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06.09 Approved Minutes

  

CITY AND COUNTY OF SAN FRANCISCO

COMMISSION ON THE ENVIRONMENT

POLICY COMMITTEE

 

REGULAR MEETING

APPROVED MINUTES
 

Monday, June 9, 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 (Vice-Chair), Jane MarieFrancis Martin

ORDER OF BUSINESS

Public comment will be taken before the Committee takes action on any item.

 

1.      Call to Order and Roll Call.  The Policy Committee meeting convened at 5:05 p.m.  Present:  Chair Wald, Vice-Chair Gravanis and Commissioner Martin.

 

2.   Approval of Minutes of the May 12, 2008 Policy Committee Regular Meeting. (Discussion and Action) Upon Motion by Vice-Chair Gravanis and second by Commissioner Martin, the May 12, 2008 Meeting Minutes were approved without objection (Explanatory Document: May 12, 2008 Draft and Approved Minutes).

 

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.   Results of Construction Demolition Debris Recovery Ordinance No. 27-06. (Informational Report and Discussion) (Explanatory Document: Ordinance No. 27-06) SPONSOR:  Jared Blumenfeld, Director; SPEAKER:  Mary Williams, Construction and Demolition Recycling Coordinator

 

Director Blumenfeld reported that the Department of the Environment, Building Inspection, and Norcal put a lot of effort into getting the Ordinance passed and that it took about three years of planning to make it a reality. Director Blumenfeld introduced Ms. Williams who has been working on implementing the ordinance through education and outreach to contractors and related entities.

 

Excerpt from Informational Report by Ms. Williams: Ms. Williams reported that the Construction and Demolition (C&D) Debris Recovery Ordinance created Chapter 14 of the Environment Code and has affected the Building, Health, and Police Codes.  Part of the Ordinance requires that the Department report to the Commission within two years of the effective date on the results of the Ordinance including quantity recovered from landfill and recommended amendments to the Ordinance.  Ms. Williams reported that that San Francisco is a leader in environmental issues with this Ordinance and the Department has received a lot of inquiries from around the country.

 

Ms. Williams provided a background summary of the Ordinance.  It was stated that the Ordinance took effect on July 1, 2006, and that Ms. Williams started work implementing the Ordinance on August 1 of that same year.  The Ordinance requires that no construction and demolition debris can be put in garbage or taken to a landfill, and that the debris needs to be recycled or reused.  There are a couple of ways that can be done (1) source separation at the job site, which means a particular commodity is separated from everything else and is taken to a facility that will recycle or reuse that material; and (2) other debris which is mixed debris has to be handled differently and has to be taken to a registered facility (facilities that have proven that they can divert (recycle) at least 65% of the material). The mixed debris has to be taken to a registered facility by a registered transporter and nearly everyone that is hauling debris needs to be registered.  The Ordinance is streamlined because it does not require that any forms be filled out or any deposits be made with one exception of a Demolition and Debris Recovery Plan, which is a form that the applicant has to fill out and get approved by the Department of the Environment before the Building Department will issue a full demolition permit. This form applies only to full demolition of buildings, and not to remodeling or tenant improvement works. 

 

Ms. Williams reported that when the Ordinance began, there was no infrastructure, so handouts were created for different activities. The Department of Building Inspection (DBI) supplies a handout with every building permit that they issue that is a good information tool about the Ordinance.  After outreach material was created, potential facilities and transporters were contacted by phone to inform them of the Ordinance.  Databases were created to record each and every contact of potential transporters or facilities so there is a record of every company and who has been contacted. A lot of outreach efforts have been achieved to try and educate and inform interested parties, not only potential transporters, etc. but also contractors, architects, etc.     

 

Ms. Williams reported that there are nine registered facilities at this time.  In order to get registered, an application has to be filled out telling the Department about the amount of mixed debris that is received, what is done with it, how it is processed, where it goes, and calculations must be supplied to prove that 65% of the material can be diverted from landfill.  After the application has been reviewed, a site visit is done to verify what is really being done, and an interview takes place where there is discussion about markets and where the material is being taken.  If the information supplied is correct, the facility receives a certificate of registration that is good for two years. 

 

The Ordinance also requires annual facility inspections and for facilities to provide annual reports to the Department.  Facilities are contacted periodically in order to ask questions and to ask whether they have found new markets, etc. The first facilities were registered in September 2006 and the first transporters in November 2006.  Thanks to a lot of volunteers who have helped to do cold calling, the Department has registered 184 transporters from 14 counties, the farthest being in Leggett, California (Mendocino County).  Volunteers and Department staff have made nearly 1700 “touches” to potential transporters alone, so it has been a huge effort to reach those people as it may take four to six calls to get someone’s attention and get them registered.  Ms. Williams reported that at this time, 38 applications (The Demolition Debris Recovery Plan) have been approved since DBI started enforcing that part of the Ordinance.  Some of the final reports as required by the Ordinance showed a diversion rate as high as 87% - 97%. 

 

Chair Wald asked what is required to be a registered transporter.  Ms. Williams explained that you need to agree to abide by the Ordinance and that it applies only to transporters with a larger size truck or dump truck, so homeowners or someone with a small pickup truck does not need to register.  A copy of the registration certificate has to be kept in transporter’s truck, and the transporter is required to keep receipts provided from facilities where mixed debris is taken.  A request for receipts from different job locations may be requested as part of enforcement.

 

Ms. Williams stated that a comparison was made on diversion results or quantity recovered from landfill for calendar years 2006 and 2007. It was explained that 2006 is the year the Ordinance started and even though it took effect in July, it wasn’t up and running until towards the end of the year, so that year was used as the base figure.  A review was conducted on the tonnage that was going from San Francisco to San Mateo landfills.  That location was selected because a huge amount of C&D material is routed there; it is close by, and would be the logical place for people to go.  For 2006, San Mateo County received over 88,000 tons of material from San Francisco.  When that figure was compared to the 2007 figures, there was a decrease of nearly 13,000 tons or 15% of the material from San Francisco that went to San Mateo County landfills as a result of the C&D Ordinance.  For the same two-year period, the Department looked at the mixed debris tonnage that the registered facilities had taken in.  At the end of 2007, for the six registered facilities at the time (there are currently nine), the difference between 2006 and 2007 was an increase of 25¼%--26,300+ tons. In summary, since August 2006, the Ordinance is successful, materials have been diverted from landfill, and there has been an increase in the mixed debris that is going to registered facilities. Because of this success, there are no recommendations to change the ordinance at this time.

 

Vice-Chair Gravanis asked if there was an incentive for a project sponsor to deconstruct rather than demolish thereby allowing the reuse of some of the building materials, and whether there was anything built into the Ordinance to do so.  Ms. Williams stated that the Ordinance addresses only construction and demolition, not reuse, with the exception of promoting the highest and best use, but there is no requirement or suggestion for deconstruction.  Vice-Chair Gravanis and Commissioner Martin suggested looking toward reuse in the future.  Mr. Robert Haley, Recycling Manager reported that Ms. Williams is reuse oriented, has experience and is providing education on reuse.  Ms. Williams reported that part of her outreach efforts has been to talk to contractors and big construction companies and their managers, and reported that many people are inspired to reuse but there are hurdles such as space, time and know-how.  Mr. Haley stated that there can be tax benefits, so there are ways to make it work.  Commissioner Martin asked if the Department currently provides outreach and education to people who are seeking to reuse but don’t know how.  Ms. Williams stated that she informs people of what she knows and gives them contacts of people to talk to.  It was explained that the Department’s website “Eco-Finder” is another good resource.

 

Commissioner Martin asked to summarize the effect of the Ordinance on the Police Code.  Ms. Williams stated that the Police Code is mostly about including the Ordinance requirement in their enforcement procedure.  Commissioner Martin asked if there is a relationship with this Ordinance and illegal dumping.  Ms. Williams stated it would probably be classified under litter in the Police Code.  It was reported that even though there are no up front fees and forms, there are severe penalties for non- compliance, up to $1000 a day for the first infringement, up to $5000 a day for the second, and then there is the possibility of a jail sentence.

 

Commissioner Martin recommended providing incentives for local transporters and facilities and asked if there is a list of available haulers that can be referenced.  It was stated that through outreach efforts, a C&D information page that includes an updated list of transporters and facilities has been added to the Department’s website.  Ms. Williams reported that one of the transporters registered in Hollister reported to her that he does not really come to San Francisco, but is registered as a backup for someone he does business with.

 

Chair Wald asked whether consideration had been given to extending the program to projects that only involved partial demolition. Ms. Williams reported that the Ordinance applies to all projects in San Francisco that are recycling or diverting the material from landfill, so it is illegal to take any material from any project to landfill or to put it in the garbage.  It is only in the case of a full demolition, that a person would have to fill out the form and indicate how they are going to divert the material. Mr. Haley reported that they did not want to do a lot of forms, but full demolition is where they felt the form could be helpful and the ordinance could be managed in a non-bureaucratic way.  Mr. Haley stated that he would prefer not to extend the forms if possible.    It was stated that DBI already was using a full demolition permit form and there aren’t others being utilized at this time, so if more forms were created, it would require additional staff that are not currently available to handle the implementation of the Ordinance. 

 

Director Blumenfeld reported that when you think conceptually of getting to zero waste or to the 70% diversion rate, a huge percentage of that target is brought about through C&D material, so it is not an insignificant issue. It was explained that the number one priority is how to make sure less material goes to the San Mateo landfill facility. Commissioner Martin stated that deconstruction may be an answer to that goal.  Director Blumenfeld reported that deconstruction at Treasure Island on a few small buildings was attempted, and it was determined that it would take too long and cost too much. Ms. Williams reported that she had attended a house deconstruction in Atherton where they got over13 tons of wood from that house, but it was a long and tedious process. 

 

Commissioner Martin asked if there would be any obvious refinements to the process of sorting at the facility.  Ms. Williams stated that the facilities do not pull out material for reuse.  Chair Wald asked if plans could be developed so that there is consideration for reuse.  Ms. Williams discussed the infeasibility due to the time required for approval of a demolition permit.  It was explained that approval of a demolition permit oftentimes requires other department permit approvals and a requirement for notification to neighbors. An estimate of a completion date of the demolition may be given, but it often exceeds that.  Commissioner Martin stated they could use that time to plan out the demolition methodically.  Mr. Haley reported that there are a lot of cities that require plans, but none of them have addressed deconstruction very well through the planning process as it takes a lot of time and a lot of people.  It was suggested considering how to promote reuse without a plan as DBI does not want to take more time on the projects. 

 

Director Blumenfeld reported that the Department rents a site from the Port called Building Resources where people could bring their doors, windows, etc.; but indicated that there isn’t a market for purchasing reused material.  Mr. Haley reported that Treasure Island is the perfect place for a reuse project as feasible buildings have been identified, but there are challenges being reviewed that include a lack of facilities in the area, problem material such as asphalt shingles that goes to landfill, and a limited market for reuse. 

 

Ms. Williams reported on the large number of companies that have no knowledge about the Ordinance.  Ms. Williams explained that twice a month, she hosts a table at the DBI Central Permitting Counter in order to talk to people before they get their permit.  Ms. Williams stated that she had started calling from the yellow pages and other leads, but a lot of companies do not advertise.  It was reported that information from the Tax Collector’s office is not always fruitful because people oftentimes identify their business as “other” when applying for business licenses.  Chair Wald suggested asking the people at the landfill to hand out brochures as an outreach mechanism.  Mr. Haley stated that landfill employees or owners have been approached with this request, but have a disinterest because it does not coincide with their business interests.  Commissioner Martin suggested posting an informational sign close to the landfill. Mr. Haley stated that the City does not have authority over the San Mateo landfill as it is not in its jurisdiction. 

 

Director Blumenfeld reported that the Commission on the Environment would receive a report on the C&D Ordinance at their next meeting in July.

 

Public Comment 

 

Mr. Todd Lewis, Omega Pacific Electrical Supply, stated that there is a list of haulers on the City’s Small Business website as well as a list of contractors, suppliers, and firms from related disciplines. Ms. Williams reported that she had made a presentation to the Human Rights Commission in front of that group of people and they have the literature.  Mr. Lewis stated that email addresses are on that list as well.  Ms. Williams stated that she would follow-up.

 

Ms. Janice Sitton of Good Green Graces reported on Northern California Recycling Association’s tours of a C&D facility in Napa that are scheduled for next Thursday and are open to attendees.

    

5.   Mandatory Recycling Proposal. (Informational Report and Discussion) Explanatory Documents: Draft Ordinance and Outline of Proposal) SPONSOR: Jared Blumenfeld, Director; SPEAKERS: Robert Haley, Recycling Program Manager and Jack Macy, Commercial Recycling Coordinator

 

Director Blumenfeld reported that the Mayor at the Earth Day breakfast asked the Department to create legislation for mandatory recycling in San Francisco in a month from his request.  It was explained that Mr. Haley and Mr. Macy have been working on this effort, and that the draft ordinance would be reviewed by the Deputy City Attorney and then be forwarded to the Board of Supervisors after the Commission provides policy direction. Director Blumenfeld stated that it is believed that 75% diversion won’t be achieved without mandatory recycling and composting in San Francisco for all municipal, residential, and commercial properties.

 

Mr. Haley reported that after decades of voluntary, convenient, nation-leading programs, award-winning outreach and financial incentives, 36% of what San Francisco sends to landfills is compostable (primarily food scraps) and 31% is recyclable (mostly paper). This is essentially true for all sectors (residential, commercial and City government).  If this amount could be captured, the City would be at 90% diversion. It was explained that mandatory recycling would be the most important thing that the City can do in terms of increasing participation in order to reach zero waste goals.  Mr. Haley reported that other local and state governments have done mandatory recycling of various materials and composting yard trimmings, but that San Francisco would be the first to do mandatory composting of food scraps citywide.  It was reported that Mr. Macy attended a meeting in the East Bay, and they are talking about mandatory recycling and composting and landfill bans, but it is hoped that San Francisco will make this happen as soon as possible in order to increase diversion and to continue being the lead.  Mr. Haley explained that approximately 15% of San Francisco apartment buildings do not have recycling available, and approximately 10% have food composting, so there is work to be done with apartments.

 

Mr. Haley discussed the key provisions and concepts of the ordinance as referenced in the Outline of Proposal. It was explained that regulations would have to be written after the ordinance is approved.  Additional language would be added to the ordinance that states that if you are generating material in San Francisco, you cannot haul recyclables or compostables to other landfills.  An important part of the vision that would happen in the 2011 rate process that is not talked about in the ordinance is enhancing financial incentives for recycling and composting. The intent is to try to put in another level of rates in 2011 that would essentially disincentivize people from putting a lot of recycling and composting in the trash by charging them a higher rate. That money would be used to separate their trash and to construct a new facility.  This ordinance is saying that you have to compost and is creating fines and enforcement mechanisms.

 

Mr. Macy stated that staff has spent years developing these innovative programs and has worked hard on rate incentives for many years.  It was explained that San Francisco currently has the most progressive rate structure especially for commercial enterprises.  Mr. Macy stated that he has researched rate structures around the country for composting and does not know of any other rate structure that incentivizes composting like ours and that has helped develop programs.  Mandatory recycling would be adding another tool. Mr. Haley indicated that everything that can be done without requiring mandatory recycling has been done. Mr. Macy stated that there is a strong compelling case for mandatory recycling and there are benefits and opportunities to doing so.  Mr. Macy cited a report that was just released, “Stop Trashing the Climate” that makes a powerful case about climate change and reducing waste.  A discussion was held on the main section of the ordinance beginning at the top of page 7, SEC. 1803 Draft Ordinance. It was stated that the ordinance has been written in broad language to indicate what the requirements are, and there is an ability through regulation to fine tune definitions and procedures. 

 

Mr. Macy explained that fees are charged for recycling and composting in the commercial sector, but not for the residential sector because many businesses have daily pick-up; whereas, residents have pick up once a week. Chair Wald suggested the possibility of charging residents for recycling and composting as is done in the commercial sector.  Mr. Haley stated that it would be more feasible to charge residents for composting and recycling when mandatory recycling becomes law in order to not disincentivize the program.  It was stated that adjustments would be considered during the next rate process in 2011. Mr. Haley explained that the rate process is not controlled by the Board of Supervisors so it cannot be written into the Ordinance--it is controlled by a Rate Board appointed just for that purpose.

 

Chair Wald stated that making the best possible case for mandatory recycling is absolutely key to its success and should go beyond the ordinance.  It was suggested including information about how much residential and commercial recycling is going on now and what if anything other people are doing in other places. Chair Wald explained that this kind of information would answer questions and not scare people when looking at the proposal.  Mr. Haley indicated that San Francisco voters have been polled and they are extremely supportive of mandatory recycling, but a strong case has to be built for the 15% that do not support it.   Commissioner Martin suggested adding information that the media can report on and help publicize.  Chair Wald stated that it does not have to be in the ordinance findings, but should be included in outreach and public education. Mr. Haley indicated that the findings may be taken out of the Ordinance, and it is just an effort to give people an idea of why this is being done.

 

Commissioner Martin asked if there is any protection for landlords if their tenants do not comply and discussed using locks for the recycling bins in order to avoid scavenging and mixing.  Mr. Macy stated that landlords cannot be made responsible if their tenants do not comply.  It was explained that the fines section in the enforcement section on page 11 ii) has a provision for anyone that is part of a tenant landlord facility, that indicates that there will not be fines or penalties except through the adoption of any regulations that would go into effect after the new rate structure in July 2011.  Mr. Haley stated that the complexity in these buildings is recognized as there is no total control as with single-family residential buildings.

 

Commissioner Martin inquired whether landlord associations or businesses have been contacted for feedback.  Mr. Macy indicated that landlord and restaurant associations have been contacted and have discussed their main concerns.  Most businesses would participate because they would save money but there has not been success meeting with them yet on this issue. Mr. Macy explained that the draft ordinance was sent to key stakeholders once it was completed on Thursday of the week before the meeting, so there has not been a lot of time to respond.  Commissioner Martin recommended contacting tenant advocacy groups also. Director Blumenfeld stated that the issue of whether you can pass through fines is being postponed until 2011.  Chair Wald stated that she is bothered by the fact that there is going to be mandatory recycling without enforcement. Mr. Haley stated that if you have room to put recycling and composting in place, you would be expected to do so under this Ordinance and it can be enforced if it is not done. There are certain things that are enforceable and certain things that exemptions are being given for such as two-year and space limitation exemptions.  It was explained that if you are in a situation where you can control the situation, it is expected that recycling will be done and then fines will be levied if it is not.  Director Blumenfeld stated that the problem is that there is no way of knowing what the tenant contribution to the landlord’s problem is. 

 

Chair Wald suggested separating recycling requirements by sectors (commercial, residential, municipal) in the ordinance so it is clear.  Commissioner Martin recommended using the word landfill instead of trash for the black bin because trash seems to imply all of it, and landfill communicates where it is actually going.  Mr. Haley stated that landfill is preferred but it is hard to communicate that term to the public as a lot of people do not know what the landfill is and in different settings, different terminology is used.  It is also possible that some trash could go to another location other than landfill.  Chair Wald asked why on page 8 (4), line 6, it says, “new or expanded multifamily or commercial buildings may be subject to” instead of “will be subject to” and recommended consulting the Deputy City Attorney.

 

Commissioner Martin recommended on page 9, 4(c) adding to the container an account number or name of who the container belongs to in order to identify whose contents are mixed or not.  Director Blumenfeld explained that there is a number on each bin. Mr. Paul Giusti, Sunset Scavenger, reported that in certain circumstances labels are attached to containers to identify who they belong to, especially in multi-use buildings where there may be different commercial or residential customers.  Otherwise, because they try to be as customer service oriented as possible to businesses, they may pick up one business on a different day than another business.  It was explained that customers are oftentimes identified by where they place their container. Mr. Giusti stated that whether a container needs to be marked may be determined on a customer by customer basis. Mr. Haley stated that you could identify who the container belongs to because you are charging for the containers, and if they are contaminated, the customer would be contacted.  Mr. Giusti explained that with the new rate structure, commercial customers are charged based on the size of the container.  Commissioner Martin stated that enforcement of a fine would require supplying evidence proving that it was that person or business responsible. Mr. Haley stated they would consider this more in the future.

 

Commissioner Gravanis stated that she likes the idea of not picking up a container if it has mixed material but asked whether the Health Department had been contacted for their thoughts.  Mr. Haley reported that neither the Health Department nor the Department of Public Works would likely be receptive to this idea.  State law simply states that you have to pick up on a weekly basis so if you are not leaving it more than a week, you are not violating state law, but more conversations have to be held.  Chair Wald suggested giving people options so they could call for pick up if they promise not to do it again and recommended creating a regulatory mechanism. 

 

Commissioner Gravanis asked if the collector would be receptive to what would be a time consuming task to keep track of who warnings have been issued to and making a list of the violators to give to the Department Director.  Mr. Giusti stated that the collection process is a semi-automated system, and collectors do not lift the lids to identify the contents, but that doesn’t mean that they can’t issue a tag if they see something in the can that is not supposed to be there.  It was reported that there is a system now that drivers place tags for contaminated recycling, and information is brought to the dispatch office, and customer service adds that information into the account, so it is known that this customer has been given information about hazardous waste.  Mr. Giusti stated that system could be expanded on and he would like to discuss this issue with the Department.  Mr. Giusti stated that he would like to see what Seattle has done in their program, how they balance it against customer service, how often they have to do it, and the results.  It was explained that one of the areas that has made the program so successful is the level of customer service provided and that people’s carts are not left out. Customers are warned that if they have mixed material in their bins that they would be charged as garbage and not as free recycling. Commissioner Martin suggested requiring the customer to contact the collector for pickup and charging rather than leaving the container for a week. Mr. Haley stated that in this case, Norcal would collect the container and keep the money. 

 

Commissioner Gravanis stated that she has not seen any conspicuous labeling of compostables when she goes to food courts and asked if any progress has been made with labeling.  Mr. Haley reported that he is starting to see good restaurant labeling and that UCSF has a good new labeling system.  Mr. Macy reported that progress has been made through manufacturers and distributors, but that right now there are technology limitations.  Director Blumenfeld stated that he would like for the Department through the Commission to identify a graphic and a labeling hierarchy. Mr. Haley reported that there are several state bills around this issue and staff may be testifying on this issue next week. Mr. Macy reported that he has talked to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) about their guidelines, and explained that part of the issue is to specify what appropriate signage is and developing systems to properly identify where things go. 

 

Commissioner Gravanis stated that she has seen volunteers working at the Ferry Building directing people how to recycle and compost and stated that the next best thing to a live person would be to tape something on the wall above the actual container identifying what type of material should go in that particular container.  Commissioner Gravanis inquired about incentives for commercial users to reduce.  Mr. Haley stated that for commercial rates, the capacity charge is essentially a source reduction incentive. Mr. Macy explained that commercial users are paying for every container, so it is cheaper for them not to have a container.  Mr. Haley reported that in the next rate cycle a super composter/recycler rate will be considered. 

 

Commissioner Gravanis suggested that the Commission or the Board of Supervisors consider passing a resolution urging the Rate Board to consider certain actions as it pertains to the rate structure.  Mr. Haley explained that historically some members of the Board have written letters on the rate process, but a conversation should be held with the Deputy City Attorney on the correct process. Commissioner Martin asked if in the case when a mixed model is being used, if you could have a mixed bin and a bin dedicated to recycling only in order to increase the diversion rate. Mr. Haley stated that in some buildings a hybrid system can be used.

 

Public Comment

 

Mr. Todd Lewis, Omega Pacific Electrical Supply stated that they are the recipient of the State of California’s e-waste contract and asked if e-waste was being addressed in the ordinance; e.g., lamps, ballasts, and batteries, etc. It was stated that Omega Pacific put in the infrastructure for California and a multitude of counties throughout the state on various ways to handle e-waste.  It was explained that it is illegal to dump e-waste and recommended incorporating language on e-waste in the ordinance.  Mr. Haley stated that it wasn’t included in the ordinance because it is already state law. Chair Wald recommended including a category for e-waste.  Director Blumenfeld recommended adding it to the ordinance stating that it is covered by state law. Mr. Macy stated that the ordinance does say in the definition of trash that it does not include hazardous waste.  Mr. Lewis stated that Omega Pacific issues certificates of compliance for small apartment owners that have gone through the recycling process and also helps small firms maintain a database so they can show proof that they do all of the necessary recycling of e-waste.  Mr. Lewis stated that Omega Pacific offers their services for a minimal fee.

 

Ms. Janice Sitton, Good Green Graces  (1) stated that she does not like to force people into compliance, but understands that 75% diversion cannot be reached without a mandate; (2) likes the idea of including the hazardous waste component in the ordinance because otherwise it would end up in the landfill; (3) recommended adding language to encourage reuse; (4) discussed non-availability of infrastructure and creating systems to process the organics that will be produced through this ordinance; (5) discussed requirements for mandatory recycling and composting at events and the difficulty of sorting the materials on such a large scale; (6) supports the idea of paying for sorting of material and suggested that it could also be applied to special events; (7) suggested a marketing campaign to urge people to recycle and compost by saying that you can pay someone else to sort it or sort it yourself, so that it appears to be a choice and not a mandate; (8) recommended educating more people on the definition of composting; (9) stated that non-profits can’t afford three bins for their events because they are used to paying $200 for one debris bin for garbage, and tripling that to include recycling and composting bins would increase their budget.  Mr. Haley stated that discounts would be provided for recycling and composting. Ms. Sitton stated that if there is a mandate, then there should be financial assistance for non-profits so they can actually have the service; otherwise, they would be self- hauling and with the current language they are not allowed to do that. Mr. Haley stated that they could separate themselves to avoid the extra cost.

 

Mr. Paul Giusti stated that Norcal supports all of the City’s efforts to reach 100% compliance by participation through recycling programs.  It was explained that for Norcal, the issues they want to work with the Department on are the mandatory subscription services.  On the commercial sector, there isn’t really a system in place to require them to subscribe to service.  If they do subscribe to service, they simply choose not to pay the bill and service has to be terminated.  On the residential sector, there is a lien process so if a residential customer does not pay the bill, they don’t have to interrupt service.  The Department of Public Health put a lien on the property that pays the garbage bill. Mr. Giusti stated that this type of process should be created in the commercial sector as well.

 

Mr. Giusti stated that the issue of recycling theft also needs to be included so that recycling material is counted towards San Francisco’s diversion rate, and that the rate payers gets the benefit of the sale of that recyclable material and not an organized scavenging fleet.  Mr. Giusti stated that he is looking forward to working with the Department on the issue and developing legislation.  Commissioner Martin asked if Mr. Giusti has any ideas about scavenger theft.  Mr. Giusti stated that there are laws in the book but that it is a low priority for the Police Department, and it has to be worked on with the organized fleets that are doing this.  Mr. Haley reported that the ordinance would increase the penalties for poaching. Chair Wald suggested the possibility of putting the recyclables out in the morning instead of the night before in order to minimize the problem.  Commissioner Martin discussed the feasibility of putting locks on recycle bins and discussed current penalties.  Mr. Giusti stated that looking at locking containers and issuing keys to residential customers is not realistic for 140,000 customers.  Mr. Giusti was thanked for the work he has done with Norcal making San Francisco have the best diversion rate in the state and probably the country.

 

Director Blumenfeld stated that next steps include incorporating the Commissioners’ feedback, having individual meetings with Norcal and other stakeholders, and then presenting a draft to the Deputy City Attorney for review.  It was reported that a draft would be presented to the Mayor’s Office in the next two to three weeks.  Chair Wald suggested using the Commissioners to promote this with the City and other interest groups.   

 

5.   Announcements. (Discussion) Chair Wald announced that Nestle is cutting back with their plans dramatically for bottled water production in Northern California.  Commissioner Martin announced that she was hoping to bring the issue of requiring that there be an automatic shut off or wrench next to gas valves in homes to reduce the potential damage/fire that can be caused as a result of an earthquake, but has found a different venue through the Office of Emergency Services and Cole Hardware to get more of those out and into homes.  Commissioner Martin announced that the Department recently had an interesting discussion and slideshow on raptors.

 

6.   New Business/Future Agenda Items. (Discussion)  Commissioner Gravanis asked that in the next presentation of the Hunters Point Shipyard Candlestick Point Sustainability Plan that the status of the Environmental Impact Report (EIR) be presented that would include the definition of alternatives that are being studied. Commissioner Gravanis stated that it may be appropriate to ask someone from the Planning Department’s Major Environmental Analysis (MEA) Division or request that Ms. Bohee from the Mayor’s Office of Workforce and Economic Development update the Committee on that document.  It was stated that it is appropriate for the Committee to hear the status of the EIR report, when the draft is expected to be published, length of time for a comment period, and more specifically what the alternatives are that are being studied.  Commissioner Gravanis requested additional future agenda items that include (1) update from the Treasure Island redevelopment staff on the status of their efforts to implement the TI Sustainability Plan and in particular the planning for the wastewater plant; (2) Better Streets Plan presentation as it relates to lighting and storm-water management and issues that may relate to the Commission’s purview; (3) Commission’s input into the proposed Commission on the Environment Charter amendment; and (4) update on the Wildlife Management Plan.  Chair Wald recommended a status report on the bus shelter green roof project.  Commissioner Martin requested a future agenda item on dark skies at the June 21 Policy Committee meeting. Director Blumenfeld reported that there is an existing campaign around dark skies, dark buildings, and birds during migratory periods.  

 

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.  There was no public comment at this time.

 

8.  Adjournment. The Policy Committee meeting adjourned at 7:17 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:  July 21, 2008

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