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09.08 Approved Minutes

CITY AND COUNTY OF SAN FRANCISCO

COMMISSION ON THE ENVIRONMENT

POLICY COMMITTEE

 

REGULAR MEETING

APPROVED MINUTES

 
Monday, September 8, 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 was called to order at 5:05 p.m.  Present:  Chair Wald, Vice-Chair Gravanis, Commissioner Martin

 

2.   Approval of Minutes of the August 18, 2008 Policy Committee Rescheduled Meeting. (Discussion and Action).  Upon Motion by Vice-Chair Gravanis and second by Commissioner Martin, the August 18, 2008 Meeting Minutes were approved as written without objection (Explanatory Document: August 18, 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.   Resolution supporting the “Integrated Preferred Alternative” Marine Protected Area (MPA) Network for the North Central Coast of California for recommendation to the Commission on the Environment. (Discussion and Action) (Explanatory Documents: Draft Resolution File 2008-15-COE and Supporting Documentation) Sponsor:  Director Jared Blumenfeld; Speaker:  Mr. Keith Weissglass, Pacific Outreach Coordinator, Ocean Conservancy

 

Mr. Weissglass reported that he is appearing before the Policy Committee on behalf of Ocean Conservancy’s 35,000 California members, conservation colleagues, and San Francisco residents who support healthy oceans.  It was explained that Director Blumenfeld in 2005 wrote a letter applauding the Marine Life Protection Act Initiative and urging protection of the Bay Area’s coast as a priority. The initiative is creating a science-based statewide network of marine protected areas to restore California’s underwater habitats and wildlife.  Mr. Weissglass requested the Commission’s continued support from the City for the Marine Life Protection Initiative by endorsing a plan called the “Integrated Preferred Alternative” (IPA) that would protect 20% of state waters off of San Francisco’s coast.  The Plan is a result of more than a year’s work by a diverse group of stakeholders ranging from fishermen, to conservationists, to state agencies, and included San Francisco residents.  The IPA is a compromised plan that has support from Ocean Conservancy, fellow conservation groups, California Academy of Sciences, local fishermen, Aquarium of the Bay, and the City of Pacifica.  The Commission’s support would show that San Franciscans value our ocean legacy and want to see a strong plan that would restore the health of our coastal waters for future generations to enjoy.

 

Vice-Chair Gravanis reported that she is impressed by all of the work that has been accomplished on this effort and is in full support.  Commissioner Martin inquired about the restrictions to access to the protected areas.  Mr. Weissglass reported that certain levels of restrictions would be placed on taking or destruction of marine life, but would still allow access to kayakers and divers. The strongest protection would restrict all taking of wildlife.  “California’s Ocean Legacy: Marine Protected Areas on the North Central Coast” was distributed that included a map of North Central Coast marine protected areas and levels of protection.  Mr. Weissglass reported that the Department of Fish and Game has a list of what each area allows and restricts.

 

Mr. Weissglass reported that Ocean Conservancy will be holding an International Coastal Cleanup on September 20th, which is the world’s largest environmental cleanup of trash from oceans and waterways and collected-trash would be recorded.

 

Vice-Chair Gravanis asked whether the plan would address discharges of potentially toxic material.  Mr. Weissglass explained that there is potential for researching this area, but it has not yet been the focus.  Mr. Weissglass stated that he would review the law for additional information in this area.  Chair Wald reported that the focus is on the “take” because they want to set up areas where fish can be protected in order to rebuild population areas in stressed areas.  Vice-Chair Gravanis asked Mr. Weissglass for any suggestions that he or other stakeholders might have into the Wildlife Management Plan. 

 

Public Comment: Ms. Sara Aminzadeh, San Francisco Baykeeper, reported that San Francisco Baykeeper is a member of the statewide alliance, California Coastkeeper Alliance.  Ms. Aminzadeh reported Baykeeper has worked on the Marine Life Protection Initiative for the past year and spoke in full support of the plan.  It was stated that even if the implementation has not reached the Bay Area at this time, that it is important to protect marine eco-systems in neighboring coastal areas that would have an affect on our waters.  Director Blumenfeld inquired about enforcement proceedings to mitigate pollution to the bay.  Ms. Aminzadeh stated that in terms of water quality, key program areas are focused on MLPA, sewage, storm water, agricultural and industrial pollution.  It was explained that San Francisco Baykeeper enforces the Clean Water Act and discussed current litigation in process. 

 

Vice-Chair Gravanis moved adoption of the Resolution, second by Commissioner Martin without objection (AYES:  Chair Wald, Vice-Chair Gravanis, and Commissioner Martin). The Draft Resolution would be forwarded to the Commission on the Environment for consideration at their October 30, 2008 meeting.  Mr. Weissglass explained that this issue is before the Fish and Game Commission that will be holding a hearing on October 2, but a final decision would not be reached until January or February of 2009.  Director Blumenfeld reported that he would write a letter of support on behalf of the Department and the Committee for Mr. Weissglass to present to the Fish and Game Commission.

     

5.   Department Update on Urban Forest Activities.  (Informational Report and Discussion) (Explanatory Document:  Urban Forestry Council Annual Report) Sponsor:  Chair Johanna Wald; Staff Speaker:  Ms. Mei Ling Hui, Urban Forestry Council Coordinator

 

Ms. Hui reported on her work supporting the Urban Forestry Council, an advisory body on urban forestry issues to the Mayor and Board of Supervisors and that serves as a venue for urban forest stakeholders and managers to work collaboratively together.  Ms. Hui discussed the Urban Forestry Council Annual Report that was recently submitted to the Board of Supervisors.  Topics discussed included:

 

·         Many of the urban forest reports (Street Tree Analysis, UFORE, etc.) that were cited in the Annual Report have not been updated since 2003 or 2004 with the exception of minor edits because of a lack of funding.  Ms. Hui explained that she is working with other groups on a five-year follow up to the UFORE report that she hope can be accomplished at low or no cost and is scheduled for completion in 2010. 

 

·         A number of departments, agencies, and non-profit organizations that are urban forest managers in San Francisco did not respond to the survey requesting information on their urban forestry activities, accomplishments and challenges.  An effort is being made by the Director of Greening to work with these agencies to provide the reports. An addendum to the report will be submitted if responses are received.  The Recreation and Park Department’s section was added from information provided at a Board of Supervisors Committee meeting as they were one of the departments that had not responded to the survey.  Ms. Hui explained that most of the responders indicated they lack staff and resources to adequately manage the trees that are under their jurisdiction, with the exception of the Airport. 

 

Chair Wald recommended that a regulation be established that mandates responses to the survey in order to better track what is happening to existing trees and where new trees are being planted.  It was stated that the current regulatory scheme is not making sure this information is provided.  Director Blumenfeld explained that the Urban Forestry Council Ordinance requires that this information be provided.  Ms. Hui stated that agencies are required to provide the information, but that they may not be tracking the information accordingly (number of trees planted, removed and maintained).  Commissioner Martin recommended contacting the agency individually. Ms. Hui stated that each contact was sent the survey directly.  Director Blumenfeld and Chair Wald recommended inviting individual contacts to the Policy Committee to encourage them to participate.

 

Chair Wald recommended that a single database be established so instead of compiling information for the Council, agencies would have an ongoing tracking system.  Ms. Hui discussed the availability of the San Francisco Tree Map, which will maintain tree data in a database and provides for web access to tree data, a key for maintenance and planting efforts.  It was stated that there is a need for buy-in by departments and relevant agencies to make the project successful.  Ms. Hui discussed the potential to obtain tree information by involving schools as part of the curriculum for certain classes. .  Director Blumenfeld stated that the Department could have a work day inputting trees into a GPS. Commissioner Martin recommended that private property owners not be allowed to interface with the Tree Map if reliable information is to be provided.  Ms. Hui explained that the database has a color-coded control mechanism that shows who inputs the data.

 

·         Commissioner Martin stated that the current model we have is deficient and is resulting in trees that at best are not taken care of and at worst are deplorable.  It was recommended that alternatives be researched, e.g., to designate DPW or some other entity that knows about proper pruning and tree care and is willing to do so.  Commissioner Martin stated that we are asking lay people to maintain our trees.  In addition, citizens are asked if they want a tree and have an option to not have a tree which is a stumbling block to growing San Francisco’s urban forest.  San Francisco should collectively decide what our forest should be and not piece meal property by property.  Chair Wald asked what other cities do.  Commissioner Martin stated that other cities are required to have trees.  Coordinator Hui stated that those cities provide care for all of the trees.  Coordinator Hui reported that the Council has been discussing a requirement that anyone working on a tree gets a certain certification from the City or another source.  Commissioner Martin stated that there is currently little enforcement on pruning rules.  Ms. Hui reported that there has been discussion on creating a new homeowner packet on proper pruning/maintenance for trees. Commissioner Martin recommended a finding a more sustainable long-term solution.  A discussion was held on the positive aspects of community benefit districts providing maintenance and planting of trees.

 

Street trees are maintained by both the Department of Public Works and private property owners, and trees on private property are the responsibility of property owners. Many property owners actively tend to their trees, but many neglect or destroy trees through improper maintenance, pruning, etc.  Commissioner Martin inquired about information that was available on private property trees.  Ms. Hui reported on the social survey that was commissioned by the Council of 1100 residents on public opinion of urban trees.  Director Blumenfeld reported that the UFORE report is a comprehensive survey of San Francisco’s urban forest that includes trees on private and public property.  Ms. Hui reported that the information provided in this report addresses the health and number of trees, but not how well private property owners are taking care of their trees. 

 

Commissioner Martin recommended that the Urban Forest Master Plan process propose an alternative to what is currently available for maintenance of privately-maintained street trees.  Ms. Hui reported that the Department of Public Works is interested in taking over the care of all street trees along with other relevant agencies, e.g. MUNI, San Francisco Public Utilities Commission. However, while DPW would like to assume the care of a greater portion of the urban forest, they lack the resources to provide the level of care they would like to the trees that are currently their responsibility to maintain. An immediate concern is that the number of trees they are supposed to be maintaining in the next few years as a result of current programs (“Trees for Tomorrow”) is increasing, but their tree care budget is not. 

 

·         Director Blumenfeld asked Ms. Hui to report on the City’s progress planting trees in underserved neighborhoods.  Ms. Hui stated that the Street Tree Analysis report was completed in 2003, so she does not have current information; however, there has been an effort to plant trees in the southeastern area of the City.  The Department of the Environment has a grant for residents to plant trees in Bayview and Potrero Hill neighborhoods for free.  Ms. Hui reported that in addition, Friends of the Urban Forest received a grant to plant trees in the Sunset District for free.

 

·         Urban Forest Master Plan Draft is scheduled to be available in March or spring 2009.  There has been only one meeting on this Plan, and the Urban Forestry Council would be used as a venue to supply information to the public.  Mr. Andres Power, Project Manager, would be discussing the Plan at the September 26 Urban Forestry Council meeting.

 

Commissioner Martin left the meeting at this time.

 

·         Ms. Raphael stated that when she was working on the Annual Report for the Integrated Pest Management (IPM) program, more information was received from departments when they were invited to appear before the Commission to discuss their activities.  It also helps to say that there is a particular Commissioner who is particularly interested in their input.  Vice-Chair Gravanis stated that while it would be good to know the number and status of the trees in Recreation & Park Department’s jurisdiction, she feels that, given limited staff and resources, it is more important for the Commission to focus more on street trees and on environmental justice goals, to make sure that trees are planted and maintained in areas that are currently underserved.  Vice-Chair Gravanis discussed methods to educate people, such as pruning tip flyers affixed to doorknobs, Friends of the Urban Forest workshops, and real estate agent cooperation for new home buyers regarding tree ownership.  Vice-Chair Gravanis stated that these solutions are “band-aids” and that a long-term solution should be considered, e.g. doing a cost-benefit analysis of the feasibility of DPW maintaining all trees and pros of cons of doing so.  The focus should also be on making sure that there is a commitment from homeowners or tenants to maintain trees that are being offered for planting if DPW is not going to do it.  

 

Ms. Hui reported that the Board of Supervisors is considering proposed legislation to restructure the Urban Forestry Council to eleven voting members and four advisory members that could take effect around the end of September if it passes.  It was explained that the Council Chair wrote a letter supporting the current legislation.  Ms. Hui stated that all members would have to be reappointed or new members would be appointed to the Council.   The Landmark Tree Ordinance had been revised to create noticing requirements and extend the temporary tree protection period from 180 to 215 days and add another 30 days of protection for after the ordinance is signed by the Mayor.  In addition, the Council has been working on new improved landmark tree criteria that they have adopted for the Board to consider.  Ms. Hui was commended for her work on urban forestry activities and was thanked for her presentation.    

    

6.   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. Resolution for urging the Mayor and the Board of Supervisors to Urge Local Hospitals and Retailers to Help Reduce Infant Exposure to Bisphenol A (BPA) by Voluntarily Banning the Distribution or Sale of Baby Bottles Containing BPA for recommendation to the Commission on the Environment. (Explanatory Document:  Resolution File No. 2008-16-COE) (Discussion and Action) Sponsor:  Director Jared Blumenfeld; Staff Speaker:  Ms. Debbie Raphael, Toxics Reduction Program Manager

 

Ms. Raphael reported that it may not be possible to pass a law to ban Bisphenol A (BPA), so a voluntary approach is being recommended for hospitals/retailers to refrain from distributing or selling baby bottles that contain BPA. Ms. Raphael introduced Commercial Toxic Reduction Team members Ms. Karen Andrade, Ms. Sushma Dhulipala, and Ms. Cynthia Knowles.  It was reported that Ms. Andrade and volunteers surveyed stores and hospitals to determine which brands were being distributed or sold as reflected in the survey results “San Francisco-Baby Bottles in Retail and Hospitals Survey Results.”  Hospitals that are not shown on the list do not distribute baby bottles.  Hospitals shown on the list have stopped distributing Bisphenol A baby bottles.  The stores on the list that sell baby bottles containing Bisphenol A also stock alternatives as reflected in the column “% of bottles containing BPA (estimated)”; however, the survey results reflect information researched from a number of San Francisco chain stores, but may not reflect what all of the stores carry.  Ms. Raphael explained that there is no reason from a market standpoint not to carry alternatives to BPA baby bottles.  The Board action would be asking for a voluntary phase out of BPA containing baby bottles, and retailers would be targeted.

 

Chair Wald asked why the Resolution is asking only for a voluntary ban.  Ms. Raphael reported that the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) has preempted local governments from taking actions stricter than theirs.  Vice-Chair Gravanis recommended that the retailers that do carry BPA baby bottles clearly label their products of this fact. 

     

Upon Motion by Vice-Chair Gravanis and second by Chair Wald, the Policy Committee approved Draft Resolution File No. 2008-16-COE with amendments that include revising the language to state that “The San Francisco Commission on the Environment Policy Committee urges the Mayor and the Board of Supervisors to take action to pass a Resolution urging San Francisco hospitals and retailers to help reduce infant exposure to Bisphenol A (BPA) by banning the sale and distribution of baby bottles containing BPA”  (Explanatory Document: Policy Committee Final Resolution No. 001-08-COEPolicy).  The Policy Committee Resolution would be forwarded to the Board of Supervisors for their consideration.  The Commission on the Environment would also be asked to approve the Resolution at their next meeting.

 

7.   Announcements. (Discussion)  Vice-Chair Gravanis (1) urged people to participate in the coastal cleanup at Pier 94.  Director Blumenfeld reported that additional information about the Coastal Cleanup event would be posted on the Department’s website; (2) announced the “No Drugs Down the Drain” campaign to be held on October 4 – 11, which is an opportunity to dispose of all medications which is so hard to do in San Francisco; and (3) the PUC’s Eco-Fair on October 11.  Ms. Raphael reported that she is working with the Mayor’s Office in order to request additional participation from the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission and discussed the significant legal, environmental, and financial hurdles associated with the collection of pharmaceuticals that are being worked through.  Director Blumenfeld recommended consideration of extending the sell-by date so there would be fewer pharmaceuticals to dispose of.  Ms. Dhulipala discussed the movement in Europe influencing doctors to prescribe less toxic medications. Ms. Raphael announced that Sweden issued a report listing which medicines are Perisistent, Bioaccumulative and Toxic (PBT’s) and which are likely to bio-cumulate in water.  Director Blumenfeld requested that this report be presented to the Commission at a future meeting.  Chair Wald discussed how producer responsibility relates to this issue.  Vice-Chair Gravanis discussed how toxic chemicals in water pose an obstacle to water recycling.  Ms. Raphael stated that Los Angeles is requesting that their residents put pharmaceuticals in the trash for that reason.  Director Blumenfeld requested that this topic be placed on the November Policy Committee agenda for further discussion.  

 

Director Blumenfeld announced that the November 7 Commission Annual Retreat’s topic of discussion would be on the implementation of the new green economy.  Committee members and participants discussed the Mayor’s press release on the new green roof bus shelter at the Civic Center.      

 

8.  New Business/Future Agenda Items. (Discussion).  Ms. Fish reported on Ms. LeCar’s email in opposition to installation of artificial turf in San Francisco’s playgrounds.  Director Blumenfeld recommended that this issue be discussed at the next October Policy Committee meeting.

 

9.  Public Comments:  Members of the public may address the Committee on matters that are within the Committee’s jurisdiction and are not on today’s agenda.  There was no public comment at this time.

 

10.  Adjournment.  The Policy Committee meeting adjourned at 6:50 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:  October 20, 2008

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