CITY AND COUNTY OF SAN FRANCISCO
COMMISSION ON THE ENVIRONMENT
MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 13, 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 5:00 p.m. Present: Commissioners Wald and Gravanis; Absent: Commissioner King. Department Director Nutter was welcomed to the Department of the Environment and to her first Commission meeting.
2. Approval of Minutes of the August 9, 2010 Policy Committee Regular Meeting. (Discussion and Action) Upon Motion by Commissioner Gravanis, second by Commissioner Wald, the August 9, 2010 Meeting Minutes were approved (AYES: Commissioners Gravanis and Wald; Absent: Commissioner King) (Explanatory Documents: August 9, 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. State Legislative Update. Sponsor: Melanie Nutter, Director; Speakers: Mark Westlund, Program Outreach Manager and Debbie Raphael, Toxics Reduction Program Manager
Mr. Westlund reported on legislation that the Department took a position on in this last legislative season as follows:
Ms. Raphael and Mr. Westlund commended the Department’s lobbyist efforts for this legislative session. Commissioner Wald suggested that a specific person be assigned to the Department.
Ms. Raphael provided an update on SB797 (Paveley and Liu), product safety: Bisphenol A (BPA) ban in baby bottles, cups, formula and baby food containers that was defeated. Commissioner Wald suggested working on a labeling bill similar to the cell phone Specific Absorption Rate (SAR) information-labeling. Ms. Raphael stated that labeling could be advocated for and efforts could be directed toward ways to provide people with information about BPA especially in infant formula and metal cans, but hopes that the federal bill that is being introduced may solve the problem. She noted that we are starting to see voluntary BPA-free labeling on packaging in stores, but that has not been the case in cans and infant formula. See Explanatory Document distributed in Committee meeting “BPA Update” for summary and next steps.
Commissioner Wald inquired whether there was something the Commission could do to assist with high-priority bills such as putting together a lobby day where Commissioners and other people from San Francisco could go to Sacramento and lobby on a particular bill. Ms. Raphael asked for clarification on whether the Commission could lobby on bills and cited the City Attorney’s Political Activities Memorandum for City Employees and Officers. She stated that the Commission and Department could provide education. Department Director Nutter suggested involving the Commission in contacting key people through a phone call or letter if allowed. It was determined that the Political Activities Memo states that City officers and employees could not take a position or lobby on a ballot measure, but it was unclear whether the Commission was restricted from lobbying Assembly and Senate bills. Mr. Westlund stated that education is considered administrative advocacy and is not restricted. A legal opinion would be requested on whether Commissioner lobbying on state legislation would be legal.
Commissioner Wald suggested that Department staff contact Commissioners early in the legislative process so they could research the issue and contact other organizations who might be able to provide advocacy. Commissioner Gravanis suggested that the Commission could also write a letter to the Governor on the suggestion of a strategist.
5. Department of the Environment Staff Comments on the Treasure Island Draft Environmental Impact Report (Draft EIR). Sponsor: Commissioner Ruth Gravanis; Speaker: Mark Palmer, (Explanatory Documents: Staff Comments and Treasure Island Draft EIR--select Treasure Island Draft EIR sections from index at this link http://www.sfplanning.org/index.aspx?page=1828) (Informational Report and Discussion)
Commissioner Gravanis reported that the Commission has been working on Treasure and Yerba Buena Islands over the past few years, staff commented extensively on the Draft Sustainability Plan for the Islands, and the Commission has heard several presentations from the Mayor’s Office and Treasure Island Development Authority staff about the project. A major milestone was reached last Friday when comments were due on the Draft EIR for redevelopment of the Island. Mr. Palmer was asked to present on staff comments on the Draft EIR.
Mr. Palmer reported that he was one of the authors of the original Treasure Island Sustainability Plan and is familiar with the issues that have been and need to be addressed. He stated that he has seen a lot more level of detail in the Draft EIR than was in the Sustainability Plan, and feels that it has evolved to the next level of improvement. He referred to his comments (see explanatory document), which mostly pertains to existing City requirements and Ordinances that need to be considered in light of this project. Most notably, that the new State Building Code, CALGreen is going into effect the first of January, and all new construction projects in the state of California will have to follow the new state Building Code. That is information that none of the consultants or authors of the EIR knew about or included, and he wanted to make sure that they were aware of this information. Mr. Palmer stated that all private-sector residential and commercial buildings would be subject to Building Code Chapter 13C, which now requires LEED Gold in 2012, and municipal buildings would be subject to Chapter 7C. The project sponsors for Treasure Island have agreed that they will strive for LEED for neighborhood development certification for the entire island, and the individual parcel purchasers will be responsible for LEED certification on their individual parcels. A discussion was held on how this timeline would affect current building plans.
Mr. Palmer reported that approximately 30% of the residential development is slated to be affordable housing. He explained that the Treasure Island Development Authority (TIDA) is actually a state-authorized redevelopment agency much like the San Francisco Redevelopment Agency. He does not know whether it would be TIDA creating the affordable housing, but is assuming they will bring in affordable housing developers. If it is assigned to the San Francisco Redevelopment Agency, they do not fall under our City’s requirements, but they do have Green Building requirements developed in-house that closely align with ours.
Mr. Palmer reported on comments made by Mr. Dmitriew of the Department’s Zero Waste program staff on San Francisco Building Code Chapter 13C on solid waste management having to do with promoting and requiring the proper recycling infrastructure (see explanatory document). Ms. Hui, Urban Forestry Council Coordinator provided comments primarily making sure that the different aspects of the Open Space Element, Green Landscaping Ordinance, and Better Streets Plan were being addressed in this development (see explanatory document). Ms. Hui stated that there are changes expected to agriculture codes that would create space for urban agriculture in San Francisco that she is hoping will be adopted by February. These changes could affect the potential farmland that is being discussed on Treasure Island, e.g. restrictions on the type of equipment that can be used, noise, fencing, and boundaries, etc. and the project sponsors should be aware of those restrictions. She reported that the Strategic Growth Council approved a quarter of a million dollars of funding for the Urban Forest Master Plan, and the scope of the project would be increased as a result.
Commissioner Gravanis stated that she had requested from staff a copy of the cover letter that was actually sent to the Office of Environmental Review (OER), but was told that comments were not sent to OER, but were sent to the Mayor’s Office. She asked if the Department’s comments would be forwarded to OER. Director Nutter reported that the Mayor’s Office had been spearheading and collecting comments for projects in the past and would confirm if that was the case for this project. Commissioner Gravanis inquired whether the comments would be forwarded to City Planning verbatim or would be added to a letter that the Mayor’s Office is preparing. She suggested implementing a process or policy that the Department and the Commission could follow for responding with comments to Environmental Impact Reports and Environmental Impact Statements. She stated that she had been expecting to see a copy of a letter to Mr. Bill Wycko of the Planning Department’s OER with specific suggestions on what needs to be done to make the Draft EIR into a complete EIR that would be accomplished according to a format that would enable the Commission when seeing the Response to Comments document track whether the comments had been adequately addressed. Director Nutter stated that she would inquire whether there is a current policy or structure in place and would report back to the Committee with a suggested process. Commissioner Gravanis noted that there should also be realistic expectations in terms of how much time staff can devote to responding to EIR’s of this size.
Mr. Palmer stated that the Draft EIR includes more detail and commitment to solving problems than he had seen in the Sustainability Plan in terms of sea level rise; however, it is not a perfect solution. He stated that plans include hauling dirt to the island, seismically stabilizing the island, and raising the foundations three-feet above the current high tide. He questioned all attempts to build in flood planes or places where sea-level rise would be a problem because it would have an effect on the long-term sustainability of the project. Commissioner Gravanis stated that there is a well thought out response to sea-level rise that has been vetted by BCDC staff and quite a few different engineers. She asked if Department staff could advise the Commissioners whether BCDC figures that are being used to project sea-level rise are the most up-to-date and accurate projections. She explained that Treasure Island does have a rock wall all the way along the perimeter that has the ability to continuously be raised. Mr. Palmer stated that the developer noted that they would not be building in the first 30 yards so they have the ability in the future to build up the seawall as necessary.
Commissioner Gravanis reported that during the scoping process in 2008, Mr. Jared Blumenfeld wrote a letter expressing concerns that the Notice of Preparation referred to the least environmentally harmful alternative as one where they would reduce the amount of development but keep the proportional amount of parking the same. A lot of groups weighed in and said that the most environmentally sustainable project is one that has enough density to support the retail uses needed on the island so people don’t have to drive off the island, and enough density to make public transit work well and seriously reduce the amount of parking. Commissioner Gravanis stated that the Draft EIR reflected comments about the density, but not about the reduced parking. She stated that some of the comments made two years ago are valid now.
Mr. Palmer stated that developers have been adamant that they need enough parking to attract high-end people that they want to fill up the luxurious condos. He reported that a Planning Commissioner had recently made a motion at a Planning Commission meeting to reduce the parking to half of what is being proposed, but does not know whether it is a closed issue or is in discussion. Commissioner Gravanis stated that the Disposition and Development Agreement (DDA) and final documents have to ultimately be approved by the Board of Supervisors and hopes that the Office of Environmental Review would listen to the Planning Commissioner. Commissioner Wald asked if LEED for Neighborhood Development (LEED-ND) would have leverage over this issue in terms of a parking ratio. Mr. Palmer reported that LEED has a menu of options to choose from.
Commissioner Gravanis reported that there is a reliance on parking to help fund transportation improvements, and that funding for transportation depends on a certain number of people driving. The Draft EIR states that if you limit the amount of parking and more people are forced to use MUNI, there would be a negative impact on MUNI. The message is that the way to get more people out of their cars and onto MUNI is to encourage more people to drive so there is enough revenue to subsidize MUNI. Commissioner Wald stated that the same situation exists with the new HOV lanes in that the incentives are reversed from what they should be. She stated that there is now an HOV lane, which hopefully will raise enough money to have more buses to take people from the East Bay to San Francisco, but people have to drive otherwise there won’t be buses. It was stated that the DEIR correctly identifies significant and unavoidable impacts on a number of intersections downtown and on East Bay freeways if the project is built as proposed.
Ms. Hui added that the plan in general does not talk about streetscape planting and mitigation well enough, e.g., tree species that can be used, where and how street trees will be used to mitigate environmental impacts of this enormously-built environment. She stated that her concern is that the island will be very industrial which will keep people off the streets.
Commissioner Wald inquired about the timeline for the EIR process. Commissioner Gravanis stated that OER wants to respond to comments as soon as possible and certify the EIR with this Mayor and Board of Supervisors this year. If the volume of letters received is too large to respond to in that much time, it may be continued to January.
6. Director’s Report and Updates. Speaker: Melanie Nutter, Director (Informational Report and Discussion)
Director Nutter thanked the Commissioners for their support and advice and stated that she is looking forward to working with the Commissioners and Department. She has been spending a lot of time getting to know staff and coming up to speed on Department and Commission policies in addition to meeting with City department heads to talk about ways to work together.
Director Nutter announced that there were two press conferences held with the Mayor in her first week as Director. One press conference was to announce a public-private partnership between the City and Toyota who has provided electric vehicles to the City to test for a few months. The other press conference was to announce that San Francisco is diverting over 77% of its waste from the landfill, which is a huge accomplishment for the City Zero Waste team, the Department, and the City. This is the highest diversion rate in the nation. Reaching this rate was celebrated with Recology, a fantastic partner in this achievement. Director Nutter stated that the 77% figure is a 2008 number before the Mandatory Recycling and Composting legislation went into effect, so additional gains should be reachable in the next couple of years. The City is striving toward the zero waste-goal aggressively.
Director Nutter reported that the Department has initiated a strategic planning process to update its Strategic Plan. A program manager retreat is scheduled for October to discuss each individual program area as well as overall Department vision and goals. In addition, weekly senior staff meetings are scheduled where program managers will present on a weekly basis their section’s draft strategic plan to other program managers. It is expected that process would take three months, and the goal is to have a draft Strategic Plan in place by January. She asked how the Commission would like to provide their input and be involved in that process.
Director Nutter discussed the aggressive goals that have been set for the Department to work on. One is to reduce San Francisco’s carbon emissions 20% below 1990 levels by 2012. By the last reading, we were at about seven percent, which means that there are 15 months to reduce over ten-percent of carbon emissions in San Francisco. She reported that Ms. Ostrander, of the Department’s Energy team, is actively working on gathering Climate Action Plan data so it can be determined if and how that goal can be reached. The other area that the Mayor is excited about is having San Francisco become an electric vehicle capital of our country and to aggressively install electric-vehicle charging stations throughout San Francisco. Mr. Bob Hayden who has been spearheading this effort for the Department has been securing funding, staff and working aggressively to implement these charging stations. There is a short timeline before cars like the Nissan Leaf and Chevy Volt come online. We as a city want to lead the way to say there is an opportunity for San Franciscans to purchase electric vehicles and make sure that an infrastructure is in place to help electric vehicle owners make that switch. It is an exciting opportunity that is already in process, but will take a lot of effort to make happen.
The next goal is for San Francisco to become a zero waste city by 2020. The Zero Waste team has done a fantastic job in partnership with Recology and the City implementing all policies that have been put in place to encourage getting to zero waste. It is a two-part campaign to continue education and outreach. Policies are in place, but an aggressive outreach campaign has to be implemented to provide information to residences and businesses that there is a mandatory law and to provide education and outreach on how to comply with the law. Secondly is looking at local and state legislation to mandate how producers manufacture and package their products.
Another area where the Department can play a key role above and beyond what is currently being done is to enforce the whole idea that being green makes economic sense and continuing to send that message to the community. The City has come a long way where people know there is a green jobs movement, and there are a lot of green tech companies that have located to San Francisco. A lot of people talk about the opportunity to get a green job and get trained for a green job and helping all different types of communities, but there is a lot of work that can be done in San Francisco to model some of the other strong green jobs programs, e.g., the East Bay Green Jobs Corridor where they have a done a good job working with companies, trainees, municipalities, and city colleges to have a robust program bringing together all the entities that have green jobs curriculum and the jobs to aggressively move a green jobs agenda forward. The Department can be more of a key player and could work closer with workforce development staff and departments to ensure that the green jobs curriculum has the depth of knowledge on sustainability and environmentalism that is part of the core of expertise that the Department has.
Director Nutter stated that the report she has given for today’s meeting is based on discussions she has held with staff and other department heads in order to identify opportunities for the Department to continue to lead the way on these issues. She stated that her overall strategy and a few focus areas as Director would be to focus on interagency collaboration especially with the Climate Action Plan, interdepartmental coordination, and working with the Commission to find creative ways to engage individual Commissioners and the Commission as a whole.
Commissioner Gravanis provided the following comments:
· The 77% diversion rate press announcement provided directions to the event by car only, not by transit, bicycling or carpooling or another form of transportation.
· Requested that Commissioners continue to receive Senior Staff minutes.
· Commissioners may be interested in attending Senior Staff meetings to better understand Department activities.
· Suggested inviting one or two Commissioners to the Senior Staff retreat.
· Suggested holding a longer discussion on the Draft Strategic Plan at a future meeting.
· She approves that the Department is advocating for electric vehicles, but suggested that messaging should be directed more to cars not being good for the planet no matter how they are powered. The manufacturing of cars, the extraction of resources needed for manufacturing, transportation of parts to the factory, and the energy used in the factory are not good things. Messaging should include that most importantly, people try not to use a vehicle but if a car must be driven, then please consider a renewable energy vehicle; and to use more caution when encouraging people to buy a new car whether it is electric or hybrid. She noted that you have to own an electric vehicle for a long time before you make up for the carbon footprint of producing that vehicle.
Commissioner Wald inquired whether the Department still has a carbon calculator on its website. Ms. Raphael stated that the carbon calculator was added to the website during World Environment Day but may not be up to date. Director Nutter stated that the EcoMap that is separate from the Department’s website has carbon calculators but it may need attention. Ms. Nutter stated that the Clean Air program within the Department is structured so that there is a clean car staffer, electric vehicle staffer, public transportation staffer, and other staff that work on ridesharing programs and commuter benefits programs. A discussion was recently held to combine program staff to a zero emissions program that would look more comprehensively at transportation vehicles, so it isn’t just that electric cars are the answer, but to include all elements of transportation. The Department wants to look at how to address the transportation piece more holistically including electric vehicles and will keep suggestions in mind when talking about electric vehicles, public transportation, and what the alternatives are.
Commissioners requested that a discussion be held at a future meeting on the Strategic Plan timeline and the best way the Commissioners can provide input before a Draft Plan is committed to. Director Nutter reported that each program manager has been calendared into a Senior Staff meeting. By the next Commission meeting, a date will be selected for a senior staff retreat in October, so a timeline can be discussed and specific information can be given on how the Commission can provide input. Director Nutter suggested that individual Commissioners attend senior staff meeting presentations and attend portions of the retreat.
Commissioner Wald suggested that staff from each program area on a rotational basis present their draft strategic plans at the next three Policy Committee meetings for review and discussion. Ms. Raphael suggested that Commissioners who may have an interest in a specific subject matter spend more time on those specific strategic plan subjects. Director Nutter stated that hearing Commissioner’s comments and feedback is helpful. Commissioner Gravanis asked that the program area section’s draft plan documents be presented to the Commissioners well in advance of the meeting so there is an opportunity for careful review.
Commissioners Gravanis stated that there are strategic plan items that are predetermined by contracts and grants that would not require input from Commissioners, but there are items that could be brought to the Commission for their input. Commissioner Wald suggested that staff reach out to Commissioners with specific questions that they feel the Commissioners could provide useful input into. Director Nutter stated that in order to take a focused approach, staff could determine the key areas in each program area that would have more opportunity for input. Commissioner Wald suggested a discussion on how to create more links between each program area. Commissioner Gravanis stated that there was a previous agreement to include a section in the plan to identify goals and priorities that staff could work on if funding were to become available. Director Nutter stated that there will be discussions internally about having a more robust foundation program and stronger connections to the foundation world as well as revisiting the idea of a Friends of Group that could provide flexibility and funding for the Strategic Plan.
Commissioner Wald suggested that Commissioner-liaisons be assigned to each program area on a rotational basis in order to strengthen the connection between Commissioners and Department staff and so there is an ability to provide input on a sustained basis. She also suggested that in the public education and outreach area, the Department do more to acknowledge San Francisco residents for their efforts in helping the Department meet their goals, e.g. announcing that the 77% diversion rate was reached with the help of the community. Acknowledging San Francisco residents would motivate them to be more enthusiastic about continuing their efforts. Director Nutter stated that she had suggested including thank-you’s in newspaper articles so that people would be motivated in their efforts in making San Francisco more of a sustainable city and continue their efforts. There was a discussion held about methods for sending acknowledgements to the public, e.g., free air time, MUNI bus shelter advertisements that would say congratulations to San Franciscans for helping to meet these goals and here is what you can do in the future. It was suggested that there be a coordinated messaging campaign. Commissioner Wald concurred with the green-beat making economic sense message and interagency collaboration strategies.
Public Comment: Ms. Renata Robinson stated that she learned about today’s Commission Policy Committee meeting from the Women in Environmental Network newsletter on their website. She stated that she has noticed more interagency collaboration in City programs, such as Great Streets and noted that zero waste is a strong passion of hers. She discussed ways of harnessing people’s understanding of why using environmentally sound principles is a good thing to do. Ms. Robinson stated that the action would either have to come from within or affect the individual somehow. Director Nutter stated that it is important to find out what would motivate people and inspire them to act. Commissioner Gravanis asked that the Women in Environmental Network be added to the Outreach Survey list. Ms. Fish announced that she submitted a Commission meeting schedule to the Board of Supervisors Clerk of the Board’s Office in order to publish Commission meetings in outreach publications.
7. Announcements. (Discussion). Commissioner Gravanis announced that the Bay Friendly Conference on green landscaping is this Friday in San Francisco which she plans to attend. She stated that she would be providing requests for changes to the Bay Friendly checklist on biodiversity.
8. New Business/Future Agenda Items. (Discussion) Commissioner Wald asked Director Nutter and senior managers to decide whether the Strategic Plan drafts should be heard at the Policy Committee’s next few meetings. She suggested a continued discussion on bird-friendly buildings, Strategic Plan drafts, and possibly the Wastewater Master Plan. Commissioner Gravanis suggested that the Committee discuss whether it would be beneficial to request funding to attain staff to work in collaboration with the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission on the Wastewater Plan. She stated she would research the timeline for approval of the plan before setting the discussion as an agenda item.
Ms. Fish reported that the Outreach Survey environmental organizations list has more than 1100 agencies at this time, half of which would require researching email addresses for. Commissioners Wald and Gravanis requested that Ms. Fish send the Outreach Survey to them so they could provide input into streamlining the list. Commissioner Gravanis stated that she would inquire with staff when the bottled water at city events agenda item would be ready for additional discussion. Commissioner Wald stated that a discussion should be held at a future meeting on refuse fees. Commissioner Gravanis explained that this agenda item was to discuss not penalizing people who reduce garbage.
Public Comment: Commissioner Wald inquired about Ms. Robinson’s interest in attending the Policy Committee meeting. Ms. Robinson stated that she attended this meeting because she is interested in transitioning from advertising to the environmental sector and would like to do project management on urban sustainability projects.
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 6:44 p.m.
Respectfully submitted by,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].
The next Commission on the Environment Policy Committee meeting is scheduled for Monday, October 25, 2010 at 5:00 p.m. in Room 421, City Hall.
Approved: October 25, 2010