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01.10 Approved Minutes

CITY AND COUNTY OF SAN FRANCISCO

COMMISSION ON THE ENVIRONMENT

POLICY COMMITTEE

 

REGULAR MEETING

APPROVED MINUTES

 

MONDAY, JANUARY 10, 2011, 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 5:03 p.m.  Present:  Commissioners Wald, Gravanis and Prakash.

 

2.   Approval of Minutes of the December 13, 2010 Policy Committee Regular Meeting. (Explanatory Documents: December 13, 2010 Draft and Approved Minutes) (Discussion and Action)  Upon Motion by Commissioner Gravanis, second by Commissioner Prakash, the December 13, 2010 Meeting Minutes were approved without objection (AYES:  Commissioners Wald, Gravanis and Prakash)

 

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.

 

Item 5 was heard before Item 4.

 

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.      Zero Waste. Staff Presenter: Robert Haley, Zero Waste Program Manager

 

Director Nutter reported that at the past two Policy Committee meetings, Department staff presented on Draft Strategic Plans for the Energy, Climate, Toxics Reduction, Green Building, Environmental Justice, and Environment Now programs for Commissioner-input and feedback.  Today’s meeting will include presentations on Zero Waste, Urban Forestry and Urban Agriculture.  Public Outreach, Clean Transportation and the Director’s Draft Plans will be presented to the Policy Committee at their February 14 meeting. The full Commission will review the final version of the Draft Strategic Plan at their March 22 meeting after Policy Committee review of the individual program area plans.   

 

Mr. Haley reported that San Francisco has achieved 77% landfill diversion in 2008, exceeding its goal of 75% by 2010.  He stated that disposal is decreasing every year and decreased 15% in the most recent year.  There are still approximately half a million tons to eliminate from landfills each year before reaching zero waste. The economy appears to be starting to improve which could make zero waste more challenging.  About 35% of what is sent to landfill is compostable (mostly food), and 30% is recyclable (mostly construction and demolition debris, and paper). There is good potential to capture this material through current programs and policies. If all of this material can be captured, San Francisco would be at about 90% diversion, close to zero waste. The key is to influence everybody to participate in diverting all material through consumer responsibility.  San Francisco’s Mandatory Recycling and Composting Ordinance and Construction and Demolition Debris Ordinance are key laws for this effort. 

 

Mr. Haley discussed consumer responsibility challenges that are faced such as building structures. Some buildings have only one refuse chute.  It is known that 100% participation will not be reached, so there is a need to find new ways to separate material through researching and developing low-temperature, mechanical/biological, mixed-material recovery processes.  He explained that the remaining disposal that presents problems consists mostly of composite items and other materials listed in Strategic Plan Zero Waste Draft fourth paragraph. Programs can be created but, in order to be successful, would require a source of funding and involvement of manufacturers and retailers.  Ultimately, there is a need for policies that addresses producer responsibility to change the way things are made to help with recovery and achieve zero waste.

 

Mr. Haley discussed goals, objectives and actions (see Zero Waste Strategic Plan Draft): 

 

·         Goal 1: Decrease disposal 9% (above 44,000 tons) annually to achieve zero waste by 2020 and protect ecosystems, conserve resources and energy, and reduce pollution and climate change.

·         Goal 2: Advance towards zero waste by holding producers and consumers responsible for their waste.

·         Goal 3: Assist with landfill agreement, refuse rate and other processes.   

 

Commissioner Gravanis provided suggestions that include:

 

·         Highlight reducing unnecessary consumption in the Strategic Plan narrative as a primary goal. Identify resources or fundraise for a public education campaign on reducing unnecessary consumption. Director Nutter reported that the Outreach team is researching interesting campaigns that other cities have done on this topic and will be discussing how to integrate this action into the Plan. 

·         On Objective B, Action 7, to promote waste prevention through double-sided printing and copying and food redistribution.  The issue is really about resource conservation. While promoting waste prevention helps keep waste out of the landfill, it is more about resource conservation (not buying what you don’t need). 

·         Redemption.  Currently state law requires that people are able to redeem their beverage containers for cash and that there be adequate locations to do so.  Ensure that there are enough places to bring things for redemption and also to allow for better source separation, thus creating a higher market value for recyclables. 

·         Ensure that recyclables are more marketable as one of the Strategic Plan goals. Improve labeling of compostable products so plastics are not contaminated by biodegradable products.  Better source separation is a key element that would increase the marketability of recyclables and should be part of the overall policies even though metrics are not yet available.  Mr. Haley cited Action 6 “work with Recology to restore Fantastic 3 recycling residuals below 10%.”  Commissioner Gravanis suggested elaborating that the policy should include that we want to sell our recyclables for top dollar.

·         Provide education and outreach to individual homeowners about acquiring building materials and places to transport them, such as Building Resources.  

 

Commissioner Prakash cited legislation that is being done nationally on electronic waste and inquired whether other cities, states and countries are working on similar types of legislation for reducing composite items. Mr. Haley stated that San Francisco is at the forefront on most programs; e.g., the Food Service Waste Reduction Ordinance banning Styrofoam and Plastic Bag Reduction Ordinance banning plastic checkout bags at supermarkets and chain drugstores.  He explained that not much is happening on asphalt roofing or textiles other than a good reuse network in San Francisco for textiles.  The Zero Waste team is researching Washington State’s program to remove lead paint from the outside of wood and reuse the wood, but there are toxics issues. There are also interesting new diaper composting programs.  A state bill was passed on carpets, but got weakened to the point of being almost useless.  Commissioner Gravanis stated that a group had applied for a grant from the Department of the Environment for composting pet by-products. Mr. Haley stated that reducing and recovering composite items can be tricky.

 

Commissioner Wald provided the following comments:

 

·         Discussed the importance of communicating to all of San Francisco what the Department of the Environment is accomplishing through these efforts and not overlook the educational value of these plans to everyone in the community. 

·         Inquired whether penalties are issued for non-compliance of laws. Mr. Haley explained that Ms. Williams of the Zero Waste team has registered over 300 construction and demolition debris transporters, and there are about a dozen registered facilities, so there are many options and no reason to take it to the wrong place.  She is at construction sites on almost a daily basis to enforce the law, but has not had the need to fine anyone or revoke a registration.  Simply passing a law has had a huge impact and there hasn’t been a need yet for strict enforcement. Getting the word out that it is the law oftentimes solves the problem. There was a need to enforce the foodware ordinance with over 100 restaurants, and we’re actively educating and assisting people with the Mandatory Recycling and Composting Ordinance. 

·         Suggested extending the Virtual Warehouse beyond City facilities to neighborhood programs so that more products can be reused and recycled citywide. Mr. Haley stated that there was originally a grant-funded group called Magic that matched products online and then acquired a warehouse and trucks, but the service could not be maintained. He explained that foundations are not interested in funding this type of service. The Department then funded a group called Excess Access that is still active.  Some of the material from the Virtual Warehouse goes to Excess Access if City departments do not want it.  There are other groups in the private sector providing a similar service; e.g., Craigslist, iReuse, Freecycle.  He explained that the Department’s website mentions these services, but that more outreach is needed to communicate to the community that these services are available. Commissioner Wald suggested an education campaign around this issue.

·         Suggested developing green programs for other jurisdictions that would provide revenue for the Department.  Mr. Haley stated that it is possible to do so, but noted the difference in programs, structure and size of San Francisco in comparison to other locations.

·         Suggested a campaign with other cities, jurisdictions, communities and NGO’s for producer responsibility.  Develop a process and rationale for picking one or two products and identify a revenue stream.  Mr. Haley suggested that a discussion be held at the Policy Committee about toxic and problem products for zero waste.  Commissioner Wald suggested identifying a way to reduce people’s costs if they take some items out of the waste stream.   Mr. Haley stated that it would be an interesting discussion about changing the way products are made, funding government costs to deal with problem products and producer take-back of products.  

 

Public Comment

 

Mr. Jim Rhoads, Haight Ashbury Neighborhood Council (HANC) stated that HANC has been operating the recycling center next to Kesar Stadium for 35 years.  He complimented the Department’s Zero Waste plan.  Mr. Rhoads reported that HANC has worked on a lot of the activities citied in the Strategic Plan for the past couple of decades and asked that it include more of a discussion about the need to expand the availability of recycling centers in San Francisco.  He stated that HANC does source separation of recyclables that helps the waste diversion policies in San Francisco, and people are educated on source separation just by coming to the recycling center.  Mr. Rhoads reported that HANC has been served an eviction notice by the Recreation and Park Department, and that Supervisor Mirkarimi would be calling for a hearing on recycling in San Francisco that the Department may be part of.  He explained that HANC has had a lot of support to continue their work which includes involvement with the urban agriculture movement, being the fiscal agent for Garden for the Environment, raising thousands of native plants, and holding classes on composting.  He stated that the organization is a viable part of what is going on in San Francisco and would like to be a bigger part of the Strategic Plan.

 

Mr. David Pilpel provided the following suggestions:

 

·         The preamble or bullet points do not address highest and best use. More should be done to retrieve products from the waste stream that are still usable and can be reused.

·         Elaborate on what references to “11-13” means because it is not cited in the document title.  Director Nutter explained that 11-13 references fiscal years 2011 to 2013.

·         Provide more detail for each bullet point about how plans are to be carried out.  Provide regular reports to the Commission on progress, success, and obstacles for each of these points.

·         Add Extended Producer Responsibility for packaging as a goal with staff allocation.  Determine whether Toxics, Zero Waste, Public Outreach or a combination of all programs should share in this goal and how.

·         The Mandatory Recycling and Composting Ordinance has helped considerably.  It is important to screen facilities and truck loads as early as possible to separate any wrong material. Recology has funding to provide this service and should provide additional staffing for this effort. 

·         Mr. Rhoads talked about the importance of HANC. Expand the reference in the Strategic Plan to other non-profits and their importance to the waste system. 

·         Accomplish more reuse through the Public Recycling and Disposal Area (PRDA).  There is an opportunity for non-profits to participate more in this area.

·         Reinforce meaningful public and stakeholder participation to avoid the uncertainty of the rate process for all parties.

·         There is a composting council conference at the end of the month that staff is participating in and would be an interesting report for the Commission at the next meeting.

 

Mr. Jake Grumbach suggested that the Zero Waste team consult and/or partner with the Department of Public Health, the East Bay Alliance for Climate Education, Southeast Food Alliance, and PG&E on their successful outreach programs.  He stated that the Department of Public Health has workgroups and a good framework for partnering with non-profits, stakeholders, and other community groups to add waste prevention and composting in school curricula.  He suggested that young people be sent to schools that only do paper recycling to teach composting.  Mr. Haley pointed out that the Department has a School Education program that is doing such things.

 

B.     Urban Forestry and Urban Agriculture.  Staff Presenter: Mei Ling Hui, Urban Forestry Council Coordinator

 

Director Nutter discussed the Department’s desire for the Urban Forestry and Urban Agriculture programs to grow and flourish.  She explained that Ms. Hui is the sole staff assigned to work on both of these programs.  This is the first Urban Agriculture Strategic Plan that the Commissioners will be reviewing.  It is the first step in segregating the plan away from the Environmental Justice program into its own program.

 

Urban Forestry Program

 

Ms. Hui reported that the Street Tree Action Plan sets forth a goal for tree planting by doubling the number of street trees from the 2004 level by planting an additional 5000 trees per year for 20 years.  She discussed San Francisco’s specific climate and infrastructure limitations that may restrict the possibility of reaching canopy coverage similar to the national average of about 27%. The most recent study suggests that San Francisco has approximately 12% canopy.  (Urban Forest Program Strategic Plan Draft narrative paragraphs 2 and 3.) She explained that a bigger issue affecting the urban forest is a continual loss of trees due to benign neglect or illegal removal because of construction.  It is hard to monitor those two causes.  The Department of Public Works and the Recreation and Park Department consistently report that they do not have enough staff to provide the level of care that their trees require.  She is working with the Urban Forestry Council to review existing policies around construction and how a tree is noted for protection status.

 

Ms. Hui reported that the Urban Forest Program has one goal to promote a healthy and sustainable urban forest.  Objectives and actions set forth to achieve that goal is outlined in the Urban Forest Program Strategic Plan Draft.  Objectives include (a) implementing the Urban Forestry Council Ordinance; (b) promoting education and outreach programs and providing information on city tree management and related activities; and (c) developing innovative long-term funding strategies for urban forestry programs. This goal includes increasing the size of the urban forest and providing better maintenance for trees.  The majority of programmatic activities are to support the Urban Forestry Council, the advisory body to the Mayor, Board of Supervisors and City departments on policy and programmatic issues that will improve the health of the urban forest. Ms. Hui stated that the most important objective is to identify ways to improve funding streams that can be applied to tree planting and tree care.   

 

Director Nutter discussed differences between the City’s tree planting goals and those of the Department’s.  As with some of the other Department programs, City and Department goals may be the same or not based on available resources to implement the goal. In this case, the Department acknowledges the City goal and wants to help that City goal, but has not adopted it due to a lack of resources. The Department is leading the effort for the Urban Forest Program on the goal of planting 100,000 new street trees in 20 years and ensuring funding for maintenance.  Ms. Hui stated that the Urban Forestry Council commissioned the Street Tree Action Plan so that planting 100,000 new street trees would not only be a City goal, but adopted internally and citywide.

 

Commissioner Gravanis provided the following comments:

·         Provide a definition of what the urban forest is.

·         Elaborate how the 100,000 street trees translate into trees per lot or mile. The goals for street tree planting are excellent.   

·         Second paragraph of the narrative: do not compare San Francisco’s total canopy to those of cities that have been previously occupied by tree-dominated landscapes. There should be an understanding that San Francisco’s climate is different from those cities that a comparison is being made to. The fact that we only have a 12% total canopy should not be troubling and may be the right amount for this location.  Biodiversity expertise and goals should guide the overall tree planting goal. Do not refer to San Francisco’s climate restrictions.  Our climate should be guiding our decisions of how many trees we plant and where we plant them.  It should not be regarded as a restriction on what humans want to do and impose on our natural heritage. Include a discussion of tree planting to make that distinction.  Tree planting can be just as harmful to biodiversity as it is helpful if the wrong tree is selected for the wrong location. The Department of the Environment does not have the resources to state meaningful goals for our overall canopy.  

·         Avoid duplication of tree planting efforts between the Department and Friends of the Urban Forest so there is a clear sense of what the Department’s value is to this effort.

·         San Francisco Arbor Day should be held in the fall not the spring.

·         Focus more on outreach events; e.g., more maintenance workshops and tree tours.

·         Developing long-term funding strategies is an excellent objective.

·         Do not devote additional time to the benefits of trees to climate change.  An increasing number of studies show that planting trees in temperate climates do not help global warming.  Studies also show that other kinds of vegetation such as grasslands sequester carbon as well as trees do.

·         Explore the cost-effectiveness of having street tree maintenance done by private homeowners compared with having homeowners pay a fee for City government to provide this service.

 

Ms. Hui stated that even though San Francisco’s climate is different than New York’s, a comparison is being made because New York is a city with buildings, streets, and people that is thought of as being super-urban.  Since San Francisco wants to increase its canopy, this comparison helps people understand why our goals are so important.  Commissioner Gravanis stated that would be acceptable for street trees and encouraged competing with New York City for the number of street trees per mile, but it should not sound as if it is wrong for San Francisco not to have the same coverage for the total city. It makes people think that we need to go out and plant in open spaces and natural areas, which could be detrimental to our goal of biodiversity. She suggested that it be stated in a way so as to protect our indigenous ecosystems.

 

Ms. Hui stated that in comparing the work of the Department with Friends of the Urban Forest, the Department’s goals are more focused on policy than hands-on work. She explained there are upcoming programs where there may be an overlap (Urban Orchards) where there will be programming partnerships with other City departments and agencies.  The same problem is being worked on in different areas.  Ms. Hui reported that she does hold one maintenance workshop a year for City employees that work on trees which is a requirement of the Ordinance that created the Urban Forestry Council.  For the most part, holding workshops is more of a Friends of the Urban Forest activity. There may be ways to partner with them through an outreach program to highlight the maintenance programs that they do or to influence people to attend tree tours.

 

Commissioner Prakash inquired if the resource constraints are with project development or implementation.  He asked who manages the volunteers and would be planting the 5000 trees per year for 20 years that the Street Tree Action Plan calls for.  Ms. Hui stated that the Street Tree Action Plan was a report based off of a study of how many street trees San Francisco has and how many spaces are available for new street trees.  The result was that there was room for 100,000 new street trees.  The Department of Public Works, Friends of the Urban Forest and the Recreation and Park Department does the tree planting in the city. 

 

Commissioner Prakash suggested partnering with young organizations that do volunteer work, e.g., City Year.  Ms. Hui reported that Friends of the Urban Forest has a youth training program that was funded recently through the Department of the Environment.  The Recreation and Park Department has an active volunteer program, and they invite other groups and volunteer-connector organizations to work with them mostly on planting, not maintenance.  Friends of the Urban Forest provides the best opportunities on learning how to maintain trees. The Department of Public Works also has many volunteer opportunities, e.g., a street clean team program that is held once a month, and there is always greening and other maintenance projects. 

 

Commissioner Wald asked if the Urban Forest Program Strategic Plan document would be used as a way to prioritize future Department work and fundraising priorities.  Director Nutter stated that it has been brought to her attention that the Urban Forest Program is one of the plans that high goals have been set for, but does not have the resources to ensure that goals will be met department or citywide.  Most of the other strategic plans are either fully funded or close to fully funded including the stretch goals.  This is a document that demonstrated the stark difference in what we have and where we need to get.  It won’t require taking resources from other programs, but additional opportunities will be sought after to fund this program.  She discussed the most recent funding opportunity through Eco Media to pull together all city tree planting efforts among city agencies.  The Urban Forest Program is one area that she and the Grants Manager are seeking new opportunities through grant or foundation funding.  Director Nutter explained that the City does not currently have a Greening Director, and other agencies have resource constraints for tree maintenance.  Ms. Hui stated that she is looking for funding so that the Department can expand its program and for other agencies to do the actual hands-on work. 

 

Commissioner Wald stated that she approves of connecting the urban forestry program to the climate program because it does provide a contribution to address climate. She suggested adding a discussion in the preamble about the contribution that street trees could make to the climate in lieu of the comparison with other cities’ canopy coverage.  There should be a statement as to why trees are valuable in cities and the contribution that they bring.  Commissioner Gravanis suggested adding more about the contribution trees make to storm water management.  Commissioner Wald stated that she does not want trees in natural areas, but doesn’t want people to think that trees would be cut down in grasslands. 

 

Ms. Hui reported that the Recreation and Park Department is working on the Recreation and Open Space Element that may address a lot of questions concerning land use planning and the natural areas program.  The most recent funding from the Clean and Safe Neighborhoods Park Bond will provide the Recreation and Park Department with an opportunity to include tree maintenance.  It is a capital improvement project.  They are doing a lot of work categorizing their trees and the care they need as well as natural areas.  When that is complete, that will provide the information that Commissioner Gravanis wants to have included.  The information may not be included in the final Strategic Plan publication in March, but will be kept on the radar for the future year.

 

Public Comment:  Mr. Nick Kline asked if because of resource restrictions there was attention to selection of certain species that require less care than others.  Ms. Hui confirmed that trees that do best in this environment are being selected first.  Acquiring the biggest healthiest tree with the least amount of input is also important as well as making sure that we are not planting too large of a percentage of one species.  There is experimentation going on and some trees are being phased out because of some environmental concerns and disease.  Commissioner Gravanis stated that some trees are also breaking sidewalks.  Mr. Kline stated that Commissioner Gravanis had mentioned other benefits of having trees in an urban environment.  Do urban trees help urban heat elements?  Ms. Hui confirmed that they do.  People think of it more as trees increasing the temperature within a city to reduce building energy loads. In San Francisco, a tree may actually increase building energy loads in some cases.  We do have an urban heat element that affects outlying areas more than energy usage in the urban city.  It is less of an issue for us than in areas such as Sacramento.   

 

Urban Agriculture Program

 

Ms. Hui discussed her background in ecological agriculture that fits in with the key role she has been assigned in working on the Mayor’s 2009 Directive on Healthy and Sustainable Foods Policy. There has been a movement building in urban agriculture by the Urban Agriculture Alliance and other community advisory groups such as the Mayor’s Food Security Task Force.  Ms. Hui has been working with these groups to help direct that movement so it has a clear direction.  (See Urban Agriculture Strategic Plan Draft narrative.)

 

Ms. Hui reported that the Urban Agriculture program has one goal to “increase food production and opportunities for urban gardening in San Francisco.”  She reported on actions to be worked on for objectives that include (a) supporting policy initiatives; (b) building capacity of existing City programs; and (c) supporting community organization and public education and information campaigns.  (See Urban Agriculture Strategic Plan Goals, Objectives, and Actions.)

 

Ms. Hui stated that she is supporting the Planning Department and Mayor’s Office efforts to create an urban agriculture zoning designation.  University of San Francisco interns will be conducting an existing resource and resource gaps assessment to establish the baseline of current activities and opportunities for improvement.  In addition, the Planning Department will be creating a map showing existing opportunities for urban gardening in San Francisco. One issue that is not currently being addressed in the City is commercial agriculture. There are several groups that produce food, but no one is succeeding yet. Presidio School of Management is assisting with a study to assess barriers facing production-focused models.  A study will be conducted on common environmental toxins that may affect produce quality common in San Francisco.  Ms. Hui elaborated on Objectives B to build capacity of existing City programs and C to support community organization and public education and information campaigns as outlined in the Strategic Plan Draft.

 

Commissioner Wald provided a funding referral for the Urban Agriculture program. Commissioner Gravanis stated that she is impressed with the program and it is something that San Francisco has needed for a long time. Community gardens did not have a home for a while, and it is nice to see it is moving forward.  She suggested that the Strategic Plan Draft include narrative on how this program would relate to and provide benefits to the environment so that it can be justified as a Department of the Environment program, e.g., reducing the carbon footprint from transportation of food from other areas, controlling the use of toxic pesticide may be easier with local food.  Ms. Hui stated that this program is very much like the Urban Forest Program in that it is uniquely positioned to collaborate, direct policy and programming ideas with all agencies that might be involved with urban agriculture in the City so everyone is supporting one another. 

 

Commissioner Prakash inquired why there is such a high failure rate for commercial agriculture in the city and if the studies would help prove the reasons why. He asked if there are other cities that are leaders in urban farming that could be consulted for ideas. Ms. Hui explained that San Francisco has a long history of farming.  When there was more open space, there were cows in Cow Hollow.  Cuba, which is a highly urbanized area, is very successful at urban farming. San Francisco does have different climate conditions than other cities and different opportunities because of how our buildings are structured. New York puts a lot of emphasis on rooftop gardens.  San Francisco does not have a freezing climate so buildings do not have a snow-load and can’t actually hold the weight of a garden.  We are trying to identify ways to approach and find land and resources to promote urban agriculture.  San Francisco’s situation is unique, and we have specific issues to deal with.  Commissioner Prakash asked if there is another city that is comparable to San Francisco that has had a metric of success.  Ms. Hui stated that she is looking into Seattle, Portland and some cities in Canada for comparisons and what can be adjusted to fit for us.  Business plans and land access issues may be reasons that commercial agriculture was not successful in the past.  Director Nutter explained that this is another program that San Francisco can lead the way and make an impact on.  Foundations are looking to San Francisco to provide their expertise.  Ms. Hui explained that the urban agriculture model is meant to grow and produce food that will reduce the carbon impact of our local food chain and increase urban sustainability and resiliency.

 

Commissioner Wald stated that this program should be connected with the Environmental Justice program so that there is an emphasis on serving underserved neighborhoods.  Ms. Hui stated that she is working with the Bayview Hunters Point Redevelopment Project, a longtime advocate for urban farm installations.  The Treasure Island Redevelopment Plan is also looking at insuring that urban farms are maintained. She confirmed that the environmental justice connection would be made. 

 

Public Comment:  Mr. Jake Grumbach discussed a complaint that he heard from the Urban Agriculture Alliance about permitting/zoning barriers for someone who wanted to start their own urban garden on an unused private lot. Ms. Hui reported that there will be a code designation introduced for farms in the city to allow for sale of produce. If you are going to grow produce for yourself, you can do whatever you want on your land.  If you want to sell what you produce, there is a question about this type of business in residential areas.  A farm does not qualify as a home office.  Little City Gardens is an example of an empty lot in a residential area which is being addressed.

 

Mr. Grumbach discussed Department of Public Health urban agriculture initiatives in the environmental justice arena especially in southeast part of the city.  He suggested that the Department identify an environmental angle and not a health angle and create a distribution model similar to Project Open Hand.   Ms. Hui stated that she works with the Health Department on these and other Department programs. 

 

5.   Agenda Process for Commission on the Environment Policy Committee Meetings. (Discussion)  Sponsor:  Commissioner Johanna Wald

 

Commissioner Wald asked Commissioners to provide their suggestions for an organizing principle for agenda setting in order to maximize efficiency of Commissioner-time and effectiveness of the Commission role.  She reported that agenda setting was previously driven by the Urban Environmental Accords and now by a running list (Future Agenda Items Checklist) of agenda items and ideas that the Commission Secretary keeps track of.  The New Business/Future Agenda Items topic on each agenda has been used effectively to set agendas for future meetings.  In addition, the Committee Chair, Director and Commission Secretary meet before each meeting to set the agenda for the next meeting through the topics listed on the checklist and Commissioner ideas.   

 

Commissioner Prakash stated that he would send agenda ideas to the Committee Chair.  He suggested creating an online secure depository for agenda suggestions that Commissioners/ designated staff could access that would serve as a one-way communication path.  Commissioners and/or the Commission Secretary could monitor the site for agenda suggestions.  Commissioner Gravanis suggested that Department staff keep Commissioners apprised of issues that should be addressed in addition to items that are legally required such as the Reduced Risk Pesticide List, the Strategic Plan, etc.  She asked that a review be made of each item that is proposed to determine the most effective way to deal with that issue, e.g., which Committee should the issue go to, should it go to the Committee first or full Commission only, could the item be presented as a written report.

  

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

 

Director Nutter provided an update on legislation and policy as follows:

·         The Drug Disposal Ordinance that was moving through the Board of Supervisors last year was postponed by Supervisor Mirkarimi. A new Board and Mayor will be looking at that Ordinance, but it has not yet been scheduled.  The Ordinance would mandate that drug manufacturers identify an industry-led disposal program to remove pharmaceuticals out of our water and landfills.

 

·         The Commercial Building Ordinance which basically mandates that any commercial buildings in San Francisco over 10,000 square feet are required to have benchmarking of their energy use as well as an energy audit within three years was postponed.  It is currently at the Land Use Committee.

 

·         The California Energy Commission approved updates to the Green Building Code and Commercial Lighting Ordinance that combined all requirements of CalGreen with stricter local requirements that became effective January 1, 2011.  The Green Building Team spent a lot of time making sure that CalGreen included San Francisco standards, and that there wasn’t going to be any conflict moving forward.  That was a huge victory on the policy side.

 

·         The annual holiday tree reuse media event with Recology and Recreation and Park Department was held at City Hall.  Kevin Drew of the Zero Waste team was the spokesperson and got a lot of media coverage about how your holiday tree can be reused.

 

·         A $250,000 grant was received from the Frank Foundation to plan for how San Francisco can be renewable by 2020.  A series of meetings will be held with the Public Utilities Commission and the Power Plant Task Force who have done a lot of work on the Electricity Resource Plan to insure that efforts are not duplicated and to review past work on how to be more energy-efficient and find renewable sources of power for San Francisco. A new Program Manager will be hired to oversee that program. The deliverable will be an actual plan on how to accomplish this effort within that timeframe.

 

·         An Electric Vehicle Regional Task Force is forming through an initiative of our Department, the Bay Area Climate Collaborative and a number of other entities that are pulling together electric vehicle thought leaders regionally to think through what the infrastructure will look like, where resources will come from and how electric vehicles will become a reality.  The focus will be on transit first, but we want to make sure that we make the best use of our investment. This is the time to make policy decisions for the city and regionally.

 

·         It is budget season and a series of meetings will be held. The Commission will be seeing a draft budget at the January meeting. 

 

·         The Policy Committee will be reviewing Strategic Plan Drafts in February for Clean Transportation, Public Outreach and School Education, and the Director’s Report. The full Commission will hear a presentation on the full Strategic Plan for final comments and approval at their March meeting.

 

·         Commissioner Martin has resigned from the Commission, and Mayor Newsom has appointed a new Commissioner, Jason Elliott, on January 6, 2011.   

 

Commissioner Gravanis asked for a future report on America’s Cup and what the Department of the Environment and Commission can do to assist in making this event environmentally sustainable.

 

7.   Announcements. (Discussion) 

 

Commissioner Gravanis announced that there is a Global Tap station at the UC Parnassus Student Union.  Commissioner Wald announced that there are also stations at the United Concourse and Yerba Buena Park, and that there would be a hard roll out of stations the week of January 20. Ms. Knowles reported that she has heard that another station will be located at Crissy Field or the San Francisco Birding Area. Commissioner Gravanis encouraged everyone not to focus on the particular brand of station, but on the overall goal of getting people to refill their bottles through various ways.

 

Director Nutter announced that the Department is holding an Arts Open House this Thursday from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m.  The Green Business Awards will be held on January 19 at the Green Room, War Memorial, from 6:00 – 9:00 p.m.  There will be 40 – 50 awards given out for businesses that have reached their green business certification.

 

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

 

Commissioner Wald reported that the February 14 meeting will include continuation of a review of Program Area Strategic Plan drafts and the Director’s Draft Plan and a status report on the Literacy for Environmental Justice Herons Head Eco Center.

 

Ms. Knowles proposed creating a reward for Supervisor Emeritus Sophie Maxwell for her work assisting the environmental community and the Asthma Task Force by influencing the Housing Authority to conduct a pilot Integrated Pest Management (IPM) program at the Sunnydale housing units.  The ultimate goal is to create a policy in San Francisco for the Housing Authority to practice IPM because it is not a requirement.  A discussion was held on ways that the Commission could present such an award to Commissioner Emeritus Maxwell to let her know her effort is appreciated. Commissioner Gravanis suggested that the Commission consider a commendation Resolution.  The idea of the Department or Commission issuing Environmental Pioneer Awards was discussed.  Commissioner Wald suggested that the Policy Committee hold a more extensive discussion on establishing an annual Environmental Pioneer award process. She suggested that the Commission do a commendation Resolution and that Mark Leno request a Resolution from the legislature commending her for this effort. 

 

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 7:07 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, February 14, 2011 at 5:00 p.m. in Room 421, City Hall.

 

Approved:  February 14, 2011

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