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02.09 Approved Minutes







Monday, February 9, 2009, 5:00 P.M.

1 Dr. Carlton B. Goodlett Place, City Hall, Room 421

San Francisco, CA 94102



COMMITTEE MEMBERS:  Commissioners Johanna Wald (Chair), Ruth Gravanis (Vice-Chair), Jane MarieFrancis Martin



1.      Call to Order and Roll Call.  The Commission on the Environment Policy Committee Meeting convened at 5:05 p.m.  Present: Committee Vice-Chair Gravanis and Commissioner Martin; Excused:  Committee Chair Wald.


2.   Approval of Minutes of the January 13, 2009 Policy Committee Rescheduled Meeting. (Discussion and Action) Upon Motion by Commissioner Martin and second by Commissioner Gravanis, the January 13, 2009 Meeting Minutes were approved without objection (Explanatory Document: January 13, 2009 Approved Minutes) 


Item 5 was heard before Item 3.


3.   Urban Environmental Accords:

A.      Introduction of Website and update on Accords status. (Informational Presentation and Discussion) Speaker:  Jennifer Kass and Jared Blumenfeld, Department of the Environment


Ms. Kass presented an overview of the Urban Environmental Accords website located at http://sanfrancisco.visiblestrategies.com which is online as of today.  A description was given of the following screens on the site:


·         Welcome to the interactive website of Urban Environmental Accords screen.

·         Our Vision:  Describes the vision for the Accords and About Us—History of the Accords.

·         Urban Environmental Accords: Green Cities Declaration, Vision and Implementation, and list of Accords and Actions.

·         Three areas on the website that include (1) themes which are the schematic Accord areas; (2) topics under the theme, and (3) actions taken to achieve goals for the themes/topics.  As described in the legend, the topic areas are color coded so that if (1) an accord has been completed = green; (2) in progress = amber; (3) not adopted = red. 

·         The Action describes the accord action taken or will be taken to achieve the goal on that particular theme and topic, the actual accord, current status, programs, policies (Commission Resolutions, Ordinances, etc.), links to additional information, background information, scorecard, and videos.  The action links describes how well we are doing as far as actual implementation.

·         Information can be printed and will continue to be perfected as more detail is provided. 


Commissioner Gravanis (1) inquired whether the website would be intuitive for a first time user and suggested a paragraph of instructions to help guide people. Mr. Colin Grant, CEO & Founder of Visible Strategies indicated that there could be a welcome video or graphic instructions, but that the site is designed to be intuitive; (2) stated that the login screen might confuse people to think that they have to login to the site.  Mr. Grant indicated that the login screen is intended for staff input into the system and described software that would capture data from various sources that could be send directly by email to Ms. Kass or Mr. Blumenfeld.  Mr. Grant stated that a note could be added that the login screen is for staff use only; (3) inquired how people would locate the website.  Mr. Grodeska, Department of the Environment, reported on the URL location http://sanfrancisco.visiblestrategies.com and explained that there would be a link to the site on the sfenvironment.org website; (4) recommended that the overview section include what has been achieved as well as challenges to completing the goal.


Commissioner Martin (1) stated that the website appears to be user-friendly but recommended that the see-it Tutorial include basic and advanced instructions on how to use the site; (2) recommended that the color code at the action level for something not accomplished be an amber color to match the legend description; (3) inquired who the commentary is sent to and if there is an auto reply.  Mr. Blumenfeld reported that commentary would be sent to Ms. Kass and that hopefully there would be an auto reply; (4) recommended incorporating other accord cities information into the site to see what others have done and for interaction between cities on accord efforts.  It was suggested that this could be done by selecting a city on the globe. Mr. Blumenfeld stated that there would be a list of all cities that have signed onto the Accords.  Ms. Kass stated that staff is working with Visible Strategies to create a hub and spoke site so that all Accords cities could be represented if they choose. she does not know at this time what type of capacity this type of site would require and would have to explore this further how to represent the bigger picture.


Mr. Grant reported that this website would be set up with the ability for others to provide collaboration through blogs, community chat forums, videos, and with other tools in order to share information and create and share solutions.  Ms. Raphael, Department of the Environment, stated that this tool would not only disseminate outward information, but would be a call for help in brainstorming ideas to achieve solutions. Commissioner Martin recommended that (1) the website contain information for other cities on how the accords are functioning in terms of the City’s Sustainability, Strategic and Master Plans and (2) that the login area include information that the City would like to work on but is not yet public or is not ready to commit to as a type of discussion forum.  Mr. Blumenfeld and Ms. Kass reported that the site contains links to the Climate Action and Sustainability Plans, to the Department’s website, and other associated links to access additional context on the topic. Commissioner Martin also recommended that the website include an option to print a summary sheet of basic information/overview.  Mr. Grant stated that the program has a report writing function that can be customized.  


B.     Adoption of Urban Environmental Accords for Calendar Year 2008-09 for recommendation to the Commission on the Environment. (Explanatory Document:  Urban Environmental Accords Status as of January 2009 and Memo to Policy Committee Commissioners on Selection of Three Urban Environmental Accord Actions for 2009) (Discussion and Action) Speaker: Jared Blumenfeld


Mr. Blumenfeld reported that Korea would be hosting a convention for all 107 cities that have signed onto the Accords.  A report was presented on the Environmental Accords status as of January 2009 as described in the Environmental Accords Status as of January 2009 explanatory document above. It was explained that the accords highlighted in yellow are complete; green were adopted in 2006 and 2007 but not yet complete, and pink have been adopted in the past but are still incomplete and were therefore recommended for re-adoption in calendar year 2009 as follows.


Action 9: Adopt a policy or implement a program that creates environmentally beneficial jobs in low-income neighborhoods.


Action 15:  Implement a policy to reduce the percentage of commute trips by single occupancy vehicles by ten percent in seven years.


Action 17: Promote the public health and environmental benefits of supporting locally grown organic foods. Ensure that twenty percent of all city facilities (including schools) serve locally grown and organic food within seven years.

Mr. Blumenfeld explained that Action 9 was the subject of the Commission retreat and is a high priority to focus work efforts on.  It was explained that on Action 15, single occupancy vehicle trips have gone up even though commute trips by vehicles have gone down due to higher gasoline prices.  Accord 17 was adopted in 2008 but still outstanding because it costs more to secure local and organic food, and in the two major City sectors that could use these products (hospitals and jails), there is either no incentive to give money to (jails) or there are large budget cuts (hospitals).  It was explained that an effort is being made to push food traceability depending on the type of food, e.g., dairy = 200 miles; fruit and vegetables = California with the exception of foods that are not grown in California, e.g. bananas, wheat.   The goal is to reach 20% of all City facilities serving locally grown or organic food.  Mr. Blumenfeld discussed his objective to create additional community gardens within Recreation and Park Department management. 


Commissioner Martin reported that several of the Accord Actions, e.g., 16, are not complete and should be listed as ongoing or in progress. Commissioner Gravanis recommended distinguishing between items that can be checked off as complete and those that are ongoing. Mr. Blumenfeld suggested adding information on items that have been achieved to date but require ongoing work. 


Commissioner Martin inquired about what methodology the Commission should use to organize their work once the Accords list had been worked through.  Commissioner Gravanis stated that the Accords were written with all world cities in mind and that it would be good to continue work on the Accords and on issues that are particular to San Francisco.  The Accords should not be the exclusive work guide for the Commission. Acting Director Assmann stated that the Strategic Plan and other programs the Department is responsible for is also a focus of the Commission.  Commissioner Gravanis stated that the City’s Sustainability Plan should also be worked on when the City’s budget improves.  It was explained that the Strategic Plan is based on what the City has funding for, but there are other things that could be achieved to meet sustainability goals. Commissioner Gravanis recommended identifying other projects to work on that funding is currently not available for and work on fundraising, grant-writing and a contracting program for programs that include water, water supply, water quality, and biological biodiversity.  Mr. Drew, Department of the Environment, acknowledged the effort of volunteers working on sustainability plan efforts as a way of accomplishing goals.


Commissioner Martin recommended adding a column of ongoing and next efforts, to add a color block column instead of adding color to text, and to work on strategizing other efforts that could be achievable. Commissioner Gravanis stated that Action 8 is a huge category that should include projects such as Hunters Point, Treasure Island, and other development projects. It was recommended that there be a discussion on what department involvement should be on these projects, what type of policies and principles should be used, and how it could be made useful for other cities and departments.  Ms. Kass stated that her focus at this time would be on making sure that the data included in the policies and programs section on the website is accurate and indicated that the paper version would become obsolete.  

Public Comment:


Ms. Calla Ostrander, Department of the Environment Climate Action Coordinator, reported that she found out about the Urban Environmental Accords when she was writing her college thesis. The Accords helped inform her conclusion that U.S. environmental policy, climate change policy specifically, could be most effectively implemented at a local level. This conclusion was central in shaping her career choice to go to work for local governments.  Ms. Ostrander thanked the Commission for their work on the Accords and stated that some of the results of the Commission’s work, e.g., influencing the next generation, while not trackable, is real and important.


Mr. Peter Brastow, Nature in the City, (1) stated that he would like to echo the Commission’s suggestions to staff on how to move forward with the Accords; (2) Action 20: reported on the lack of watershed or resource management work at the Laguna Honda Reservoir, and that there has been progress on the planning process at Lake Merced; (3) Action 11: stated that Nature in the City originally requested that Action 11 be written differently because they do not feel that habitat restoration is only about planting street trees; (4) Action 12: recommended that local legislation be written to more strongly protect biodiversity in the City; (5) likes the idea of translating the Accords into the Sustainability Plan so that it could be more meaningful in the future; and (6) discussed the concept of the seven-year cycle for the Accords.


Upon Motion by Commissioner Martin and second by Commissioner Gravanis, Actions, 9, 15 and 17 were adopted for recommendation to the Commission as accords to work on for calendar year 2009 (Absent:  Commissioner Wald).


4.   Pros and Cons of Various Options for Refuse Service Pickup, Rate Structure, and Current Regulations.  (Informational Report and Discussion) Speaker;  Mr. Kevin Drew, Residential and Special Projects Recycling Coordinator, Department of the Environment


Commissioner Gravanis reported that a member of the public had provided public comment that he was unhappy that he had to pay for weekly recycling and trash pickup even though he barely produced enough for monthly pickup.  Mr. Drew stated that there is an effort being made to create a super conserver rate in the next rate process, to move garbage to a monthly pickup, and composting and recycling to a weekly service.  It was explained that the volume of recycling is typically the largest component of a resident’s waste stream and state law requires putrescibles to be collected once a week, so compostable collection service would be required weekly.  Mr. Drew explained that there are always people who are ahead of the recycling and composting curve, and it is difficult to construct a residential rate particular to their circumstance. 


Mr. Drew reported that the next rate process would be completed in 2 ½ years, and that our current system needs additional programs to get us to where we need to go.  The current stage of preparation for the next rate review is research on technologies, equipment, required facilities (additional composting or alternative composting systems), and the associated costs to get to zero waste.  With this information in hand, proposals for a super conserver rate can begin to be constructed.   Commissioner Martin stated that if she is only recycling and composting, that her garbage rate would not be free and inquired if there are incentives for on-site composting (e.g., composting in your own garden).  Mr. Drew reported that one of the details to work through is if and how on-site composting would defray the cost of operating the system and understanding that everyone has to pitch in to support the services.  Mr. Assmann explained that there needs to be a base cost to operate the system that one can’t go below.  Commissioner Martin asked if we would have to start paying for composting and recycling.  Mr. Drew stated that is correct and that recycling and composting costs have been rolled into the rate for refuse for some time and as this service has grown, this cost has gotten larger.


Mr. Drew reported that during the last rate hearing, a discussion was held on establishing a base cost and then factoring in service level costs. This proposal was discussed but ultimately was not agreed to at the time by Department staff, Department of Public Works or Norcal.  As a part of the same rate process, the variance rate, a once monthly service for refuse only, was discontinued, and a commitment was made to construct a new volume and frequency rate system for the next rate cycle. 


Commissioner Martin stated that part of the reason to require garbage service is that people could be incentivized to empty their trash elsewhere. Mr. Drew explained that it is a public health mandate to maintain cleanliness, and a minimum level of pickup service is part of that requirement.  It was stated that the variance rate was designed for individuals who did not live here all the time for only garbage service pickup, and the rate did not include recycling or composting.  Mr. Assmann reported on the possibility of garbage service collection every other week or less frequently and compostable collection every week. Mr. Drew reported that Toronto has this type of program.  Mr. Assmann reported that truck mechanics do not allow for different cart sizes because of weight distribution issues; however, an insert is available for the 32-gallon cart to accommodate less garbage collection.  It was stated that another focus could be on reducing collection service to buildings where they have multiple pickups in one week.  A discussion was held on problems with weight distribution on the trucks that deliver recycling and garbage together and future efforts to combine trash and organics into one truck as they go to the same location.  It was explained that there would be pilot programs implemented to gather data on possible new collection and rate mechanisms.   


5.   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.


6.   Announcements. (Discussion).  Commissioner Martin announced that the Architectural Foundation in Washington D.C. started a Sustainable Cities Design Academy and she was one of their guest experts for their inaugural academy held in Boston.  Commissioner Martin stated that she found the format to be interesting and wondered if there might be a parallel for this function in San Francisco.  It was explained that four development projects were discussed, one from each eastern city of Philadelphia, New Bedford, Boston, and Washington D.C. and experts were asked for feedback.  The projects were similar to the Hunters Point Shipyard, but more hands-on in terms of design.   Commissioner Martin announced that she has been involved in a project to replace the current hanging baskets trucked in from Oregon with succulents that require less water usage, use recyclable water, and produce less waste.  Commissioner Gravanis announced (1) that there would be a Mount Sutro presentation on the restoration project on Thursday, February 19; (2) that the Main Library is hosting a wildlife photograph exhibit; and (3) that the Port Commission would be holding a hearing on February 10 on Seawall Lot 337.


7.   New Business/Future Agenda Items. (Discussion)


March agenda items discussed included (1) Treasure Island Sustainability Plan; (2) Update on the Urban Forest Master Plan; (3) Lights Out San Francisco; (4) LED Streetlights Pilot Project; and (5) outreach with a focus on available tools to increase attendance at Commission meetings, especially off-site meetings.  Commissioner Martin asked that a discussion be held on outreach goals and targeting the environmental community who are doing related work and have important information that could be shared with the Commission.  It was stated that other people could have attended the Accords discussion and brought meaningful dialogue at today’s meeting.  Acting Director Assmann recommended approaching environmental groups in San Francisco to inquire about the most important goals they are focusing on and goals they want to achieve on a local level.  Commissioner Martin recommended letting them know what the Commission is actually working on and inviting them to participate.


Commissioner Gravanis stated that the Commission had previously held a discussion on the Cosco Busan oil spill, and that there is mitigation money available that no-one in San Francisco that she is aware of is applying for.  It was explained that outreach efforts would help with identifying what type of discussions should be brought back at the appropriate time.  Commissioner Martin inquired as to what activities or meetings the Commissioners could attend or write letters to in order to be most effective.  Acting Director Assmann stated that direct communication to these environmental organizations would initiate feedback.  Commissioner Gravanis asked if it would be appropriate to ask staff to send letters to environmental groups.  Acting Director Assmann stated it would be appropriate.


Commissioner Gravanis recommended that the agenda item include outreach goals, the audience, and how to identify ahead of time how to reach out to people for any given item.  Ms. Fish reported that the Commission used to have an assigned liaison with Department program areas where they would be invited to attend staff meetings to participate in staff discussion.   Commissioner Martin discussed the Bylaws requirement to work with other agencies such as PUC, Recreation and Park, Redevelopment Agency on planning efforts and how that could be achieved.  Commissioner Gravanis stated that the focus should be more on making a difference than just receiving updates. 


8.   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.


9.   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 [email protected].


*Approved:  April 13, 2009

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