Policy Committee‎ > ‎2009 Meetings‎ > ‎

10.26 Approved Minutes







Monday, October 26, 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




1.      Call to Order and Roll Call.  The Policy Committee meeting convened at 5:02 p.m.  Present:  Vice-Chair Gravanis and Commissioner Martin; Excused:  Chair Wald.


2.   Approval of Minutes of the September 14, 2009 Policy Committee Regular Meeting. (Discussion and Action) Upon Motion by Commissioner Martin and second by Vice Chair Gravanis, the September 14, 2009 Meeting Minutes were approved without objection (AYES:  Vice Chair Gravanis and Commissioner Martin; Absent:  Commissioner Wald) (Explanatory Document: September 14, 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.   Cell Phone Radiation – Consumer Right to Know.  Sponsor:  Chair Wald; Staff Presenters: Jared Blumenfeld, Director and Debbie Raphael, Toxics Reduction Program Manager (20 Minutes); Speaker: Dr. Rebecca Sutton, Staff Scientist, Environmental Working Group (10 Minutes) (Informational Report and Discussion)


Director Blumenfeld reported that the Cell Phone Radiation Science Review on Cancer Risks and Children’s Health (Explanatory Document: (PDF) 2009 Cell Phone Radiation Science Review) report produced by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) prompted sponsorship of this item on today’s agenda, and introduced today’s speakers, Dr. Rebecca Sutton, Staff Scientist, EWG, and Ms. Debbie Raphael, Department Toxics Reduction Program Manager.  Ms. Raphael stated that one of the ways we think about environmental actions to take in San Francisco is from an assessment of the actions taken around the world as well as ones closer to home.  It was explained that discussions were held with scientists and journalists about the issue of cell phone radiation, and a decision was made to investigate the issue further.  Ms. Raphael stated that as she and staff started to ask questions, they came into contact with EWG and the work they have been doing for the past five years, which they were getting ready to formalize.  It was discovered that mostly European countries and some other countries around the world are concerned and are issuing different levels of advisories about the safety of cell phone radiation (Explanatory Document: “Cell Phone Safety by Country Recommendations”). Ms. Raphael provided a few examples of advisories issued by other countries; e.g., France wanted to focus its attention on the schools; Israel is issuing more of a warning; and the United Kingdom is considering labeling radiation levels. Ms. Raphael reported that the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) has an office of Women’s Health, which is where a study on this issue was found.


Ms. Raphael stated that it was learned that cell phones emit electro-magnetic radiation or radio frequency radiation and they do so from the antennae that are trying to communicate with the cell towers.  A discussion was held on the importance of determining what the effect of electro-magnetic radiation exposure can have on the human brain, especially for young children who are developing and have thinner skulls.  Ms. Raphael explained that the consumer right to know idea comes from work the city has already done and from findings in the United States and countries around the world. It was discovered that while the FDA Women’s Health Group is concerned, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), which has the authority to regulate radiation, is taking its lead from industry.  Setting a safe limit has been assigned to industry (the trade association for cell phone manufacturers), which raises the question of whether that is a good safety level or not, and whether there is more that the federal government should be doing.  There is also a question of what can be done here in San Francisco, because we clearly cannot regulate cell-phone radiation. 


Ms. Raphael stated that the discussion today is a starting point to advise Commissioners about what is being learned.  There are several options to consider for the future depending on the urgency we think this issue raises. Ms. Raphael asked Commissioners to consider what type of questions they would want answered and what the future policy options for San Francisco could be. 


Dr. Rebecca Sutton, Environmental Working Group (EWG) scientist, stated that she is speaking on behalf of Ms. Olga Naidenko, Senior Scientist, EWG, who is her colleague in the Washington D.C. office who could add additional information to today’s discussion as requested (Explanatory Document: “Testimony of Olga Naidenko” before the Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services and Education, and Related Agencies Committee on Appropriations United States Senate on their hearing on the health effects of cell phone use).  Dr. Sutton stated that EWG is a small non-profit research and advocacy organization headquartered in Washington D.C. and also has a small Oakland office that does California-based and national research.  Their focus is on researching toxic chemicals in everyday products, and while radiation is not a chemical, it certainly could be a toxic exposure according to most recent science.  Dr. Sutton stated that people have been interested in this subject for a long time.  Health implications were not previously known because cell phones were a new technology, so originally, people did not think there was evidence for health risks primarily because they were looking at studies of people who were using their phones for only a couple of years. Only recently has there been information available from studying study people who have used their phones for ten years, and troubling results are being seen. 


Dr. Sutton stated that it is being discovered that long-term cell phone use may be linked to higher risks for a couple of different brain and salivary gland tumors, specifically on the side of the head where the cell phone is held. The World Health Organization looked at people in thirteen different countries in the European Union and interviewed about 13,000 people, people who did and did not have tumors, to research if people who ended up with tumors tended to use their cell phones more.  The study has not been officially released and is in the peer review process now, but there is information that a health advisory will be published indicating that there is some concern.  This is the latest in a growing list of studies showing that we need to be concerned with our exposure to radiation.  By no means is the science definitive at this point, but there is a need to do more research, and it is time to take precautions in order to reduce our levels of exposure. 


Dr. Sutton distributed a list created by EWG of easy steps that people can take to reduce the potential bad effects of cell phone exposure (Explanatory Document:  ‘EWG Guide to Reduce Cell Phone Radiation Exposure”).  It was explained that the federal government, when reviewing regulations for specific absorption rates (SARs), asked industry how they would want to be regulated, what might appropriate SAR levels be, and actually adopted what industry suggested. Dr. Sutton stated that the head is allowed to receive twenty times more radiation than the rest of the body.  There is no scientific basis for this determination, and there is a belief that the brain is more sensitive to radiation than other organs.  This regulation is completely opposite of what it should be. These regulations don’t consider children’s exposure despite the fact that their heads are smaller and their skulls are thinner. Even the brain chemistry is a little bit different and is a little bit higher in cell content.  They end up absorbing twice as much radiation as an adult brain.  The current guidelines don’t consider kids at all because guidelines were created seventeen years ago when kids did not use cell phones.  It is time for an update. 


Dr. Sutton described EWG’s database website where the public can look up their cell phone/PDA model and determine whether the Specific Absorption Rate (SAR) is high or low.  It was explained that the top end of the legal limit for safety (1.6) is the industry-set standard adopted by the government.  Commissioner Martin asked who established radiation levels for the rest of the body. Dr. Sutton reported that these are all industry recommendations and are all based on studies of animal behavior.  There is little to no margin of safety.  The full body exposure is at the level where animals started acting strangely. Ms. Raphael explained that details are listed in the full report.


Dr. Sutton reported that EWG’s site has good traffic--in the 64 hours following the publication of their review, there were 442,000 people that accessed the material on the website, collectively viewing 1.4 million online pages.  During the three days that EWG’s findings were released, 100 news articles in national and broadcast news were published, including the New York Times, NBC Nightly News, Web MD, and USA Today.  There is also a list of blog posts which ranks the news articles by how interesting folks seem to find them. 


Commissioner Martin inquired whether it was safe to carry cell phones in pockets.  Dr. Sutton stated that EWG’s advice is to use headsets and keep the phone further away from the body; however studies are not yet included in the report about placing the phone on the body or on a belt.  Commissioner Martin stated that there was a reference made that radiation exposure is at the strongest when it is trying to make contact, and asked if cell phones are constantly trying to establish contact when they are on and connected to the network. Dr. Sutton explained that radiation exposure is strongest right when you are achieving that connection.  Cell phones do talk to the network periodically, and there is contact with the network even when you are not on the phone. 


Director Blumenfeld discussed a study that is available about the amount of threshold hours that a cell phone should be used and the number of hours that people use cell phones in different countries.  It was explained that the threshold of concern is 2000 hours over a lifetime, and the ten-year study suggests that 200 hours per year for ten years is how you get to 2000 hours.  The 2000 hours can be reached a lot quicker than that.  In the United States, the average person is at 800 hours per year compared to Europeans that are under 200 hours. It is believed that cell phone usage is more in the United States because the rate is less expensive so people can spend a lot more time on the phone.  In countries such as Europe and Japan, people text a lot more.  It is a concern because you can get to the 2000 hours in three years, and when you look at age distribution, kids use the phones more frequently.


Ms. Raphael stated that the cell-phone industry documented current trends and how widely used cell-phones are. Director Blumenfeld stated that the studies are about how many hours the phone is next to your head, which is the key difference from studies on other forms of radiation exposure such as towers and microwaves, which you are not holding next to your brain for 200 hours a year.  The proximity is the key difference between cell-phone use and all other electro-magnetic fields (EMF).  Also, if you live in a neighborhood that is very hilly and the signal is weak, the weaker the signal, the greater the radiation.  San Francisco has a lot of hills and poor reception, so the risk is higher because the radiation is greater for that phone. 


Director Blumenfeld stated that in the United Kingdom newspaper, The Telegraph, there was discussion of a study headed by Sir William Stewart, a Chief Scientific Officer. Sir Stewart prepared two studies, one in 2000 and one in 2005, and both contained the same recommendations stating that at the time of sale, there should be a rating telling people what the cell phone SAR rate is.  Director Blumenfeld questioned why nothing happened on his recommendation based on Sir Stewart’s high position in the United Kingdom and results of the two studies.  It was explained that there was significant pressure not to have a standard because this is a multi-billion dollar a year industry and people are scared that it will create panic. 


Director Blumenfeld stated that it is important to consider what can be done that is reflective of where the science is today. That is the most complicated policy question that will be faced on this issue—what is the balance based on available science and Precautionary Principle goals.  An action has not yet been identified that could represent where the science is today.  Ms. Raphael stated that as the World Health Organization report and other meta-analyses are getting published, you are seeing an increased awareness at the federal level.    This issue is coming under discussion, and it may be that a re-evaluation of federal standards will take time. 


Commissioner Martin stated that it is important to publicize this information so people can make important decisions.  One of the statements being made is that industry does not want to have greater restrictions or limitations on what they are producing, but at the same time the general population also does not want to believe that cell phones present a health risk.  Director Blumenfeld stated that there are a lot of cell phones that meet the criteria for less radiation exposure, and sees it as a design issue. Ms. Raphael stated that the warning is not to stop using cell phones, but to use them differently, which is an important measure especially for youngsters to acquire certain habits.  Commissioner Gravanis stated that people don’t understand that when the cell phone is searching for a signal, it is putting out the most radiation.  More publicity and education should be given to people about this point as well as an advisory to hold the cell phone away from the body.  It is not enough to just put a headset on--the phone in the pocket is also not doing much good. 


Commissioner Martin inquired if Bluetooth technology would be better than headsets with a wire.  Dr. Sutton stated that both improve or reduce radiation exposure, but doesn’t yet have a sense of which would be better.  Ms. Raphael stated that Bluetooth is better than holding the phone to your head but does not yet know whether it is better than the wired headset. Director Blumenfeld stated that it seems that Bluetooth is emitting radiation and the wired headset is not.  


Commissioner Gravanis asked staff to assemble a list of policy options for the Commission to consider in the future. It was recommended that an invitation be extended to industry representatives.  Ms. Raphael stated that one way to influence product redesign is to supply information to consumers so they will choose the lowest SAR phone available. 


Commissioner Martin inquired about the most common symptoms of increased radiation.  Dr. Sutton stated that the health risks that they are seeing tied to cell phones are various types of brain and salivary gland tumors as well as migraines.  Ms. Raphael stated that the problem is that effects may be seen over time, are not immediate, there does seem to be an acute effect.    Ms. Raphael stated that she would review what action France is taking in their schools and report back to the Committee.  Commissioner Martin asked if governments from many other countries were accepting industry standards. Ms. Raphael confirmed that was the case.  Commissioner Martin asked if the governments are unanimous in supporting the industry standard or if there is deviation.  Ms. Raphael stated that Belgium is starting to regulate what is coming out in the tower rather than what is going on in the phone and is summarized in the report.  It was explained that many countries are issuing a warning at this time.  Director Blumenfeld stated that Germany came out with a green dot .6 as a standard for an eco- rating, so there is some acknowledgement. 


This agenda item was continued to the December 14th meeting for further discussion.


5.   Update on Progress around the Disposal of Outdated and Unwanted Pharmaceuticals.  Sponsor:  Chair Wald; Staff Presenter:  Debbie Raphael, Toxics Reduction Program Manager (20 minutes) (Informational Report and Discussion)


Ms. Raphael introduced Ms. Lisa Hartmayer, who is a graduate student at UCSF and is volunteering with the Department of the Environment (Department) on this issue.  Ms. Raphael provided an update on this topic, showing examples of the new and improved mailers that are smaller, less bulky, not padded, with instructions included on the inside of the envelope, and cost $3.60 for each.  It was explained that for the very short term, the garbage company purchased 3000 mailers using rate-payer money.  Ms. Raphael stated that this is not a long-term solution because the issue is more of a wastewater than solid waste problem. Ms. Raphael reported on her meeting with the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC) and the garbage company to discuss how to get assistance and leadership from SFPUC Wastewater.  It was suggested that for the short-term, SFPUC purchase these mailers for both Departments to distribute. 


Ms. Raphael stated that the Department would like to ask pharmacies to sell these mailers, as they do with the smaller green cart compostable bags to line the smaller green bins.  However, because the mailers are so expensive, pharmacies would be asked not to request a profit on the sale, similar to selling a MUNI pass.  There will be outreach to all city pharmacies and Kaiser in the near future to request this service. That will be the short-term solution for some percentage of the public that would want to do the right thing. 


Ms. Raphael reported on current problems with this program: controlled substances are not included—the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) has not made any progress on this issue.  There are many people trying to move the DEA on this issue with no current success.  There is no information at this time that can be relayed to the public on disposal of controlled substances, so Ms. Hartmayer will be trying to find a solution to where to send these to.


Ms. Hartmayer introduced herself and stated that she is a nurse at the UCSF graduate school and reported on ideas that were considered for pharmaceutical disposal.  One possibility would be locations where pharmaceutical waste is already being handled, e.g. animal control facilities that use the medications on animals or clinics that have current collections in place.  These locations have been identified as possible sites for installation of a double-lock key collection bin that could be placed in a secure location for the general public to safely return their medications.  Pickup of controlled substances would have to be coordinated, and the public could be educated about how and what to bring back. 


Ms. Hartmayer stated that Walgreens stores have indicated their willingness to put a collection bin outside their stores; however, it is not currently possible because of security issues and possibility of defacement, etc.  All ideas are in the investigational stage now.  She stated that she would be looking to San Mateo County for a model program as they have a program in place.   Ms. Raphael stated that San Mateo County utilizes the Police Department for their collection.  Ms. Hartmayer stated that other possibilities include looking at fire and police departments; however, there may be security and space issues in San Francisco so that is why clinic areas are being researched as they may have a safe location and space, and the general public is coming to these areas for clinical services or animal control issues. 


Director Blumenfeld questioned the reasoning for not being able to include controlled substances in the program.  Ms. Raphael stated that as soon as a drug is called a “waste drug”, it is put into another regulatory framework.  She reported that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has stated that it is legal to put waste medicines in the trash, and the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) issued a press release asking people to flush the substances down the toilet.  Director Blumenfeld asked that the press release be sent to the Commission for review. Ms. Hartmayer stated that the public is confused about what to do with their medications so most of the time they sit in people’s homes because it is believed they are a hazard.  She stated it was important to give the public a clear method for disposal of these medications and believes that the federal government needs to create a national policy. As a short-term solution, San Francisco can be a model community for creating a program of safe disposal.


Director Blumenfeld stated that San Francisco has a population of approximately 800,000 people that may have as an example ten bottles of medication per person in their household, and there are only 3000 mailers currently available.  Ms. Raphael stated that she would like to see the pharmaceutical companies pay the cost of the mailers so they are free to the public. Director Blumenfeld stated that it could also be part of extended producer responsibility for the future, and retailers could ask manufacturers to pay the cost.  Ms. Raphael stated that who pays is the problem--retailers are not going to supply the mailers for free, but can be asked as a first step to sell them.  Then next steps would be to assign specific locations for controlled substances and then request pharmaceutical companies to get involved and pay for the mailer.  One could argue that if the pharmaceutical company would pay, then they would pass the price to the consumer so the consumer would pay either way.  The barrier of having to pay for it at the time of disposal is high, but if it is already paid for, it would be used more.  Also, in the economy of scale, if the pharmaceutical companies were to pay, the mailer would be a lot cheaper, possibly $1.00. 


Ms. Raphael stated that this program is not a perfect environmental solution.  Commissioner Gravanis added because of the burning and the waste that is involved.  Ms. Raphael stated that the positive side of the mailer program is that you would not have the emissions from trucks picking up pharmaceuticals from various pharmacies. Director Blumenfeld recommended that the sell-by date be extended to what was medically allowable.  Ms. Hartmayer stated that each drug would have to be handled individually and that it would be an enormous task going through every drug.  She explained that there are some drugs that can cause liver damage if they are used past their expiration date, and what might be safe for many medications may be dangerous for others.  Director Blumenfeld stated that this method could still be used for some medications, but not for others.


Commissioner Gravanis inquired whether creams and medications in metal tubes could be included in the mailer program. Ms. Raphael stated that they are included with the exception of sharp products, such as needles.  She stated that she is interested in what the wastewater agencies would be doing in the future as it hasn’t been a top priority for them.  They have had their blue bucket events where pharmaceuticals are collected, and they are continuing with this program once a year.  Medications are placed in a barrel with police oversight, and then they go to an incinerator.  Ms. Raphael stated that if the regional Water Board would decide to establish a Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL), it would make every wastewater agency take action.  Director Blumenfeld recommended that the Commission write a letter to the Water Board recommending this action. Ms. Hartmayer stated that it would be difficult to create TMDL’s for pharmaceuticals because there are so many different kinds.  


Commissioner Martin inquired about medications that are getting into the water from human waste.  Ms. Raphael stated that the SFPUC feels that most medication that comes from their sewage plant comes from excretion, but that she is unaware of the distribution numbers.  Ms. Hartmayer stated that there is no data available on the distribution of what is disposed from pills or what is excreted from the body in human waste. 


Director Blumenfeld stated that he is sure that other countries don’t prescribe as much medicine per capita as in the United Stated and recommended that there be an incentive for the insurance industry to prescribe less.  Ms. Raphael suggested that perhaps the insurance industry should be paying for the program rather than the pharmaceutical company.  Director Blumenfeld stated that if the insurance industry were to pay for the program, they might allow a person to get less medicine each time.  Ms. Raphael stated that it could be part of the health care reform act.  Ms. Hartmayer stated that if the provider’s patients are going to have to be on medication and they are paying a $10 co-pay, they would try to get as much as they can for that $10 co-pay at one time versus trying a medication for a month and then getting more.  She stated that certain patients may also have a difficult time getting to their provider, so a two- or three-month supply may be much easier for them.


Commissioner Martin asked if there would be an opportunity to meet with the new Police Chief to discuss this issue and inquire with him whether Mesa, Arizona has a similar program. Ms. Raphael stated that she would like (1) the Police Department to be involved with controlled substances because they have to deal with them anyway and (2) for pharmacies to be involved with regular drugs if the DEA is not going to shift their position in the short term. 


Commissioner Martin inquired about postal service involvement.  Ms. Raphael stated that the postal service has approved these mailers but are not allowed to accept controlled substances in the mail.  It was explained that the incineration facility was once allowed to accept controlled substances in the mail, but something had happened to shut the program down. It is believed that the DEA could not issue a variance.  It was recommended that the Commissioners write a letter to the Water Board asking them to urge the DEA to allow controlled substances to be mailed for incineration; however, there is still a question of who pays for it.   Commissioner Martin recommended working with UPS, Federal Express, or some other carrier to create business competition so it can be done less expensively. Ms. Raphael stated that government should not be involved with business negotiations, but that it would be a good idea if the actual companies that operate the incinerators could negotiate with Federal Express or other carriers to bring the costs down.  Commissioner Martin asked if there are other incinerators of this type available other than the one presently being used. Ms. Raphael stated that there are others available, but they are also not located in California.  The other facilities are interested in this program as a business model but they need to see interest from municipalities.                                                     


Commissioner Martin recommended that the public be educated that pharmaceutical waste is a problem and be given recommendations on what they can do.  Commissioner Gravanis stated that non-prescription drugs are often sold in large quantities, and that there should be education about not buying more than you need.  Director Blumenfeld stated that the point Ms. Hartmayer made about the economics of the insurance industry forcing you to buy more at one time applies in this case.  Commissioner Gravanis stated that reasons for purchasing more than you need are not always insurance-related.  Commissioner Gravanis stated that there are a lot of people reviewing this issue from different angles, e.g. Clean Water Action is investigating this issue, and Northern California Water Recycling Association is holding meetings and a workshop on emerging contaminants.  It is possible that other groups are talking about dealing with the regional Water Board on these issues as well.  Ms. Raphael stated that the Commission has not sent a letter to the Water Board as of yet so it would be helpful to weigh in.


Commissioner Martin stated that the San Francisco Estuary Institute (SFEI) issued a study checking water quality in remote areas and found hormones and other things in water. It was recommended that the letter to the Water Board include data on what is found in the bay and other bodies of water that we are attached to.  Ms. Raphael stated that the San Francisco Estuary Institute (SFEI) is the entity that does the most monitoring and will check to see if they have measurement statistics.  Director Blumenfeld stated that there are a lot of studies that have been done on the bay on this issue.  Commissioner Martin asked if information could be retrieved on the top three offensive chemical compounds to include in the letter. Ms. Hartmayer stated that currently there is no way to get these compounds out of the water; however, there is a green chemistry being investigated that may help break down some of these from the water.


Commissioner Martin recommended that in addition to adding the top three offensive compounds to the letter, to tie it back to whatever source of medication it might be from to help people who are taking these medications understand what they can do with their waste. Commissioner Martin inquired about the most commonly prescribed drug.  Ms. Hartmayer stated that the most commonly found drugs present in the water stream are estrogens and Prozac, and it is those that are being eliminated in human waste and stay in the water stream.  It then becomes difficult for people to rationalize why they have to throw out their five extra pills in a special way when it is being eliminated through the body anyway. Commissioner Martin stated that if the body is not absorbing that much, why put it in the medicine and recommended pushing producer responsibility to change formulations.  Ms. Raphael stated that this recommendation would be for the medical world to consider and all considerations discussed are relevant to this issue.


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


Director Blumenfeld discussed topics discussed at the Senior Staff Retreat, e.g. Department of the Environment program teams discussed better coordination with current partnerships and development of new partnerships to deal with issues not currently dealt with. It was announced that the Department now has nine eco-jobs employees and that Mr. Donny Olivera from the San Francisco Conservation Corp was hired to be the director of that program.  Mr. Olivera was involved with many large city recycling events for the past three years.  It was explained that the biggest challenge operationally is how to bring in a team that is bigger than the Department itself as it relates to space and so that they receive a benefit and the environment improves as a result.  The team will be working on mandatory recycling and composting and then on the energy efficiency audit. 


Commissioner Martin inquired about what to do with plastic film/bags.  Director Blumenfeld reported that Cole Hardware accepts plastic film/bags, but does not know what they do with it. The wet cleaners now have a reusable bag that you bring back to the cleaners. He stated that the topic of discussion at the November 9 Policy Committee meeting will be on dry cleaning. It was stated that plastic film collection costs are very expensive and they can be sold; however, there is a shipping charge.   Director Blumenfeld stated that Cole Hardware is an example of a great community organization that takes in a lot of different products, but that they are getting overwhelmed. 


7.   Announcements. (Discussion)


Commissioner Gravanis reported that she attended a walk sponsored by UCSF to discuss their tree thinning project for fire safety that they have received a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) grant for, and the Committee and Urban Forestry Council recently heard public comment on. She stated that she appreciated hearing what was actually going to happen in comparison to what was stated from public comment at the Policy Committee and at the Council.  Commissioner Gravanis reported that she had given UCSF staff Ms. Fish’s contact information so Commissioners could be informed of future community meetings and walks.  It is a state issue and there is question whether the Commission should get involved, however, the Urban Forestry Council has been defined as having interest in private, federal and state involvement for trees. 


Commissioner Gravanis stated that she has learned from Port staff that a number of dead gulls have been showing up at the wetlands just north of Pier 94.  The Audubon Society sent one of the gulls to Fish and Game, and they discovered that it had rodenticide in its system but nobody knows where it came from, whether it was directly ingested by the gull or from other animals they ingested.  Commissioner Gravanis reported that she had spoken to a Fish and Game employee who was researching the problem, and that she would be sending information to him on what the City does and who has permits to use rodenticide and under what conditions in order to track down the source.  It was stated that if anyone sees dead gulls, to contact Fish and Game so they can do toxicology studies. 


Commissioner Gravanis announced that there was a sewage spill at Treasure Island today, and the PUC’s job is to manage the infrastructure.  Ms. Raphael stated that she would like to know how much overflowed out in the bay.  Commissioner Gravanis stated that a certain number of overflows are allowed per year so unless that amount was exceeded, there is no fine.  Commissioner Martin stated that there were significant sewer backups around town due to the rains last week.  Ms. Raphael stated that she would send an email to wastewater staff to find out about the overflow.  Director Blumenfeld recommended accessing data on their website.  Commissioner Martin asked if a report can be made on the list of projects that the Department is not doing because it is not in their jurisdiction but is still being monitored. 


Public Comment:  Ms. Hartmayer asked for contact information on the tree thinning project which Commissioner Gravanis indicated she would send her.


8.   New Business/Future Agenda Items. (Discussion)  Director Blumenfeld stated that the November 9th meeting would include a discussion on dry cleaning and possibly an update on the Hunters Point Shipyard Candlestick Point activities. Ms. Raphael stated that she, Ms. Dhulipala, and a wet cleaner representative would be discussing barriers and opportunities.  The December 14th meeting will include an update on cell-phone safety and a discussion by representatives from the cell-phone industry.  


Commissioner Martin asked for updates on the outreach letter to environmental groups and prioritization of certain elements of the Urban Forest Plan, which the Commission recently issued a Resolution to the Planning Department about.  Commissioner Gravanis reported that she would contact Ms. Walsh of Department staff for an update on the outreach letter.  Director Blumenfeld reported that Deputy Director Assmann had sent communication to the Planning Department on the Urban Forest Plan, and would check on the current status and report back in his Director’s Report.  Commissioner Martin inquired about an update on congestion management pricing.  Ms. Fish reported that she had contacted San Francisco County Transportation Authority (SFCTA) staff who indicated they could possibly do a presentation in November; however, has not received a confirmation.  


Commissioner Gravanis stated that she would like to identify a process for Commission review for revision of the Strategic Plan.  Director Blumenfeld stated that could be done in January once the process starts.  Commissioner Martin also asked for an update on the Lights Out Campaign and a report made by International Dark Skies that blue light is dangerous to birds and that a lot of LED’s are in the blue spectrum.  Commissioner Gravanis stated that she would like to hold a discussion on how the Operations and Policy Committees can work together as indicated in the Bylaws.  Director Blumenfeld recommended that the Chairs of both Committees hold discussions on this issue.  A discussion was held on the upcoming Commission Officer election in January.  Ms. Fish reported that expression of interest in office would be on the November meeting agenda and the actual election would be held in January.  Commissioners discussed the possibility of revising the Bylaws in the future to change the election process.


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 6:40 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:  November 9, 2009


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