 

6.      Announcements (Discussion).  Director Blumenfeld announced that the Office of Economic and Workforce Development and the San Francisco Redevelopment Agency scheduled four Hunters Point Shipyard Candlestick community workshops; (1) one was held on Saturday March 15 from 10 – 12 at Bret Harte Elementary Auditorium, 1035 Gilman; (2) Monday, March 17 from 6:00 – 8:00 p.m., SE Community Center; 1800 Oakdale Avenue; (3) Wednesday, April 2, 6 – 8:00 CCSF Evans Campus, 1400 Evans Avenue; and (4) Saturday, April 5th, 10 – 12, Bayview Hunters Point YMCA Gymnasium, 1601 Lane St.  (Explanatory Documents:  Workshop Schedule) Reports on different sections of the plan would be ready for review at the April, May and June Policy Committee meetings.

 

Dr. Geiger announced that the head of the citywide pest control contractor, Pestech, who has been a real innovator on least toxic pest control methods, is now on the statewide Pest Control Board.

 

7.      Election of Vice-Chair (Discussion and Action). Chair Wald nominated Commissioner Gravanis for Vice-Chair who accepted the nomination and seconded the motion.  VOTE:  Ayes:  Chair Wald and Commissioner Gravanis (Absent:  Commissioner Martin). Commissioner Gravanis was elected as Vice-Chair of the Policy Committee.

 

8.      New Business/Future Agenda Items. 

 

Commission Secretary Monica Fish read the following statement from Commissioner Martin:

 

In light of the near-completion of the list of 21 Accords which has been a guiding document to the prioritization of the efforts of the Department of the Environment, I would like to know what is intended to take its place as such a framework.  If there is no specific document or proposal at this time, I would like to hear from Director Blumenfeld at our next Policy Committee meeting on this topic.  I would also like to propose that a Prioritization Framework be created as a living document which reflects existing and proposed sustainability goals and which will lend a larger context to the work of the department as well as efforts of other departments and agencies.” 

 

Director Blumenfeld indicated that work on the accords has not yet been completed.  Commissioner Gravanis stated that the Sustainability Plan would be a logical framework if resources were available to update the Plan.  Director Blumenfeld stated that the Department’s mandates that flow from ordinances, staff, or available funding is included in the three-year Strategic Plan that is updated the first year of each year.  It was stated that the Department could present the Toxics section of the Strategic Plan at a future meeting for discussion as it includes timelines of what would be achieved and how.  The Strategic Plan is located on the Department’s website (PDF) http://www.sfenvironment.org/downloads/library/sustainabilityplan.pdf. 

 

Director Blumenfeld indicated that the Sustainability Plan element on food would be finished after two years of work on the City’s food policy, and lots of other areas are getting done.  In order to be accountable and effective, it is important to have benchmarks.  Director Blumenfeld reported that an intern went through the entire document to work out what had been achieved, what was being worked on, and what would never be achieved.  Committee members were asked for their ideas of what sections of the Plan should be emphasized more such as wildlife and biodiversity, so that a request could be made for additional funding and to determine how the Department or other agencies can work on these items. 

 

Commissioner Gravanis suggested updating the Sustainability Plan to help guide future fundraising efforts.  It was recommended that a mega framework above the Plan be created for items that could be worked on once resources become available.  Director Blumenfeld suggested directing responsible agencies towards a set of goals that would meet sustainability practices.  Chair Wald suggested creating San Francisco accords that would set our own objectives and moving the Sustainability Plan into an Accords framework.  Commissioner Gravanis suggested incorporating the more desirable accords into the Sustainability Plan.  Dr. Geiger stated that the Food Policy contains many good ideas and is a result of a public process.  Dr. Geiger commended the Sustainability Plan in that it is derived from the community; but recommended adding an assignment of responsibility to relevant agencies.  Director Blumenfeld stated that the advantage of the Accords is that it is a short document. Director Blumenfeld recommended identifying three main focus areas to work on in the next three years, setting clear goals, and assigning responsibilities for sections that are missing so things can get done. Ms. Raphael recommended scheduling a future meeting to focus on the Sustainability Plan.

 

Commissioner Gravanis recommended future agenda items that include: (1) Commission’s position and follow-up discussion on Congestion Management Pricing; (2) local government food policy; (3)  Commission’s recommendation on Low Impact Design Guidelines for the Wastewater Master Plan; (4) Adopt strategies to reduce water consumption by 10% in 2015-invite Tuolumne River representative to discuss impacts of current activities on the Tuolumne River Watershed, what the currently proposed water supply program would do to the Tuolumne, and what we would want to weigh in on to increase water consumption to help save the Tuolumne; (5) tidal power update; (6) status of Department’s efforts on pharmaceutical return and buy back; and (2) discussion of a draft outline on the Wildlife Policy framework for the Wildlife Plan. 

 

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 7:00 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 Monica.Fish@sfgov.org.

 

Approved: April 21, 2008

 

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