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09.14 Approved Minutes

CITY AND COUNTY OF SAN FRANCISCO

COMMISSION ON THE ENVIRONMENT

POLICY COMMITTEE

 

REGULAR MEETING

APPROVED MINUTES

Monday, September 14, 2009, 5:00 P.M.

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 Policy Committee meeting convened at 5:02 p.m.  Present:  Chair Wald, Vice-Chair Gravanis and Commissioner Martin (5:10 p.m.)

 

2.   Approval of Minutes of the August 10, 2009 Policy Committee Regular Meeting. (Discussion and Action) Upon Motion by Vice-Chair Gravanis and second by Chair Wald, the August 10, 2009 Meeting Minutes were approved without objection (AYES: Chair Wald and Vice-Chair Gravanis; Absent:  Commissioner Martin) (Explanatory Document: August 10, 2009 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.   Urban Accord Actions 10-12 Urban Nature.  Review of Department of the Environment Staff Comments on the Recreation and Open Space Plan (ROSE) for Recommendation to the Commission on the Environment.  (Continued from the August 10, 2009 Meeting) Sponsors: Vice-Chair Gravanis and Commissioner Jane Martin; Speaker: David Assmann, Deputy Director (Explanatory Document:  ROSE Staff Proposed Comments) (15 minutes) (Discussion and Action)

 

Commissioner Martin joined the meeting at this time.  Deputy Director Assmann presented and discussed a compilation of staff comments on the Recreation and Open Space Plan (ROSE) (Explanatory Document:  ROSE Staff Proposed Comments). 

On Staff Comment “ROSE should include policies to address impacts of Climate Change and consider adaptation measures”--Chair Wald stated that it would be useful to put more emphasis on the Climate Action Plan and its timetable, e.g., to suggest that the Climate Action Plan is going to apply to the entire city and should be integrated now instead of later.  Deputy Director Assmann stated that can be done in this context and would also put together a better comparison of the timeline of the two plans. It could be that the Climate Action Plan will be integrated into the General Plan before the ROSE is completed.  Deputy Director Assmann indicated that he would work on the integration of plans and timeline and get a better sense of how these two can flow together so it is better coordinated and two disparate efforts are not being done.

Vice-Chair Gravanis stated that on the climate change topic, she did not agree with the statement that “tidal wetlands can play a key role in adapting to sea level rise” because the wetlands would be inundated along with everything else along the shoreline when sea level rises.  What is needed to protect shoreline habitat is to make sure that there are places for the habitat to migrate inland as sea level does rise. Vice-Chair Gravanis recommended that staff include a recommendation that policies are needed to address the impacts of climate change in recreational areas, open spaces, and habitat, including wetlands by providing space upland of the existing wetland and shoreline habitat so the critters can still survive.

 

On Staff Comment “ROSE open space system should include the City’s water resources and land areas outside the boundaries of the City’s mainland”--Chair Wald recommended including a reference to lands that might be ignored by people and ones that the City does own and can control. On the sentence that states, “The City’s network of open spaces could also consider land areas that are located outside of the City’s “mainland, such as Alcatraz and Farallon Islands—Director Blumenfeld recommended stating such as Crystal Springs Reservoir and Camp Mather. 

 

Vice-Chair Gravanis stated that with regard to San Francisco lands outside of the mainland, the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC) does have a good Sustainability Plan for its lands including the Tuolumne Watershed and Crystal Springs, etc., but did not know whether it includes Camp Mather.  There might be a point in incorporating by reference that document instead of starting all over from the beginning.

 

On Staff Comment “Clarify how ROSE will be coordinated and prioritized with other Planning Efforts for Site-Specific Areas”--Vice-Chair Gravanis stated that there is a lot of information included in the Plan about Ocean Beach, McLaren Park and Golden Gate Park Plans, but what is missing is exactly how they will be coordinated.  It was recommended that comments should not sound as if the Plan has ignored other plans completely.  With respect to Ocean Beach, there is a huge omission as it doesn’t mention that there are endangered species there that need to be respected as Ocean Beach is developed. There is language about making it a true gateway to the Pacific and a civic beach, etc., but there is no mention that any activities should be done with respect for the snowy plover.

 

Vice-Chair Gravanis stated that she is familiar with SPUR’s Privately-Owned Public Open Spaces (POPOS) report, which she thinks is quite good and would make sense to incorporate by reference.  It was stated that there are a lot of sidebars and references to other plans, some of them from other cities and other states, and thinks there is no harm in showing an awareness of work done by other people on some of these things.  There are some very good recommendations in the SPUR Report about making the POPOSs more accessible. 

 

Director Blumenfeld reported that the Planning Department presented at the Recreation and Park Commission on the ROSE Plan at which time he asked them that if this Plan were to be passed today in its entirety, it there would be one thing that could immediately be implemented as a result.  They said no, that there is another document that would be the implementation document.  Vice-Chair Gravanis stated that there is a separate Action Plan document that the Planning Department is working on and that it would be beneficial to provide recommendations for that Plan. The Planning Department has started work on the Action Plan, but state law requires that they do an update of the policy.  Director Blumenfeld stated that policies drive the actions. Vice-Chair Gravanis stated that if the Commission were to recommend actions, it should ensure that the policy basis is there that supports doing whatever that action is.  It was explained that a Planning Department representative had previously presented on the ROSE Plan to the Policy Committee. Vice-Chair Gravanis stated that she would provide additional comments.

 

On Staff Comments on the Urban Forest (Draft Rose, Policy 3.6, p. 36), on the section that states “We urge the Planning Department to consider the multiple planning activities governing urban forestry to promote consistency and minimize conflicts between plans”—Vice Chair Gravanis stated that it should also say to make sure to minimize conflicts with other plans, e.g. biodiversity goals. 

 

Vice-Chair Gravanis stated it was important to include a section in the Plan specifically related to overall sustainability and indicated that the previous version joined all kinds of aspects of sustainability in with ecological integrity in a confusing way. Vice-Chair Gravanis stated that she is pleased that Mr. Peter Brastow of Nature in the City is here to answer any questions about his proposed rewrite of Objective 4 dealing with biodiversity because it is a huge improvement to what is currently in the document.  Vice-Chair Gravanis recommended including the reference to NTC’s proposed Objective 4.  It was suggested that it be stated that the biodiversity section could stand a lot of improvement, and that we would urge the Planning Department to look very closely at the recommended rewrite submitted by Nature in the City and other groups as something that they would want to use as a substitute for their current Objective 4. 

 

On Staff Comments “POLICY 9.3 Minimize carbon emissions, conserve energy and pursue on-site energy production”—Commission Martin stated that it is her understanding that most of the Recreation and Park Department land is not lit as an internal policy, and that the parks are closed from dusk to dawn.  It was recommended stating to minimize lighting as a first step.  Director Blumenfeld stated that there are a lot of lights.  Chair Wald stated especially in Golden Gate Park and suggested making a reference to minimize lighting and where lighting is necessary, to use LED lighting.   

  

Public Comment:  Mr. Brastow, Nature in the City, distributed members of the Policy Committee collective comments from various organizations on the Recreation and Open Space Element (ROSE) Biodiversity Objective that were sent to the Planning Department (Explanatory Document: ROSE & Biodiversity Comments).  Mr. Brastow stated that twelve organizations signed on to support the rewrite of the biodiversity objective (see explanatory document) which is what the focus was on.  However, it was felt that there are a lot of other objectives, cross-referencing, consistency and coherency that should be addressed as well.  Mr. Brastow explained that this document was many years in the making of collective efforts on biodiversity and policy work and is advocating that this biodiversity objective be adopted in the plan.  Mr. Brastow discussed the proposed Objective 4 and Policies and the organizations that were included as the collective voice that can be referenced in the explanatory document.  Chair Wald recommended supporting Mr. Brastow’s proposal in Staff Comments.

 

Upon Motion by Commissioner Martin and second by Vice-Chair Gravanis, the Policy Committee recommends that the proposed staff comments with Committee Member’s revisions as stated be recommended to the full Commission for adoption at their Tuesday, September 22, 2009 meeting (AYES:  Chair Wald, Vice-Chair Gravanis and Commissioner Martin) (Explanatory Document:  Proposed Staff Comments for Recommendation to the Commission on the Environment as Amended). 

 

5.Development of Recommendations from the Policy Committee to the full Commission Regarding the Operations and Practices of the Full Commission. (Continued from the August 10, 2009 Meeting) (Explanatory Document:  Agenda Setting Criteria) Sponsor/Speaker: Commissioner Ruth Gravanis (5 minutes) (Discussion and Action)

 

Vice-Chair Gravanis proposed that the Committee recommend to the Commission adoption of agenda setting criteria as guidelines for selection of meeting agenda items. The criteria referenced in the explanatory document above would provide a guideline for prioritizing agenda items, selecting which items can be presented in a written report instead, ensuring that reporting requirements are met, and that the Commission’s guiding documents be reviewed as a basis for selection.  The individual who submits the agenda item, the Department Director, President, or Chair for Committee meetings and Commission Secretary would collaborate on the amount of time the agenda item would require and whether it should be heard at the Committee and/or full Commission level.  Chair Wald suggested that a written checklist be used for this purpose. Director Blumenfeld stated that agenda setting criteria would be a useful mechanism for staff and would be useful in prioritizing items when agendas are overcrowded.

 

Commissioner Martin motioned, second by Vice-Chair Gravanis, to adopt agenda setting criteria for the Commission’s Policy Committee meetings (VOTE:  Approved (3-0) AYES:  Chair Wald, Vice-Chair Gravanis, and Commissioner Martin).

 

Commissioner Martin motioned, second by Vice-Chair Gravanis, to recommend to the full Commission adoption of agenda setting criteria for the Commission and Operations Committee meetings (VOTE:  Approved (3-0) AYES:  Chair Wald, Vice-Chair Gravanis, and Commissioner Martin).

 

6.   Director’s Updates.  Speaker:  Jared Blumenfeld, Director (Informational Report and Discussion)   

 

Director Blumenfeld reported on the Treasure Island Climate Positive Development Program, a Clinton Climate Initiative (CCI) program of 16 large “climate positive” development projects around the world that Treasure Island was selected for (Explanatory Document: Treasure Island Climate Positive Development).  Director Blumenfeld stated that he was in attendance at the C40 Summit in Seoul, Korea on May 19, 2009, at which time the Climate Positive Development Program was launched.  The program goal is to share best practices amongst 16 different development projects around the world and to adopt carbon-neutral or carbon-reduction strategies worldwide. 

 

Vice-Chair Gravanis reported that Treasure Island planners are now considering increasing the number of units in the Treasure Island Plan from 6000 to 7000 or possibly 8000 units.  It was stated that there was support expressed by environmentalists for increased density because it is a viable economic and transportation solution.  Vice Chair Gravanis stated that the problem with the proposal is that a commensurate plan was not produced to reduce parking ratios, and the proposed plan would result in at least 10,000 parking spaces on the two islands.  Parking spaces are car magnets and having so many would be inconsistent with the purpose of the CCI.  Director Blumenfeld reported that these issues would be worked out at the time of the Disposition and Development Agreement (DDA), the contractual agreement between the developer and the City.

 

Director Blumenfeld discussed today’s Chronicle article alleging that City Government General Fund money would be wasted as a result of the mandatory recycling ordinance which becomes effective on October 21.  It was explained that the Department of the Environment does not receive General Fund money and is a net positive contributor to the General Fund at $1.6 million dollars.  Chair Wald recommended that Director Blumenfeld and/or the Department prepare an op-ed stating this fact and report on the success of the voluntary program.  Director Blumenfeld reported that there was a recent article in the Chronicle written by Ms. Heather Knight expressing what a fantastic program it is. 
 

Commissioner Martin requested an update on LED Streetlights.  Director Blumenfeld reported that one of the significant CCI programs includes installation of LED streetlights, and stimulus money is also being allocated to this effort.  It was explained that the Public Utilities Commission and Recreation and Park Department were working together on discussing what is being accomplished and on ways to phase in LED streetlights.

 

Chair Wald requested a report on the Department’s plan to use stimulus money for job training and other programs.   Director Blumenfeld reported on stimulus funding for the “Jobs Now” program, a program for single parents and people who are below poverty level that would pay all salary and benefits.  There would need to be a match of 20%, which could include supervision.  Deputy Director Assmann is leading the effort to design a very large public outreach campaign centered on the implementation of mandatory recycling that would run from now until September 2010 or later and would include staff from the “Jobs Now” program.  Information will be available next week on the actual implementation of the program. Nationwide it is about $12 billion dollars and there is a block grant for each state.  California received $1.8 billion because it is so large. The Department is considering hiring as many as 100 people. 

 

Deputy Director Assmann reported that the “Jobs Now” program is being publicized and information can be found on the Department’s website.  Vice-Chair Gravanis inquired whether this program could be used to hire people on Treasure Island to help educate people about composting and to work with the Treasure Island Development Authority.  Director Blumenfeld reported that Treasure Island is included as one of the districts that program staff would be sent to.  Commissioner Martin recommended including outreach to the public to welcome them to Commission meetings as part of this effort.        

         

7.   Announcements. (Discussion)  Commissioner Martin reported on her design work with the Planning Department and their Pavement to Parks Program on the new open space at 28th and Guerrero Streets that is scheduled for completion by the end of next week. The project is sustainable and is using all recycled material.   Commissioner Martin announced that she is having solar panels installed at her residence today and commended the success of the solar program.

 

8.   New Business/Future Agenda Items. (Discussion)  Chair Wald reported that the Environmental Working Group has released a new study of cell phone radiation risks that would be related to the Commission and Department’s mission because it involves both toxic and hazardous materials.  A request was made for staff to investigate this report and advise whether it would be useful for the Commission to weigh in to educate people about cell phone choice and use. Director Blumenfeld reported that a presentation would be made on this topic at the October 26 Policy Committee meeting where presentations could be made from both sides of this issue.  Commissioner Martin requested an update on pharmaceuticals at the October 26 Policy Committee meeting.  Chair Wald requested an update on the Hunters Point Shipyard Candlestick Point Plan at the October 26 meeting if possible.  Vice-Chair Gravanis stated that it would be important for the Commission to provide recommendations on the Transportation Plan and the bridge proposal. 

 

Vice-Chair Gravanis requested a discussion on the Strategic Plan if the Hunters Point Shipyard Candlestick Point item would not be scheduled.  Deputy Director Assmann reported that the Strategic Plan process has not been officially launched this year. Director Blumenfeld discussed the format for gathering information for production of the Strategic Plan and invited Commissioners to attend Strategic Planning senior staff and program meetings, keeping in mind less than quorum requirements.  Director Blumenfeld also reported that a Senior Staff retreat would be scheduled to discuss Strategic Planning efforts.  Chair Wald requested a schedule of dates for project review. 

 

Vice-Chair Gravanis stated that a discussion was previously held indicating that the Strategic Plan would be a substitute for the Sustainability Plan. It was agreed that there should be a way to include into the Strategic Plan an acknowledgement of those policy areas that cannot be dealt with in depth because of an unavailability of resources.  Policy statements could be included to make sure these goals are on the public radar. Vice-Chair Gravanis suggested asking volunteers to prepare a policy update and offered her input into the process.  Director Blumenfeld stated that the best time to offer input into the Plan is when all programs are together at a retreat and suggested inviting other Department representatives that handle areas that the Department and Commission do not directly deal with, such as the Recreation and Park Department (biodiversity) and PUC (water).  Committee Members recommended that Departments draft recommendations for the Department and Commissioners to consider.  Deputy Director Assmann suggested holding the Strategic Plan discussion by or before early January when the budget is worked on so that funding can be secured for proposed items.

 

Commissioner Martin inquired whether the outreach letter to environmental organizations had been sent.  Vice-Chair Gravanis stated that she was working with Ms. Jean Walsh, Outreach Specialist and Ms. Sunshine Swinford-DeVries, Volunteer Coordinator, on updating the contact list of environmental organizations.

 

Commissioner Martin inquired about the Lights-Out San Francisco campaign.  Deputy Director Assmann reported that at this time, Golden Gate Audubon is surveying buildings on how many birds have been affected, and findings should be available in a month.  It was stated that Golden Gate Audubon had sent a letter to San Francisco downtown buildings asking them to participate in the program.            

 

Deputy Director Assmann reported that Nestle Corporation cancelled their McCloud project on September 11, 2009. 

 

Ms. Fish, Commission Secretary, announced that the next Policy Committee meeting would be scheduled for Monday, October 26 because of the Columbus Day holiday on the second Monday of the month.. 

 

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 6:15 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 26, 2009

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