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12.09 Approved Minutes

CITY AND COUNTY OF SAN FRANCISCO

COMMISSION ON THE ENVIRONMENT

POLICY COMMITTEE

 

*RESCHEDULED MEETING

APPROVED MINUTES

 
Tuesday, December 9, 2008, 5:00 P.M.

Department of the Environment

11 Grove Street Eco-Center

San Francisco, CA 94102

 

*The Monday, December 8, 2008, 5:00 p.m. Regularly Scheduled Meeting of the Policy Committee at City Hall, Room 421 was RESCHEDULED to Tuesday, December 9, 2008 at 5:00 p.m. at the Department of the Environment, 11 Grove Street, Eco Center.

 

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 Commission on the Environment Policy Committee Meeting convened at 5:05 p.m.  Present:  Chair Wald (5:35), Commissioners Gravanis and Martin.

 

2.  Approval of Minutes of the November 18, 2008 Policy Committee Rescheduled Meeting.  (Discussion and Action) Upon Motion by Commissioner Martin and second by Vice-Chair Gravanis, the November 18, 2008 Meeting Minutes were approved with amendments on page 3, second paragraph, to change “access” to “preparedness”, “minimal” to “additional”, delete “modal”, and add “an” before “impact.” (Absent:  Chair Wald)  (Explanatory Document: November 18, 2008 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.   Hunters Point Shipyard/Candlestick Point Integrated Development Project.  Speaker: Tiffany Bohee, Project Manager, Office of Economic and Workforce Development.  Status Update on the Transportation Plan.  Speakers: Peter Albert, Manager, Urban Planning Initiatives Program, San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency and Matthew Ridgway, Principal, Fehr & Peers (Informational Presentation and Discussion)

 

Vice-Chair Gravanis reported that the discussion on the Hunters Point Shipyard/Candlestick Point Integrated Development Project addresses the Urban Environmental Accord on Urban Design and that the Committee has heard reports on the Sustainability Plan, Energy, Waste, Wildlife and a number of other issues.  Today’s topic of discussion would be on the Transportation Plan.  Ms. Bohee reported that the project is on target with all approvals and entitlements for 2009, and that work is being done with the Municipal Transportation Agency, the Transportation Authority, all transit agencies, and all other projects to understand what the right improvements should be.  Ms. Bohee recommended that Commissioners review and comment on the Draft Transportation Plan, which is near completion and was presented at the meeting (Explanatory Document:  Draft Transportation Plan).

 

Mr. Peter Albert, Manager of Urban Planning Initiatives, Municipal Transportation Authority (MTA), presented a status update on the development project’s Transportation Plan.  Mr. Albert reported that Urban Planning Initiatives is a new office that is creating a liaison between MTA and the Mayor’s Office of Economic and Workforce Development.  Mr. Albert stated that he was previously the Deputy Director of the MTA Planning Department and hopes to work with that department to bring in bicycle, traffic calming, and transit expertise, pedestrian programming, and the Better Streets Plan to help bring multi-modal planning into this project.  It was stated that it is the responsibility of MTA and the City to guide the development so that it helps achieve San Francisco’s multi modal transit first pedestrian oriented goal and highlighted progress in that direction.  Mr. Albert stated that MTA had discussed the isolation and difficulty reaching this neighborhood by pedestrians, bicycle and transit and discussed efforts to bring connections into the new development area.   

 

(Explanatory Document:  Land Use and Development Program Presentation)

 

Summary of presentation:

 

Land Use and Development Program: Mr. Albert discussed the integration of land use priorities and transportation strategies.  It was explained that the land uses are going to be mixed-use and high- density. They will be high-density where there will be transit-richness, and mixed-use where we need streets to be multi-modal so there is pedestrian activation, transit connections and bicycle friendliness in the network. This is a fairly high-density mixed-use development that has about 10,500 housing units, 250,000 square feet of retail per neighborhood, and 635,000 square feet of regional retail.  There is a mix of artists’ studios, office, hotels, an arena, and open space. The diagram shows that the amenities that are being built in this plan actually benefit the entire area of the city as there are open spaces on the waterfront, and other areas, that have better bicycle, pedestrian, and transit connections for all people in the Bayview, Visitacion Valley, Little Hollywood, and Central Waterfront. 

 

Transportation Demand Program (TDM): To make sure that what is built is in the pattern that makes this a sustainable transit-oriented pedestrian-friendly development, professional help will be rendered from the TDM program that will help maintain the goals of reducing auto use, and increasing transit, walking and bicycling.  There will be a full-time transportation coordinator that will help the residents, visitors, and employers with information about transportation options.  The employees in this area will participate in the TDM program that encourages alternative modes of transportation so they will have vanpool coordination, commuter checks, carpool, and information to help make sure that these options are intuitive, immediate, and convenient.  There will be carshare programs located in the area, and residential parking will be unbundled, which means that you don’t have to buy or rent a parking space when you buy or rent a unit.  You have choices, so people can choose to live in this area and not own or drive a car.  That is a new concept that is being looked at for new development areas in San Francisco.  There will be an EcoPass, a full service transit pass that provides better access to transit.

 

Project Modal Split Goal Weekday, PM Peak Hour: Mr. Albert discussed existing travel behavior and goals for decreasing auto use and increasing transit, walking and bicycle use by establishing transit infrastructure to help achieve those goals.  These are goals that are based on classic San Francisco neighborhoods. Transit infrastructure will be provided that will help achieve these goals.

 

Proposed Transit Improvements:  Work is being done with the Transit Effectiveness Project to make sure that all of the new planning going into MUNI will extend into the shipyard and Candlestick Point and would give people one seat rides to neighborhoods throughout San Francisco.  Bus Rapid Transit, which is a bus that has its own easement, its own lanes will connect with Caltrain and BART in order to provide connections to regional transit, which would provide better access to jobs in regional areas.  All levels of transit access are being reviewed--regional, local, MUNI, Caltrain, and BART in order to reach the 35% transit modal split.

 

Proposed Roadway Improvements:  Roadway improvements are proposed in order to manage capacity so transit first modal splits can be maintained.  Intersections, the highway interchange, and the overpass on Geneva Avenue are being studied to make sure that regional to local street access is dispersed and so people have a variety of ways to get in an out of the area to reduce particular congestion in a particular street.  Work is being done with the Bayview Transportation Improvement Study and relevant agencies to make sure that freight traffic is being managed throughout this area. 

 

Pedestrian Mobility and Access:  There will be continuity of the street grids getting from the existing neighborhoods to the heart of these communities and would be built into the heart of the open space amenities that are being provided.  There will be access to the SF Bay Trail, pedestrian/bicycle paths, pedestrian only streets, boulevard park streets, neighborhood commercial streets, and there will be new and enhanced sidewalks and major transit stops. The transit center provides opportunities for residents to walk to a location to catch one seat rides to downtown, Caltrain and BART and will have pedestrian access to make it usable for many people.  The Better Streets Guidelines are being referenced in order to bring street furniture, trees, landscaping, sidewalks, and amenities to calm streets and make them pedestrian friendly.

 

Bike Planning:  Mr. Albert reported that he is working closely with the MTA bicycle planning program, which he used to manage and discussed the bike planning injunction, a lawsuit that is impairing the implementation of the bike network.  Bike network planning efforts included a review of the low topography, transit and bike facilities (e.g., the bridge proposal for Yosemite Slough), so there is excellent transit and bicycle access that contains an understanding of the topography and challenges in the area and brings the bike network of the city into the heart of the area. 

 

Game Day Transit and Stadium Auto Access Routes:  The network has been designed to be a game and non-game day situation with or without the stadium, and that both work well together.  There is a plan for charter buses, which is a significant part of what moves people in and out of the stadium.  The two slides show that the grid is being used to disperse traffic impacts so that there would be quicker exit time from a game day situation than the current 49ers stadium has.  A system is also being designed that has a much higher transit mode to and from the game.

 

Ms. Bohee reported that the project team is working closely at the bi-county level, with all the related constituents.  It was announced that there would be a Bi-County Transportation Coordination meeting on December 10th at Visitacion Valley Elementary School, which is the second of two meetings sponsored by the City Transportation Authority.  Commissioners were encouraged to attend the meeting.  Agencies that would be in attendance include the MTA, Bike Plan participants, Caltrain, Caltrans, and all relevant agencies.  Mr. Albert explained that because the project is so close to the county line, decisions that are being made would be coordinated with Daly City, Brisbane, and the Redevelopment Agency.  Approximately ten agencies would be represented at the meeting, and about forty community members are expected to attend.  Attending the meeting would provide a good opportunity to acquire information on what is going on from present day to growth on all redevelopment projects in the area and region.  

 

Commissioner Martin inquired about Brisbane’s visions and Daly City’s challenges.  Mr. Albert reported on collaboration efforts on the Brisbane Baylands project, in relation to housing, providing connections to Caltrain, and objectives for the Bayshore Station that when complete would be an intermodal station that has light rail, bus rapid transit, commuter train and possible “baby bullet” service all from the same location.  The main focus is to make sure that Brisbane’s intermodal transit station works, and that their land use plan supports transit.   Mr. Albert stated that work is being done with Daly City on the other side of San Francisco by Balboa Park and the Daly City Bart station. It was explained that most importantly, what is being done through the bi-county study is establishing relationships with their City engineers and planners. The Geneva extension will be a big issue and it is important that Daly City is brought along as discussions are held on Bus Rapid Transit in front of the Cow Palace.

 

Commissioner Martin inquired whether MUNI would be fully accessible to bicycles, e.g. if the Bus Rapid Transit system (BRT) would allow bicycles.  Mr. Albert stated that MTA is studying the idea of bicycles on Light Rail Transit (LRT), and is looking at the ability of bringing bikes on the ‘T’ line, and believes there may be similar capacity issues of BRT.  It was explained that there are limitations on LRT because trains are crowded, and there are safety issues and concerns with the ADA community.  A bike pilot program will be implemented that will provide information about bus rapid transit, light rail, and regular bus service.  Commissioner Martin suggested looking to Portland light rail as a model.  Mr. Albert explained that Portland does not have the crowding factors San Francisco does that limit bike access and exacerbate ADA-related safety concerns, but is also getting to the point of being challenged along those lines. Commissioner Martin inquired about the challenges in increasing the 1% bicycle transit goal in order to reach 10% of trips by bicycle by 2010.  Mr. Albert explained that we are above where we thought we were going to be at a citywide mode split, and targets were set pragmatically to make sure they reflect existing San Francisco neighborhoods. 

 

Mr. Albert reported that the shipyard transit center includes a ferry terminal which will be connected to the Water Emergency Transportation Authority and will be part of the future network of service to Oyster Point and Redwood City.  Mr. Albert reported that there is a private sector funded bike sharing test going on in North Beach right now, which is also being considered for Treasure Island and for this project as well.  Commissioner Martin recommended that the project include more amenities to support a higher bicycle transit goal, such as bike parking, which is a big challenge in San Francisco. 

 

Commissioner Martin Inquired about the MUNI ClassPass and EcoPass.  Mr. Albert reported that ClassPass is a program in universities in which the student body elects to buy a pass as part of their administration fees at a much lower price than they would pay if they were paying out of pocket. The program is now being offered at University of San Francisco and will be offered next at San Francisco State and possibly City College. MUNI’s concern is that they don’t lose money but it is realized that they would be engendering a future generation of transit riders, so there is a long-range goal.  Mr. Albert explained that the EcoPass is in use in Silicon Valley and is common for businesses to offer. It is a monthly pass on all area transit, e.g., BART, MUNI, Golden Gate ferries, Caltrain, etc. that employers would help subsidize as a public private partnership with MTA in order to offer discounted rides to their employees.

 

Commissioner Martin inquired about topography challenges for bicycles.  Mr. Albert discussed challenges with hills and the integration of bicycle and transit routes that can work effectively, but you would have to be conscious of the design at the intersections, lanes, and of signal technologies.  It was explained that bike route planners are knowledgeable in finding the flattest ways that do not conflict with public transit and trucks so that bicycle and transit networks are separated whenever possible.  Commissioner Martin inquired if the bridge would be in use by autos on game day but not on off-game day.  Mr. Albert explained that the bridge is designed to be a bike and transit facility on a non-game day situation and is used as part of the auto network on a game-day situation.

 

Vice-Chair Gravanis reported that she is pleased to see Transit Development Measures (TDM) and unbundled parking and inquired about the proposed residential parking ratio.  Mr. Albert explained that the standard city minimum is 1 parking space for 1 unit, and that consideration is being given to adding a cap of 1 to 1. Residents would be given the option of not having to pay for a parking space.  Vice-Chair Gravanis recommended lowering the 1 for 1 cap.  Mr. Albert reported that with unbundled parking, some people would make the economic choice not to rent or buy a parking space.  It was explained that the success of unbundled parking depends on supplying a transit-rich neighborhood.

 

Vice-Chair Gravanis recommended establishing TDM measures to reduce car ownership and not just car use in order to make it a transit-oriented neighborhood.  Mr. Albert explained that the Carshare program, which is part of the TDM program, combined with unbundled parking would provide that opportunity.  Vice-Chair Gravanis recommended providing as many ways as possible so that people could meet their grocery, retail and service needs in the neighborhood without the use of a car, e.g., shopping carts that can be brought home, availability of golf carts, and grocery delivery service.  Vice-Chair Gravanis inquired whether there would be a parking cost in retail areas.  Mr. Albert discussed the benefits of SFPark, Smart Management Parking Program that would reduce car use.

 

Vice-Chair Gravanis inquired about the alternatives being considered for the bridge and expressed concern that the public would not be able to see any information until after the Draft Environmental Impact Report was published.  Vice-Chair Gravanis stated that she would like to see information before publication of the Draft EIR so comments can be submitted prior to its release.  Commissioner Martin inquired whether there would be any significant changes to the non-stadium option as the anticipated traffic needs would be different in terms of intensity and duration.    

 

Commissioner Martin recommended including plans for corner stores and small retail that would be immediate neighborhood-serving and would provide opportunities for small business owners as opposed to larger stores/businesses.   Chair Wald stated that if you put stores in the outer edge you can integrate neighborhoods that already exist with the new neighborhood.       

 Public Comment: 

 

Ms. Noreen Weeden, Golden Gate Audubon reported that in 2003 and 2004, Golden Gate Audubon worked with the community and conducted a census of the wildlife at Yosemite Slough.  At that time, over 118 species of birds were identified, 7 species of mammals, 14 species of butterflies as well as identification of amphibians and reptiles.  Even in the degraded state at that time, the potential for improved habitat was identified and it was found that additional species would utilize the site if given the opportunity.  Since that time, funding has been approved for utilizing Prop 84 funds, $5 million dollars to improve the Yosemite Slough, which the bridge is in conflict with.  The bridge would cause additional air and noise pollution for the community and runoff into the water and negatively impact the wildlife that lives or may potentially live there if the bridge was not put there.  Ms. Weeden explained that Golden Gate Audubon has opposed both of the two bridge proposals through the Bayview Transportation Planning process. 

 

Mr. Saul Bloom, Arc Ecology, requested an hour at the next Policy Committee meeting to discuss Arc Ecology’s alternative visions for the Hunters Point Shipyard/Candlestick Point Plan.

 

Vice-Chair Gravanis expressed concern with information given at the last Policy Committee meeting on the biodiversity section of the Sustainability Plan that the bridge would be beneficial for birds because colonization of the piers by mussels and other mollusks would be an attractive feature by diving ducks.  Vice-Chair Gravanis stated that she did not see how this would make the bridge an environmental benefit as indicated.  Vice-Chair Gravanis inquired about transportation impacts on Visitacion Valley.  Mr. Albert reported that Visitacion Valley at this time has no access to the Bayshore Caltrain station from the west side and that two penetrations into the neighborhood are being reviewed.  Vice-Chair Gravanis asked whether increased automobile traffic would result.  Mr. Albert stated that hopefully the net effect of the interchange would result in reduction of traffic on local streets and consolidation of traffic where the capacity can actually handle it.

 

Vice Chair Gravanis inquired about the timeline for Commission input into the project:  Ms. Bohee requested input from the Committee on the Draft Transportation Plan in progress.  It was explained that the project is in the stage where the Mayor and the Board of Supervisors recently approved a non-binding finance plan that lays out all of the costs, all of the transportation and transit improvements, parks and open space, contributions for work force training, etc.  It was stated that there are now place holders for other things which are in the planning stage. It was explained that there is a general projection of costs ($2 billion dollars) and efficiencies would be created.  The Committee would be asked for their comments on the EIR, which is scheduled for publication in spring and on the Draft Sustainability Plan at the end of December or January.  Ms. Bohee requested input on how the Commissioners wanted to structure future meetings.     

 

5.   Announcements. (Discussion)  Mr. Bloom reported that on January 14th, there would be a community workshop at the Bayview Opera House, at 5:30 p.m. on the history of the cleanup of the Shipyard and liquefaction which is a general issue of concern within the Bayview.

 

6.   New Business/Future Agenda Items. (Discussion)  Commissioners discussed future agenda items that include: (1) preliminary overview from staff of where we are in outreach generally and discussion of how the Commission would want to address methods for outreach in the future (January); (2) Arc Ecology discussion on proposed alternatives to the Hunters Point Shipyard Candlestick Point Project Plan and Mayor’s Office of Economic and Workforce Development update on schedule and plans (January); (3) Treasure Island Sustainability Plan, e.g., wastewater, stormwater, transportation (February); (4) Department budget updates; (5) Urban Environmental Accords website design work in progress; (6) selection of Urban Environmental Accords to work on in 2009; and (7) review of the Hunters Point Shipyard/Candlestick Point Transportation Plan that would be completed and distributed in the near future.  

 

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 Commission on the Environment Policy Committee meeting adjourned at 6:22 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:  January 13, 2009

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