Policy Committee‎ > ‎2010 Meetings‎ > ‎

08.09 Approved Minutes

CITY AND COUNTY OF SAN FRANCISCO

COMMISSION ON THE ENVIRONMENT

POLICY COMMITTEE

 

REGULAR MEETING

APPROVED MINUTES

 

MONDAY, AUGUST 9, 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 5:03 p.m.  Present:  Commissioners Wald and Gravanis; Absent:  Commissioner King.  

 

2.   Approval of Minutes of the June 14, 2010 Policy Committee Regular Meeting. (Discussion and Action)  Upon Motion by Commissioner Gravanis and second by Commissioner Wald, the June 14, 2010 Meeting Minutes were approved. (AYES: Commissioners Wald and Gravanis; Absent:  Commissioner King) (Explanatory Documents: June 14, 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 was no public comment at this time.

 

4.   San Francisco Unified School District's Sustainability Activities and Plans and Working in Conjunction with the Commission on the Environment. Sponsor: Commissioner Johanna Wald, Speaker: Nik Kaestner, SFUSD Director of Sustainability (Informational Report and Discussion)

 

Commissioner Wald stated that the San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD) and the Department of the Environment have a productive partnership and is anxious to explore additional ways of working together on sustainability activities and plans. 

 

(Explanatory Document:  Presentation to the Commission)

 

Mr. Kaestner provided an overview of sustainability programs and plans at the SFUSD.  He reported that he provides quarterly updates to the Department of the Environment and works with staff to determine synergies between the two agencies.  He stated that the Department and San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC) have plans to continue funding for an additional two years on sustainability programs that SFUSD offers.  He described the focus of sustainability initiatives (1) providing environmental education; (2) the Food and Gardens Initiative--to teach about the cycle from soil to food to compost and back to soil again; and (3) maintenance of facilities and operations.

 

I.  Environmental Education

 

Mr. Kaestner stated that SFUSD’s most important charge is to make sure students are eco-literate as they move forward to college and beyond.  He described district programs that are currently in place that include

 

·         The Wilderness Arts and Literacy Collaborative Environmental Academy (WALC) offered at Galileo and Balboa high schools that provide an opportunity for students to interact with the environment as they go through their curriculum, to do hands-on activities, stewardship projects, and leadership development.

 

·         Field trips to the Environment Science Center located at Fort Funston to learn about the coastal ecology.

 

·         The Environmental Service Learning Initiative which is a teacher support and development, youth leadership, service, and environmental-awareness program for high-school students.

 

Mr. Kaestner reported that the district works with many outside educational providers to improve indoor and outdoor curriculum.  Meetings are held with educational providers to define what eco-literacy means to them and the district and to determine next steps to make sure students will be eco-literate.  He explained that SFUSD’s definition of eco-literacy is to bring about an awareness of ecological principles, to change attitudes of students to care through place-based education (learning about local ecology), and improve the outdoors through stewardship projects.

 

Mr. Kaestner stated that one of SFUSD’s major accomplishments was to place all San Francisco’s environmental education programs onto one website www.SFecoliteracy.com.  The website is geared toward teachers so they can locate available resources, programs, and curriculum available for the classroom.  He is currently working to align programs offered by various providers with state standards.  He explained that the state’s Environmental Education Initiative curriculum (EEI) was recently aligned to the old state standards, and will have to be realigned to the new common-course standards.  SFUSD is working through the same process with environmental education programs in the community, so kids can be tested on programs that are offered. This process requires a lot of work with content providers so they understand SFUSD standards and teach in a way that supports teachers.  Once standards are established and placed on the website, plans are to outreach to schools, especially underserved schools, to make sure they know about this resource.  Slide 6 of the presentation (see explanatory document) shows an example of a webpage from the www.sfecoliteracy.com site that provides information on a program offered by a content provider, the Bay Area Air Quality Management (BAAQMD).  Teachers are able to access this site to see which programs provide the subject matter they want to teach.

 

Commissioner Gravanis inquired how transportation for field trips is managed.  Mr. Kaestner reported that it depends on the content provider, and that some providers will offer field-trip services and funding.  The Department of the Environment has a field trip program that takes kids to a variety of environmental education organizations. In some cases, students are encouraged to take public transportation.  Continued discussion is being held to work on removing stumbling blocks and identify funding.

 

Commissioner Wald inquired whether there was accountability related to whether the programs are geared toward tests that students are required to take.  Mr. Kaestner reported that tests do not cover this subject matter, but there are state standards that do. The idea is to encourage teachers to feel that they have the luxury to take their students outside, so they need to see a connection to what they would otherwise be teaching in the curriculum.  Commissioner Wald inquired about the accountability of providers, e.g., is it through word-of-mouth that teachers hear about other teacher’s experiences with content providers, or does SFUSD make an attempt bi-annually or annually to assure itself that the providers are providing the material that they should be providing. 

 

Mr. Kaestner stated that the former is true at this time.  He explained that in addition to adding the standards to the website, a site would be added for teachers to evaluate the programs and how effective the program was in meeting standards.  This would be valuable to help in weeding out programs that don’t meet these qualifications.  He explained that the providers have put in a lot of work in supplying this information.  They will now be asked to go back and align their curriculum with standards, so providers that are not desirable from a teacher’s standpoint may not be placed back on the list.       

 

II. Food and Gardens.   

 

Mr. Kaestner stated that the goal of this initiative is to bring about an understanding that food comes from nature, not from the grocery store aisle, and healthy eating and composting is part of the natural cycle that kids can get involved in.  Programs discussed include: 

 

·         Green Schoolyards—SFUSD is setting aside $150,000 of bond funding for greening projects at 43 schools so far.  That funding will be applied to changing school infrastructure to allow for educational gardens. The 2003 bond funding has been extended to a few middle and high schools.  The goal is to do the heavy lifting so that parents and school communities can plant and configure the spaces.  Prior to doing the construction work, schools will go through a master-planning process where they sketch out what they would like for their entire school, and then choose one phase to include in the bond project.  It allows them to think about how that first piece of funding will fit into what they might want to do later as more funding becomes available.  Many schools have had educational gardens before this initiative and when funding becomes available, they will expand what is in place.  He explained that it is not just an opportunity to grow food but to work with the material and understand the concepts. 

 

Many schools are not able to take advantage of the funds right away because they do not have the ability to develop and put into practice a maintenance plan.  It is important that the school community has the ability to provide their own maintenance for the garden because there are not enough landscapers to take care of the current landscaping.  The key component is for schools to feel it is part of their curriculum, not something someone else has to take care of.  Slide 15 shows an example of best practices of Sherman Elementary School before green schoolyards and after (slide 15). 

 

·         Garden programs such as rainwater harvesting (“Tap the Sky”), tree planting through Friends of the Urban Forest, and Green Schoolyard Alliance, Urban Sprouts and EcoSF that work with particular schools on how to develop garden programs.

 

·         Healthier Food—within the constraints of the federal lunch program, the district is trying to expand fresh fruit and vegetables and healthier food standards.  SFUSD recently got upgraded to platinum level for providing healthier food.  The district has a nutritional education program with particular schools such as “Chefs in the Classroom” and Harvest of the Month” so kids can learn about a particular seasonal vegetable every month and cook something with it. 

 

·         Zero Waste—The Department of the Environment is expanding composting to all schools and administrative sites.  By 2012, he hopes that all schools will be composting.  The unofficial goal is to reach 85% diversion.  The goal is to analyze where schools are in their diversion rate, which schools need the most help and which implementation measures lead to the best diversion rate and focus on those measures.  He announced that 135 Van Ness went from 22% diversion to 79% in the last month.

 

Commissioner Gravanis inquired whether supplying locally grown food is one of the criteria, and whether there is an effort to recognize local farmers.  Mr. Kaestner stated that they do use California-based produce, which is not the same as local produce.  He explained that the federal school lunch program’s provider is based in Illinois so most food that is not produce is from Illinois.  He is working with the San Francisco Food Bank to identify how to provide a local food system, similar to a kitchen that used to exist, where food is prepared centrally and is distributed to the sites using local produce.  He discussed federal reimbursements for student meals and explained the additional expense involved in providing a meal to the students that is envisioned as appropriate. The recent reauthorization is in the Child Nutrition Act which increased the reimbursement by five or six cents.   

 

Mr. Kaestner explained that a local initiative or a bond measure is needed that would provide significant funding and leadership from Washington to change the reimbursement rates based on cost-of-living rates in particular areas since the cost of living in San Francisco is much higher than other areas in the country.  Commissioner Wald suggested researching whether there are farmers or farm institutions that would be willing to work with us to bring costs down as far as they could regardless of what the federal reimbursement rate is.

 

III.                  Facilities and Operations

 

·         Green Building--Mr. Kaestner discussed educating students about the importance of reducing utility bills to preserve the earth. Schools can be designed and operated to reduce environmental impact and promote healthier and more productive learning environments (slide 20).  Green building plans are in progress with a focus on existing building stock and how to improve efficiency.  Standards are being updated to align with the Collaborative for High Performance Schools (CHPS) criteria, which is similar to LEED for schools.  Since projects tend not to have complete overhauls, it is more important to have specifications and procedures in place to line up with the CHPS standards.  It is not likely that buildings will be certified, because not enough work is being done to acquire enough points. 

 

Mini projects and energy audits on existing schools have been done, and there will be a request for funding in a new bond measure to help in the efforts to reduce utility bills.  Slide 22 shows best practices example from the Filipino Education Center that has an HVAC system, lighting sensors and basic fundamentals, but does not include major green renovations. There are plans for major renovation of Willie Brown Academy in the Bayview district after this school year.

 

·         Healthy Environment—There is a focus on the indoor environment through the “Tools for Schools” program to identify air quality issues; “Back to the Tap” to switch to tap water; Green Cleaning and Integrated Pest Management programs.

 

·         Transportation—SFUSD mandated cleaner diesel in their school busing contract.  The focus is now on how to get kids to schools without needing a car through the “Safe Routes to Schools” program to encourage elementary schools to bike and walk safely to school, providing commuter benefits to staff members to take transit, and a grant from the County Transportation Authority to install bike racks on all sites. 

 

Mr. Kaestner stated that in addition to what can be done at the district administrative level, it is important to engage students, parents, staff, and the community in greening schools.  Schools are engaged through the “Green Team” program (see Slide 27) to work on commuting, schoolyard, waste stream and community programs (see Slide 28).  Slides 29-32 shows pictures of kids involved in the “Safe Routes to Schools” program, tree planting from the tree-planting campaign, and 2000-gallon rainwater cisterns being installed at Lafayette Elementary School.    

 

Commissioner Wald inquired whether SFUSD is working with the Department of the Environment when referencing the CHPS and Green Cleaning Program to take advantage of the work that has already been done as part of the Precautionary Principle, e.g. recommending green cleaning products.  Mr. Kaestner explained that the Green Cleaning Program was developed with a consultant that helped the Department of the Environment to develop its own specifications.  He stated that Green Cleaning and CHPS principles are similar to City guidelines, and that he does check in with the Department every quarter for feedback. 

 

Commissioner Gravanis inquired how the general public, other than parents and grandparents of schoolchildren find out about SFUSD activities.  Mr. Kaestner stated that he previously worked to create a website called “Greening the Next Generation” www.greenthenextgen.com so people who are interested can find out about particular programs.  He is hoping to develop a new campaign around that website to green schools by encouraging community participation through volunteer efforts, providing funding, or providing resources for overall district-wide goals. Newspaper articles have increased and he does receive calls from community members or businesses who have read about programs and either want to sell something or want to find out more information or get involved. 

 

Commissioner Wald suggested making announcements to the public through bills that residents receive about the district’s accomplishments related to diversion and zero waste and composting.  Acting Director Assmann reported that Recology issues quarterly newsletters to all bill payers that could include SFUSD accomplishments, and suggested that Mr. Kaestner contact the Department’s Outreach Manager.  Mr. Kaestner stated that SFUSD issues a newsletter that this information could be added to, and that he would work with Department staff on this effort.   Commissioner Wald suggested that the announcement should be on the cumulative impact of all school programs.

 

Commissioner Wald inquired whether there was anything else the Commission could do to work together.  Mr. Kaestner stated that he likes the idea of staying in touch in terms of publicity once the campaign is fully developed and would get back to the Commission on a simulated sketch of what an ideal LEED school might look like that could be brought to the community.

 

Public Comment: 

 

Ms. Miriam Gordon, citizen of San Francisco, inquired whether the $150,000 bond grant funding was per school.  Mr. Kaestner reported that amount was per site (a one-time $150,000 upgrade).  There were forty-three schools included in the 2003/2006 bond, and each one of them in sequence will get access to the Master Plan process and the $150,000 upgrade. There will be a bond website that will show what schools are included.

 

Mr. David Kupfer stated that he reviews the SFUSD newsletter and commended Mr. Kaestner on his work with programs that are inherent to the values of the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission and the Department of the Environment.   

 

5.   Bottled Water at Events on City Property.  Sponsor:  Commissioner Ruth Gravanis; Speakers: Commissioner Ruth Gravanis and Miriam Gordon, California State Director, Clean Water Action (Explanatory Document: City and County of San Francisco Phase Out of Bottled Water Purchases Executive Directive) (Informational Report and Discussion)

 

Commissioner Gravanis reported that this agenda item was briefly discussed at the scheduled July Policy Committee meeting; however, there was not a quorum for the meeting so a thorough discussion and meeting was not possible.  Department of the Environment staff member Julie Bryant was asked to report to the Commission on some of the things to think about if the Department and the Commission were to purse the idea of banning the sale or giveaway of single-serve or larger plastic bottles of water on City property.  She came back to the Policy Committee to discuss the Mayor’s Executive Order that is currently in place that directs what the City can spend money on.  If a discussion is to be held about preventing other people buying, selling, trading, or giving away plastic bottles on City property, it would have to go the route of an ordinance passed by the Board of Supervisors.  She mentioned that many cities have followed suit since the Mayor’s Directive on stopping the spending of City money on bottled water.  She also mentioned that Concord, Massachusetts voted to become the first United States town that bans the sale of all bottled water.  She does not know if that has been challenged or has gone through because it may require state approval. 

 

Commissioner Gravanis stated that the Policy Committee is considering the idea of suggesting that an ordinance be considered, but first there is a need for more research.  Ms. Bryant had pointed out that a City ordinance may not pertain to City departments that are quasi-state or federal such as the Port or Treasure Island, and the agencies that would be most affected are the Recreation and Park Department and Parking and Traffic because they issue permits for street fairs and events.  Other venues such as the War Memorial, Moscone Center, and City Hall would also be affected. Ms. Bryant had mentioned that a ban would work very well for events where tap water is easily accessible, such as the City Hall rotunda, where water could be served in water pitchers and glasses.  Water could also be made accessible at other venues or other outdoor events but not without its challenges. 

 

Commissioner Gravanis stated that she has spoken to the City’s bottle-less water dispenser vendor who has provided water stations for many city events--indoor and outdoor, including the Green Festival, Oyster and Beer Festival, and Slow Food Nation.  She introduced Mr. Michael Davis, with US Pure Water and requested that he speak on this topic as he has given a lot of thought and already has a lot of technology developed for providing water for big events. 

 

Commissioner Gravanis stated that people could bring their own reusable bottle to be refilled from the station that would be set up or buy or receive a give-away reusable bottle or buy a cup that might be compostable or reusable.  There are a lot of options.  Some of the logistical challenges that Ms. Bryant listed have to do with providing water where a tap or spigot is not accessible, but there has been information made available that this situation can be dealt with.  It might be difficult in a place such as Moscone Convention Center to serve water to thousands of people within a tight time frame. Mr. Davis can address that as well.  Another concern was with dehydration.  Commissioner Gravanis pointed out that people have more access to water when they can just keep going up to these refilling stations.  She discussed the concern that there may be additional costs imposed on event producers, which may not be the case either.  Commissioner Gravanis reported that she discussed this issue with Ms. Jennifer Clary of Clean Water Action and found out that Ms. Miriam Gordon has already done a major event and provided water to people without the use of plastic water bottles.

 

Ms. Miriam Gordon provided an explanatory document on a zero waste event The San Francisco Jewish Community Center (JCC) 2009 Maccabi Games.”  She stated that she participated in this event as a volunteer and not in her capacity as Director of Clean Water Action.  Ms. Gordon explained that the Maccabi Games is a Jewish youth athletics event that is held every summer in the United States, Israel and other countries.  It is an Olympic-style sports event for teens in the Jewish community.  In the United States, the events are held every summer with JCC’s in different cities hosting the event.   It was the San Francisco JCC’s turn last summer and there was a decision to green the event for the first time.

 

Ms. Gordon stated that she had asked the Chairs of the games to consider greening the event because she has gone to so many events in the past where kids were given so many plastic beverage containers of water and other drinks and an incredible amount of money was spent on it.  After each event, the fields and social venues were littered with left over plastic water bottles and other beverage containers that were often not recycled in many locations.  Since San Francisco is such a green city, it was not challenging to sell this idea to the Chairs of the Maccabi games.  She became the green team chair and decided to make it a zero-waste event.  It was a challenge on how to make it a plastic water bottle free event.  Mostly the challenge was not the logistics, but people adjusting to the concept.  Delegations of teams were coming in all over the country, their coaches, and the heads of the delegations and were hearing that the event was not giving out water in bottles. The biggest investment was in education of the incoming delegations and families hosting the athletes for a week and getting them to buy into this bottle-free concept. 

 

Ms. Gordon explained that there were 1200 athletes participating in the week long event consisting of five days of planned sporting and social activities.  In addition to 1200 athletes, there were about 1800 participants that included coaches and delegations coming from other cities, parents that were visiting, and the San Francisco community that came out to watch the spectators and help as volunteers.  About 3000 people participated in the event from Sunday night to Friday. The event was held in sporting locations, parks all around the city, and schools.  The hub was University of San Francisco whose facilities were used for a lot of the sports, social, and dance hall locations.  Other schools provided their gyms as well.  Big social events were held at the Cow Palace and the Design Center.  So there were many facilities that were used all over the city.  

 

Ms. Gordon stated that planning this event to be bottle-free involved making sure that the contracts for the food vendors that served lunch and dinner involved specifications for zero waste, and that there was the right setup for waste management at each of these venues as well as available water. Ms. Gordon explained that it was a logistically challenging event and explained how it was done.  She stated that having a reusable stainless steel water bottle and having the water stations where the teens could refill the water was going to be the way to accomplish this.  Every single athlete got the bottle at the beginning of the event.  The athletes were staying with host families and had to have the host families instructing them to come with their water bottles filled during the day.  A recycling coordinator “Green Mary” who does a lot of the big events in San Francisco was hired and ended up staffing their water station.   She was a great choice but had never done a zero water bottle event before and had never provided water, so it was a learning process for everyone.

 

Ms. Gordon reported that she had met with the Recreation and Park Department that had informed her that all their fields had potable water. Ms. Gordon referenced the explanatory document page 1 picture of a water station, which is a ten-gallon thermos filled with water that was selected for the event.  The station had to be staffed and the thermos had to be constantly refilled throughout the day for day-long events.  For piece of mind, compostable cups at the water stations were provided for those athletes that forgot their water bottles.  By the end of the event, the kids were all using their water bottles.  It was great education for kids that came from places like Florida, Texas and Mexico and all over the country that have very little recycling even of water bottles, let alone composting. 

 

Ms. Gordon explained that the Maccabi Games turned out to be a zero-waste event.  They had recycling, trash, landfill and compost but there was not that much of any one of those things because they gave out very little packaged or disposable product.  Over the course of the five-day events, one-and-a-half Recology-size dumpsters were collected (32 cubic yards of waste).  Only six percent went to landfill and the rest went to compost and recycling. 

 

Ms. Gordon reported that the water aspect proved challenging because they were told by the Recreation and Parks Department that the water was potable so it was not tested. The water came out looking brown and not appealing, so it was not served at the water stations.  It was necessary to bring in water from other nearby locations to fill the containers, which was challenging. The take home message if you are thinking about doing plastic-free events is that you need to make sure that at every location there is potable water.  There were many reasons for doing this event this way, and the City has already embraced the idea of bottle-free purchasing.  In addition to reducing the amount of waste sent to landfill, it was estimated that they prevented the distribution of 18,000 disposable water bottles over the course of the event using the calculation that a teen at an event like this on average would consume three plastic beverage container drinks per day, which may be conservative considering they were being served breakfast lunch and dinner and were at sports events all day long.  For 1200 teens, estimating three disposable bottles a day, the conservative estimate is that it avoided the purchase of 18,000 disposable water bottles.

 

Ms. Gordon referenced the second page of the handout that provides facts and figures from commonly-known sources about disposable water bottles to help in future deliberations. She stated that the Pacific Institute has been doing a lot of research on the energy and carbon emissions related to the use of plastic water bottles.  She pointed to one study that most people are not aware of that there is an emerging body of science that shows that polyethylene water bottles can leach phthalates, a known hormone and endocrine disrupter into the water. This study shows at levels exceeding U.S. standards for phthalates.  The event coordinators felt strongly that they should have all organic food served to the young athletes and did not want to have contaminated water.  She stated that there are many studies that have shown that water provided in plastic water bottles is no cleaner and often more contaminated than tap water.  Since San Francisco is so fortunate to have Sierra snowmelt for its water supply that doesn’t run through any contaminated soils and does not have the problems of a lot of other water sources, we should as residents applaud the City for thinking about providing water at events without bottles and not wasting all of the natural resources associated with providing bottled water. 

 

Ms. Gordon encouraged the Policy Committee to pursue this effort and offered her assistance.   She stated that Clean Water Action is very much in favor of bans on single-use disposal goods and packaging in plastics in particular.  Clean Water Action has a “Taking out the Trash” campaign and is currently supporting AB1998, the statewide bag campaign as well as bans on polystyrene food-ware containers, which San Francisco has already done. Clean Water Action is very much in support of actions like these.

 

Commissioner Wald inquired whether only the athletes were given access to water or if the other 1800 people that were at the event could come to the water stations to get water.  Ms. Gordon responded that the water was provided in proximity to the athletes and was primarily for the athletic participants.  It was very labor intensive to keep filling the jugs so they were not promoting that the visitors and volunteers use the water that was provided, but they were not barred from it.  Commissioner Wald inquired whether there were crowds at the water station--what was the largest number of kids that showed up to request water and how hard was that to manage? 

 

Ms. Gordon responded that the largest crowd was when they had all 1200 kids on the soccer field at USF at the Koret Center waiting to be loaded up on buses to do community service at parks in San Francisco.  There were about eight stations around the soccer field, and there may have been two or three kids waiting to fill up their water bottles, so it was not a problem.  There were water stations throughout the dining area at off-site dinners with only a couple of kids waiting.  You have to plan well to have enough stations, which was done.  By the end of the event, there were a bunch of teens impressed with what a green city San Francisco is and learned a lot about waste and recycling and went home with their water bottles thinking more about our disposal lifestyles.  She stated that she is happy that the event not only diverted waste from landfills but was educational and valuable for the young people that they were trying to influence.  Commissioner Wald stated that the Commission knows about the work that the JCC is doing on its premises, which is very commendable.  Ms. Gordon stated that she is part of the JCC green team, and that they have a long list on their website of everything they have done to green the center, and they have applied for certification as a green business. 

 

Commissioner Gravanis reported that “Green Mary” provided the water dispensers and filtration for the Maccabi Games that was attained through US Pure Water.  Mr. Michael Davis of US Pure Water was asked to speak on some of the issues that were discussed, e.g., how many people could be served, the different units available, which ones were appropriate for sporting events with 3000 people, which ones would work for larger events, or which ones could be used for more formal events. 

 

Mr. Davis, US Pure Water stated that they are the supplier of bottle-less water for the City and County of San Francisco and has helped to achieve bottle free offices in City departments. US Pure Water also does a lot of events and works with “Green Mary” to supply dispensers for different events that she does, which varies from smaller to very large events where there are tens of thousands of people.  Events that he worked on include Slow Food Nation, where there were 20,000 people a day at the different venues.  As a result of providing stations where people could refill their bottles, approximately 100,000 bottles per day did not get into the landfill. Slow Food Nation’s event had been the first dispenser prototype and was a bit harder for the public to use than the dispenser currently available. The current dispenser has four spigots that are used for most events.  It is the lever-type operated spigots that you push down and fill up your water bottle quickly.  The Port of Long Beach got three of these dispensers for their Green Port event that served approximately 100,000 people, and they are getting a fourth dispenser for this year’s event.  There were lines but they went very fast. The Oyster Festival at Fort Mason had the longest lines, but they also went very fast because there was no money exchange, and they could do it themselves. 

 

Mr. Davis explained that the biggest component in holding a successful bottle-less-event is educating people to reuse their bottles rather than throwing them away.  He stated that US Pure Water often filters the water they dispense and checks to make sure it is potable before the event.  He discussed other successful events they worked on such as “Comedy Day in the Park and the “Oyster Festival.”  Mr. Davis stated that there were people running the first-aid station at the Oyster Festival that told them it was the first year that no-one passed out from dehydration, primarily because at most events where you have to purchase beer and water, people would purchase beer, and they are less likely to fill up with water to counteract the dehydration that occurs when you drink alcohol.

 

Mr. Davis stated that they use more upscale dispensers or use dispensers to fill up pitchers for more formal events such as sit-down dinners or the Slow Food Nation events where they have chefs that are serving different kinds of food.  He stated that letting people know ahead of time to bring a reusable bottle and letting them know where the water station locations are is important.  He reported that he will be providing two stations for the San Francisco Street Fair event in the Mission District, and people will be told to bring their own reusable bottle. Other options are to give away or sell reusable bottles at the event or sell compostable cups instead of giving them away so as to reiterate the message that you just don’t take and throw away, but to encourage reuse. 

 

Commissioner Gravanis inquired if Mr. Davis foresees any pitfalls or opposition if the Commission were to pursue an ordinance.  She stated that Mr. Davis had mentioned that the promoters might feel that they receive a significant amount of their event revenue from the sale of water bottles. Is it possible to offset revenue loss by selling reusable bottles?  Mr. Davis stated that some events receive funding from bottled water companies so that they can put their name to the event, and other events where they sell single-use bottles as an income stream.  Transferring the mentality to selling reusable bottles as an income stream is not difficult, but it is a change, and any time there is a change, there is resistance.  

 

Commissioner Wald asked if it makes sense to make changes in a phased approach.  She suggested making an effort to find a promoter of a particular event and convincing them to be a test case to show people how it can be done and to leverage the ability to accept a major change.  Alternatively, you could start phasing it in with indoor venues such as conventions (e.g., Moscone Center) and then move to outdoor venues, because if you are asking people to change the way they are doing things, it is important to have sufficient sources of potable water available to convince them it can be done.  She likes the idea of doing a prestigious event such as “The Hardly Strictly Blue Grass” festival to show that it can be done.  Ms. Gordon stated that it would provide the opportunity to learn more about the pitfalls and plan for them.

 

Acting Director Assmann discussed considerations to ensure that it would work (1) having to deal with the logistics of supplying the water in an efficient way at places where you can’t give free bottles to everybody because it would not be economical; and 2) the need to provide education. You want people to think of a reusable water bottle as something that they take with them as a matter of course.  In order for that to happen, you have to convert what is currently in place, which are inefficient infrastructure drinking fountains that are unsuitable for refilling water bottles.  He reported that a dispenser is being piloted in Yerba Buena Gardens that can be used for refilling reusable water bottles.  It has been in place since December, and Department staff is working with the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC) to get these installed at different public venues around the City over the course of the fall.  Before people are going to start taking their water bottles out with them as a matter of course, people need to be able to refill their water bottles. If there are a network of these, that will help on the education side.  Simultaneously, pilots can be done at events to see what is workable.  You don’t want people to leave their home without their water bottle, and they will only do that if they know it will be refillable.  If it is done only for isolated events, it is not going to work, because people will forget.  You want it to be something they think of on a routine basis. 

 

Commissioner Wald inquired whether the dispensers could be placed in City buildings and other venues.  Acting Director Assmann stated that the “Global Tap” pilot would be put in Recreation and Park Department properties, SFPUC facilities, etc.   Mr. Davis stated that US Pure Water has a number of systems that are currently located in Moscone Center that is similar to what the City and County of San Francisco has.  Most of those are for internal staff, but that could be expanded depending upon the circumstance.  US Pure Water has also put in drinking fountains for different buildings in the City where that was required rather than the bottle-less water coolers that look like bottle coolers that most of the offices have.  The drinking fountains are fine to use for filling bottles.  All of these things need to happen at the same time.  Acting Director Assmann stated that it is important to select high-profile, high-traffic places where lots of people can see them.

 

Me. Jennifer Kass, Department of the Environment staff, stated that there will be a list of locations where “Global Tap” will be installed, some indoors and outdoors.  Commissioner Wald suggested placing an Op Ed in the Chronicle and the Examiner so that people will know that it is being done and that it is not just restricted to people that happen to go to the places where these are.  Mr. Davis suggested reviewing where it would make sense to install something permanently so it can be used for subsequent events.  Acting Director Assmann stated that it would make sense to look at the locations that are used multiple times because it doesn’t make sense to set up something event by event, but does make sense to set up a system that could be in place all the time.  Commissioner Wald responded or that is brought out at appropriate times so if you need x water stations at a location, the City purchases or leases x water stations so that when an event comes there, it would be provided for them as a way to reduce added costs if there are added costs for someone who wants to use that venue. 

 

Commissioner Wald stated that she realizes the technology will change going forward.  Would it make sense for the City to have its own warehouse of these things to give or make the stations available to people at events.  Mr. Davis stated that is what the Port of Long Beach did on a small scale.  Commissioner Wald inquired where the water was sourced from.  Mr. Davis stated that they have to find a potable water source and would often have to hook it up with a hose.  Ms. Kass stated that finding a potable water source would be a challenge in some locations. Acting Director Assmann stated that the biggest logistical challenge is finding potable water because some locations may be ideal, and others may not have potable water close by.  Commissioner Wald stated that it would be useful to have a sense of where the good water sources are and not, so there could be a reasonable ordinance that did require someone at least in the beginning to use this system in a place where there isn’t potable water available, and the City would have a plan with the PUC to fill that gap over a particular period of time. Commissioner Gravanis stated that she appreciates doing all of these things simultaneously. 

 

Commissioner Wald suggested coordination with the San Francisco Unified School District so kids could begin to talk about where their water bottle is every morning when they go to school.  Ms. Gordon stated that they recognized that teens like drinks other than water, and one of their major sponsors for the events, Coke, who at many events gives out Dasani water and PowerAid, agreed not to provide Dasani water and gave PowerAid in powdered form so it could be mixed on-site and provided at some of the sporting events.  She stated that if you are thinking about schools, to think beyond water and think about other disposable beverages and plastic containers that could be provided bottle-free as well.  

 

Mr. Davis stated that for one of the events at Slow Food Nation, a PUC truck with water was brought to the event and dispensed out of the truck through a dispenser.  There are ways to provide water at locations that do not have potable water by bringing the water in. Commissioner Gravanis stated that the PUC could make water available at certain times similarly to what they do for volunteer work parties.  Mr. Davis stated that he helped design a dispenser for an organization that was a bank of 16 dispensers, so there are a lot of possibilities of how that could be achieved.  


Public Comment 

 

Mr. Andrew Brousseau, San Francisco citizen, stated that his concern is for the one-day events where someone shows up without a refillable container, and how to quench their thirst.  Options mentioned were to hand out or sell refillable containers.  He suggested selling the refillable container so people think before they make a purchase.  If you hand them out, people will have too many of them.  He liked the idea of handing out the bottles to the athletes for the five-day events because it means something to them.  He stated that he supports the other option mentioned to sell compostable cups and tie it in with educating people on composting.  Mr. Davis stated that they charged $1.00 a compostable cup.  Mr. Brousseau stated that might help with revenue issues with not being able to sell bottled water.  He stated that the third option of providing a water fountain is a good option, but inquired about health concerns with fountains at public events. Commissioner Wald stated that her sense is that a lot of water fountains are not maintained because of the fear of health consequences.  Commissioner Gravanis stated that people don’t use fountains as much because they bring in their bottled water. 

 

Mr. David Kupfer expressed his support of the Commission’s work on this initiative. He stated that there was discussion about the need for social marketing because people are conditioned by the past and the throw-away culture that has been maintained.  He stated that there are canteens available in the commercial marketplace that have been consumer-driven that have been seen increasingly.  There has not been a national ad campaign to buy reusable water bottles, but you are seeing them increasingly.  It will take a bit of an ad or marketing campaign through the media, but it won’t be too difficult because the consciousness of plastic waste has never been higher.  Mr. Kupfer stated that he worked as a consultant for Hollywood Studios and different music festivals.  When they did a String Cheese festival at Oregon, they sold at cost the water bottles rather than have vendors sell the throwaway plastic bottles.  There was an advertisement on the bottle, so it came out of an advertising budget in terms of how they were purchased.  It worked successfully and those individuals that chose not to purchase the reusable canteen were given an option of a very inexpensive paper cup.

 

Commissioner Wald stated that it is a good idea to sell the space on the bottle to minimize the cost.  Mr. Kupfer stated that it is especially useful to sell at cost in order to get maximum participation.  He stated that it would make sense for there to be municipally-owned dispensers with multi-pronged spigots because the delivery system is key to success.  He does not know if there are sufficient systems in the community existing.  Mr. Kupfer suggested that the City commit through either one department or multiple departments to making these units available for events.  Acting Director Assmann stated that this would be key to work that the PUC does.  Commissioner Wald suggested that the Commission hold a joint meeting with the PUC to discuss this topic. Commissioner Gravanis suggested starting at the staff level.  Mr. Kupfer stated that this initiative would have a big impact and would be a model for others.

 

Mr. Davis stated that another solution for people that attend events and do not have a reusable water bottle or may have resistance to purchasing a water bottle is for people to put a deposit on a reusable bottle and return the bottle at the end of the event and get their money back.  The bottle can then be cleaned and reused at another event.  The bottles can be washed or put in the dishwasher.

 

Commissioner Gravanis asked whether staff should start drafting an overall program including an ordinance.  Acting Director Assmann stated that more work and research needs to be done first, and then discussions should be held with PUC about the “Global Tap” program to be implemented in the fall.  He would then come back to the Committee with a list of suggestions or proposals on how to move forward. Ms. Kass suggested that Commissioners check out the “Global Tap” system at Yerba Buena Gardens.

 

This agenda item was continued to a future meeting at the Call of the Chair.

 

6.   Review and Approval of the Updated List of Environmental Organizations to send the Commission on the Environment’s Outreach Survey and Survey Revisions. Sponsor and Speaker:  Commissioner Ruth Gravanis (Explanatory Document:  Environmental Organizations List and Survey) (Discussion and Acton)

 

Commissioner Gravanis stated that an outreach survey was sent to environmental organizations to try to make sure that the Commission is connected with grass roots environmental groups and others in the community.  A number of responses were received to the survey.  The Committee realized that a more complete list of environmental groups was needed to send the survey to. Ms. Fish, Commission Secretary, has been working on putting together a list of additional organizations that were not included in the list the first time.  The Committee also discussed the idea of trying to upgrade the survey based on responses received before sending it out to more groups.  Additional items to add to the survey that were previously discussed were to (1) offer people that do not receive the Commission’s meeting agendas or the Department’s electronic newsletter the opportunity to do so; and (2) to add Acting Director Assmann’s suggestion to ask the organizations to list their three top priorities that they think the Commission should be working on.

 

Commissioner Gravanis stated that a number of groups on the updated list appear to be statewide or international.  Acting Director Assmann reported that the list includes groups that have offices in San Francisco even though they may be a national organization.  Ms. Fish explained that many groups did not list their email or may have an email page directly on their website.  In this case, the group’s telephone number or web page address was provided.  Acting Director Assmann stated that the groups could be contacted to request their email address. 

 

Acting Director Assmann stated that the list of environmental organizations is much larger than before, but not complete. Ms. Fish explained that there is another site that has not been referenced yet, and that this list does not include the organizations from the previous list that were sent the survey. Commissioner Wald requested that a full list be provided and suggested that fellow Commissioners streamline the list and identify who should stay on or not.  She likes the idea of requesting their three top priorities so that the Commission agendas could be stratified by subject matters they may be interested in.  Those groups could be told in advance that they would be sent agendas of issues they might be interested in as opposed to sending agendas all the time. 

 

Commissioner Wald suggested selecting the groups that Commissioners are most surprised are not attending meetings and calling them to find out why. Based on the response received to the initial survey, it is not likely that people who are overworked and get thousands of e-mails every day would fill out the survey.  Commissioner Gravanis stated that because there is no waste of paper or postage, why not send it out to all of the groups, find out what their mission statement is, and then if we don’t get responses, to do follow-up phone calls to those that do not respond to the survey.   Commissioner Wald stated that she would rather talk to them about more things than what is on the survey and would not want to impose on them to do both the survey and a telephone interview.   

 

Commissioner Wald stated that the real information that is needed would come from people that actually know about the Commission and don’t come to meetings.  Is the time the problem?  Is it because there is no stratified agenda list?  The Commission needs to find out answers from people who have an organic connection to the Commission’s activities as opposed to people who it would be nice to have come.  Commissioner Gravanis suggested calling people and asking question 5 on the Survey.  Commissioner Wald suggested asking whether they know that they can send comments on an agenda item by email, or what is it that would make them want to come to meetings?  Acting Director Assmann stated that groups could choose to receive a “twitter” model of an agenda that describes the agenda topics in the subject line of an email, e.g. school sustainability, bottled water, etc.  Ms. Fish stated that sorted group e-mail lists could be created based on topics of interest. Commissioner Gravanis stated that it would be better for groups to self-identify their main interests rather than going through the lists to figure out what that would be.

 

Commissioner Gravanis stated that getting people to meetings is not her primary goal but that it is important that they should know about the meetings so if they want to come they can.  It is also important to have a list of all of the organizations and their mission statements in a database. Commissioner Wald stated that the Commission needs help in figuring out what it should be doing, and she is not certain if this survey will help us.   Commissioner Gravanis suggested asking them what issues are important to them, what they are working on, and then communicating how the Commission can help them in order to get them to think about using the Commission and making sure that they know that the door is open to make suggestions. Acting Director Assmann stated that selecting the three important issues to work on would help achieve this.  Commissioner Wald stated that she would prefer giving the groups a list of issues to select from and then asking them if they would be interested in receiving agendas from the Department on those issues. 

 

Acting Director Assmann suggested shortening the survey to a two-minute survey so it would more likely be answered.  Commissioner Gravanis suggested going to the organizations that did not respond and ask why they did not respond.  Was it sent to a person who does not work there or was it not passed on to the appropriate person at the organization?  Acting Director Assmann stated that a lot of the names on the list are individuals.  Commissioner Gravanis stated that the survey should contain a line that would ensure that the survey is forwarded to the right person in the organization.    

 

Acting Director Assmann suggested that next steps would be to integrate the two lists currently in place, incorporate the third environmental organizations website, and incorporate the grant list from the Environmental Justice and Zero Waste teams. Ms. Fish inquired whether phone numbers should be included.  Commissioner Wald responded just emails at this time.  She asked that the source of the list be noted going forward, e.g. Zero Waste, Environmental Justice, Guidestar, etc. The survey revisions would be discussed at a future meeting.

 

Public Comment:  Mr. Brousseau stated that there is a problem with long surveys and suggested keeping the survey short and succinct.             

 

7.   Director’s Updates.  Speaker:  David Assmann, Acting Director (Informational Report and Discussion). There were no Director’s updates made at this time.

 

8.   Announcements. (Discussion)  There were no announcements made at this time.

 

9.   New Business/Future Agenda Items. (Discussion)  New business and future agenda items were not heard at this time. 

 

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 7:00 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, September 13, 2010 at 5:00 p.m. in Room 421, City Hall.

 

Monica Fish, Commission Secretary

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

 

Approved: September 13, 2010
ĉ
Unknown user,
Aug 25, 2010, 4:28 PM
ĉ
Unknown user,
Aug 25, 2010, 4:27 PM
ċ
080910PolicyCommitteeMeetingAudio.msv
(14135k)
Unknown user,
Mar 4, 2011, 10:25 AM
Ċ
Unknown user,
Aug 25, 2010, 4:30 PM
Ċ
Unknown user,
Aug 25, 2010, 4:29 PM
ĉ
Unknown user,
Aug 25, 2010, 4:29 PM
Ċ
Unknown user,
Aug 27, 2010, 9:25 AM
Ċ
Unknown user,
Aug 27, 2010, 9:51 AM
Comments