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07.13 Approved MInutes

CITY AND COUNTY OF SAN FRANCISCO

COMMISSION ON THE ENVIRONMENT

POLICY COMMITTEE

 

REGULAR MEETING

APPROVED MINUTES

Monday, July 13, 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

ORDER OF BUSINESS

 

1.      Call to Order and Roll Call.  The Commission on the Environment Policy Committee Meeting convened at 5:07 p.m. Present: Committee Vice-Chair Gravanis and Commissioner Martin; Excused:  Committee Chair Wald.

 

2.Approval of Minutes of the June 8, 2009 Policy Committee Regular Meeting. (Discussion and Action) Upon Motion by Commissioner Martin and second by Vice Chair Gravanis, the June 8, 2009 Meeting Minutes were approved without objection (Absent:  Chair Wald) (Explanatory Document: June 8, 2009 Approved Minutes).

 

3.Public Comments:  Members of the public may address the Commission on matters that are within the Commission’s jurisdiction and are not on today’s agenda. 

 

Mr. Rony Rolnizky stated that he is a resident of the Forest Knoll neighborhood near the Mount Sutro forest, which University of California San Francisco (UCSF) proposes through the use of Federal Emergency Management Association (FEMA) grant funds, to clear two large areas of the forest.  Mr. Rolnizky reported on neighborhood concern and opposition to this plan and that he is here today because he heard that the Commission has an advisory position on green spaces and the urban forest.  It was stated that UCSF’s plan has been in progress since 2001, and there has been a lack of communication within the neighborhood, in which most residents found out about the plan only recently.  Mr. Rolnizky discussed the high visibility, historic value, uniqueness, and neighborhood appreciation of the Mount Sutro forest.  It was explained that UCSF’s plan is a pre-disaster plan; however, residents believe that the area will be more of a fire danger once the eucalyptus trees are clear-cut and replaced with grass.  It was stated that additional effort and expense would be required in order to install an irrigation system and concern was expressed with the plan to use Roundup, which would enter the water, life, and underground streams.

 

Mr. Rolnizky requested that there be a City requirement for an Environmental Impact Report (EIR) and that the process require proper citywide posting of notices and be more open to public comment and concerns.  Mr. Rolnizky inquired how people would know about this type of project and be involved. Vice-Chair Gravanis reported that the Urban Forestry Council discussed this item at their June meeting, and would be discussing this topic at a future meeting.  Commissioner Martin reported that the Committee would be discussing increasing participation at Commission and Committee meetings during the next agenda item. Mr. Rolnizky reported that he had attended the Council’s meeting and provided public comment, and expressed his concern that the Urban Forestry Council, who is one of the main bodies that could provide input into this project, was not informed of the plan which has been in progress since 2001. 

 

Public Comment: Mr. Andres Power, San Francisco Planning Department reported that UCSF has a regeneration plan for the area. 

 

4.Status and Review of Strategies for Implementation of the Urban Forest Plan.  Sponsor:  Commissioner Jane Martin; Speaker: Andres Power, City Design Group, Planning Department (Discussion and Possible Action)

 

Commissioner Martin reported on the Policy Committee’s June discussion on identifying ways to implement and fund sections of the Urban Forest Plan. Commissioner Martin asked Mr. Power to provide a description of what the Urban Forest Plan is, what it seeks to include, how it could potentially be partially implemented, and the current schedule. Mr. Power reported that the scope of the Urban Forest Master Plan was to take a comprehensive look at the green structure of the City, which includes trees, landscaping and other elements within the public right-of-way.  It was a plan that was designed to tier off the Better Streets Plan in order to provide specific detail with regards to trees and understory plantings in the public right-of-way.  The goal of the Plan was to define a vision in terms of how streets and public spaces would look with respect to the green structure, and its vision was to be defined by a variety of inputs, including natural ecology, urban design, traffic-calming, etc.  The Plan was to be a comprehensive policy document guided by all important inputs to establish good quality of life in San Francisco. 

 

Mr. Power reported that a Request for Proposals (RFP) was issued approximately a year and a half ago to hire a consultant team to conduct the planning effort, identify a vision, a series of metrics to reach the vision, and a strategy for implementation.  There was a huge response received given the budget of $200,000 for the project, and the team that was chosen as the prime consultant was EDAW along with a series of sub-consultants that would bring in expertise on the natural and historical perspective of San Francisco’s landscape and included ecologists, urban foresters, economists, and arborists.  The process had started and six months of work was completed and nearing the point of identifying the vision. Then a Mayoral directive was issued to all departments to cut costs immediately, so the Planning Department’s initial cost-cutting effort included cancelling or putting on hold all consultant contracts in order to maintain as much staffing as possible.  The Urban Forest Plan fell into this category and as a result, the contract with EDAW was put on hold.  EDAW did give a commitment that once funding was reallocated, that they would be willing to start where they left off. 

 

Mr. Power explained that departments are continuing their policy to not contract out work during the economic recession.  Planning has been hit hard because it is almost entirely funded by fee revenue that has been reduced substantially because development is on hold.  However, the Planning Department is committed to its work on the Plan, and there is a lot of buy-in from the involved agencies that have jurisdiction over these issues. The goal now is to identify how to move this project forward.  Mr. Power explained that there was no additional funding provided from the Mayor’s Office in the latest budget revision for this fiscal year.  A meeting was held with the Department of the Environment staff to start the conversation about how to be strategic in leveraging partnerships, looking at elements of the original scope, and figuring out methods to provide deliverables given the reduced resources.  Meetings would be convened again in mid to late summer. 

 

Mr. Power stated that there were two pieces to the original plan--the first part was to establish the vision and have a public process to establish the vision, and the second phase was the implementation document on how to reach the vision from where we are now.  The first part of establishing the vision was completed, but the public process was not completed.  The next phase was to produce implementation strategies, which varied from amending existing Department of Public Works (DPW) and Planning codes, regulations, and standards that would affect trees and landscaping in the public right-of-way and reviewing how jurisdictions work in terms of division of public and private responsibility for trees and how it affects long-term management of the urban forest. 

 

Commissioner Martin asked Mr. Power if a draft document outlining the vision was available for public review. Mr. Power reported that there is a working document draft that he would provide, but it is not in public form. It was explained that a review had been done of all different inputs that affect how trees should be planted, e.g., ecological issues, seasonal migratory patterns of birds, hydrology, along with urban science considerations.  However, the Plan was stopped at an inopportune time.  From the $200,000 contract to complete the Plan, $85,000 was spent.  The $200,000 did not include .5 FTE staff time provided by the Planning Department. 

 

Commissioner Martin asked Mr. Power whether the overlays that were mentioned have environmental benefits in which the Commission on the Environment and Policy Committee could be involved and provide input.   Mr. Power reported that the primary driver for the urban design part of the Plan included environmental and ecological considerations so would be applicable to the Commission’s venue.  Commissioner Martin inquired about the requirement for the Urban Forestry Council to produce and update the Urban Forest Plan.  Urban Forestry Council Coordinator Hui reported that the Council was charged with creating an Urban Forest Plan by its enabling ordinance.  The Council agreed that the Plan that was developed was insufficient as it was not enough of a planning document that specified objectives and how they would be met.  As a result, the Council passed a Resolution requesting that the Planning Department work on creating the Urban Forest Plan and making it part of the General Plan.  Mr. Power reported that one of the Council’s mandates is to update the Plan. Commissioner Martin inquired whether it is part of the City’s Master Plan requirements to have an Urban Forest Plan.  Mr. Power reported that it was not. 

 

Commissioner Martin discussed the Policy Committee’s June meeting discussion on the Recreation and Open Space Plan and inquired whether it would be possible for the Urban Forest Plan to piggyback on another live project such as this one.  Mr. Power reported that the decision that was made given the funding in-availability was that it would be a disservice to the overall document to encompass too much scope.  The agreement made on the project scope was to look in the greatest detail at City rights-of- ways and secondarily at public and private parcels because private parcels are under the jurisdiction of the Department that is in charge of forming a plan for them. The scope would include looking at relationships to Recreation and Park Department land in a broader context so that specific recommendations would not be made, but that Recreation and Park spaces would be reviewed as part of the package.  Mr. Power reported that Recreation and Park Department spaces are so large and go beyond the issues found in the public right-of-way, so given the consultant team and funds available, good quality recommendations could not be provided to the Recreation and Park Department. Mr. Power stated that as part of the Recreation and Park Department obligation bond issued in 2008, there was $5 million allocated to urban forest efforts; however, the language in that bond did not speak to what that urban forest related work would be.  Mr. Power reported that he had met with Recreation and Park Department staff and recommended that they augment the scope of the Urban Forest Plan as a way to guide their work, but it was not agreed to at that time.

 

Commissioner Martin stated that guidance should be provided for large and significant public and private parcels.  Mr. Power explained that in relation to large parcels and in places like GGNRA, UCSF Campus, and Presidio, there was a call to integrate existing documents into a Plan so it is a single source of information, but no funds were made available for implementation.  It was explained that the same consultant team that was hired to work on the Urban Forest Plan also developed a plan for Mount Sutro.  Commissioner Martin inquired whether a cost-savings analysis could be done to demonstrate savings over a period of time for DPW to maintain all street trees.  Mr. Power reported that the second part of the planned scope was for the economist to make this type of analysis.  An initial analysis was made on how much is spent in San Francisco in comparison with other cities with best practices in other jurisdictions across the country.  It was determined that San Francisco doesn’t spend as a City that much less per capita than other cities such as New York or Chicago or others that have much more robust urban forest canopies. The question was why and where inefficiencies were coming from.  All the cities with best practices have management approaches in which the city was the sole owner and manager of the urban forest.  An initial analysis was made on if the City would assume this type of responsibility, what it would cost across the board, per parcel, and what would be the appropriate funding structure to make that happen.  It was determined that the cost would be approximately $50 or $75 annually per parcel.  Commissioner Martin stated that it would cost a property owner of a tree much more for maintenance.  Mr. Power explained that private individuals would have to contact an arborist to work on the tree properly and discussed the inefficiencies of working on one tree at a time as opposed to working on many.

 

Commissioner Martin inquired whether it was possible to parcel the Plan down to just address street trees and related street tree legislation, so that DPW would be the sole agency to work on street trees.  Mr. Power discussed the Better Streets Plan work to change City codes as it relates to street trees and the right-of-way so that there would be less prohibition. The process was completed and a DPW directive order was written on street tree planting.  However, a robust analysis informing the recommendation is needed, which is something that can’t be done given the existing resources.

 

Commissioner Martin reported that DPW currently is charged with maintenance of street tree streets and are now more aggressive and proactive about tree planting and maintenance unless someone states opposition.  It was recommended that there be a model for a more robust program to incrementally plant trees in the areas of least resistance.  Mr. Power recommended contacting Ms. Carla Short, of DPW’s Urban Forestry Division to discuss this topic in detail.  It was explained that in the last couple of years, there has been a push to plant as many trees as possible through the “Trees for Tomorrow” program; however, DPW is close to maximizing locations to plant and there were challenges finding tree locations at the end of the program to reach the 5000 tree-planting objective.  Commissioner Martin stated that there were designated locations for tree planting and recommended that locations be expanded.  Mr. Power reported that 35% of the City’s street-trees are maintained by DPW, and the rest are maintained by private property owners; however, those trees are still owned by the City.  By damaging the trees through improper pruning, a City resource is damaged.  It was explained that DPW wants to assume responsibility for all street trees, but there isn’t available funding.  

 

Commissioner Martin discussed the possibility of setting up a program in which a majority of neighbors on a designated number of blocks decide to have DPW maintained street tree streets and have their utilities undergrounded.  The program could be similar to a Mello Roos or other type of self-assessment that would provide for DPW to take on this responsibility. The program could be well constructed, well-advertised and include a good pilot. Mr. Power discussed the precedent set in other cities in the country on establishment of a lighting and landscaping district, similar to a Commercial Business District (CBD), which is a defined area within a certain boundary that is required to pay an assessment for lighting and landscaping.  Ms. Hui explained that districts with more income have been more successful.  It was reported that some CBD’s have an opt-out program only and others have an opt-in.  Depending on the income the CBD has, DPW has allowed the CBD more or less control over the street trees, and income is related to the sales in the commercial corridor.  Mr. Power reported that a lighting and landscaping district can also be in a residential district. 

 

Commissioner Martin asked if the Planning Department has the in-house bandwidth and expertise to work on legislative ideas since the work on the Plan should be done in-house through City staff as opposed to working with consultants.  Mr. Power reported that the Planning Department has the bandwidth and expertise, but that staff allocation has to be a decision by Department management.  It was explained that management would probably feel that funds would have to be made available for staffing to this particular area, but recommended speaking to the Department director.  Commissioner Martin asked how the Commission and Committee could communicate support for continued effort on the Plan to management.   Mr. Power recommended inviting the director to a meeting to discuss priorities and what can be done moving forward. 

 

Mr. Power explained that $115,000 is required to complete the Plan as scoped.  Commissioner Martin asked whether Friends of City Planning might be interested in providing donations. Mr. Power reported that Friends of City Planning has not historically funded work that they believe the Department or City should be paying for, but are now under new leadership and may be willing to fund these types of projects; however, projects that have been previously recommended are small, in the $10,000 to $20,000 range.  Commissioner Martin stated that $10,000 may be effective if it is applied to just work on street trees.   

Vice Chair Gravanis asked Mr. Power if he would be interested in participating in the staff work required to put a proposal forth to the Board of Supervisors to facilitate these CBD’s or at least start pilots so that people can see how they work.  Vice Chair Gravanis considered whether the best way to move forward was by beginning with pilots that would provide momentum and publicity or to focus on an economic analysis that proves that having DPW maintain the street trees rather than property owners is more cost-effective in the long run.  Mr. Power recommended a review of the fundamental problem, which is the management structure and how funds are attached to that structure.  Mr. Power also recommended allocating funds to pilot programs, specifically to CBD’s, through the effort of the existing staff structure and/or neighborhood groups. Vice Chair Gravanis asked what that would cost in terms of staff time.  Mr. Power stated that the cost could not be determined without knowing the scope of work, but guessed that it may cost $35,000 to $40,000 in adequate consultant work to focus only on the question of the management structure.  It was explained that this effort could be accomplished by City staff, but may be more focused on economics than the Planning Department staff has training in, so other City department staff with that type of expertise could be pulled in.

 

Commissioner Martin asked what can be done within the City agency capacity and asked that Mr. Power provide ideas that have a particular deliverable for how sections of the project can move forward and make a difference on the street now, but that doesn’t replace what has to be done overall.  Mr. Power reported that he would report back with ideas.  Mr. Power reported that it would take a long time before a recommendation was implemented on the management structure question.  Commissioner Martin recommended that Mr. Power provide an example of a recommendation, policy, and legislative language and suggested a partnership with a neighborhood group that wants to see it happen at least through outreach.  Vice Chair Gravanis recommended outreach to Friends of the Urban Forest (FUF) to assist with fundraising efforts.  Mr. Power explained that FUF was one of the paid consultants working on the Urban Forest Plan.

 

Vice Chair Gravanis asked Mr. Power for ideas of how the Committee or full Commission could help in moving the Plan forward.   Mr. Power recommended that stakeholders attend Planning Commission budget meetings to oppose cancellation of work on the Plan in the future.  It was explained that there was only one representative of the Urban Forestry Council that attended the meeting to oppose the budget cuts made on the Plan.  Mr. Mark Westlund, Department of the Environment Program Outreach Manager explained that historically, the urban forest is one of the harder programs to find funding for because programs such as health and human services usually take precedence.  Commissioner Martin asked whether the Department of Public Health (DPH) is involved in the Urban Forest Plan.  Mr. Power explained that the DPH has been involved in providing input into the Better Streets Plan, but is not a key sponsor of the Urban Forest Plan. A discussion was held on New York City’s Plan, which has a nexus between trees, health, social behavior, and green infrastructure.

Ms. Hui recommended inviting DPW staff to discuss the care that they provide for trees and to make recommendations for change.  It was explained that through the “Trees for Tomorrow” program, DPW was charged with planting 1000 trees every year for five years, and the program was actually completed in four years.  DPW took over a lot of streets to complete the program and was met with resistance from people getting trees that they did not want.  Mr. Power explained that some of the resistance was because DPW had added only one tree to a block with six existing trees, and maintenance was being provided for only the one tree, not for the existing trees.  Ms. Hui reported that in some cases trees were taken over for an entire street.  Mr. Power explained that an analysis was previously done of what it would cost for DPW to take over the maintenance for all trees, and that it is doable. 

 

Ms. Hui reported that fragmented maintenance has to do with increased cost between departments.  Ms. Hui reported that she is collecting survey responses from City agencies for the Annual Urban Forest Report that shows that departments do not have adequate funding to take care of the trees that are under their jurisdiction, but they are being contracted by other agencies and departments to do work.  This work serves as a funding mechanism for the department.  Mr. Power reported that no proposal has been put forward, but initial talks with DPW have indicated that they are willing to take responsibility over all trees as long as there is adequate funding and staffing.  Commissioner Martin asked whether the Recreation and Park Department would be willing to give up tree care.  Ms. Hui stated that she believes that no agency would see their urban forest budget as significant to their overall departmental operating budget. Ms. Hui also reported that the Recreation and Parks Department has issued an RFP for urban forest assessment and planning as part of the Clean and Safe general obligation bond.

 

Public Comment:  Mr. Rolnizky inquired about the recommendations and studies made on the Mount Sutro Plan by EDAW.  Mr. Power reported that he does not know the specifics other than the fact that there was a planning effort and deliverable made to UCSF.  Mr. Westlund reported that the Plan should be available to the public.  Mr. Rolnizky stated that the budget problems and irrigation of street tree issues discussed today relate to the issue of the Mount Sutro forest.  It was explained that the forest is self-irrigating at least ten months of the year, and that cleared areas that were returned to native plants required an extensive irrigation system with constant maintenance. It was explained that the grass areas were not maintained, and most of the forest fires occurred from grass fires from barbecues or by people living in the area, not from trees.  Mr. Rolnizky stated that most residents have asked to leave Mount Sutro alone and save the government the money for extensive maintenance.  Ms. Hui reported that she has been speaking with UCSF and would provide an update offline since this item is not directly on today’s agenda.

 

Commissioner Martin recapped by requesting that Mr. Power consider alternatives for sections of the Plan that could be accomplished by the Department with inside City staff technical consulting.  Commissioner Martin also asked to be provided with ideas so that a better conversation can be held with DPW, Planning, Recreation and Park Department, PUC, and other agencies that have jurisdiction over trees.  Mr. Power reported that the Planning Department’s budget was heard twice by the Board of Supervisors Budget Committee and would be heard at the Board of Supervisors meeting on Tuesday.  Mr. Westlund reported that budget approval would require two votes of approval before it becomes final, so would also be heard the following Tuesday.  It was explained that there is usually very little change that would take place at this point. 

 

Mr. Rolnizky asked that the neighborhood concern of removal of trees at Mount Sutro should be heard at the full Commission.  Mr. Westlund explained that the Planning Department is charged with the environmental impact assessments, and that the City Charter precludes the Department of the Environment from weighing in on land use issues except in the form of offering a Resolution to Planning to consider preparing an Environmental Impact Report (EIR).  Mr. Westlund stated that he would confirm with the City Attorney whether even this was possible.  Vice Chair Gravanis reported that UCSF is not required to prepare EIR’s for all projects.  Mr. Rolnizky stated that because two-thirds of the funds for this project are coming from FEMA, an environmental review is required.  Commissioner Martin stated that she appreciates Mr. Rolnizky’s input as an example of why these issues are important and why trees on public, state, and private property should be considered in addition to street trees.  Mr. Rolnizky discussed the significant impact of removing 3000 trees on the environment and on property value.    

 

Vice Chair Gravanis asked staff to prepare a Resolution that says the Policy Committee recommends to the full Commission that it pass a Resolution stating that the Commission urges the Planning Department to place a high priority on the completion of the Urban Forest Plan and realistic portions of it should be expedited once funding becomes available. Specifically, the Commission would like Planning and other agencies to do the necessary economic analysis of having one agency take over the maintenance of street trees.  Upon Motion by Commissioner Martin and second by Vice Chair Gravanis, a Resolution would be prepared and forwarded to the Commission for recommendation (Absent: Chair Wald).

               

5.Increasing Participation in Commission Meetings and Refinement of Commission Questionnaire for Recommendation to the Full Commission. Sponsors:  Vice-Chair Gravanis and Commissioner Martin; Staff Speaker: Mark Westlund, Program Outreach Manager (Explanatory Document:  Draft Questionnaire) (Discussion and Possible Action)

 

Vice Chair Gravanis recommended continuing the discussion on increasing participation in Commission meetings until responses to the questionnaire have been received.  Commissioner Martin asked Mr. Rolnizky how he knew about the meeting today.  Mr. Rolnizky responded that he had received communication from a member of his neighborhood group about the meeting and attended to express his concern on UCSF’s plan for Mount Sutro.  Mr. Rolnizky recommended increasing participation at meetings by sending agenda notices to neighborhood groups. Commissioners agreed that the focus at today’s meeting would be on outreach to environmental groups, and outreach to neighborhood groups would be discussed at a future meeting. 

 

Mr. Westlund provided the Commissioners with a cover letter and questionnaire for review (explanatory document above). Committee members provided recommendations for refinement to the Commission cover letter and questionnaire and recommended that it be forwarded to the full Commission for consideration at their July 28th meeting.

 

6.Development of Recommendations from the Policy Committee to the full Commission Regarding the Operations and Practices of the Full Commission. Sponsor:  Commissioner Ruth Gravanis (Explanatory Document: Meeting Operations and Practices) (Discussion and Possible Action)

 

Vice Chair Gravanis presented recommendations to improve the operations and practices of the Commission and Committees (see explanatory document above).  Topics of discussion included:

 

    • Continued staff use of the existing and comprehensive agenda item scheduling form.  The sponsor of the agenda item should communicate form requirements to presenters, e.g. Power Point requirements, identifying interested parties to receive agenda notices, presentation time, etc. and report back to the Commission Secretary via the scheduling form. Set a requirement that no item will be scheduled unless a completed form is turned in a designated number of days before the meeting.

 

    • Reducing the length of meetings by (1) prioritizing agenda items by established criteria and limiting the total presentation time to one hour; (2) the presenter with the sponsor’s assistance should identify and adhere to presentation times (a default of ten minutes would be used if time is not provided); (3) listing presentation times on the agenda and time each presenter; (4) President or Chair to comment at the beginning of each agenda item on whether time allotment is sufficient for the presenter and ask the Commission Secretary to set the timer; (5) President or Committee Chair to approve the time allotments on the agenda; (6) submitting written reports whenever possible; and (6) determining which agenda items should go to a Committee first for a longer discussion.

 

    • Schedule and identify agenda items that pertain to the Bylaw’s requirements for the Commission function; e.g., Bylaws Section 5 Function states that “The Commission on the Environment shall be responsible for the development and success of an overall sustainability strategy for the City of San Francisco.  It shall have responsibility for the development of environmental policies, strategies, practices and programs for the Department of the Environment in San Francisco.  Consistent with Section 4.118 of the City Charter, the Commission shall advise other city agencies and work with them to reduce negative impacts on the environment in areas of their jurisdiction and activities and augment their efforts to communicate environmental issues to the general public.”;

 

    • Commissioner sponsors would contact the Department Director or Commission President and request agenda items for approval.  As an alternative, Commissioners could send requests to the Commission Secretary to discuss with the Commission President and Director during the agenda item conference call.  After approval, the Commissioner sponsors would then send required information to the Commission Secretary via a scheduling form. 

 

    • Resolution preparation.  The Commissioner sponsor would work directly with the Program Manager or Staff person with the Commission Secretary’s assistance to create a Resolution as required.

 

    • Commission program area liaisons.  Mr. Westlund reported that the concept of program areas having a Commissioner liaison was more of a general interest exercise but did not have a sustaining structure.  Mr. Westlund stated that a more effective approach would be through selection of an actual issue to work with program staff on. 

 

    • Follow-up on a Commissioner request for action.  Mr. Westlund reported that all Resolutions and correspondence that would be forwarded to the Board of Supervisors or Mayor is sent to the Program Area Outreach Manager for review and follow-up. 

 

    • Attendance requirements.  Vice Chair Gravanis discussed the possibility of stricter attendance requirements similar to other Commissions that replace Commissioners if they miss a specified number of meetings.  Ms. Fish indicated that the Commission has attendance requirements and read the Commission’s Attendance Policy.  Vice Chair Gravanis reported that no action is taken to enforce attendance requirements.  Ms. Fish inquired whether Committee members felt the attendance policy should be added to the Commission Bylaws and indicated that a stricter policy could be offered as a Bylaws amendment.

 

    • Code of Conduct during meetings.  Cell phones should be turned off completely during meetings and avoid personal conversations during meetings. Ms. Fish reported that Commission Secretaries often times read the paragraph listed on the agenda about prohibiting cell phone use at the start of the meeting and offered to do so.  Ms. Fish also recommended creating a policy as part of a Commissioner orientation-packet that could be distributed to new and existing Commissioners.  

 

Vice Chair Gravanis reported that she would provide a Policy Committee report on this item at the July 28 Commission meeting, but asked that no action be taken at this time.  Commissioner Martin asked if there was any preclusion from adding presentation times on the agenda for each speaker.  Ms. Fish reported that she has seen other Commission agendas that list presentation times and has done so in the past and could request that this be done.  Commissioner Martin suggested separating the aspect of how the Commission relates to the public into the outreach component.   

 

7.Announcements. (Discussion)  Vice Chair Gravanis announced that the Farmer Skipper butterfly, which has not been identified in San Francisco County since 1925 was just seen on Yerba Buena Island three weeks ago.  Commissioner Martin announced that there is an outfit that has written a book called Sustainable Communities Guidelines, and they are looking throughout the United States and elsewhere for examples of great things that communities are doing.  Commissioner Martin learned that the Department of Conservation has a program to do sustainable planning in California cities and stated that she would report additional information on this program to the Department of Environment. 

 

8.New Business/Future Agenda Items. (Discussion)  Commissioner Martin inquired whether there should be a follow-up on the Open Space Plan, Bike Plan and Urban Forest Plan.  Ms. Fish reported that the Committee at their June meeting requested that Deputy Director Assmann write a letter of support to the Municipal Transportation Authority (MTA) on their work on the Bike Plan.  Mr. Westlund reported that Department Director Blumenfeld recently testified at the MTA in favor of the Bike Plan. 

 

Ms. Fish reported that Deputy Director Assmann had sent an email to project managers asking them to review the Recreation and Open Space Plan and provide comment before a specific date. Vice Chair Gravanis stated that Commissioners should review staff’s comments at a future Policy Committee or Commission meeting and add comments.  It was explained that the deadline to submit comments to the Planning Department is the end of September.  Vice Chair Gravanis reported that Mr. Brastow from Nature in the City had previously submitted written comments regarding the biodiversity section of the plan that has since been revised and that she would like to submit those comments to Department staff to consider in their comments.  Vice Chair Gravanis stated that the Recreation and Open Space Plan does not include an overall section on sustainability in the proposed revision except for the comments provided by Mr. Brastow on biodiversity and a few other items.  Mr. Westlund recommended that a discussion on this item be held at the next Policy Committee and then a recommendation could be forwarded to the Commission for endorsement at their September meeting.

 

Vice Chair Gravanis reported that she would contact Ms. Kass about scheduling the Hunters Point Shipyard Candlestick Point and Treasure Island agenda items.  It was explained that Treasure Island just produced a new booklet that describes their interest in possibly expanding from 6000 to 8000 units, and asked that the Commission review proposed changes. 

 

Vice Chair Gravanis reported on public comment received at a previous Commission meeting from Mr. Richard Rothman about voter pamphlets being sent to each registered voter instead of one per household, and asked that staff review whether it is a local law to do so.  It was explained that the state sends only one pamphlet per household, so it could not be a state law.  Mr. Westlund reported that the Election Code should be reviewed and a recommendation could be made to change the law through a Board of Supervisors sponsor.

 

Commissioner Martin stated that she would like to agendize on an annual basis a calendar of agenda items at the Policy Committee level and make sure that bylaws requirements are being addressed through these agenda items.  Commissioner Martin also recommended development and insuring success of an overall sustainable strategy.  Vice Chair Gravanis reported that a Sustainability Plan exists in the Strategic Plan, but only lists those aspects of a sound environment that current funding is available for.  Commissioner Martin requested that a discussion on Sustainability Plan updates be a recurring agenda item over the next three Policy Committee meetings.  Mr. Westlund reported that the initial Sustainability Plan was prepared as a community project with topic experts from City departments and environmental and community groups.  Vice Chair Gravanis reported that the Plan needs updating.  Commissioner Martin recommended inviting speakers that are outside experts to the meeting to provide suggestions.  Mr. Westlund reported that the Department’s Annual Report provides updates that satisfy the mandates of Charter language. 

 

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 Commission on the Environment Policy Committee meeting adjourned at 8:05 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: August 10, 2009

 

 

 

 

 

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