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06.14 Approved Minutes

CITY AND COUNTY OF SAN FRANCISCO

COMMISSION ON THE ENVIRONMENT

POLICY COMMITTEE

 

REGULAR MEETING

APPROVED MINUTES

 

MONDAY, JUNE 14, 2010, 5:00 P.M.

City Hall, Room 421

San Francisco, CA 94102

 

COMMITTEE MEMBERS:  Commissioners Johanna Wald (Chair), Ruth Gravanis (Vice-Chair), Angelo King

 

ORDER OF BUSINESS


 

1.      Call to Order and Roll Call.  The Policy Committee meeting convened at 5:01 p.m.  Present:  Commissioners Wald, Gravanis, and King (5:05 p.m.) Acting Director Assmann and Monica Fish, Commission Secretary, were present for this meeting. 

 

2.   Approval of Minutes of the May 10, 2010 Policy Committee Regular Meeting. (Discussion and Action)  Upon Motion by Commissioner Wald and second by Commissioner Gravanis, the May 10, 2010 Meeting Minutes were approved.  (AYES:  Commissioners Wald and Gravanis; Absent:  Commissioner King) (Explanatory Document: May 10, 2010 Draft and 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 were no members of the public present at this time.

 

4.   Review of Responses from Environmental Organizations to the Commission on the Environment’s Outreach Survey.  (Continued from the March 8, 2010 meeting.)  The Committee may make recommendations for a follow-up to the survey and may refer this item to the Commission for consideration. (Explanatory Documents: Commission Survey to Environmental Organizations, Summary of Responses, and Individual Responses) Sponsor: Commissioner Jane MarieFrancis Martin (Discussion and Possible Action)

 

Commissioner King joined the meeting during this agenda item.

 

Commissioner Gravanis reported that twelve responses had been received from environmental organizations to the outreach survey.  The groups that stated that they do not receive meeting agendas and were unaware of Commission meetings had been added to the agenda mailing list.  A request was made to inquire with Ms. Walsh, Department of the Environment Outreach Specialist, about the number of organizations that were polled and request a better-quality copy of individual responses.  Acting Director Assmann and Commissioners suggested creating a more current list of environmental organizations that would include their area of interest/expertise and contact information. This list would be added to the Department’s website and maintained by staff.  Acting Director Assmann stated that he would assign the EnvironmentNow staff during their phone-bank to survey environmental organizations and random households about what is the most specific most pressing environmental issue coming up in the next eighteen months that should get more attention and provide examples of possibilities.  A suggestion was made to include neighborhood, religious and service organizations in the survey calls. 

 

A discussion was held on how to engage environmental organizations in Commission work and meetings in order to be more relevant and rally more participation through selection of relevant issues.  Commissioner King stated that organizations may not attend meetings because they are not being funded by the Department.  He stated that many issues being worked on do cross over with environmental organization activities, but they do not see the need to attend meetings. 

 

Commissioner Wald suggested that staff contact environmental organizations when agenda topics that fall within their area of interest are selected and state that the Commission is requesting their input.  Commissioner King noted that people are not coming to the Commission for support of environmental issues that are presented to the Board of Supervisors.  They go to other Commissions that are not involved in environmental issues.  Commissioner Gravanis stated that some groups have asked the Commission for their endorsement, e.g., the Golden Gate Park Beach Chalet soccer field-artificial turf proposal, the mammal care facility, etc. 

 

Commissioner Wald suggested that the Policy Committee hold meetings in different neighborhoods and set up a schedule of meetings in one particular neighborhood so that residents can be aware ahead of time when meetings are scheduled.   Commissioner Gravanis stressed the importance of holding more meaningful public comment sessions in order to see what people want the Commission to work on.  A discussion was held on the possibility of holding the next neighborhood meeting at the southeast sector Herons Head Eco Center. Acting Director Assmann stressed the importance of having outreach to the neighborhood well in advance of meetings.  Commissioner King suggested topics of discussion that may be relevant to the neighborhood and citywide that include (1) the cleanup of the Hunters Point Shipyard, (2) reconfiguration of the sewage plant, (3) a proposal for the land that was formerly the power plant; (4) green technology and land-uses in the shipyard; (5) local hiring in any project should be part of LEED certification/credits; (6) energy efficiency and green jobs; and (7) Emerald Cities.  It was suggested that the Environmental Protection Agency and San Francisco Public Utilities speakers attend the meeting in the southeast sector. Commissioner King also noted the importance of securing speakers to Commission meetings that are involved in workforce development and green jobs. 

 

Commissioner Gravanis supported the suggestion to include local hiring in LEED as well as in other rating systems such as Bay Friendly, Sustainable Sites and GreenPoint Rated. Acting Director Assmann suggested that a Resolution be prepared recommending changes related to local hiring.  Commissioner King stated that local hiring is an environmental issue because it puts less strain on traffic, less reliance on cars, and provides an opportunity for public transportation.  Commissioner Wald asked that the local hiring topic be discussed at a future Policy Committee meeting and then the Commission.

 

Commissioners stated that this agenda item would be discussed further after responses are received to the phone survey and a current list of environmental groups is created.  Future agenda items would include holding a meeting in the southeast sector and local hiring as part of LEED certification/credits.  

 

Public Comment:  Mr. Blake Rainville, interested citizen, suggested a focus on the BuildIt Green rating system for local hiring instead of LEED because it has a big grassroots following and would be promoting more of a local aspect, even though LEED is a nationally recognized rating that is providing a lot of recognition for San Francisco.  Acting Director Assmann stated that recommendations could be made for all systems. 

 

5.   Policy Committee Strategic Planning Discussion.  The Committee will discuss short- and long-term meeting planning in the light of the Bylaws provision (Article VII, Section 8) regarding the Committee's responsibilities. (Explanatory Document: Commission on the Environment Bylaws, Article VII, Section 8 Reference Document.)  Sponsor: Commissioner Ruth Gravanis (Discussion) 

 

Commissioner Gravanis distributed copies of the Commission on the Environment Bylaws, Article VII, Section 8, reference document for Committee discussion and proposed that the Committee discuss whether it is necessary to update the Bylaws as it applies to the Policy and Operations Committees responsibilities.  In reference to the Bylaws references to--

 

·         “The Department’s assessment of San Francisco’s environmental conditions”.  Commissioner Wald discussed preparation of a report card of environmental conditions and suggested that it be maintained in the Bylaws language.  She stated that a report card should be worked on to tell people what the Department and Commission are doing for them, what is the value of the Department in the context of other City departments?  Acting Director Assmann stated that the report card would show how much other departments have saved as a result of the department’s work.  Acting Director Assmann suggested referencing report card examples from other cities. 

 

·         “The development and update of plans for the long-term environmental sustainability of San Francisco.”   There is a sustainability plan. Does the Commission see it as their job to update it?  It was suggested that long-term environmental sustainability be changed or add the word strategic plan to this section.  Acting Director Assmann suggested “development and update of the strategic plan.”  Commissioner Gravanis stated that a sustainability plan is needed to guide the three-year strategic plan. Acting Director Assmann suggested having a two-part strategic plan—one with assured funding and one for aspirational funding. Commissioner Gravanis suggested adding the necessity for an advanced discussion of strategic planning. 

 

·         “The review and development of recommendations on any policy proposed for adoption by a City agency regarding conformity with the long-term plans for environmental sustainability.” Is that something the Commission should be involved in or oversee staff to do? Language suggested ““Review and development of recommendations on environmental policies within the purview of the Department that comes from the Mayor, Board of Supervisors or individual members.”

 

·         “Developing a plan for San Francisco to achieve the goal of zero waste to landfill by year 2020.”  Acting Director Assmann stated that zero waste still has to be worked on to reach the additional 15-20% diversion. He stated that zero waste does not have to be specifically listed and suggested saying “the program areas that the department is working on including but not limited to.”

 

·         “Explore resource conservation opportunities in the areas of water and toxins reduction.” Should toxins reduction be under resource conservation?  Acting Director Assmann stated that zero waste, water and toxins is not reflective of the range of issues that the Department currently works on and suggested updating the Bylaws to list the Department’s nine program areas.  Commissioner Wald suggested that the language state “priority programs of the Department.”   Commissioner Gravanis stated that language should be consistent with the Charter.  Commissioner Wald stated that if the Commission’s responsibilities are listed in the Charter, it would not have to be repeated.  She suggested “The Policy Committee will focus on and provide advice on the priority areas that the Department has identified in consultation with the Commission.” 

 

·         “Develop recommendations regarding restructuring of environmental programs and activities among the City agencies and departments.” Does the Commission want to be involved in restructuring environmental programs among city agencies and departments—is that Commission’s goal?  Commissioner Wald stated that she is worried about relationships with other departments.  Language was suggested that states “The Policy Committee shall work with other city agencies and departments to promote environmental programs and activities.”     

 

·         “The Operations Committee shall also oversee the public education and outreach to the community on environmental issues and address issues regarding the environmental well-being of the City.”  If the Operations Committee is supposed to be overseeing public education and outreach and addressing environmental well being, how to make sure that both the Policy and Operations Committee are not duplicating efforts or not addressing certain issues. 

 

Commissioner King stated that he sees the Operations Committee as the body that reviews internal activities within the Department, and the Policy Committee as being focused on the rest of the City.  He stated that he is unclear of the Commission’s role in governance over the Department itself, and asked whether there should be a Committee that reviews the internal activities of the Department.  Acting Director Assmann reported that the Operations Committee reviews internal Department activities such as budget, grants, the Department’s functions and operation, and evaluates the Director’s performance.  He stated that the Department should be relaying its activities, work, and priorities more to the Committee and should be consulting with the Committee in the beginning of the grant process instead of when approval is being sought.  Commissioners King and Wald requested information on stimulus funding that was received by the Department (amount received and program/program area assignment).  Acting Director Assmann stated that the Department was successful and received a number of rewards that a list could be prepared for. 

 

Acting Director Assmann discussed establishing a proactive approach for seeking funding for work priorities and relating the Strategic Plan to funding that are not yet funded.  He explained that legislative planning and policy development priorities should be driving funding and resource allocation.  He stated that this could be worked on when the new Director comes on board.  Commissioner Gravanis suggested asking the Operations Committee if they would want to relinquish public outreach and education and strengthen what they do for budget, financial planning, administration and management of program operations of the Department.  Acting Director Assmann stated that the Policy Committee should establish priorities that translate to what happens operationally.   

 

Commissioner Gravanis stated that the Policy and Operations Committees should work together, but there is no structure for doing so.  A joint meeting would constitute a Commission meeting which would not be the appropriate body for this type of discussion.  She suggested that a Working Group be established consisting of one member of each Committee that meets with the Director to make recommendations to the Commission. 

 

This agenda item will be continued to a future meeting.

          

6.   Report on Earth Day Breakfast (Coordination, Funding, and Allocation of Staff Time) and consideration of future funding options. Sponsor: Commissioner Ruth Gravanis; Speaker: Acting Director David Assmann (Informational Report and Discussion)

 

Commissioner Gravanis requested a report on funding and allocation of department resources to the Earth Day breakfast event.  Acting Director Assmann reported that the event cost $26,000 this year and was entirely funded by event sponsors with the exception of in-kind department staff time, e.g., the School Education team, Management Assistant, and 40-50 people working at the event.  He reported that in order to insure the appearance of the current Mayor, the event has to be held in City Hall.  The cost of the City Hall room and set-up is approximately $12,000, the caterer $10,000, and there are additional expenses as well.  If there are 300 people attending, the cost would be approximately $100 per person.  He stated that it may be possible to reduce the cost to $20,000 by reducing food expenditure, but not lower if the same venue were to be maintained.  Acting Director Assmann stated that he does not want to charge people because the people that you may want to be there may not attend. 

 

A discussion was held on having less emphasis and speaker time for corporate sponsors and more emphasis on the certified green business program and department accomplishments.   Acting Director Assmann suggested establishing benchmarks for environmental achievement before one can become a sponsor so that recognition can be given more to these companies as opposed to funding criteria.  Commissioner Wald suggested setting up different levels of sponsors that could include environmental conditions and terms to those levels.  For example, if you give $10,000, it is a basic sponsorship.  If you give $20,000 or $10,000 and you have done the following things, then you can be a different type of sponsor.   Another alternative discussed was to recognize contributors, but not offer speaker time.   Acting Director Assmann stated that it would make sense to honor green businesses at a breakfast instead of a separate ceremony as has been done in the past.  It was agreed that for next year’s Earth Day breakfast, corporate sponsors would not be asked to speak, criteria would be set for sponsorship, and there would be green business recognition, and Department and Mayoral accomplishments would be promoted.   

 

Public Comment:  Mr. Blake Rainville, interested citizen, stated that companies that contribute more have more funding for environmental projects while smaller companies may not receive that level of funding but are doing things that are more incredible.  He suggested that recognition be based on a tier environmental giveback basis, and that community leaders that are making miracles happen with no funding have more speaker time, while others who may be larger contributors but not doing as much environmentally, be advertised at each table but not have as much time to speak.  He suggested researching a venue outside of City Hall, e.g. buildings in San Francisco that are not being used that building owners may benefit the use of space from or more reasonably priced buildings on Market Street.   

 

7.   Director’s Updates.  Speaker:  David Assmann, Acting Director (Informational Report and Discussion) Acting Director Assmann reported (1) on the increase in the Department’s workforce and need for additional workspace and possible solutions.  He discussed setting up conference room space at the 11 Grove basement, turning first floor conference room space into workstations, the conversion of the third floor conference room into workspace for seven staff, and the need to make more efficient use of current workspace; (2) announced that the Department budget meeting is scheduled for Thursday, June 17 at the Board of Supervisors.  A draft Budget Analyst report has been received and recommendations are acceptable; and (3) Mayor is scheduled to hold interviews for the new Department Director this week.

 

8.   Announcements. (Discussion)  Acting Director Assmann announced that the Department has had a number of positions open this year, and that since January, over 1500 applications have been received collectively. Commissioner Gravanis announced that there is a stewardship work party on Yerba Buena Island on Saturday, June 26th, from 9-12:30 p.m.   She suggested planning another Department/Commission retreat to pull weeds.  She stated that she has been working with the Mayor’s Office to form a relationship with the Treasure Island Development Authority to have ongoing stewardship programs there in advance of when the Habitat Management Plan is implemented so that the invasive weeds don’t overtake the area before development begins. 

 

Public Comment:  Mr. Blake Rainville, interested citizen, stated that in Colorado, a coffee roasting shop posted an opening on Craig’s List on Friday afternoon and Monday morning posted a closing ad thanking people for the over 500 applications they received in two days. He stated that he himself has spent eight months applying for work and has been offered only two interviews this week as a result.

 

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

 

Commissioner Wald announced that she would not be present for the July 12 meeting. Commissioners Gravanis and King confirmed their attendance for a quorum.  Future agenda items discussed for July include (1) an informational report and discussion sponsored by Department staff Mark Palmer, on bird-safe buildings; and (2) Commissioner Gravanis requested a staff review and report on whether the Mayor’s Executive Order regarding the use of single-serve plastic water bottles at events include events held on City property.  The Policy Committee would like the City to ban the sale and give-away of single-serve plastic bottles of water at events held on City property.  Does the currently in-place Mayor's Executive Order regarding plastic water bottles include events on City property? If not, what would it take to institute such a ban?  Does the Mayor have the power to issue an Executive Order that would require all City departments to include the ban in their contracts and rental and lease agreements?  For example, could the Mayor order the Department of Real Estate to amend its boilerplate lease agreement language to assure that no event held in City Hall would sell or provide water in single-serve plastic bottles?  Would the same Executive Order cover the Recreation and Park Department’s leasing of park space to big events such as Outside Lands?  Does the about-to-be-approved pushcart contract include a plastic water bottle ban?  If the mayor cannot approve these bans by executive order, can the Supervisors, by ordinance, require all city departments to institute the bans?  Or does each commission have to take its own separate action?  Acting Director Assmann stated that the Zero Waste team would be the program area to assign this review to.

 

Future agenda items for August include (1) Commissioner Gravanis requested that staff create a Resolution urging the Board of Supervisors, the Building Department, and all relevant agencies to add to all green building rating systems points for community involvement and hiring. This Resolution would be recommended to the Commission for their September meeting.  An ordinance can be worked on in the future; and (2) update on food choices and service in schools. Commissioner Wald reported that Mrs. Obama has a new initiative and asked whether that initiative could help move goals forward.  Acting Director Assmann suggested that Mr. Nik Kastner, San Francisco Unified School District Sustainability Coordinator be invited to speak on this topic.

 

Commissioner Gravanis inquired whether Department staff would be providing comments on the soon to be released Treasure Island Draft Environmental Impact Report (EIR).  Acting Director Assmann reported that staff would review the Draft EIR and determine whether comments are required.  Commissioner Gravanis discussed the items listed on the Future Agenda Checklist and asked whether some of the items could be provided to the Committee as staff reports or recommendation memos, e.g., restaurants use of kerosene heat lamps for outdoor seating.

 

Commissioner Gravanis discussed Commissioner Martin’s request for a report on the health effects of MSG and potential environmental justice issues surrounding use of this product and inquired whether this topic would fall under the purview of the Department of Public Health or could also relate to the Department of the Environment work on human health and the environment.  Acting Director Assmann suggested that the Department of Public Health be invited to the Policy Committee to hold a discussion on such topics and discuss the respective roles of the two departments.  

 

Public Comment:  Mr. Blake Rainville, interested citizen, discussed the benefits of setting an example through an action instead of telling people what to do.  He suggested that San Francisco on very warm days offer free water only to those people that have water bottles. Mr. Rainville stated that telling people that they can’t sell particular items would put environmentalism in a bad light.  Acting Director Assmann stated that the City is setting an example by not buying any single-serve water bottles for its departments. 

 

10.  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.

 

11.  Adjournment.  The Policy Committee meeting adjourned at 7:05 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.

 

The next Commission on the Environment Policy Committee meeting is scheduled for Monday, July 12, 2010 at 5:00 p.m. in Room 421, City Hall.

 

Monica Fish, Commission Secretary

TEL:  (415) 355-3709; FAX: (415) 554-6393

 

*Approved: August 9, 2010


 

 

 

 

 

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