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04.18 Approved Minutes

 

CITY AND COUNTY OF SAN FRANCISCO

COMMISSION ON THE ENVIRONMENT

POLICY COMMITTEE

 

*RESCHEDULED MEETING

APPROVED MINUTES

 

MONDAY, APRIL 18, 2011, 5:00 P.M.

DEPARTMENT OF THE ENVIRONMENT ECO CENTER

11 GROVE STREET

SAN FRANCISCO, CA 94102

 

*The Regular Meeting of the Commission on the Environment Policy Committee that regularly meets at City Hall, Room 421, has been RESCHEDULED to Monday, April 18, 2011 and will be held at the Department of the Environment Eco Center, 11 Grove Street, San Francisco, CA .

 

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 5:00 p.m.  Present:  Commissioners Wald and Gravanis; Excused:  Commissioner Prakash.

 

2.   Approval of Minutes of the February 14, 2011 Policy Committee Rescheduled Meeting. (Explanatory Document: February 14, 2011 Draft and Approved Minutes) (Discussion and Action) Upon Motion by Commissioner Gravanis, second by Commissioner Wald, the February 14, 2011 Meeting Minutes were approved without objection (AYES:  Commissioners Wald and Gravanis; Absent:  Commissioner 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.

 

4.   GreenFinance SF Program Update.  Sponsor:  Commissioner Johanna Wald; Speaker:  Richard Chien, Private Sector Green Building Coordinator, GreenFinanceSF Program Manager (Explanatory Document: GreenFinance SF Commercial Program) (Informational Report and Discussion)

 

Mr. Chien provided an informational report on San Francisco’s PACE program (GreenFinance SF) that was established in order to provide homeowners with financing to install green renovation projects on private buildings.  The City created a special clean energy financing district through Mello-Roos law that enables the sale of bonds to provide the upfront financing for clean energy improvements on private properties.  Repayment would be secured by a senior tax lien assessed by the City and County local government and recollected through the property tax billing process until the principal and interest was paid for.  It was an effective way to spread high up front costs over a longer period of time and address challenges to securing capital for these types of projects.  The cost would be transferable to a new property owner as long as that benefit was still being paid for by the special tax. 

 

San Francisco launched its residential program with great support from the Board of Supervisors and the Mayor.  There was a lot of outreach to target residential homeowners in San Francisco to make them aware of the program.  There was a very good response from homeowners, that was determined by how many people visited the website, how many applications were started, feedback from contractors, and the number of people who requested financing. Three weeks after the program was launched on April 12, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac released letters to their lenders saying they were uncomfortable with these programs. A couple of months later, the Federal Housing Financing Agency that was created by Congress to oversee Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, released a definitive statement that these programs posed “safety and soundness” concerns to the mortgage industry.  The liens created by these types of locally administered programs automatically go in front of the mortgage, so in case there is a foreclosure or default process, the senior lien would have to be paid off first.  The fact that these assessments were minimal compared to the amount that people were borrowing for their mortgages and that the improvements would be adding value to the property, saving energy, and creating jobs got lost in that argument.  The program had to be discontinued as a result.

 

Mr. Chien explained that there was over $30 million dollars that was being administered through the California Energy Commission to support residential PACE programs that needed to find a new purpose in light of what happened.  The focus now is to promote home-energy efficiency through a website and provide outreach and communication along with local governments and contractors about a financial clearinghouse that would be available to homeowners and would offer more traditional unsecured loan products.  These would be pre-approved by the State Treasurer’s Office.  In addition, there is some money from the original $33 million to continue PACE in light of those Federal Housing Financing Agency directives.  Sonoma County is continuing their residential PACE program. 

 

Mr. Chien stated that since the commercial sector is not affected by decisions of federal housing mortgage regulators, it is in a better position to launch without regulatory obstacles.  The City is receiving just under $400,000 to provide a credit enhancement for our commercial PACE program that is scheduled to launch early this summer.  Work is in progress with other grantees that include Sonoma and Placer Counties to test best practices in primarily commercial PACE and primarily with the City of Los Angeles and the Clinton Climate Initiative.  The Clinton Climate Initiative is providing technical assistance to the City of Los Angeles and the other grantees on this variant of commercial PACE, which uses the owner arranged PACE financing model.  This means that the building owner arranges their own lender for the capital improvements, and that capital provider gets all the benefits of the senior PACE lien to secure that repayment obligation.  The reserve money that is being used as grant funds would hopefully provide more cushion to potential capital providers to encourage participation.

 

Mr. Chien provided a written summary (see explanatory document) that provides information on the history of what happened on the residential side and what was needed to reallocate all of the grant money to the commercial sector.  There is strong interest to fix the problems in establishing PACE in the residential sector. There are negotiations with the regulatory agencies that unfortunately do not appear to be advancing, and there is litigation currently in progress.  Lawsuits have been filed in four federal district courts; plaintiffs include the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), the California Attorney General, counties in Florida, New York, Sonoma and Placer Counties, Palm Desert, and the Sierra Club. 

 

Public Comment

 

Mr. David Pilpel inquired about the concerns surrounding the residential PACE program.  Mr. Chien reported that the concern is that locally administered community benefit district financing improvements to private properties for public purpose should not be the concern of a federal mortgage regulator, and that it is completely within the bounds of local governments to operate these types of programs.  Commissioner Wald stated that the intent is to make it easier for people to partake in these programs. There is congressional uncertainty, so it does not seem that legislative avenues will provide a resolution, and litigation would take a number of years.

 

Commissioner Wald stated that Palm Desert had effectively worked with the legislature on a program that was designed to encourage people to put solar on roofs.  Mr. Chien reported that Palm Desert supported the passage of 2008 Assembly Bill (AB) 811 that took the idea of property assessed clean energy financing and made it essentially available to all jurisdictions in California.  San Francisco and Berkeley being charter cities could do things that other governments were not as freely able to do.  AB 811 clarified that all local governments can run these programs provided the legislative body authorizes it.

 

Commissioner Wald spoke in support of transferring the PACE program from the residential to the commercial sector.  She asked if there was anything that could be done to facilitate solar development on homes, such as encouraging neighborhoods or blocks to bundle and deal with providers in ways that would significantly reduce their costs. Mr. Chien stated that the neighborhood or block approach is being actively pursued by groups such as “One Block off the Grid” that works nationally with solar developers and providers to engage city neighborhoods or blocks that have an interest in doing solar.  They take a bulk purchasing approach to engaging with homeowners in a target submarket.  Another financing option that is becoming more widely available is a solar lease or a Power Purchase Agreement, whereby a Power Purchase Agreement provider enters into a contract with a homeowner or commercial property owner but the homeowner does not own the asset, they just pay for the electricity at or below what they would normally pay for electricity from the utility. 

 

Commissioner Wald inquired whether the Department has thought about playing a role in educating people about opportunities in a proactive way. For example, rather than waiting for one block to show interest, to tell people about one block and encourage them to make contact, in addition to providing them with more information about available options. She stated that the PACE program had removed all of that uncertainty. Mr. Chien stated that the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) money helped create and support the home energy efficiency market. What happened with PACE was debilitating to that momentum.  Now the California Energy Commission and the California Public Utilities Commission are working together to do a statewide branding marketing campaign called Energy Upgrade California.  It is a web portal www.EnergyupgradeCA.org that contains consumer home performance education and links to contractors, local programs, utility rebate programs, with the goal of leading the homeowner through a thought process with reasons to participate.  The financing portal will be established in the next few months.  Mr. Chien stated that there was quite a bit of work that needed to be done because of what happened with the Federal Housing Finance Agency.  The program is now oriented in a new direction with non-PACE financing, an energy efficiency incentive web portal, commercial PACE in other jurisdictions, and there are innovative solar activities.  Mr. Chien stated that consideration could be given to coordinating efforts with our renewables programs and asking for feedback on how to get the word out.

 

Director Nutter stated that the Community Insight Project would be launched on Earth Day and would be a way to engage with other groups in this effort.  The project is focused on outreach, creating partnerships, and finding opportunities to highlight programs that we may not even be running in order to direct interest in resources of our constituents.  There are entities out there doing good work that would ultimately help support departmental goals.     

 

Commissioner Wald inquired whether any businesses have been targeted to participate in the commercial program. Mr. Chien stated that a commercial track had been developed with business groups such as Building Owners and Managers Association (BOMA) for the original GreenFinanceSF program, and outreach will begin again with the most recent iteration of the commercial program.  He stated that large energy-efficiency companies have been requesting a commercial program in order to acquire this kind of low-cost financing.  So much energy efficiency work has already been done in San Francisco with commercial building owners, so it will be an effort to discover who out of the eligible properties are left to speak to.

 

Public Comment:  Ms. Nunes inquired about incentives for developing green roofs on commercial and residential properties.  Mr. Chien stated that there are no current incentives to promote green roof technology. He stated that the City does have strict building requirements for new buildings, and installing a green roof would be a way to help meet these requirements for any particular class of buildings that are being built.  Doing a green roof on a new construction project is much easier than on a retrofit.  There are structural issues and other issues that become more significant when you are doing a retrofit. The San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC) is working aggressively on a citywide approach to managing City stormwater runoff, which includes a green roof component. Mr. Chien stated that because of our mild climate that does not receive a lot of rainfall compared to other jurisdictions, the overall cost of promoting a green roof technology would not be cost effective from a city programmatic perspective. An installation has been done on a City owned office building at One South Van Ness, so the technology is supported, but is not getting any specific financial incentives at this point. 

 

Commissioner Wald inquired about white roofs. Mr. Chien stated that cool roofs are required under the new California Energy Code for commercial buildings in a re-roofing situation or new construction. The climate is so mild here, that some of these technologies are not considered to be very cost effective.   

 

Mr. Pilpel reported that there were three roofs east of 3rd Street near Candlestick that had solar, but there was a block that didn’t have it and could use it.  He agrees with the idea of working block by block or in certain neighborhoods where you have a consistent roof type.  He suggested talking to people about the program in areas where it would make sense.  Mr. Pilpel suggested that Director Nutter promote these programs in her discussions with neighborhood groups, especially those located on the west side where they are generally not as supportive of some of the things that the Department of the Environment does as they could be.  This is an opportunity to promote programs that are financed in addition to other Department programs such as zero waste, transportation, toxics reduction.

 

Commissioner Gravanis discussed the importance of encouraging residential homeowners to consider installing some form of renewable energy.  For some people, the incentive would be the belief that sometime in the future, they might be able to sell some of that energy to the grid.  Along those lines, she has not been able to find anything in writing that PG&E’s new smart meters are capable of measuring electrical flow in two directions and is awaiting a response from PG&E.

 

Commissioner Gravanis inquired about the timeframe for the feed-in tariff that has been discussed.  Mr. Chien stated that he does not know when a decision will be made. There is a national group with a presence in California and other high opportunity states that is trying to engage with the business community to get political support to take it to the level of the legislature.  They want to build grassroots support for this effort first so there is enough political will behind it. 

 

Public Comment:  Mr. Davis stated that his understanding is that current laws or the way that it is set up allows you to sell back to PG&E up to how much you use.  He asked if there has been any discussion about changing the process.  Mr. Chien stated that a feed-in tariff sets the price for electricity generation regardless of where it is coming from.  If you have a solar system on your house, you would get at a rate of what you are producing.  Mr. Davis asked if that would be across the board in California.  Mr. Chien stated that that utilities, regulators and other agencies are working together to develop a better pricing strategy and address other structural issues to make these programs work better.  Mr. Davis inquired if this action could turn California into an exporting energy source.  Mr. Chien stated that it would provide an incentive for businesses and owners to become power providers if they knew they would be getting paid for it.

 

Mr. Chien stated that he would provide an update on the commercial program in June – August.

 

5.   America’s Cup Sustainability Plan Guiding Principles and Focus Areas. Sponsors:  Commissioners Johanna Wald and Ruth Gravanis; Speaker: Melanie Nutter, Director (5 minutes) (Discussion)

 

Director Nutter provided an update on discussions held between the City, the America’s Cup Event Authority and Organizing Committee on a Sustainability Plan for the America’s Cup event to be held throughout the summer of 2012 as well as in 2013.  The America’s Cup Organizing Committee helps with fundraising for the Event Authority, and the Event Authority is the entity that is responsible for the host agreement and for the execution of the event.    

 

The Department of the Environment initiated the Sustainability Plan with the Mayor’s Office, the Event Authority, and the Organizing Committee as a way to create an umbrella document that pulls together all of the sustainability elements for America’s Cup.  Some of these elements are mandated in the host agreement, and some are San Francisco’s mandates and laws. There are also elements of the Sustainability Plan that are aspirational, ambitious goals that the Department of the Environment and other entities envisioned for America’s Cup.  All proposals that the Department of Environment has made have not yet been approved by the Event Authority or Organizing Committee and are currently being discussed. After meeting for two months, a Draft Sustainability Plan was scoped out in the following focus areas:

 

·        Carbon Footprint. What is the carbon footprint of the event?  In the host agreement, it says that America’s Cup will be carbon neutral.  The Department is interested in exploring how to make America’s Cup a climate positive event, which means going beyond being carbon neutral.  There will be a focus on not only offsetting one-for-one carbon impact with mitigation, but finding funding for long-term infrastructure that would continue to provide carbon benefits to San Francisco after America’s Cup events have been completed.  This is something that the Clinton Climate Initiative has been championing. 

  

·        Carbon Offset Program.  Are there opportunities to bring local funds to America’s Cup through a carbon offset program?  The Department of the Environment started a carbon offset fund a couple of years ago as a way to direct local offset funds back to local projects.  We see this as a possible vehicle to use nationally and internationally to offset carbon as well as redirect funds back to local projects.  There are many questions regarding verifiability and what third-party entity we may work with to provide that verifiability, as well as what those projects would be.  Right now we are looking at expanding that vehicle as one of, if not the only, offset tool for people that are traveling here for America’s Cup.

 

·        Transportation Element. The Transportation Element is covered in a separate plan called The People Plan currently posted online at the Office of Economic and Workforce Development website.  It was created mostly by the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Authority (SFMTA) with input from the Department’s Clean Transportation Team.  The elements that the Department focused on in the Plan are (1) electric vehicles and if and when it would be appropriate to install charging stations at far off parking pods, and (2) supporting every opportunity to get people out of their cars by supporting expanded transit service, e.g. creating bike-sharing opportunities, etc. 

 

·        The LEED Plan, the building design element for existing and new buildings.  The Department is responsible for writing the plan for this event. It will codify all of the rules, laws, and mandates around existing and newly constructed buildings and how they will be managed.  It will integrate all of San Francisco’s Green Building Standards and find opportunities to go above and beyond those mandates to show that America’s Cup can exceed our existing laws and mandates on green building.

 

·        Waste Management.  Mr. Alex Dmitriew of the Department of the Environment’s Zero Waste Team reported that the Zero Waste Team presented a Waste Management Plan to the America’s Cup Event Authority on March 31st.  The document is called the Waste Management Plan because it is referenced as such in the host agreement, but a request will be made to change it to the Zero Waste Plan.   He stated that there is an excellent opportunity to make this event a zero waste event, and the plan describes what sustainability is in terms of zero waste. To help the Event Authority understand the environment we have in San Francisco, the plan references Ordinances that will impact the operations of the America’s Cup, e.g., the Mandatory Composting and Recycling Ordinance, the Construction and Demolition Debris Ordinance, and the Food Service Waste Ordinance.  It specifies that there should be compliance through the permit process for street events, and that event organizers produce a plan on how they will recycle materials from specific events.  There is also a Plastic Bag Ordinance ban that won’t directly apply to event vendors, but discussions have been held about legislatively expanding the scope of the Ordinance to additional retail establishments. 

 

A statement is being made that part of the zero waste concept is to hold a plastics-free event that will be tied into the impacts that plastic has on the marine environment. Commissioner Wald stressed the importance of not having single-serve water bottles available. Mr. Dmitriew stated that a Global Tap solution would be requested. Conversations will also be held with souvenir vendors and banner producers about the importance of not supplying plastic bags.

 

The Waste Management Plan deals with the reality that we are going to have materials produced at events.  Events will be held all over the City, primarily on the waterfront.  The Department was tasked with producing estimates of material that would be generated from these events and has put together a policy framework.  It has procured the services of Environmental Science Associates (ESA) to help put together the document.   There will be many factors to consider.  Not only will the event have spectator events, but the event will also have support facilities and the village being constructed that will contribute to the construction and demolition component.  There is an unknown capacity for spectator vessels, such as private yachts, and temporary piers will be constructed.  Estimates have been provided to Recology who is now working with the Department and ESA to determine the most cost-effective approach. The Waste Management Plan was favorably received by City agencies, and staff will be waiting for comments from the public.  Director Nutter thanked Mr. Dmitriew and the Zero Waste Team on their work on the Plan.

 

·        Clean Tech.  Harnessing partnerships with clean tech companies would help ensure that renewables are a critical part of America’s Cup.  Clean tech was added as a way to integrate renewables into the America’s Cup event by finding sponsorship opportunities with local clean tech companies.  It is a way for local companies to showcase new and innovative technologies that could be helpful in meeting America’s Cup sustainability goals at reducing carbon and offsetting diesel power generators.  The Department will be convening clean tech companies and discussing opportunities to partner with America’s Cup this summer.

 

·        Integrating Local Food Policy.  A discussion was held on how to raise awareness about sustainable organic food, specifically sustainable local seafood, in order to ensure that vendors are following strict policies and highlighting restaurants that follow sustainable food practices.

 

·        Outreach and Education regarding the bay and our estuaries.  America’s Cup is funding a global entity called One World Oceans to raise awareness about oceans in a global sense.  Discussions are being held to ensure that education and outreach is not only about the Pacific gyre and oceans generally, but specifically addresses the characteristics of our bay, our waterways, our estuaries, and the restoration that we would like to see locally as well as the health of the bay.    

 

Director Nutter discussed the process moving forward.  She explained that the Sustainability Plan does not yet contain budget numbers or an implementation timeline and has not been benchmarked against other large events with sustainability plans in a comprehensive way.  The Event Authority and Organizing Committee authorized the Department to hire a consultant to help us take the Sustainability Plan to the next level.  The scope of work to be included in that plan will be distributed to some of our contractors this week and includes benchmarking our plan to other big sporting events like Vancouver 2010, London 2012, and other sustainability plans as well as other America’s Cups.  This will provide context to what is happening in other event areas and generate new ideas for what is not currently in the plan.  The consultant has been asked to spell out legal requirements, host committee commitments and aspirational goals.  When the Sustainability Plan is fleshed out and implementation timeline and budget numbers are completed, we’ll be better able to demonstrate the possibility of including bold elements that take us a step farther than San Francisco mandates and are economically achievable.

 

Director Nutter stated that the consultant will be developing measurements and metrics for success, identifying a timeline and budget for each area, identifying roles and responsibilities, and proposing a draft plan for review in early June.  The reason this plan is so critical is because resources have not yet been committed for sustainability for America’s Cup.  The event agreement identified approximately $32 million related to transportation and other elements, but has not identified funding for the Sustainability Element.  This document will show that not only are these things achievable, but will give some reality to the money that will have to be raised to implement comprehensive sustainability strategies for America’s Cup. 

 

Commissioner Gravanis asked who would be hiring the consultant.  Director Nutter stated that the Department of the Environment would be doing the hiring, but that the Event Authority and the Organizing Committee would be raising the money to pay for the proposal as well as participating in the process.  The Department will be identifying the existing contractor and overseeing the scope of work and the Draft Sustainability Plan that will be distributed this week.  Commissioner Gravanis inquired whether the Sustainability Plan would be placed on a website for public response.  Director Nutter stated that it would be posted, but not for several months. 

 

Commissioner Gravanis commended the Waste Management Plan that lays out the mandates and provides background.  She suggested that (1) stronger language be used to require that mandates be followed instead of merely encouraged or recommended; (2) that fines be issued for non-compliance; and (3) to identify an entity that would be communicating with vendors on the “no single-serve water bottles should be sold” message.  She inquired who would be in charge of contracts and lease agreements. 

 

Mr. Dmitriew stated that the Waste Management Plan strongly states that a Zero Waste Coordinator should be hired to perform zero waste goals. The Department will supply the technical data, educate people on choices, make service suggestions, and do the signage, but ultimately it is up to the vendors to comply.  The only way to enforce mandates is contractually with the Event Authority and its vendors as well as event organizers who are very much part of this system.  Commissioner Wald stated that standard contract terms for compliance are needed so there is a vehicle for the Zero Waste Coordinator. The Coordinator has to be there when the contract forms are drawn up and have the authority to do whatever is needed to determine whether those contract terms are complied with.  However, they can’t be responsible to make sure that every contract says the right things.  There has to be standard terms for different activities and all activities have to be identified.   

 

Commissioner Gravanis inquired whether the America’s Cup Organizing Committee and America’s Cup Event Authority would contract with a master event organizer who would then be responsible for writing all of these specifics based on our City laws.  Mr. Dmitriew stated that the event organizer would also be working with Department staff to provide technical information. 

 

Commissioner Gravanis inquired whether there have been conversations with the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC) about bringing water lines to the main spectator sites to make either permanent or temporary jug fillers available.  Director Nutter reported that SFPUC has not been present at the meetings she has attended and will have to be consulted.  There has been discussion with the Event Authority and other City agencies about no single-serve water bottles and a global tap or similar operation solution, which has been integrated into the Sustainability Plan.  She explained that there are many different teams meeting at different times, and it may be that SFPUC has been involved in other discussions. 

 

Commissioner Gravanis suggested estimating the amount of water that spectators are expected to drink and the number of locations where jug fillers should be installed.  She suggested that an estimate be made for the number of port-a-potties that should be made available as well.   It would be appropriate for the organizer to issue a request for a company or multiple companies to bid on the job.  Director Nutter stated that opportunities for Requests for Proposals should be identified for other elements of sustainability services.

 

Commissioner Gravanis stated that one of the Department of the Environment’s main roles in the People Plan appeared to relate to electric cars and charging stations. The America’s Cup Environment Council does not want to see a lot of our staff resources devoted to this effort because the focus should be to get people out of cars.  It is a significant mixed message that if you are rich enough to buy an electric car, then it is okay for you to drive.  More attention should be given to alternatives such as making bike rental facilities available at all transit hubs in order to make it easier for people to leave their cars at home.  Director Nutter stated that the feedback from the America’s Cup Environment Council has helped adjust the Department’s focus in that area.

 

Commissioner Wald urged that there be an extra effort made to provide education about the principles underlying the sustainability component of this event.  She stated that it is not too early to think about how to prioritize the eight components of the Sustainability Plan just in case the event organizer won’t agree to all components and a trade may be possible.  She endorsed Commissioner Gravanis’s comments about strengthening the language and issuing fines for violations so people are held accountable.  It should be made clear that San Francisco will do a report card on this event and will tell the world how sustainable it is even if we are disappointed.  Measuring success needs to be a major part of the effort so that when future events are planned, the benchmarking exercise is based on real data.  Director Nutter stated that the Event Authority has an interest in creating this event as a model.  Metrics for success are needed for the City to be able to evaluate and share publicly, so whatever claims that are made following the event can be backed up with real data.

 

Public Comment

 

Ms. Lurilla Harris discussed the difficulty that handicapped persons may have taking public transportation to the event and asked that consideration be given to the potential impacts of not having charging stations on handicapped persons.

 

Mr. David Pilpel stated that Mr. Mike Martin, prior to his current assignment, worked at the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission, so he would presumably have knowledge about the wastewater and water component.  He confirmed that the Waste Management Plan has been published and is available for public review on the Office of Economic and Workforce Development website.  Mr. Pilpel inquired whether the eight sustainability elements have been committed to in writing.  Director Nutter reported that the document would be published potentially tomorrow.  He asked that the document as it evolves be made available to the public at each juncture and at future meetings when this topic is being discussed in order to encourage public comment.

 

Commissioner Wald stated that there is expertise available for input from Natural Resources Defense Council, which has invested substantial resources into greening the Oscars and NFL that might be directly relevant to this process. She discussed the vast amount of paper that will be produced at the event. 

 

Mr. Pilpel stated that receipts containing BPA could be issued if we don’t pay attention and discussed the possibility of creating labels for local food.   He suggested that grocery stores also consider the practice of labeling food with a local message, so this idea can be used on an ongoing basis and not just for special events.

 

Mr. Michael Davis, US Pure Water, stated that US Pure Water has been working with the City and County of San Francisco for a long time helping transition from bottled water to non-bottled water, and over the last four years has saved the City and County over $700,000.  US Pure Water is a mission-driven company and one of its missions is to influence people away from bottled water.  He discussed his experience facilitating a lot of different events with permanent and temporary installations and offered his expertise for this event.

 

Commissioner Gravanis stated that NRDC is one of the member organizations in the America’s Cup Environmental Council, which includes people with all kinds of expertise, such as the Baykeeper who knows a lot about water, fueling and boat traffic, and other organizations such as the Audubon Society and the Native Plant Society that are interested in making sure that our valuable habitat will not be trampled on.  She stated that the Policy Committee has been reviewing the Outreach List and Survey in order to engage the environmental community, and that this event would be an excellent opportunity for the Commission to work collaboratively with the non-profit community on an issue together.  Commissioner Gravanis stated that this effort has started with Director Nutter convening a meeting with City staff people and members of the America’s Cup Environmental Council and hopes for it to continue. 

 

Commissioner Wald stated that this is an opportunity to reach out to the community about a real event with real consequences, real impacts, and real opportunities for people to provide their input on what to do and suggested that the Committee review the Commission Outreach List at its next meeting.  Director Nutter suggested identifying key people in each area to provide feedback before it goes out to a consultant and a wider audience. This would accelerate the process and keep the costs down for the consultant process.  Commissioner Gravanis stated that there would be people that would be happy to volunteer their time to providing input, but suggested that input be gathered early in the process, whether it is the general public or smaller group of people with specific expertise in these focus areas.  Commissioner Wald stated that the America’s Cup Event Authority could be the vehicle for the early review knowing that that group would be the nucleus of the group that we would be working with in the bigger and longer-term process.

 

Public Comment 

 

Ms. Harris suggested having concrete questions ready before consulting with experts.    

 

Ms. Nunes stated that she is working on a Zero Waste Plan for San Francisco State University and inquired whether any ideas or solutions have been identified on how to implement the Zero Waste Plan for the America’s Cup.  Mr. Dmitriew stated that it is a complex endeavor, but San Francisco is fortunate that it has the best infrastructure and base for doing a Zero Waste Plan.  The Construction and Demolition Debris Ordinance specifies that any construction and demolition debris gets mixed together so it is not separated on site and has to go to a facility that is capable of processing that material and recovering a minimum of 65% of that material. The Ordinance has mandated that we identify these facilities, certify them and are comfortable that they do achieve these diversion rates. There are also excellent programs and cost incentives to contractors that get involved in separation on site so they can significantly reduce their costs. 

 

Mr. Dmitriew stated that San Francisco has the most highly developed commercial infrastructure for organics recovery and composting.  Even though this venue is complex, it will fit well into San Francisco’s well-established food-collection system.  We are not reinventing anything or identifying something new to deal with this particular volume.  The same is true of the Food Service Waste Ordinance that bans the use of Styrofoam food containers by food-service establishments in San Francisco.  It addition to that ban, it also mandates that the replacement of food-service ware items have to be either compostable or recyclable.  Most of the food vendors doing business in the city are well aware of the Ordinance requirements as well as the event organizers, so it is an achievable goal

 

Mr. Dmitriew stated that the plastics issue will be more challenging.  The Event Authority will have to agree with these requirements, and contractual language will have to be established. There is a plastic bag ban for major supermarkets and pharmacies in the city, so the notion of bringing your own bag is there, but additional education is needed. The Waste Management Plan calls for giving preference to vendors that can sell reusable bottles and bags. 

 

Mr. Davis stated that US Pure Water will be providing two refillable water stations at the Earth Day Celebration this Saturday. He stated that a lot of people that are going to these events, especially Earth Day, which is a more environmentally-conscious event, will come with their refillable bottles already.  Mr. Davis pointed out that using compostable cups may lead to a single-use because they would be harder to carry around at an event.

 

Mr. Pilpel stated that this event leads to an opportunity in coordination with non-profits to educate the public on Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) principles in addition to the reuse, reduce and repair message.   He stated that the Fats Oil and Grease (FOG) Ordinance will now require that certain types of businesses install grease removal devices.  He suggested that America’s Cup food service vendors should also install these types of grease removal devices so that trap grease is not added to the system, and food waste is sent to the green cart rather than the sewer system. 

 

The America’s Cup Sustainability Plan was continued for further discussion to the June 13, 2011 Policy Committee meeting.

 

6.   Process for Issuing Environmental Pioneer Rewards.  Sponsor:  Commissioner Johanna Wald (Discussion)

 

Commissioner Wald reported that the intent of this agenda item is to discuss if the Department of the Environment should reward environmental leaders for their commitment and performance in San Francisco and if so how.  It would be another way to connect the work that the Department and Commission are doing with real people who live in the city.  Director Nutter and Commissioner Gravanis pointed out that depending on the process, it could require a lot of staff time and funding.  Commissioner Gravanis stated that it could be a fundable budget item because someone may want to contribute to this type of event.  It would also bring visibility for people that deserve the recognition.

 

A discussion was held on the best way to incorporate this type of event into current programming instead of a stand-alone event that may not be cost-effective and involve a lot of staff time.  Director Nutter pointed out possibilities that include issuing awards annually at the Mayor’s Earth Day breakfast, the Green Business Awards in January, the newly created Blue Green Awards in June that will recognize departments that are doing well with their Climate Action Plans, or the Department’s quarterly open house to raise the profile of events at the Eco Center.  She suggested that the Department’s Outreach team consider how to connect this type of programming with the Community Insight Project in a special fall ceremony.  

Commissioner Wald stated that the process should advance our agenda and be cost-effective at the same time.  She suggested spotlighting the activities of people to their neighbors so that people understand that the work of the department is not unrelated to people like them.     

Director Nutter compared this process with the Neighborhood Empowerment Network (NEN) awards event that was held this past year that highlighted local community members who have contributed to their neighborhood by working on local projects.  She suggested partnering with NEN on a whole new green awards section. 

 

Public Comment: Mr. Pilpel stated that he supports the idea of recognizing people for their achievements, but questioned the feasibility of annual awards.  He suggested including awards as part of an existing event and additionally recognizing those that merit an award in the short term so that people are not overlooked in the interim. He cited the Urban Agriculture project as an example of a project that merits an award or some sort of publicity in the short term.  He suggested seeking the input of staff at the bi-weekly staff meetings and for the Department to inquire with its grantees on who they would like to spotlight.

 

Commissioner Wald stated that the award issued does not have to be a formal award with nominations taken. It could be an award issued on a sporadic basis and could require minimal resources.  The Department of the Environment’s webpage could periodically highlight the activities of an individual as a way for people to understand that the work that the Department does has real live utility and consequences.  Commissioner Gravanis suggested that staff present options to the Committee at a future meeting. 

 

This agenda topic was continued to the Call of the Chair.

 

7.   Global Tap Program Status Update – Staff Written Report.  Sponsor:  Commissioner Johanna Wald (Explanatory Document:  Global Tap Status Written Report)  (Informational Report and Discussion)

 

Commissioner Wald stated that written reports are a good way of doing Commission business and should be utilized more in the future.  Commissioners should provide input into the best vehicle for providing information on the topics they are interested in.   Commissioner Gravanis concurred that it is helpful to receive reports in advance of the meeting whether or not a presentation is given.  It provides an opportunity for the Commissioners to frame questions and do research.  She expressed her appreciation for the work that Ms. Kass has done on this program. 

 

Commissioner Gravanis stated that she is uncomfortable with the use of the term “Global Tap” for a Department project because it is the name of a company.  She suggested that the Public Utilities Commission and the Department of the Environment’s naming convention be the same, e.g., the Tap Water project.  She stated that SFPUC has given Global Tap credit for donating a lot of these facilities and their work with staff, but it has not named the campaign after them.  Commissioner Gravanis stated that the SFPUC website lists Global Tap’s logo there along with the Department of the Environment’s and a number of other entities that have been involved in this project.  She wants to ensure that as the program is expanded, that other potential companies and providers are given an opportunity to offer their expertise and equipment so all resources can be taken advantage of to encourage people to drink tap water.  Director Nutter offered to bring this issue to the Outreach Team to rename the campaign.  Commissioner Gravanis reported that SFPUC’s website name for this project is Drink SFWater. Commissioner Wald suggested SFTap as a possible naming convention. 

 

Commissioner Gravanis stated that she would like to raise people’s awareness of bringing their own refillable water bottles wherever they go.  She suggested moving ahead initially on a voluntary campaign to make sure that single-serve water bottles are not provided at events held on city property and then to move forward with an Ordinance in the future if warranted.  Commissioner Wald suggested that the culmination of that campaign should be at the America’s Cup event. There should be outreach to people now about bringing their own refillable bottles. Commissioner Gravanis pointed out that people attending the America’s Cup event are not only San Franciscans, but will be from all over the world.

 

Public Comment

 

Ms. Harris asked if furnishing stainless steel water bottles with the Department of the Environment’s logo at a minimal or at cost for people who come to these huge gatherings from around the world would be in the budget.  Director Nutter reported that SFWater has them and SFPUC distributes these types of bottles, but she does not think there is a large enough budget for stainless steel bottles.  She explained that the Department has traditionally spent its outreach budget on canvas bags, but water bottles could be discussed.  Director Nutter stated that the America’s Cup Event Authority or vendors should consider paying for and distributing free commemorative America’s Cup stainless steel water bottles as a way to influence people who come to the event to refill their water bottle.

 

Mr. Pilpel suggested that stainless steel water bottles should be sold at cost or for two dollars, which is what it would cost for a plastic water bottle.

 

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

 

Director Nutter highlighted policy items. She reported that the Recology landfill contract is back at the Budget and Finance Committee on Wednesday of this week. It was continued for about two months in order for the Department to look into options such as including the Port in the solid-waste process in the short or long-term. The Department has had many discussions with the Port on this topic.  Exploratory memos have been issued that included specific information about the cost of barging, which was one of the interesting topics for review; however, it was determined that there is no short-term option for Port participation into our solid waste infrastructure.  The Port is not interested in testing barging of recyclables, which we thought may be a possibility due to economics.  The idea of an integrated facility at the Port instead of Brisbane is an interesting long-term idea that is seven to ten years away.  The Department has commissioned a study to actually look at what the possibilities are regardless of the landfill contract that the Department supports and says is the best deal for San Francisco and ratepayers.  It is much cheaper than the Waste Management proposal and is better for the environment because even though the landfill is farther away, a good portion of the transportation is using rail.  Carbon emissions will be significantly less over the ten-year life of the contract.  Director Nutter will be attending the Board of Supervisors meeting on Wednesday to make sure the Supervisor’s questions are answered. 

 

Director Nutter reported that she had attended a Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCo) meeting today, and they had released a consultant’s study on solid waste management systems in the Bay Area, basically comparing what we have to other jurisdictions.  What the study confirmed is that we have a very effective system.  Our residential rates are either at or below other rates in the Bay Area, our commercial rates are on par with other Bay Area rates, and we also have one of the most comprehensive systems.  The challenge that was highlighted was that we have a very unique rate process that no other jurisdiction has.  Forty-five percent of Bay Area jurisdictions do sole-source contracting for their solid waste disposal and don’t put it out to bid.  They do have franchise fees or different types of contractual arrangements.  San Francisco is unique in the way that we have a permit system that is mandate by ordinance. There will be continued discussion about whether this is the best system for San Francisco.  The Department of the Environment has been on record saying this system works, and there is no reason to go forward with changing policies for a system that works.  There are forces at work looking at some different options for how our system is structured. She hopes that on Wednesday we can move forward with the landfill contract and have some continued discussions about the money that Recology brings to the City and the benefits from working with them.

 

Director Nutter reported that the drug disposal test project is moving forward.  A stakeholder meeting was held with the pharmaceutical industry, Supervisor Mirkarimi, and the Police Department.  A project will be launched in three to four months where there will be pharmaceutical bins at five police stations and about fifteen local pharmacies that are interested in participating.  The pharmaceutical industry has offered $110,000 to fund an 18-month pilot.  It is producer responsibility at its best.  We will be using the money to purchase the bins, pay for the disposal, as well as do the outreach for pharmaceutical disposal.  The disposal will be done by a number of companies that do the pickup and the incineration, which is the industry-accepted standard.  It is the best option to get pharmaceuticals out of our homes and water at this time.

 

Public Comment:  Ms. Harris inquired whether the project would include needles and syringes.  Director Nutter stated that the project only includes pills.

 

Director Nutter reported that cell phone implementation is on hold at this time.  Commissioner Wald reported that there has been a lot of press on cell phones that would encourage people to move ahead with the proposed legislation.  Director Nutter stated that closed door sessions have been held at the City Attorney’s Office where the City Attorney has been providing information about the legal case.  She is hoping to have a policy direction in the next week or two.

 

The Yellow Pages topic the Department is supporting went back to the Controller for review of the economic impact of restricting the blind distribution of Yellow Pages.  Mr. Pilpel reported that this agenda topic will be heard at the full Board on May 10.   

 

 

9.   Announcements. (Discussion) 

 

Director Nutter encouraged attendance at the Mayor’s Earth Day breakfast that is scheduled for Wednesday, April 20th from 8:00 to 10:00 a.m.  An RSVP should be sent to Ms. Tamar Hurwitz.  Commissioner Gravanis announced that the Planning Commission and the Treasure Island Board of Directors would be voting on the certification of the Treasure Island Environmental Impact Report on Thursday at 6:30 p.m. 

 

Public Comment:  Ms. Harris reported that President Obama would be at the San Francisco Masonic Auditorium on Wednesday, April 20 at 3:00 p.m. and encouraged people to attend to advocate for environmental causes.  She stated that there would be many activist groups there including those advocating for social security.

 

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

 

Ms. Fish announced that the next Policy Committee meeting is scheduled for May 9, 2011.  Director Nutter stated that (1) a cell phone update may be ready for the May 9 meeting; (2) the America’s Cup Sustainability Plan would be scheduled for the June 13 meeting; and (3) she would consult with Deputy Director Assmann on a presentation on battery Extended Producer Responsibility.  Commissioner Wald suggested a review of the Outreach List for the May 9th meeting.

 

Public Comment: Mr. Pilpel suggested that the Commission take up a practice of adding a forward agenda list to each Committee and Commission agenda so that the public has a sense of upcoming items.

 

11.  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. Pilpel inquired about the status of reappointments to the Commission on the Environment.  Director Nutter reported that there should be news in the next day or two.   

 

12.  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, May 9, 2011 at 5:00 p.m. in Room 421, City Hall.

 

 

Approved:  May 9, 2012

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