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07.21 Approved Minutes

CITY AND COUNTY OF SAN FRANCISCO

COMMISSION ON THE ENVIRONMENT

POLICY COMMITTEE

 

*RESCHEDULED MEETING

APPROVED MINUTES

Monday, July 21, 2008, 5:00 P.M.

City Hall, Room 421

One Dr. Carlton B. Goodlett Place

San Francisco, CA 94102

 

*The Monday, July 14, 2008, 5:00 p.m. Regular Meeting of the Policy Committee was rescheduled to Monday, July 21, 2008 at 5:00 p.m.

 

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 June 9, 2008 Policy Committee Regular Meeting. (Discussion and Action) Upon Motion by Vice-Chair Gravanis and second by Commissioner Martin, the June 9, 2008 Meeting Minutes were approved without objection. (Explanatory Document: June 9, 2008 Draft and Approved Minutes)

 

Item 5 was heard before Items 3 and 4.

 

3.   Presentation of digital platform to highlight local and global implementation of United Nations (UN) Urban Environmental Accords. SPONSOR:  Jared Blumenfeld, Director; STAFF PRESENTER: Lawrence S. Grodeska, Internet Communications Coordinator (Explanatory Document: Presentation).

 

Mr. Grodeska reported on a software tool web-based platform option called “see-it” that would track San Francisco’s progress/success in meeting the UN Environmental Accords and would also highlight the work of other cities across the world that have signed on to participate in the accords. 

It was explained that Visible Strategies, the company that designed this tool, works with government agencies around the world to highlight their sustainability platform.  Mr. Grodeska reported that the website would contain the seven accord principles of energy, water, environmental health, transportation, urban nature, urban design, and waste reduction and visitors to this site, other agencies, or other accord participants can see San Francisco’s and other participants’ progress/success in meeting their goals. The site would include goals, strategies and actions being taken to implement the seven accord principles, e.g. for energy, it would include strategies for improving energy efficiency in San Francisco such as increasing renewable energy efficiency, then the specific actions being taken to achieve renewable energy targets, the target statement, how performance has been reported, as well as more detailed information such as scorecards, benchmarks, feedback, and video. 

 

Commissioner Gravanis inquired about its applicability to the Department’s strategic plan and other Department programs. Mr. Grodeska reported that Visible Strategies is working with the Department and other City departments in presenting their strategic plans and other efforts, but at this time the concentration is on the accords.   Deputy Director Assmann reported that Marin uses the software tool for their County General Plan.  

 

Commissioner Martin asked whether there would be a review of how other jurisdictions are presenting their efforts.  Mr. Grodeska stated that each jurisdiction is highlighting their efforts to their own constituencies on an individual basis, but that the tool helps to standardize the framework. Commissioner Martin asked who would be responsible for inputting the information.  Mr. Grodeska reported that the different locales would manage their own data.  Commissioner Martin stated that the success of the program lies in participation by each of the jurisdictions and maintenance of the data and asked how San Francisco’s information is linked to the other sites.  Mr. Grodeska explained that there would be a hub site located at the San Francisco Environment website and from there you could link to the global portrait or to individual cities that have entered data onto the main site. Commissioner Martin inquired about the cost of the program.  Mr. Grodeska reported that it would cost: $12,000 for three years and would be reevaluated after that time.

 

Chair Wald stated that it has been difficult to track accomplishments and is very pleased.  Chair Wald asked whether San Francisco’s accomplishments could be accessed directly on the Department’s website without having to link through another site. Mr. Grodeska stated that there is a section on the Department’s website that is an overview of the accords and that would be updated to highlight the global tool as well as the San Francisco specific tool.  Chair Wald asked if there was a date set for when the program would be available to access.  Mr. Grodeska reported that possibly by mid-fall as the contract is in the process of being finalized.

 

Commissioner Martin asked if there were initial inquiries made as to who else would want to sign onto this software to make sure there is sufficient interest.  Mr. Grodeska stated he is unaware of the outreach.  Commissioner Martin suggested that outreach be worked on sooner than later in case there are others doing the same thing.  Chair Wald reported that one of the expectations of the accords is that a third party would take over this effort to track progress.  Her understanding is that it has not been done and because the Department was so involved in the accords, the recognition of the need to do more than what was done was brought forward.  Mr. Grodeska reported that part of the plan is to contact all of the locales that have been involved so far and would want to become more involved.  Chair Wald inquired whether training would be provided.  Mr. Grodeska reported that Visible Strategies is eager to help these different locales learn their software, and that it would not fall upon the Department to do the training.

 

Commissioner Martin asked whether the program would be in English or what the world standard would be.  Mr. Grodeska reported that it hasn’t been considered at this point.  Deputy Director Assmann stated that the cities around the world talk in many different languages so it would be important to consider. The intent is for each city to work it out with Visible Strategies in terms of their format, and it should be determined if San Francisco’s format should be in alternative languages as well. 

 

Public Comment

 

Ms. Nancy Wuerfel asked if the UN would be involved in global tracking of the program. Deputy Director Assmann reported that he is not aware that the UN would be doing global tracking.  Chair Wald stated that if the UN were going to be doing this effort, the Department would not be doing it.  Deputy Director Assmann explained that the intent is for San Francisco and other cities to do their own tracking.  Ms. Wuerfel asked if who would be determining if goals are met and requested more information about the grading system. It was recommended that the Policy Committee schedule a meeting to discuss how performance would be quantified, how to determine whether a target has been met, and by who, so we are not grading ourselves on performance and so it is verifiable.  Deputy Director Assmann explained that some things are graded by exterior bodies, e.g., (1) diversion rates are graded and evaluated by the California Waste Management Board (CWMB) who does the certification; (2) the Bay Area Air Quality Management District who keeps tracks of cars and transportation.  Whether there is an outside body for each single accord is hard to say. 

 

Mr. Francisco Da Costa provided input into the program’s transportation hub and discussed an injunction on the implementation of the bike plan.  Mr. Da Costa stated that if we are to call ourselves a green city, City departments should do everything in their capacity to encourage people to bike and be asked to provide feedback to the Department.  Mr. Da Costa stated that he worked for the Department of Defense and discussed the US Geological Survey that contains a lot of information on standards that could be referenced.  Mr. Da Costa stated that programs such as this one should have standards that are linked to the Precautionary Principle and to basic standards and ideas by the Bay Area Air Quality Management District, and others.

 

4.   Green Collar Jobs. Development of a coordinated City and County of San Francisco (CCSF) green collar jobs strategic plan and current project regarding green jobs training-needs assessment.   SPONSOR:  Jared Blumenfeld, Director; STAFF PRESENTERS: Anne Eng, Environmental Justice Program Manager; Richard Chien, Green Building Program - Private Sector Coordinator (Explanatory Document: Presentation)

 

Ms. Eng introduced presentation speakers, Mr. Marc Richmond, Practica Consulting, who would be describing a training project that will soon be launched; Mr. Steven Suzuki, Asian Neighborhood Design (AND); Pandora Thomas and Kevin Danaher of Global Exchange (GE).  AND and GE are two of the new grant recipients of the Department’s environmental justice funds that were approved at the April Commission meeting.  It was recommended at the April Commission meeting that grantees appear before the Commission more often, and two of those organizations are represented here to speak on green collar jobs. 

 

Ms. Eng reported that the presentation to the Policy Committee is building on the full presentation given to the Commission in April by Professor Raquel Pinderhughes from San Francisco State and Ms. Rhonda Simmons, the Mayor’s Office of Economic and Workforce Development.  It was explained that Ms. Simmons spoke about her activities coordinating the various green collar job initiatives among City agencies and Professor Pinderhughes described her extensive research across the bay for Oakland and Berkeley on green collar jobs. Professor Pinderhughes is currently performing a small research project for San Francisco regarding the City’s green industries and interviewing employers to see where job opportunities may be developing.  Our Department’s focus will be to promote entry-level jobs in green industries for those workers who have been underemployed, unemployed, and marginalized in our economy.

 

Professor Pinderhughes has reviewed 22 job sectors where green collar jobs could be developed (Explanatory Document: Berkeley Green Collar Jobs Report).  Ms. Eng reported that at an earlier meeting in City Hall, it was agreed that there would be five focus areas where there are strong local policies and potential job growth—zero waste and recycling; energy efficiency; renewable energy technologies; horticulture including urban forestry; and green building.  For zero waste and recycling, the City has adopted a Construction and Demolition Debris Ordinance, and very aggressive goals of 75% diversion rate by 2010 and zero waste by 2020.  As a result, there is potential job growth in terms of collection, sorting and hauling materials, and waste is seen as a commodity.  In the field of energy efficiency, there is potential growth in energy audits; home performance evaluations; energy efficiency lighting, heating, ventilation and air conditioning retrofits and installation; and monitoring and maintenance of those systems as well as potential jobs in customer service. Renewable energy technologies include solar, solar thermal, and possibly wave and tidal opportunities. We hope to see quite an expansion in the solar industry due to local incentives that will be discussed at the July 22 Commission meeting.  Green building would encompass all areas of green jobs, including water conservation, wastewater, stormwater management, energy, indoor air quality, building materials, etc.

 

Ms. Eng reported that the Department is in its seventh year of grant making.  The Department of the Environment awards more than $1 million dollars in grants annually, and the Environmental Justice grant program has supported job training projects over the years including gardening, energy efficiency, renewables, diesel, indoor and outdoor air quality projects, hazardous material remediation and other programs.  Ms. Eng reported that the Department recognizes that there is a need to develop an action or strategic plan and identify how the City can improve coordination between City departments/ agencies, non-profits, and private sector employers.  It was explained that there is quite a bit of resource material that has been developed with City dollars, and the Department is in the process of trying to collect, organize, disseminate these resources, and make them available online.

 

Mr. Rich Chien reported on communication that he had received from City College instructors specializing in construction training programs asking to meet to discuss the City’s activities around green building and to identify job opportunities. Mr. Chien reported that two very good teams of green building and energy efficiency consultants were selected through a Request for Proposal process in order to work with all City departments on commercial and residential green building programs.  It was explained that Mr. Marc Richmond, Practica Consulting, is part of the team that has been working with Mr. Chien on residential green building programs for a number of years primarily through their partnership with “Build It Green”, the development of the Green Building Guidelines, and the GreenPoint Rated Standard that is now the basis for the Green Building Ordinance that is going to the Board of Supervisors for its first reading on July 22.  Mr. Chien explained that instead of having all of these individual conversations and trying to explain what opportunities, policy initiatives, and the market for incorporating green training into existing programs might be, he decided that a specific half-day workshop/training for administrators of these programs would be designed and delivered.

 

Mr. Marc Richmond introduced himself and discussed the proposed scope of work for the project.  It was explained that the idea has moved from having a discussion of green building jobs to actually preparing people to work in available green jobs. The idea is to go through a collaborative process with a small group who actually do the job training on a day-to-day basis and ask what type of information they need to train their students.  Materials would then be developed from this information and a half-day workshop would be designed for a larger group of interested people. The smaller group would be consulted frequently, would help finalize the training materials, and help make the presentation.  The training would also be made available on the web for future use.  Mr. Richmond stated that the process would start in the next few weeks and then it would take two to three months to go through the meeting process and design the training for the larger group.

 

Ms. Eng reported that green building training has been provided to professionals, but that the challenge is to share resources and technical know how with job trainers and job instructors who are working in these agencies, with workforce development agencies, and in helping to make the information accessible to at-risk unemployed people that are trying to gain their first entry-level jobs in these industries.   

 

Commissioner Gravanis asked if the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC) is providing staff support as it relates to their water, wastewater, and storm water programs.  Mr. Chien reported that the conversation has not started yet, but is a good idea as it relates to other policy initiatives and other priorities particularly around water conservation and storm water management.  Mr. Chien explained that what is currently planned is the first step of the project.  Chair Wald stated that we really need a Strategic Plan in San Francisco that will incorporate this step as well as other steps that will ensure that all of the people that could benefit from the workshop actually attend the trainings, and that all of the potential employers of the people who are trained through the program actually employ the people who are trained.  It was explained that there is not much that the Department can do by itself to make this happen. Commissioner Martin stated that the key is to provide a framework, e.g., people being trained, people doing the training, people hiring the people who have been trained, but we have not talked about San Francisco’s vision for this effort. Ms. Eng reported that it could be a component of a larger action plan or strategic plan.  It was explained that Mr. David Pascal, Clean Tech Manager, is trying to attract clean industries/new industries that would provide job opportunities. It was explained that an effort is being made to look at the market in order to help attract and retain businesses that would provide new job opportunities.  Commissioner Martin stated that opportunities should be for anyone that wants a job in these fields, not just for people who have barriers to employment.

 

Commissioner Martin asked on current efforts to incorporate this program into a Strategic Plan.  Ms. Eng reported that a plan is not in place at this moment, but it is recognized that a need exists.  The Plan would come out of the Mayor’s Office of Economic and Workforce Development who has started coordinating among City agencies to try to standardize benchmarks and has developed a matrix for tracking progress among various agencies that provides job training.  It was explained that the Department is providing guidance in this effort.

 

Ms. Pandora Thomas presented an overview of Global Exchange’s Green Career Program that is working in collaboration with City College of San Francisco South East Campus and the Solar Living Institute to help City College-students access green career opportunities.  Ms. Thomas described green internship program objectives and program highlights and a list of green business organizations and their contact information was also provided (Explanatory Document:  Global Exchange Green Career Program).  Ms. Thomas described the Green Career Conference held in the spring at City College Southeast Campus that presented an opportunity for experts from various sectors of the green community to talk to participants about everything they need to know to enter into green careers.  After the conference, a green building fair was held so that participants could apply for internships offered by participating green businesses.       

 

Mr. Kevin Danaher stated that Global Exchange also has a larger goal of creating a Green Career pipeline and explained efforts working on Green Festivals and with participating green companies on recruiting, training, and retraining personnel. It was explained that a two-year contract has been established with the Department of Children, Youth and their Families and the San Francisco Unified School District to work with another non-profit community educational service to develop an environmental service-learning program for seven pilot high schools.  It was explained that a long-term vision consists of creating a green careers pipeline that integrates all the different efforts.

 

Mr. Steve Suzuki described the efforts of Asian Neighborhood Design in working on green workforce development and job training with a more difficult client base that includes people who have come out of incarceration, recovery programs, and don’t have high school diplomas.  It was explained that the construction field oftentimes works best for this client group. Mr. Suzuki referenced Professor Pinderhughes reference to the importance of helping people who have typically been disadvantaged. It was explained that the primary client base for the training program are African Americans out of the Hunters Point and Western Addition areas where crime rates are prevalent, and the goal is to get these people into meaningful jobs and change their mindset.  It was explained that there are pilothouses that have been established for trainees to work on, and larger neighborhood workshops will be held to discuss insulation, weatherization, conservation, recycling, and to teach what green really means.  Mr. Suzuki discussed efforts working in conjunction with Union Local 22 to focus on construction carpentry, but stated that training could also be provided in the plumbing, electrical, heating and ventilation areas.  Mr. Suzuki stated that he looks forward to working on creating a collective holistic strategic plan.    

 

Commissioner Martin asked how the recent adoption of the California Green Building Code would interface with ours.  Mr. Chien explained that last week, the California Building Standards Commission formally adopted a statewide Green Building Code that sets out voluntary measures starting January 1, 2009 for residential buildings and starting in 2010, it would require about 18 low-hanging measures as a requirement to meet the California Building Code.  Mr. Chien did not have additional information on what it would mean for the commercial building code, but indicated that many measures would basically reflect what is in LEED and that there is a longer lead time before measures are actually required.  There was concern from local jurisdictions that if the state came out with a Green Building Code, that it would preempt locals from pushing harder to ask for higher levels of green in their local codes.   There was an agreement between environmental groups and the California Buildings Standards Commission that there would be strong intent language in the Code that would still allow local jurisdictions to exceed the California Green Building Code.

 

Public Comment: Mr. Ruslan Filipau, San Francisco State student, thanked everyone who is working on these issues creating opportunities for people to get jobs who would otherwise not be participating in the labor market.  It was stated that creating so many jobs for people who have limited skills probably precludes others who are already employed by this industry and as a result may lose their jobs.  Mr. Filipau suggested ensuring that green collar workers from the underserved community not be put in a position to compete with people performing this work right now.  Mr. Filipau asked if there are training mechanisms for people that are not part of the disadvantaged workforce.  Mr. Chien stated that part of the strategic planning process is to create a supply of skilled trained workers.  Ms. Eng reported that the Department of the Environment is not a traditional workforce development agency, but is supplying some City funding for green industry related job training programs, and the City also has several agencies heavily involved with job training and workforce development that might have agreements with employers.   

  

5.   Lights Out San Francisco - Review of Proposal by the Golden Gate Audubon Society and the American Bird Conservancy to reduce unnecessary night lighting in the city of San Francisco to reduce the threat of nighttime collisions with buildings for migratory birds, conserve resources, save money, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and ultimately increase visibility of the night sky. (Informational Presentation and Discussion) (Explanatory Document: Lights Out San Francisco Background Findings and Campaign Plan)

SPONSOR: Commissioner Jane MarieFrancis Martin; SPEAKERS:  David Assmann, Deputy Director and Noreen Weeden, Golden Gate Audubon Society

 

Deputy Director Assmann reported that nationwide up to a billion birds are killed by collisions with buildings every year (based on a conservative estimate of ten birds per building every migration season).  It has been estimated that 5% of the bird population is killed annually by collisions with buildings. It was explained that 341 of the 650 bird species that breed in North America are neo-tropical migrants (they breed in North America but they migrate to North and Central America for the winter time).  As part of that migration, the birds go through flyways through urban areas, and a number of them are killed in collisions with buildings.  Of the 650 bird species in North America, 127 are in long-term decline and 60 are in severe decline, which means they have lost more than 45% of their population in the last 40 years. 

 

Deputy Director Assmann explained that lights are a magnet for birds and particularly when there are low clouds and fog. Birds do not perceive clear or reflective glass as a barrier to be avoided, so they collide with buildings. LEED certification does not take bird collisions into account and LEED certified buildings are more of a problem than non-LEED because they tend to have more glass.  The solution to this problem would be to do a combination of turning lights off at night between 11:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m. and put up netting on certain buildings that are more prone to collisions than others.  The “Lights Out” program is not a new program—it has been established in six or seven cities around the country, Toronto, Canada; Chicago, Detroit, Minneapolis, St. Paul, New York and Milwaukee.  The programs are voluntary programs that have been organized between the municipalities, building owners and managers, and conservation groups.  Some of these programs have been shown to reduce bird collisions by up to 80%.

 

This particular proposal is to try to set up a similar program in San Francisco, which would start off with a stakeholder meeting to identify a voluntary program that would start for the next migration season that is generally between February 15 and May 31 and between August 15 and November 30. The proposal is to start by targeting the 44 tallest buildings in San Francisco, which are the ones most likely to have the problem.  The voluntary program would have a triple benefit that includes reduced bird collisions, energy conservation benefits, and reduced light pollution.  There are a number of different ways to go about this—one of the ways is to install occupancy sensors and to work on getting lights turned off on those buildings that have exterior and interior lighting that is problematic.

 

Ms. Weeden, Chairperson for the San Francisco Conservation Committee of Golden Gate Audubon, reported that since 1917, Golden Gate Audubon has been dedicated to protecting Bay Area birds, other wildlife, and their natural habitats.  The focus is to protect native birds and other wildlife species in the San Francisco Bay Area, particularly those in the City and County of San Francisco and parts of Alameda and Contra Costa Counties.  Ms. Weeden reported that Golden Gate Audubon and the City of San Francisco both participated in “Lights Out” events in the fall of 2007 and in the Earth Hour event held in Spring 2008, which helped raise awareness that it is important to eliminate unnecessary lighting to save energy resources and to protect migratory birds. 

 

Ms. Weeden discussed the migration of birds along the Pacific Flyway through the San Francisco Bay Area every spring and fall and explained that several of the migratory birds are federally listed as threatened or endangered.  It was reported that studies indicate that artificial light disorients birds, especially the many birds that migrate at night, and sometimes causes birds to strike buildings or structures on rooftops.  Ms. Weeden reported that Golden Gate Audubon supports the proposal to expand the “Lights Out” program as it would dramatically reduce nighttime collisions with buildings, help decrease unnecessary night lighting in San Francisco, conserve resources, save money, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and ultimately increase the visibility of the night sky. (Explanatory Document: Transcript of Ms. Weeden’s Presentation)

 

Deputy Director Assmann stated that the Department of the Environment going forward would like to hold a stakeholder meeting, then create a plan that could be brought back to the full Commission, and go forward with implementation.  Commissioner Martin stated that she is pleased with this proposal and explained that she is also interested in the “Dark Skies” movement as it relates to general pollution and energy conservation.  Commissioner Martin questioned whether the program could start earlier than 11:00 p.m. as an energy conservation measure.  Deputy Director Assmann reported that occupancy sensors could address the issue of how late the building was being used, and that the program could start earlier as a result.  Commissioner Martin stated that in terms of energy conservation and light pollution, she would like the program to be in effect all year instead of just the migratory period of every spring and fall.  Deputy Director Assmann stated that from an energy conservation standpoint, it doesn’t make sense to run the program only six months of the year and explained that other than the netting installation, it should be run all year round. Commissioner Martin recommended researching another acceptable permanent solution that could address netting.  Commissioner Martin also recommended that lighting on hilltop structures and poles be reduced as well.

 

Vice-Chair Gravanis recommended reviewing street lighting.  It was suggested that people who are interested in this program should provide their input as soon as possible into the Better Streets Plan because even though there is some good language in the plan about minimizing light pollution, it allows lighting for decorative purposes. Vice-Chair Gravanis recommended that upward lighting be minimized on tennis courts and softball diamonds.

 

Chair Wald stated that she supports the voluntary effort of this program, but would like some thought to establishing some baseline or quantified goals in order to make a decision whether we need to go from a voluntary program to a regulatory program.  Commissioner Martin suggested presenting data of the initial cost and payback period of the occupancy sensors to the building owners.  Deputy Director Assmann stated that it is important to determine who is responsible for energy conservation in the buildings--if it is a facility that PG&E is responsible for, they would be worked with to prepare an evaluation and to determine whether occupancy sensors makes the most sense.  It was explained that occupancy sensors may not always work due to electrical system wiring malfunctions and then lights would have to be turned off manually.  Deputy Director Assmann explained that goals could be established and tried for a year or two, and recommendations could then be made to switch to a mandatory program if the voluntary program is not working.  It was explained that this proposal dovetails with energy efficiency work that is already planned.  Deputy Director Assmann reported that there are also residential buildings that are very tall towers that should be included. 

 

Commissioner Martin questioned whether there are specific numbers for local bird collisions based on collected information.  Ms. Weeden reported that Golden Gate Audubon does not have specific tabulated information about San Francisco.  Commissioner Martin suggested that an effort be made to initiate a reporting mechanism of bird collisions in order to measure what is being provided for this initiative.  Deputy Director Assmann reported that volunteers could survey a select area for a period of time, but explained that it can be an invisible problem as an area may be cleared before a collision is noticed. Ms. Weeden suggested requesting the cooperation of building owners, managers, and associations in this effort.               

 

Public Comment:

 

Mr. Kevin Foley, San Francisco State University, Environmental Studies major, stated that he has reviewed the “Lights Out San Francisco” longer-term objectives (five-year) section and is particularly interested in one point made “Combine energy efficiency strategies with bird-safe design in mind…solar panels as windows”?  Mr. Foley asked whether this effort has been researched and tested. Deputy Director Assmann stated that not to his knowledge, but it is a recommendation being made to research setting up solar panels in such a way that they don’t act as collision magnets for birds.  Commissioner Martin stated that she does not know of any vertically oriented embedded solar in glass, but there is a horizontal glass canopy or awning in the California of Academy Sciences building that has embedded solar, and is a technology that is available.  Mr. Foley inquired whether it would be possible to make the program mandatory as opposed to voluntary in the next five years.  Deputy Director Assmann explained that the Commission at any time could make a recommendation to the Board of Supervisors to pass enabling legislation.  

 

Ms. Mimi Csolti, Environmental Studies student, San Francisco State University, thanked Deputy Director Assmann; Ms. Weeden, Golden Gate Audubon, and the Commissioners for letting her speak in support of “Lights Out San Francisco.”  Ms. Csolti reported that part of her curriculum this summer is for students to speak out on something at a public hearing that they feel passionate about.  Ms. Csolti discussed her experiences bird watching in Cape May to watch thousands of a variety of birds take flight.  It was stated that all life has intrinsic value and inherent worth, and that interfering with even the most basic creatures upsets the natural order of things regardless if they are a keystone species or not.  As man has expanded, the lack of thought given to migratory patterns of birds has become evident. 
 

Ms. Csolti reported that according to the Fatal Light Awareness Program (FLAP), structural hazards are actually responsible for more bird-kills than higher profile catastrophes such as oil spills.  FLAP is working towards bringing attention to the importance of considering bird migratory patterns as well as structural hazards that threaten them by developing bird-friendly guidelines some of which have been discussed today and others that include visual markers and strategies for dealing with reflection.  Ms. Csolti stated that from a financial and ecological point of view, turning off the lights makes sense--money is saved and pollution is reduced.  According to New York Audubon, one building with 2.5 million square feet of floor space would conserve 750,000 kilowatts and save $120,000 if they turned off their lights from September 1 until October 31, and that is turning off the lights only from midnight on.  That transfers into savings from emissions and pollution. 

 

Ms. Csolti stated that when it comes to ecological conservation, everything is possible, nothing is impossible.  In Stockholm, a Swedish company plans to harness the body heat generated by commuters and heat nearby offices with it.  In Amsterdam, the three world’s largest light bulb makers will push European consumers to switch to energy savings bulbs in a bid to cut carbon and dioxide emissions.  It is estimated that if they changed out all of the inefficient bulbs to efficient bulbs they would need 27 fewer plants.  Ms. Csolti stated that California should set the standards in this effort for the rest of the world to follow. 

 

Ms. Linda Yacobucci asked how the number of birds killed per building figure had been determined.  Ms. Weeden explained that there were studies completed in New York by volunteers that had walked around buildings, collected the birds, and actually completed a detailed study, and that detailed information is included in the report. Ms. Yacobucci asked if figures are based on only one study. Ms. Weeden stated that Toronto had also completed a study.  Deputy Director Assmann stated that the report cites a few studies where they have gone out and counted bird collisions on specific buildings in different cities such as Manhattan; Richmond, Virginia; Emery University; Toronto.  The bird mortality is based on ten birds per building per year, which is not a lot, but if you multiply that number by the number of existing buildings, you come up with very large numbers.  Ms. Yacobucci asked how they came up with that number. 

 

Deputy Director Assmann reported that there was a large study done in the 1970’s by Dr. Klem that is cited in the report. It was explained that there were buildings that had significantly more bird collisions than others due to their height or location.  The idea for preparing a new survey is to target 44 buildings in San Francisco, the tallest ones, the ones most likely to create problems.  Ms. Yacobucci inquired about bird migration patterns.  Ms. Weeden explained that some birds come out to the coast and migrate down, and other birds fly along the coast the entire migration path.  

6.  Status Report on the Development of a Wildlife Management Plan for San Francisco. Initial presentation of a Draft Policy Framework to guide future creation of a management plan. (Informational Report and Discussion)  SPONSOR: Commissioner Johanna Wald; SPEAKER: Commissioner Ruth Gravanis

 

Vice-Chair Gravanis reported that she had talked to Mr. Carl Friedman, Director of Animal Care and Control who agreed that it would be important to establish a working relationship on this effort with his department, other City departments, other applicable agencies, and non-profits.  It was reported that Mr. Friedman had one caveat that he did not want the Wildlife Plan to include a discussion of feral cats and off-leash dogs.  Vice-Chair Gravanis stated that she would like to do a professional job on this Plan, and that funding would be required to hire Department staff or an outside consultant to prepare a real management plan.  Grants could be applied for through a request to Ms. Rosenmoss, the Department’s Grants Manager. Vice-Chair Gravanis distributed and presented on a “Wildlife Management Plan for San Francisco Draft Policy Framework” that would be used for the purpose of creating a proposal by the Grants Manager and would give potential foundations a sense of what would be in the scope of work.

 

Vice-Chair Gravanis stated that she had reviewed existing City policies such as the Environmental Protection Element of the General Plan and the Biodiversity Element of the Sustainability Plan, which call for wildlife protection and the protection and restoration of the City’s biodiversity.  Additionally, other documents that were referenced include the Recreation and Open Space element and its area plans, and documents on other websites such as the SPCA and the Department of Animal Care and Control.  Vice-Chair Gravanis stated that Chair Wald had previously requested that the plan be applicable to what is called for in the Urban Environmental Accords with respect to wildlife.  It was explained that it is necessary to make sure there is good public and agency participation in creation of the plan, and that stakeholders would be identified and invited to participate in the process.  As draft documents are issued, they would be made available for public review. 

 

Vice-Chair Gravanis discussed the topics outlined in the “Wildlife Management Plan for San Francisco Draft Policy Framework” that include 1) identifying habitat that wildlife requires; (2) threats to wildlife that must be addressed; (3) opportunities for wildlife enhancement; (4) education/outreach methods and vehicles; (5) implementation strategies; and (6) directives, legislation, agreements, etc. to implement the Plan’s recommendations (see explanatory document for a detailed outline). Next steps would be to research what other cities are doing, identify stakeholders, revise the framework draft based on comments received, research funding opportunities, and provide proposal content to the Department Grants Manager. 

 

Commissioner Martin stated that she understands that there are sensitivities and boundaries around feral cats and domesticated dogs, but felt it was important to include these topics in the plan.  Chair Wald stated that if this is going to be a citywide comprehensive plan, that all city agencies that have relevant expertise should be involved and be given an opportunity to integrate their concerns and recommendations into a Central Plan that will accomplish the agreed upon goals.  Chair Wald encouraged Vice-Chair Gravanis and the Department to think of the draft framework as the basis for a funding proposal, the focus of which would be to engage stakeholders and other city agencies in the process. 

 

Public Comment

 

Ms. Linda Yacobucci discussed Trap/neuter/return (TNR), a national resource program in San Francisco that is successful in addressing the feral cat issue.  It was requested that the San Francisco SPCA be included as one of the stakeholders in preparing the plan.  Ms. Yacobucci stated that she does not want any animal killed to save another animal, and if you remove a feral cat, there is nowhere for them to go, and they get killed.  Ms. Yacobucci spoke in support of including non-native wildlife and plants in the plan and expressed her concern that certain groups call blue jays “garbage animals”, or eucalyptus “garbage plants.”   It was stated that non-native habitats are very critical to San Francisco as the plants provide food, nesting material, and resources for at-risk animals.  Ms. Yacobucci spoke about the dangers of humans feeding an animal and explained that accidentally feeding an animal does not make the animal acclimated to humans.  Ms. Yacobucci also expressed her concern about pesticides that are applied on private properties and near hospitals, and reported on Laguna Honda’s continuous use of baits that cause bird deaths. 

 

Ms. Sally Stephens, Chair of the Animal Control and Welfare Commission, reported that the Commission exists to advise the Board of Supervisors on all animal welfare issues in the City and would ask for advice and counsel if the plan is brought to their attention.  Ms. Stephens encouraged the Committee to consult the Animal Control and Welfare Commission early on in the process before problems are found.  It was explained that there would be a presentation at the next Commission meeting on August 14 by the Animal Crossing Community (ACC) on the issues surrounding coyotes being hit by cars.  Ms. Stephens reported that their Commission is involved with the Zoo at this time, and that one of the issues that animal rights activists have with the San Francisco Zoological Society is that they look only at the species and not at the individual animals.  One of the concerns with the breeding programs is that they care only about the breeding of endangered species, and not with the fact that animals are often kept in inhumane conditions or that they are constantly moved from zoo to zoo. 

 

Mr. Francisco Da Costa stated that we need to review wildlife management plans that already exist in our area, starting with the Presidio of San Francisco, which not only has a forest management plan but a very detailed wildlife management plan.  Mr. Da Costa explained that he represents the first people of this area and is interested in the last frontier and those areas, which are really wild but adversely impacted by radiologic/toxic elements, e.g., Hunters Point and the Farallon Islands. Mr. Da Costa suggested considering other elements such as mercury, lead, heavy metals that are affecting the wildlife in the bay, and recommended that a policy be linked to good health.  Mr. Da Costa also recommended reviewing Golden Gate Park’s detailed forest management plan to assess its deficiencies in terms of wildlife, and then apply findings to Treasure Island, Mission Bay and other areas.

 

Ms. Nancy Wuerfel recommended identifying whether the document would serve the purpose of a plan or a policy as both terms were used throughout the presentation. If the Department is looking to provide policy and guidance to the city as a way to move forward, it would be a totally different document than a plan that would include the how to, where to, and by to kinds of hands-on things.  Ms. Wuerfel stated that she does not hear that San Francisco embraces the term “biodiversity” for all living things that are here, and that somehow native things are more valuable than non-native things.  Ms. Wuerfel stated that plants, animals or people have a right to be here, and therefore would like to encourage that biodiversity be thought about as lots of different things.  Ms. Wuerfel also suggested being realistic and to work on implementable issues. Ms. Wuerfel recommended introducing a plan that can be achieved, is something that would be the most manageable for human beings and wild animals, and to always allow for public input.

 

Ms. Noreen Weeden reported that she is impressed with the draft framework and is supportive of this topic.  Ms. Weeden stated that a successful restoration project was implemented in San Francisco at Pier 94 on Port property.  A year after that area was restored native birds came and nested there.  Ms. Weeden spoke in support of involving inter-agencies in this effort.  It was explained that there are many projects going on in the future that look at open space as part of their planning.  Ms. Weeden stated that she also supports the idea of not feeding wildlife human food as it attracts non-native pests that cause problems in the City. 

 

Mr. Micah Shull, San Francisco State, Environmental Studies, stated that he is also a surfer who spends a lot of time at Ocean Beach and that every summer a family of dolphins arrive, and the numbers seem to be increasing every year.  It makes him happy to be in San Francisco as a result.  Mr. Shull stated that he is excited that the Department is taking the time to pursue a comprehensive wildlife plan and supports and encourages the effort.  

 

Vice-Chair Gravanis stated that she would prepare a list of stakeholders, next steps, and considerations, and then discuss a grant proposal with the Department Director and Grants Manager.  The public was asked to send additional comments to Vice-Chair Gravanis through the Commission Secretary, Monica Fish.  

 

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.

 

Mr. Francisco Da Costa recommended paying attention to reducing methane gas from sewage treatment plants especially in the southeast sector of San Francisco as a way to reduce our carbon footprint.  It was explained that one ton of methane gas is equivalent to 22 tons of carbon dioxide.  Mr. Da Costa recommended that in addition to focusing on areas to do with plants, animals, birds, and fish that more attention should be given to pollution control and its effects on children and elders especially in the southeast sector. It was reported that a company has bombarded the area with asbestos structures and recommended that the Commission and Committee access a dust mitigation plan, Article 31, established by the San Francisco Health Department to see how those standards could be enforced. Mr. Da Costa stated that the Department was created from a $13.6 million grant and links many of their projects to southeast sector environmental justice advocacy.

 

Ms. Sally Stephens stated that she wants to make sure that there will be a public process around the Wildlife Management Plan and that the public is able to comment on revisions before it is completed.  Ms. Stephens also recommended that the Commission Secretary provide a microphone for the meeting room so everyone is able to hear the proceedings adequately.  Ms. Fish stated she would look into this possibility in the future and that sound-enhancement systems can also be made available with adequate notice before the meeting.  Chair Wald stated that Vice-Chair Gravanis’s purpose in creating the draft framework is to bring a funding proposal to the Grants Manager, so that fundraising proposals could be submitted to potential donors that would support this kind of work.  When funds are received, then everything would be done through a public process.  It was explained that it is not the Commission’s policy to put fundraising proposals up for public review and comment.  Vice-Chair Gravanis indicated that the scope of work would be to engage in a stakeholder process.  Deputy Director Assmann stated that the Plan itself would go through a public process.   Commissioner Martin stated that today was intended as a means for public comment as well.  Vice-Chair Gravanis reported that any additional comments could be directed to the Commission Secretary and would be forwarded to the Vice-Chair.

 

8.   Announcements. (Discussion)  There were no announcements made at this time.

 

9.  New Business/Future Agenda Items. (Discussion)  Future presentation requests: Vice Chair Gravanis--Better Streets Plan/Urban Forest Plan.  Chair Wald--urban forestry activities.

 

10.  Adjournment. The Policy Committee meeting adjourned at 7:45 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 Monica.Fish@sfgov.org.

 

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