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12.13 Approved Minutes

 

CITY AND COUNTY OF SAN FRANCISCO

COMMISSION ON THE ENVIRONMENT

POLICY COMMITTEE

 

REGULAR MEETING

APPROVED MINUTES

 

MONDAY, DECEMBER 13, 2010, 5:00 P.M.

CITY HALL, ROOM 421

SAN FRANCISCO, CA 94102

 

COMMITTEE MEMBERS:  Commissioners Johanna Wald (Chair), Ruth Gravanis (Vice-Chair), Rahul Prakash

 

ORDER OF BUSINESS

 

1.      Call to Order and Roll Call. The Policy Committee meeting convened at 5:07 p.m.  Present:  Commissioners Gravanis and Prakash; Excused: Commissioner Wald.

 

2.   Approval of Minutes of the November 8, 2010 Policy Committee Regular Meeting. (Explanatory Document: November 8, 2010 Draft Minutes) (Discussion and Action) 

 

Commissioner Gravanis provided corrections to page 7, second to last paragraph of the minutes so that it should read “Ms. Ostrander reported that development of the climate field is moving rapidly toward the planning direction with oversight of California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) and SB375. Climate planning is also evolving to look at habitat restoration.”  Public Comment:  Ms. Lurilla Harris requested clarification on page 6, second to last paragraph about what “Action 1” was referring to.  Director Nutter pointed out that it is a reference to Strategic Plan Action 1.  She provided additional editorial comments in written format. Ms. Fish suggested adding “Strategic Plan” before “Action 1” to that section of the Minutes.  Upon Motion by Commissioner Prakash, second by Commissioner Gravanis, the November 8, 2010 Meeting Minutes were approved with corrections.

 

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.   Draft Strategic Plans Presentation and Commissioner Feedback on Department Program Areas.  Sponsor: Director Melanie Nutter and Commissioner Johanna Wald (Explanatory Documents: Draft Strategic Plans) (Informational Presentations and Discussion)

 

A.      Toxics Reduction. Staff Presenter: Debbie Raphael, Toxics Reduction Program Manager

Director Nutter reported that the Department has been undertaking a Strategic Plan process starting in September with every program area presenting their report at weekly Senior Staff

meetings. Today there is an opportunity for Commissioners to hear a presentation of four Draft Strategic Plans that were discussed at those meetings. Commissioners will have an opportunity to comment and ask questions in these areas before it comes to the full Commission.

 

Commissioner Gravanis acknowledged Ms. Raphael’s Environmental Champion Award.  Ms. Raphael reported that award was given by the Environmental Working Group to the Mayor, herself, and Senator Leno for work of the Toxics Reduction Program.

 

Ms. Raphael introduced staff that work with her on the Toxics Reduction and Green Business Programs that include (1) Ms. Cynthia Knowles, working in the residential sector as the used oil expert and toxics reduction champion looking at safer alternatives; (2) Ms. Sraddha Mehta is an honorary member of the Toxics Reduction team who is technically with the Environmental Justice team; (3) Ms. Anna Frankel works in the Green Business program; and (4) Ms. Anna Zimmerman focuses on the commercial sector of the Toxics Reduction program focusing on dry cleaners and the janitorial sector.

 

Ms. Raphael reported that the Toxics Reduction program started out as part of the Solid Waste Division as a Hazardous Waste Management Program. If you look at programs around the country, almost every city has a household hazardous waste program where the focus is on what to do with your toxic products when you are done with them.  Just being very good at disposing of them is not really solving the problem for governments.  The objective is to look upstream to figure out how to get the toxic chemicals out of consumer products.  The program name was changed to the Toxics Reduction Program in acknowledgement of the fact that we were going to be holistic and look upstream as well as have the best disposal program in the country.

 

Ms. Raphael reported that the introductory paragraphs of the Strategic Plan Draft are reflective of a problem statement.  The problem statement is that we have tens of thousands of chemicals in commerce that are perfectly legal to use, but we don’t know whether they are safe to use.  In fact, the more that is learned about them, the more we think that many are not safe to use.  We are in this dilemma where the use of these chemicals is perfectly legal from a federal standpoint.  In San Francisco, the Precautionary Principle has been adopted that says that it is no longer sufficient to ask is something legal to use.  It is also not sufficient to ask is it safe to use.  If you ask the question if it is safe, it depends to whom you are asking that question.  The only answer to “is it safe” is more study.  Instead we have to ask “is it necessary?” Is it necessary to put harmful chemicals in products?  That then becomes the basis for precautionary thinking and an alternatives assessment where we answer the question is it necessary by looking for safer alternatives.  That is the underlying principle that really becomes the foundation for the Toxics Reduction Program.  That is what these introductory paragraphs are getting at.  Ms. Raphael explained that the goals and actions are very much aligned with the idea of asking the question “is it necessary” and identifying alternatives to identify the safer alternative.  It does not mean that we ignore the disposal, it is just not sufficient in itself.   

 

Ms. Raphael stated that Director Nutter had challenged staff on how we set priorities.  There are thousands of products and chemicals.  How as a program do you prioritize what to work on?  Decisions have been made and not everything is being worked on. The Strategic Plan Objectives show nine areas that have been decided on.  The introductory paragraph discusses how priorities are set.  She welcomed the Commission’s thoughts on how priorities are set and what filters are used to analyze the program areas.  She explained that a number of factors are looked at.  An analysis is done on how toxic the chemicals are, how widely they are used, and if there are alternatives and strategic opportunities.  Strategic opportunities could be a legislator, a Board of Supervisors member who all of a sudden thinks that one issue is the most important thing and the community agrees and comes up with an Ordinance.  Or it could be that we read a report on arsenic-treated wood and conclude that we have thirty-one play structures made of arsenic treated wood. We then ask is it necessary to build them that way and focus on arsenic treated wood.  Over the course of the years of this program, a combination of factors led to the nine categories identified in Strategic Plan Goal 1, Objective A, Actions 1-9 that include toxicity, wide-spread use, availability of safer alternatives, and strategic opportunities.

 

Ms. Raphael reported that programs are divided by target audience.  When we talk about the commercial sector and we want to change the behavior there, we have a different set of opportunities than with the residential sector.  With the commercial sector, we have found that they are terribly uninterested in our message.  The way that we can get them interested is by offering financial benefits.  Hence was born the Green Business Program that is part of the Toxics Reduction Program.  Ms. Raphael reported that the Toxics Reduction program has legal authority of oversight of Recology operations with respect to paints, pesticides and similar products.  The Zero Waste Team has a close working relationship with Recology and oversees them financially, but they do not have regulatory responsibility over them. 

 

Director Nutter reported that the last two paragraphs of the Toxics Reduction Strategic Plan Draft shows tangible metrics of what has been achieved with all of the work that has been done in the program and the focus in the coming years.   Ms. Raphael reported that the coming years are about broadening the reach in the Green Business Program and looking at particular problem product areas such as pharmaceuticals and how to deal with those.  She elaborated on Strategic Plan Goal 1 Objectives and Actions as shown in pages 2 – 6 of the Toxics Reduction Draft Strategic Plan.  

 

Commissioner Prakash inquired about what the area of information technology encompasses.  Ms. Raphael stated that there is a federal standard that was developed for green computers called EPEAT that includes three categories: certified, silver and gold.  We set a goal of silver and now 90 percent of computers are silver.  Now we are going to gold.  EPEAT is now looking at servers because they use a large amount of energy and multi-purpose Xerox machines. Commissioner Prakash stated there are alternatives to reduce server costs and energy consumption.  Ms. Raphael asked Commissioner Prakash to provide his knowledge in future discussions on this topic. She stated that as consumers, we can drive the market and have a fairly large reach because we are fairly large institutional consumers.

 

Commissioner Prakash inquired about Recology’s system for picking up used laptops.  Ms. Raphael reported that people can call Recology to pick up their laptop from their residence.  However, staff suggests that people bring their laptops to Goodwill because they have a phenomenal program to refurbish laptops as part of their job-training program. Ms. Knowles stated that Ms. Zarrehparvar of the Toxics Reduction Program heads the e-waste program and works very hard to assure that recyclers and collectors are not shipping these products inappropriately.   


Director Nutter asked what items could be added to the list in 2013.  Ms. Raphael stated that triclosan is one of the top ingredients on the list to be considered.  She stated that it would also be interesting to see if anything will come out of the Green Chemistry initiative that helps San Francisco determine what we can do policy-wise to spur the federal and the state governments on the bigger picture. Commissioner Gravanis stated that she would like to hold a discussion at a future meeting on the use of pesticides and herbicides by home gardeners in the city. Ms. Raphael reported that Ms. Knowles and Ms. Mehta are looking at Housing Authority pesticide and microbial use as a broader campaign.

 

B.     Green Building. Staff Presenter: Debbie Raphael, Green Building Program Manager (10 minutes)

 

Ms. Raphael introduced Mr. Richard Chien who is in charge of the private sector Green Building program. She reported that the Strategic Plan for the Green Building program is shorter because there are considerably fewer people that are working in the program and it is a smaller project, but in terms of ambition, it is huge.  When this program started in 1999, LEED had just come to be, and there was a thought that maybe we should convince people to pay attention to LEED.  Now we have almost 200 LEED Accredited Professionals who are City staff, and San Francisco has more LEED buildings than in New York City or Los Angeles.  It is no longer a challenge to convince people that they need to pay attention.  Our challenge now is what to do with the myriad of laws, programs, and certifications of programs and confusion that is out there.  What is our role because we are so small?  The Green Building Program held a retreat to discuss all of these issues. The Green Building Strategic Plan introductory paragraphs acknowledge the fact that Green Building is an integral process that integrates the natural environment with the built environment.  It is about facilitating communication.  The goal is that all new and existing buildings are green, and that they are green in a meaningful way.  Ms. Raphael stated that the recent retreat and other discussions have identified impact opportunities in three main areas of focus that include: (Strategic Plan Draft pages 2-3)

 

·         Integrating current Green Building policies and communicating them effectively to affected parties intra-departmentally and inter-departmentally.  Green Building team to help integrate building codes and rules at city, regional, state and national scales.

·         Enforcing and incentivizing current green building requirements. 

·         Quantification and communication of green building outcomes and benefits.

 

Ms. Raphael discussed the Green Building goal to enhance environmental performance of buildings in San Francisco to reduce costs while increasing efficiency and livability and elaborated on the objectives and actions to support this goal.  She stated that objectives consist of working on policies and practices, incentives and technical assistance, and education and outreach to stakeholders.  (Pages 2-3).

 

Commissioner Prakash inquired about the types of financing being thought about for GreenFinance SF.  Mr. Chien reported that the focus of GreenFinance SF was originally on small single-family two-to- four unit buildings but federal regulators put a freeze on this.  It is possible that the existing enabling legislation for the original program can be used for commercial properties.  The City wouldn’t actually facilitate the funding or issue bonds on behalf of these aggregated small projects.  The individual commercial property owner would find their own financing, and the City would secure the repayment with a PACE lien.  The City would have less of a direct role, but use the same powers of the special tax district it established for the initial residential program.

 

Mr. Chien stated that 33 million dollars was going to support residential PACE in California through the second round of ARRA funding, but now in light of the PACE freeze, the state is using the grant money to build a central web portal available across the state through the Energy Upgrade California brand.  There will be a financing clearing house that will be managed by the state Treasurer’s Office.  There will be pre-vetted products available, either secured or unsecured loans for homeowners, and interest rate buy-down money through state funded grant funds in some jurisdictions. There have been some contractors identified who are going to set up the web portal and help the state treasurer find the financing clearing house.

 

Mr. Manion inquired about how commercial is being defined.  Mr. Chien stated that it could include multi-family, commercial, industrial, and multi-family apartment buildings.  For the owner arranged program where a property owner is in good enough standing with their mortgage holder, they could potentially get the consent of the mortgage holder and take out additional debt against the property.  It is a limited subset of commercial property owners which will probably be some of the larger commercial office buildings.

 

Commissioner Gravanis inquired about LEED Neighborhood Development (ND) because when we talk about storm water or district energy, we need to think about more than one building at a time.  Mr. Chien reported that there was a LEED ND pilot that was done for a Schlage lock site in partnership with the Redevelopment Agency Planning Department and Universal Paragon Corporation, the developer.  The lessons learned there were that a lot of the standard planning practices and all of the environmental patchwork of green building requirements that Ms. Raphael referenced earlier does get us far to achieve a good baseline LEED ND score just based on our local requirements.  There is quite a lot of work involved in providing documentation to get a LEED certification.  For urban infill, it may not be the optimal way to get to good environmental outcomes for a large plan area.  Some of the other large plan areas underway are using LEED ND as a baseline comparison, and some are going for actual certification.  What we are finding is that by digging in outside of some of the LEED ND framework, it may be a more effective way to insure real strong environmental outcomes for some of these larger projects.

 

Commissioner Gravanis stated that it is important that we don’t lose track of the broader multiple benefits when we look building-by-building, especially for projects such as the Treasure Island and Candlestick storm-water systems and district heating.  Mr. Chien stated that the Green Building team has been more involved in some of those larger projects in the past than at the present time. From what is being seen by looking at Sustainability Plans for those plan areas, there is a good foundation for a lot of it.  It is important to stay on top of and track the plan as it moves through these very long development processes to make sure there are teeth behind the requirements.  

 

C.     Environmental Justice.  Staff Presenters:  Anne Eng, Environmental Justice Program Manager and Sraddha Mehta, Environmental Justice Grant Program Manager

 

Ms. Eng introduced Environmental Justice program staff, Ms. Sraddha Mehta and Mr. Raymond Manion who shares his time between the Energy and Environmental Justice programs.  She reported that Ms. Mei Ling Hui also helps the Environmental Justice program doing urban agriculture work with support of Environmental Justice resources. She stated that the Environmental Justice program is a ten-year old program that has been administering City grant funding to several non-profit groups serving the Bayview Hunters Point and Potrero neighborhoods.  An amount of $13 million came to the Department of the Environment from the state in 1998.  A Request for Proposals (RFP) was issued so non-profits would apply on a competitive basis annually for grant-funding.  The application process now is for every two years because over $11 million of the $13 million grant award has been given out. The last funding cycle is being administered which will be spent until 2012. (See Strategic Draft narrative for a program description.)

 

Ms. Eng reported that the next two years is being seen as a transition period for Environmental Justice staff that will no longer be serving as grant managers and instead will expand their roles in providing direct services such as educational workshops and program management work.  Priorities and time allocations will be shifted. This Strategic Plan will reflect past work that has been accomplished with the group of grantees. One example is the work of Literacy for Environmental Justice (LEJ) who was awarded a grant in 2001 and has finally finished their Eco-Center at Herons Head Park Education Center this year.  That was a ten-year relationship that staff monitored, helped, guided, supported, nurtured, and helped to overcome obstacles as the project evolved. Staff is still working with LEJ now to support the final stage of LEED certification for that building.  Commissioner Gravanis asked for an update on the LEJ Eco Center occupancy permit and suggested that the project is better than LEED platinum. Ms. Eng spoke of the challenges that were faced working with non-profit grant recipients that have limited capacity.  Many were not very well established and were small non-profits working in the southeast corner serving those most vulnerable.  Many of the grant recipients have grown through time and others have struggled. 

 

Ms. Eng discussed the Environmental Justice Program Strategic Plan Draft narrative that defines environmental justice and the program’s role (page 1, paragraph 1).  She discussed the barriers that residents in the City’s poorer and most vulnerable neighborhoods are currently facing and will be facing with the advent of climate change (page 1, paragraph 2).  She elaborated on the Department of Environment’s programs to promote environmental sustainability and economic opportunities in the city’s low-income neighborhoods by promoting renewable energy, energy conservation and efficiency, food security, air quality, and environmental justice.  The Environmental Justice program will be taking a leadership role in developing green jobs and the green economy that will support training programs and help integrate resource conservation, energy efficiency and green building principles into training curriculum.  Work will be accomplished in conjunction with neighborhood groups on educating the community about the benefits of using cleaner alternative fuels, helping local groups develop community gardens and urban farms, and reducing indoor air pollution and asthma triggers in low-income housing (page 1 paragraphs 3-5).

 

Ms. Eng reported that Strategic Plan Goal 1 is to protect the environment and public health in environmental justice neighborhoods in San Francisco and support the capacity and education of local residents to address environmental justice concerns.  Ms. Mehta discussed Objective A, to improve air quality in environmental justice neighborhoods, Action 1.  She stated that the Environmental Justice program received a grant from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to address asthma disparities in the Hunters Point neighborhood. As a part of that grant, they are focusing on public housing that would address some of the substandard housing issues that lead to poor indoor air quality and exacerbate the asthma disparities in the community.  She and Ms. Knowles prepared a study focusing on the Alice Griffith public-housing complex and found that a lot of the homes have major mold and pest issues.  Residents are relying on toxic cleaning and pest control products to address these issues as is the Housing Authority.  With the use of CDC grant funding, plans are to convene a group of stakeholders including community residents to identify a strategic plan on how to address these issues.  Ms. Eng explained that the CDC grant is initially for one year with an option for renewal upon successful completion of the one-year deliverables. There is also the possibility of reapplying for implementation following this initial two-year effort.  If the project turns out to be effective and successful, it could turn out to be a seven year-project. Ms. Eng provided additional information on actions in Objective A to improve air quality in environmental justice neighborhoods and Objective B to promote neighborhood resiliency and improve quality of life (pages 2-3).   

 

Commissioner Prakash stated that he has read how lower-income and public-housing have higher rates of asthma.  He stated that in New York and Chicago, they retrofitted radiators, boilers, and air conditioning HVAC systems.  The result was that energy efficiencies were increased by 30 – 40% so that bills were significantly lower, and air quality was 40 to 50% better.  A lot of the public living in this type of housing have sick-building syndrome.  A lot of it has to do with the mold and the pesticide, but it is also from the whole infrastructure, such as the appliances that came with the home.  New York City and the New York Council’s goal had been to retrofit their entire public-housing infrastructure.

 

Ms. Mehta reported that a staff person had worked on the boiler systems in some Bayview public-housing developments and reported on some of the poor indoor air-quality issues that were attributed to boiler system leaks. For example, boilers at Alice Griffith Public Housing had leaked for long periods of time. These leaks resulted in boiler water vaporizing into the flue gases which discharged into the atmosphere. Also, the leaks resulted in the flooding of boiler rooms. There is definitely a need for retrofits and even replacement, in many cases. The Housing Authority has indicated that they have a limited budget to deal with these issues.  There is also reluctance on their part to invest in some of these repairs or replacements because they are planning to tear down most of these developments and redevelop and have already started redevelopment on a few sites.    Part of what is planned for the CDC grant is to identify policies to urge the Housing Authority to move in the right direction to address some of these issues.  Ms .Knowles stated that one project that is being worked on is a pilot program with the Housing Authority on the Sunnydale housing units to do Integrated Pest Management (IPM) work.  The program is now voluntary, but there is a desire to make it City policy so that the Housing Authority is required to follow the IPM Ordinance. The Policy Committee may be asked for their support to make this happen in the future.  A quote has been requested from a pest control operator that practices IPM.  Ms. Mehta reported that she is working on developing future policies for existing buildings.  Ms. Eng discussed Hope SF that would help rebuild several of the housing complexes to be green in the next couple of decades. 

 

Director Nutter reported that Mr. Broomhead discussed the Energy Strategic Plan and the SF Home Improvement Performance program (HIP) that relates to this issue.  Although it is not work that is being done in conjunction with the Housing Authority, the program looks at individual homes as a whole system and could address some of these mold and poor indoor air quality issues. 

 

Mr. Manion reported that the SF HIP program will be providing incentives to homeowners and looking to pilot two-to-four unit buildings.  Home performance testing is for the whole building.  Right now there are a lot of two-to-four unit buildings in San Francisco where one of the units may want to participate, but the technology is for the whole building.  He discussed local, state and federal incentives that are available so that a homeowner can do a home performance upgrade or retrofit.  He stated that it would be a good idea to encapsulate this program in the Housing Authority.  Ms. Mehta stated that Mr. Chien had reported that at least one public housing site is using EPA’s indoor air plus guidelines.

  

D.     Environment Now. Staff Presenter: Donnie Oliveira, Green Jobs Coordinator.

 

Director Nutter reported that Environment Now! is an excellent and unique program that provides a triple benefit for the Department because it looks at true sustainability that helps our urban environment, creates jobs, and employs people from the community to work on social-cohesion and community-resiliency issues.

 

Mr. Oliveira presented a narrative of the Environment Now! Strategic Plan Draft (see pages 1-2).  He reported that the Environment Now program was initially part of the City’s larger JobsNow program that came through ARRA TANF funds for assistance to needy families. At the onset of the program, the Department chose to employ 100 JobsNow participants, but maxed out at approximately 70.  The design at the time was a project based on the green jobs training program.  The idea was to focus on eco-literacy, environmental awareness and training for grassroots outreach, community leadership and to promote grassroots organizing.  While many of the traditional city job training programs focused on technical pragmatic skills such as installing solar panels and working on energy- efficiency retrofits, the Department’s program wanted to focus on people skills and interpersonal relationships and on the other positions in the green sector that don’t always get funded.  When the ARRA funds ran out, the Department chose to institutionalize the program by internally funding the Environment Now program at a smaller, but still substantial size.  There are still 18 job trainees in the program who are in month three of year two.   

 

Mr. Oliveira stated that the origin of the term green jobs came from the northwest from a non-profit organization based in Seattle that talked about green jobs for the Emerald State.  One of the godmothers of this movement, San Francisco State University Professor Raquel Pinderhughes, took the term and applied it to the green-collar economy, and thus the green jobs movement was born.  It was manifested in 2007 with the Green Jobs Act which authorized $125 million per year to create an Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Worker training program as an amendment to the Workforce Investment Act. Now it is taking on its own life throughout the country.  What happened in the green jobs movement was that workforce development agencies were adding the green segment to their systems.  The unique part of Environment Now is that the Department was a green agency that added workforce development with a focus on eco-literacy.

 

Mr. Oliveira reported that in 2009 the state of California defined green jobs as any activity or service that performs the following:

·         Generating and storing renewable energy

·         Recycling existing materials

·         Energy efficient product manufacturing, distribution, construction, installation, and maintenance

·         Education, compliance and awareness

·         Natural and sustainable product manufacturing

 

The Department of the Environment is really focused on the education, compliance and awareness definition.  The objective is to train staff to communicate the messaging of our department and the larger ecological environmental awareness and sustainability issues.  We are trying to develop the next wave of environmental stewards for our city and planet.  The primary goal is to promote workforce readiness and eco-literacy through a combination of practical hands-on training and experience.  That includes everything from grassroots outreach, door-to-door canvassing, phone banking, going to businesses, supporting programs through attending events, speaking at community agencies and neighborhood associations, tree-planting, and outreach.  Program staff worked on the Living Roof at 1 South Van Ness Avenue.  They are very eager to take on any opportunities. 

 

Mr. Oliveira elaborated on Strategic Plan Program Goals 1 – 3 and Objectives and Actions to reach goals as detailed in pages 2 -4 of the Environment Now! Strategic Plan.

 

·         Goal 1:  Advance social equity in the environmental field through job training opportunities to San Franciscans from diverse multicultural communities.

·         Goal 2. Engage and strengthen communities by providing access to citywide environmental programs, projects, and initiatives.

·         Goal 3. Collaborate with outside partners to expand the green economy in San Francisco by promoting employment training and job placement opportunities.

 

Director Nutter reported that the Environment Now program is such a great compliment to the Department and all of the other programs in the Department.  She explained that the Department has a number of legislative directives that mandate certain actions. The Environment Now program is an effective tool to achieve our goals by providing staff to be out in the community to have a dialogue with the public about how to comply with many of these mandates. Through developing relationships and often working in communities with friends and neighbors, the Environment Now staff has been successful at inspiring behavior change in hard to reach communities.  Secondly, the Department has a vision of playing a more critical role in the green jobs and green economy sector than in the past, even though a lot of good work has been accomplished thus far.  She stated that this is one of the main programs that the Department will be seeking funding for in the next year through grants, foundation support and from other department work orders who might want to employ Environment Now staff for some of their programs.

 

Commissioner Prakash asked if the Department works with other San Francisco institutions such as community colleges on green job training. Mr. Oliveira reported that there is frequent collaboration with Friends of the Urban Forest, Environmental Justice grantees, colleges, universities, and other City agencies.  Commissioner Prakash reported that he has talked with people from the Community College Board who are always talking about looking to expand their green-jobs training program.  Mr. Oliveira stated that there is ongoing collaboration on this effort.  There are a lot of job-training programs where we are all accessing the same resources, and there is oftentimes overstress of the system.  Department staff is working with the City College campus to do a “green blitz” next semester in January.  There will be a presence on campus for two weeks to talk about the environment and share information.  There will be twelve people in the Excelsior district doing door-to-door outreach for zero waste, and four people in District 5 doing Energy Watch business outreach.  Every day there are anywhere from 12 – 18 people walking around San Francisco talking about our programs that includes zero waste, toxics reduction, Energy Watch, etc.  There will be a robust program rollout for 2011 that will include the IPM Program, Cell Phone Ordinance, Outreach, compliance, and many other projects.

 

Commissioner Gravanis inquired how many people the Department will be able to fund for the Environment Now program through fundraising efforts. Director Nutter stated that she and Deputy Director Assmann reviewed the initial Department budget today.  There are different pots of money that can be allocated to different places depending on Department priorities.  She stated that the number of staff that will be funded has not yet been determined, but that the biggest goal and priority right now in terms of sustainable funding is for Environment Now. Commissioner Gravanis stated that she has seen Environment Now staff at street fairs, tabling, and other events and has been impressed by their enthusiasm and how they engage people walking by in an assertive and friendly way.  Mr. Oliveira reported on the quantifiable evolution made by Environment Now staff from the beginning of the program to now. Ms. Knowles reported that Environment Now staff has enabled the Toxics Reduction program to achieve goals and objectives that may otherwise have not been met.  Mr. Oliveira stated that at the beginning of the program there was an uncertainty about the impact the JobsNow participants could actually have and the level of accountability that the program would bring.  Substantial results were actually produced that could justify additional funding.  These folks were producing quantifiable change in communities on composting and recycling and the Energy Watch program.  There is actually someone from the Environment Now program that actually works with Ms. Knowles on the used motor oil program. Director Nutter stated that the Department appreciates the work that Mr. Oliveira has done in running such a challenging program that takes someone with a lot of talent, skill and commitment to get it off the ground and running.

 

Director Nutter reported that Strategic Plan Drafts for Zero Waste, Clean Transportation, Outreach, and Urban Forestry would be scheduled for discussion at the next Policy Committee meeting.  Commissioner Gravanis inquired about Director Nutter’s Strategic Plan section that would glue all of the report sections together.  She stated that it seems that the City no longer has a Sustainability Plan.  There was a Sustainability Plan adopted by the Board of Supervisors in 1996 which has not been worked on since then.  During discussions regarding updating the Plan, the idea was that the Strategic Plan would replace the Sustainability Plan.  In many ways it does, but there does not seem to be a policy framework that the more specific goals and actions fit into.  As an example, in regards to environmental justice, there is no overall goal of ending environmental injustice.  That is what this old plan did provide. 

 

Commissioner Gravanis stated that the Department’s Strategic Plan lists the quantitative commitments that the Department makes to fulfill within a certain amount of time, so there can’t be a commitment to doing things that funding and staff is not available for.  Nevertheless, it would be nice to have a wish list of where we would like to see the City even with respect to things that aren’t part of our Strategic Plan like biodiversity, wildlife and water (wastewater, water supply).  The Public Utilities Commission is doing a good job on water, although it would be nice to have more involvement.  She asked if the Strategic Plan could be updated in the next year to include more than the Department’s specific three-year commitments and thus serve as a Sustainability Plan as well.  Director Nutter stated that it is important to consider how a Sustainability Plan could be used because that would then dictate how much time and effort could be put towards doing something above and beyond the Strategic Plan, the Department Climate Action Plan, and the Community-wide Climate Action Plan that will be released next year.  She would like to review the Strategic Plan and see how it fits into what we are already creating and see if any additional pieces could be added to the Strategic Plan. 

 

Director Nutter stated that she is planning to prepare a high-level vision statement on all of the program strategic plans that would elaborate on how all the Department plans connect, what the themes are, what we are working to achieve, what the large goals are, and what the metrics are.  She is open to looking at what the use of an updated Sustainability Plan would be and how it would be different than all of the documentation that is being worked on as well as identifying what the required resources would be to put something like that together.  She asked Commissioners how they would see a Sustainability Plan for the city being used as opposed to our Community-wide Climate Action Plan that might have a lot of elements.  What are the additional elements of a Sustainability Plan, and who is the audience?  Commissioner Gravanis stated that the Plan would be for the general public so they can go to the Department’s website and see what the Department cares about.  If all they see are projects for which there is available funding, then they might get a limited idea of what we care about.  What is not talked about much in the Climate Plan is wildlife and biodiversity.  There was some discussion, but some of the things that we do care about, like encouraging tree planting everywhere to sequester more carbon, can hurt biological diversity by favoring species that like a tree-dominated habitat as opposed to those that require coastal scrub, grasslands, or other non-tree habitat.  Commissioner Gravanis stated that there could be things that could be worked on that do not require spending a lot of money and may be accomplished through the assistance of volunteer groups who may want to get involved in stewardship hands-on ecological restoration projects.  It is not suggested that the Sustainability Plan would create an obligation to spend money that is not available, but as a means to provide for a more well rounded image in terms of our interests in the overall environment and to guide future fundraising efforts.


Director Nutter stated that one other document that is available and includes environmental goals is SF Forward.  Commissioner Gravanis stated that SF Forward does not discuss nature.  Director Nutter stated that it is important to take an inventory of all of the different documentation that is available and identify what we have and what is still needed. It may be possible to add on to some components that we already have and see where it fits. 

 

Ms. Eng reported that she had worked on the Sustainability Plan and what she finds so remarkable was the community engagement around the Plan, which predates the Department. It took 400 volunteers who just worked on putting their vision together and articulating some of the broad goals and objectives.  The Plan was approved by the Board of Supervisors, but was not fully embraced to make sure objectives were reached.  It was a visioning document at the time when this Department did not exist.  Now that the Department has 100 people and $15 million a year committed to greening the city and promoting sustainability, we got so far beyond that.  What that can still give to us is the community engagement process. Maybe there is a way to reengage with hundreds of people to discuss how to move forward for the next decade and work with stakeholders to identify three top priorities or policy goals and have something that would be practical and implementable in articulating our vision beyond the three-year plan. 

 

Director Nutter stated that the Sustainability Plan actually does relate to the Community Engagement Plan that the Outreach team has been tasked with putting together for next year.  It wasn’t yet clear what the outcome of that engagement process was going to be, but the idea is to engage hundreds of stakeholders and volunteers to talk about the green future of San Francisco.  A Sustainability Plan citywide vision document could be a product of that year long public-engagement process.    

 

5.   Director’s Report and Updates.  Speaker: Melanie Nutter, Director (Informational Report and Discussion) 

 

Director Nutter reported that the Mayor is going to be heading to his new position to the state of California in the New Year.  As a result, the Department has been very busy working to move forward a lot of pending policies, ordinances, and programs.  The focus has been to wrap up a number of priorities that the Mayor has had, and the Department of the Environment has played a role in.  One priority is working on the existing Commercial Building Ordinance with the Public Utilities Commission, Board of Supervisors Land Use Committee, the Mayor’s Office, and Department staff.  It’s a complex policy and there are negotiating points to be sorted out as well as identifying funding opportunities on how to move forward.  The mandate would state that any commercial building that is 10,000 square feet and over would be required to benchmark their energy use as well as have an energy audit within a time certain. That means that the Department will be busy implementing this ordinance that would apply to about 2500 buildings that would be benchmarked or energy audited within a four-month period with a notification year at the outset.  It would make huge impacts for energy efficiency, energy use, and job creation.  Auditors will be employed on a consistent basis in San Francisco. The ordinance will improve the business bottom line for building owners who will save money and be able to market their buildings. There are a few other cities that have the same type of ordinance, e.g., New York and Seattle, but San Francisco’s is the most aggressive existing Commercial Building Ordinance in the country.  The Ordinance has been at the Board of Supervisors Land Use Committee and will be heard there again one more time in the New Year and then hopefully to the new Board for passage in January. 

 

Director Nutter stated that she has been spending a lot of time working with Supervisor Mirkarimi on a pharmaceutical disposal program. The Department has been holding discussions with the Mayor’s Office who has done a lot of work trying to set up an industry-funded program. It has secured funding, and a lot of stakeholders were brought to the table.  There are a few key missing pieces which are that Walgreens and Safeway have not agreed to participate or to promote drug disposal at other pharmacies.  It looks like the Supervisor might re-introduce legislation which would mandate an industry-funded disposal program in San Francisco. That legislation is pending and could be coming back to the Board of Supervisors tomorrow.  It has been continued about four times to allow for stakeholder discussions, for reaching out to the community, and to see whether the Police Department is willing and has the required funding to take back the controlled-substances. There will be a pharmaceutical disposal program in San Francisco in the future beyond what has already being done, which is the mail-in envelopes.

 

Director Nutter reported that there have been a few minor changes to the Cell Phone Ordinance.  The Integrated Pest Management update was given to the Board of Supervisors today.  Director Nutter attended a press conference with the Mayor at Sunset Reservoir where an announcement was made of San Francisco’s 100% renewable goal by 2020.  It is a grant funded project for a plan to look at inventorying all of the research that is current available and identifying areas where we need more research, funding, and the best opportunities for bringing in renewables to San Francisco.  A Mayor’s Task Force will be formed in the next few weeks to help push that forward. 

 

Director Nutter announced that the Department was one of the winners of a Great Race for Clean Air for having the most employees ride their bikes to work.  She stated that her main focus has been on policy matters, and that she would be also focusing on the mayoral transition in the New Year to make sure that we know what sort of resource the Department can play.  She is also prioritizing work on funding for budget fiscal year 2011-12.     

 

Director Nutter stated that a holiday open house was hosted last week at the Department with about 175 people in attendance.  There was great feedback about the event, and it was a great way to bring in interns, volunteers, Commissioners, staff, job seekers, and community members.  It is something that will be done again when there is an opportunity.  Director Nutter also spoke at a press conference on behalf of the Mayor about the first Nissan Leaf electric car that was delivered to San Francisco on Saturday.  This is the tipping point for the electric vehicle market.     

 

6.   Announcements. (Discussion)  Director Nutter announced the Department’s holiday party would be held at Medjool this Thursday, December 16 and welcomed Commissioners to attend.

 

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

 

Commissioner Gravanis suggested future agenda items that include (1) an update on wave energy in the context of the new emphasis on renewables announced by Director Nutter; (2) a status report on the Climate Action Plan City department scorecards; (3) discussion of rate process for individual residents who don’t send anything to landfill and are penalized by having to pay for the black trash can.  Mr. Drew of Department staff had reported that the time to deal with this issue is during the next rate setting process; (4) an update on the use of single-serve plastic bottles at events, including staff discussions with the Public Utilities Commission and Recreation and Park Department to make sure that a water supply is available at Golden Gate Park and other venues during city events on city property. Given that there are event promoters who are interested in avoiding plastic water bottles on a voluntary basis.  Global tap is a separate item because that deals with stationary water supply jug fillers for individuals to use, not necessarily related to events.  This item is tentatively scheduled as a written report for the February Policy Committee meeting; (5) a discussion with attendance by the City Attorney’s Office on how to interpret the Charter ban on the Commission’s  ability to deal with building issues and land use planning so that the Charter provision is applied consistently.  She stated that Ms. Ostrander had mentioned that land use is critical to our Climate Acton Plan, but the Charter indicates that the Commission is not supposed to talk about it.  Director Nutter stated that the landscape is changing especially with SB375 and land use being directly connected to climate change and transportation.  How these two issues interrelate is changing and needs to be reviewed as to what makes sense as well as identifying boundaries and parameters on how the Commission may engage on this topic.  Commissioner Gravanis stated that it may be time to seek a Charter change or find a way to interpret the current provision differently. 

     

Commissioner Prakash stated that he would consider future topics about e-commerce and reducing toxics from computers and cell phones. 

 

8.   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. 

 

Mr. Kline asked to be added to the Commission and Department newsletter email mailing list.  Director Nutter, Commissioner Gravanis and Commission Secretary Fish discussed ways to coordinate the Commission mailing list with the Department’s newsletter email list. 

 

9.  Adjournment.  The Policy Committee meeting adjourned at 7:10 p.m.

 

Monica Fish, Commission Secretary, Telephone (415) 355-3709; Fax (415) 554-6393

 

The next Commission on the Environment Policy Committee meeting is scheduled for Monday, January 10, 2011 at 5:00 p.m. in Room 421, City Hall.

 

Approved:  January 10, 2011

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