CITY AND COUNTY OF SAN FRANCISCO
COMMISSION ON THE ENVIRONMENT
MONDAY, JUNE 13, 2011, 5:00 P.M.
CITY HALL, ROOM 421
ONE DR. CARLTON B. GOODLETT JR. PLACE
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 5:02 p.m. Present: Commissioners Wald and Gravanis; Excused: Commissioner Prakash.
2. Approval of Minutes of the May 9, 2011 Policy Committee Regular Meeting. (Explanatory Document: May 9, 2011 Draft Minutes) (Discussion and Action) Upon Motion by Commissioner Gravanis, second by Commissioner Wald, the May 9, 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. Ms. Maria D’Agostino discussed her concerns expressed today at the Board of Supervisors City Operations and Neighborhood Services Committee meeting on the Department of Public Work’s (DPW) Sidewalk Tree Maintenance Relinquishment Plan to adjacent property owners. She stated that she spoke at that meeting as a concerned citizen and not in her capacity as Chair of the Urban Forestry Council. Ms. D’Agostino discussed her background as a certified arborist, certified municipal specialist, certified tree risk assessor, former volunteer and employee for Friends of the Urban Forest, former employee of the City and County of San Francisco Bureau of Urban Forestry, and urban forester for the City of Redwood City. Ms. D’Agostino provided examples of poor maintenance performed by private property owners and expressed her concerns with this Plan and the health and safety of our urban forest as it relates to planting, establishing, maintaining, and enhancing our urban forest canopy. Relinquishing without a proper education program and without any idea of private property owners resources to take on these responsibilities is not a good idea. The Urban Forestry Council’s Planning and Funding Committee will be discussing this topic at its June 16 meeting at 4:15 p.m. City Hall, Room 421.
4. America's Cup Event Sustainability Planning Update Sponsor: Melanie Nutter, Director; Speaker: Kelly Runyon, Senior Engineer, Environmental Science Associates (ESA) (Explanatory Document: ESA America’s Cup Sustainability Plan Status Update Presentation to Committee) (Informational Report and Discussion)
Director Nutter reported that San Francisco has been selected as the site for the next America’s Cup to be held during 2012 and 2013. The host agreement that was signed by the City last year mandated that the race emphasize resource sustainability and environmental stewardship. There are three parts of the America’s Cup environmental plan (1) the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) process that is moving forward and focuses on mitigating impacts of the America’s Cup race; (2) the event itself, which is a sustainability plan that includes visions, goals, and objectives; and (3) legacy around ocean education, which is still to be defined. The three main parties in the agreement, the Department of the Environment, the America’s Cup Event Authority (ACEA) and America’s Cup Organizing Committee (ACOC), have been working together along with many City agencies to develop a vision and plan for event sustainability.
Director Nutter introduced Mr. Kelly Runyon, ESA, the consultant who would be speaking on the sustainability planning and vision, Mr. Adam Van deWater, Mayor’s Office of Economic and Workforce Development, Mr. Peter Albert, Municipal Transportation Authority, and Ms. Jennifer Kass, lead Department of the Environment staff member on the America’s Cup. She reported that ESA was brought in to (1) benchmark the plan against many other sustainability event plans that have been created all over the world for sporting events, and (2) to take an outline that was developed in the first few months in collaboration with City agencies, the Mayor’s Office, and key stakeholders to sharpen the focus on issue areas.
Mr. Runyon reported that the America’s Cup races will take place on the bay in the area between the Golden Gate Bridge and Bay Bridges and the San Francisco waterfront, and the area between those two places will provide a great deal of visibility of the races. Presentation topics discussed:
· Venues where spectator areas will be set up and where merchandise and entertainment will be available. (Slide 2)
· The America’s Cup host city and venue agreement between the City, America’s Cup Event Authority (ACEA) (which is overseeing the structure of the entire event), and the America’s Cup Organizing Committee (ACOC), which is supporting the event. The agreement contains clear wording that this event will be emphasizing resource sustainability and environmental stewardship and defines several plans, e.g., the Sustainability Plan, the People Plan, and the Waste Management Plan. There are a number of other plans emerging and City plans, ordinances, and policies that bear on America’s Cup activities. (Slide 3)
· Recent progress. Preparatory work was done in March and April with stakeholders and City departments resulting in a draft outline that lays out the issues that were recognized as key at that time. The authorship team includes the Department of the Environment, the ACEA, ACOC, and ESA with input from several City departments. The Plan is in the process of defining and developing the issue areas that are important to the plan, e.g., climate, transportation. (Slide 4)
· Relationship to CEQA. The CEQA Draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR) document is being prepared. The Sustainability Framework document will be available to the public after the issuance of the Draft EIR. The framework will allow for the adaptability of the final Sustainability Plan to others plans such as the People Plan. The Sustainability Plan is intended to be available some time after the conclusion of the DEIR comment period. (Slide 5)
· Sustainability Framework Sections, Principles for Plan Development, and Issue Areas. (Slides 6-14)
· Hierarchy of Concepts. The structure of the Plan is linked to a hierarchy of concepts that includes a sustainability vision statement and issue areas, principles and strategies surrounding the vision statement. (Slides 15-18)
· Next Steps. (Slide 19)
Commissioner Gravanis stated that there is a lot to be resolved about the relationship between the Draft EIR and the Sustainability Plan process. All relevant City ordinances and regulations would be clearly outlined, but are non-city regulations that might be relevant to making it a sustainable event, e.g., the Marine Mammal Protection Act, the Regional Water Quality Control Board regulations, etc. become part of the consideration in this Plan? Mr. Runyon responded to the extent that the plans are made known in the process. Commissioner Gravanis stated that there is a requirement that these plans be identified in the EIR process.
Commissioner Gravanis inquired whether recommendations for sustainability measures would be made on environmental concerns that are not included in existing rules and regulations. She stated that a diagram had been presented of venues where spectator areas would be located and asked what would be done to keep people out of other areas. Mr. Runyon stated that these types of issues will either be added or could be incorporated by reference to the DEIR. In preparation of the DEIR, the Park Service has prepared drawings of proposed fencing to protect areas where there are sensitive species.
Commissioner Gravanis stated that in order to achieve a plastics-free goal, we would not want to allow people to sell single-serve water bottles. In order to do that in a fair way, we would need to provide water sources to spectator areas, e.g. jug fillers. Mr. Runyon reported that concept was in the initial outline. Director Nutter explained that the outline is an internal document of concepts that were provided to ESA.
Commissioner Wald discussed the relationship between the Sustainability Plan and the CEQA document. The CEQA document is supposed to analyze the event impacts and activities on the resources and built environment of San Francisco. If the provisions of the Sustainability Document are not addressed in the EIR, how can the EIR do a thorough job of predicting what the impacts are? If the Sustainability Plan is going to say no single-serve water bottles, but the EIR proposal does not say that there should be no single-serve water bottles, then we are not going to know what the impact of having a limitation on providing single-serve water bottles is. If you have a final CEQA document and there are provisions in the Sustainability Plan that are not included in it, how can one expect those provisions to be enforced or adopted?
Mr. Runyon responded that because the Sustainability Plan document is a plan, he doesn’t expect it to make requirements of the event. It is expected that it would lay out goals for the event and strategies for reaching them. The Sustainability Plan stands apart from the information that is flowed into the EIR process and looks at issues separately and is not intended to rely on the Sustainability Plan at all. Commissioner Wald stated that is because it was set up that way. Mr. Runyon stated that the Sustainability Plan is not intended to impose requirements on the event. It is intended to set goals and describe strategies that could improve the event from a sustainability perspective. It may happen that the Sustainability Plan suggests some methods of improving the event that become mitigations, but we are not trying to take the Plan in that direction either. It sits apart from the CEQA process. Commissioner Wald asked what its utility is then. Mr. Runyon stated that it provides an organizing structure for these principles and provides a way to check the description of the project against sustainability goals. If it’s important to incorporate something in the Sustainability Plan into the project, then interested parties can point to that and say it’s important. The Sustainability Plan is a source of comments.
Director Nutter stated we have been thinking of the Sustainability Plan as an umbrella document that pulls together all of the plans in the host agreement, e.g., the People Plan is specific to how the America’s Cup will be handling the Transportation Element and vice-versa. We have been using the Sustainability Document as a way to bring together all of those plans and tie in the sustainability elements from them. We haven’t necessarily been thinking about it as only a mitigation document. There are other elements that have been discussed that are part of a sustainability vision that are basically add-ons to making it an even greener event, even if they are not mitigating a negative impact. An example being, working with clean energy and clean tech companies in the Bay Area who may want to showcase their technologies to help reach sustainability goals, or to further carbon reductions on a particular activity, or setting up a new biofuel station that would be an additional resource. Reaching out to the clean-tech community and leveraging their resources to participate in the America’s Cup Plan would not necessarily go in the EIR but could be laid out as what our vision would be to engage that community and leverage their resources as part of the sustainability vision.
Commissioner Wald inquired whether the People Plan would be in the EIR. Mr. Peter Albert, Municipal Transportation Authority, explained that the environmental review document is supposed to scope out whatever potential impacts there are and figure out ways to mitigate them or consider them. The Sustainability Plan is really your vision. Some pieces may be environmentally significant and maybe some aren’t, but it helps do things that we may want to do. The Transportation Element is much easier to talk about because there are some things that we are really excited about with the People Plan that are not going to be potentially significant environmentally, but will make walking feel more comfortable, make bicycle connections more convenient, and bike parking secure. You don’t use a plan to talk about mitigating impacts and you don’t use an environmental document to do planning. The environmental document gives a wide range of things that we can do as a city to be sustainable in our transportation planning, to be creative, and to be convenient. Then we are safe knowing that whatever ideas we come up with are comfortably within what has been analyzed for environmental impacts. The Sustainability Plan helps point out connections. There is a Transportation Plan, a Waste Management Plan, and then there are other plans that all have relationships. This Sustainability Plan is as Director Nutter said, is an umbrella. There are things that will be focused on in the Transportation Plan such as having frequent and reliable buses or having light rail be up and running on time. There are other things that we would like to do such as encouraging the purchase of carbon offsets when people fly into San Francisco. That is not necessarily in the Transportation Plan, but is something the Sustainability Plan can address.
Commissioner Wald stated that purchasing carbon offsets applies to the environmental impact of this event. People are going to come here from all over the world. If the EIR is to do a good job, it will have to talk about the consequences of people coming from all over the world. You should look to address what can be done to address people coming from all over the world, rather than mitigate the consequences. Mr. Albert stated that environmental documents talk about what can be controlled. You can say, we have to shut this street down and make more room for bicycles, and then the City agencies will do it. Other than those suggestions, it would be difficult for us to say that no-one can come to an event unless they buy carbon offsets. Commissioner Wald stated but you could say it is a goal to have at least 10% of people who come here to purchase carbon offsets and if you achieve that goal, this would be the result. Mr. Albert stated that environmental review is limited because it reviews something called level of service, which for example is how many vehicles are moving through an intersection. That is why the Plan is so important because the environmental document by CEQA law is very narrow in what it analyzes. If we were worried about how many cars are moving through an intersection, we would never get to talk about carbon offsets or the quality of the pedestrian environment. They go hand in hand. One is doing what the law needs you to do; the other is really setting the aspirations and goals.
Commissioner Wald stated that she needs some sense of how the environmental document and plan will be related. For example, if you have a goal to reach zero waste, what is it that is going to happen to make that goal a part of that event? There should be a plan in place for doing that, a plan that this Department and maybe other departments can marshal the troops that care about these issues to use the environmental document in the review process as a way to get principles and strategies part of the plan so there are results. There is no answer right now, but it is on our radar screen that there are these different processes that need to be connected and collaborated on so ideas are not missed and we do reach the end goal of having a real plan that has impact. Director Nutter stated that there is no answer right now, but it is on our radar screen that there are these different processes that need to be connected and collaborated on so ideas are not missed and we do reach the end goal of having a real plan that has impact.
Commissioner Wald stated that for example, if it looks like they are not going to do zero waste, and the plan says and people waving the plan say, you have to change this so you can do zero waste. You have to be careful that people don’t hear that and when the EIR comes out, we are going to water down the plan so it matches the EIR. You want to make the end result match what is in the plan and lift the event to the level of the Sustainability Plan rather than the other way around.
Commissioner Gravanis stated that she appreciates that there is a difference between the mitigations that can be required by CEQA. She stated that Mr. Albert provided one example of how CEQA is very limited. Another is that CEQA doesn’t require analyzing impacts on habitat that isn’t labeled “sensitive habitat,” or it doesn’t require analyzing impacts on species that haven’t been identified as “sensitive species.” One of the things that have been talked about by the ACOC is that we want to go beyond CEQA because just doing what CEQA requires and the mitigations that will come out of the CEQA process will not be adequate to reach the level of sustainability that we all want. It is okay if the Sustainability Plan will have things in it that go beyond what is going to be in the EIR and required by the EIR. The concern is that the Sustainability Plan is not intended to impose requirements on the event, which brings up the question about how much energy should be put into something if it is not going to result in actions and will be seen by departments involved as visionary or aspirational. Ways should be identified to put some teeth into the Sustainability Plan in addition to what is in the EIR mitigations.
Ms. Jan Blum, interested party, stated that she has been following the America’s Cup event and is interested in seeing it be a sustainable event for all concerned. One of the things that many of us are trying to get our arms around are definitive timelines and organizational charts so we know who is making decisions about what. It is hard for the public. It is now June 13 and the Sustainability Plan is expected to come out in July, so there is little time for feedback or commentary. Ms. Blum stated that it would be helpful for the public to know specifically what’s coming out when, when comments are due, then what happens next. If the ACEA does not agree with the suggested sustainability practices, will they be able to not honor them? Who makes the decision about what is and not included? The complex organization is a mystery, who decides what and when? How does the City relate to the ACEA, who has the power? What is the role of the event management in decision making in terms of sustainability and practices put in place? The major concern would be that we have no teeth in making the right things happen.
Commissioner Wald inquired whether people can comment on the Draft Sustainability Plan at the same time as the publication of the Draft EIR. Director Nutter stated that people would be able to comment on the framework. An email address would be provided where comments could be submitted on the framework.
Mr. Michael Davis, U.S. Pure Water, inquired whether the outline addresses what is his main interest, restricting bottled water sales. Director Nutter reported that it does include this idea. Mr. Davis inquired whether these ideas would only be suggestions that are going to be made in regards to how the America’s Cup is going to proceed with the different issues. He reported that U.S. Pure Water just did a bottled-water free event for the Harmony Festival in Sonoma County in Santa Rosa in which nine water filling stations were provided. The success of that event was based on restricting vendors from selling bottled water. If that were not to be done, there would have been tons of single water bottles everywhere, and there were almost none. People were hydrated better than they had been at this festival than in the past because there were nine stations available to fill up with water. The festival averaged 8000 people every day, which may be smaller than America’s Cup. It was a successful event and was the first time it was done for the Harmony Festival. People were happy to get free water everywhere they went. This is part of reclaiming the commons of water, which is an important statement to make, as well as the environmental impact of restricting all of those single-use bottles that get into the landfill or get shipped to China on a container, get burned, and toxic fumes created and called recycling. How do we restrict vendors from selling bottled water? There are ways to create enough permanent and temporary stations to allow people to fill up their bottles at convenient spots so they would be better hydrated than if bottled water were to be sold. He suggested that comments be made on how this can be accomplished.
Commissioner Wald inquired whether water bottles were supplied as part of the event promotion. Mr. Davis stated that no, there were promotional bottles available to be purchased at the site, but it was encouraged in all of the promotional material handed out before the event that people bring their own reusable bottle or reusable container, and a lot of people did. Compostable cups were available for a donation of $1 per cup, and there was a big five-gallon bottle to put money in. Most of the donation money went to Women’s Earth Alliance, which is a non-profit organization that helps bring potable water to countries like Africa and India. It was in line with reclaiming the commons. It is also a good educational piece because if you have those compostable cups for people to use and they continuously grab them and throw them away, if they are paying for them, it gives them an idea about the value. Even though they are compostable they do require a lot of fossil fuels to be used to make them, and they don’t break down well in a normal compost pile.
Commissioner Wald inquired whether there is a list of souvenirs that would be sold as part of the event or if anybody could sell what they want. Commissioner Gravanis inquired who would be contracting with the vendors.
Ms. Kyri McClellan, ACOC, reported that the America’s Cup intellectual property, the rights that go with it, the t-shirts, the hats, trinkets etc. are a highly marketable and prized commodity, and the ACEA has the rights to the intellectual property. When you win the cup, you win the rights that go with it. Oracle Racing, that is sailing for the Golden Gate Yacht Club has created the ACEA, and they have the rights to create whatever merchandise they would like to sell. They are a relatively new organization as the ACOC is and are starting to put those pieces in place. The ACOC is endeavoring to introduce them to folks such as a local organic t-shirt manufacturer in San Francisco that might be able to help them produce their t-shirts so the product is not only local but also a great product. ACOC’s role is to help foster those relationships and make lots of introductions, but ultimately ACEC decides who their partners, are all with an eye towards creating revenue. Last year,
Ms. McClellan reported that last year, the City made a decision to not put General Fund resources into the event and to ultimately work with the ACOC and support the ACEA in finding corporate sponsors. It was reported that the General Fund does not have the ability to put money towards this event, so with that shifting, there is a little bit less control over some of these aspects. The ACOC is working on not only raising the funds that will be necessary, but also providing additional resources along with the Department of the Environment. That’s why we have EAF, the Planning Conservation League, Save the Bay, 11th Hour Racing, and Sailors for the Sea. Part of the ACOC’s work is to help resource venues (e.g. show-casing solar) and helping create the right partners so it can be an expo for great technology and environmental innovations. Work is being accomplished to fulfill the ACOC’s obligations to support the exceptional work that the Department of the Environment has done to kick-start this effort. ACOC is working on a constrained timeframe and would not choose to do it this way, but commitments have to be met, and it is necessary to get to the point of making a decision whether it is viable.
Ms. McClellan explained that there are decisions that have to be made at the end of the CEQA process for the City and the ACEA. If there are mitigation requirements in the environmental review document that no longer makes this feasible or possible from a timeframe perspective, the ACEA and the City has the ability to say this isn’t going to work. Work is being done to get to that decision point as quickly as possible in order to move forward with the implementation phase. At the same time, there are plans to bring folks together and have conversations about what we want this event to be in approximately 25 months from now. She appreciates the Commissioners comments and will bring them back to the ACEA.
Commissioner Gravanis inquired about the sale of souvenirs that the ACEA would be controlling and requirements for vendor permits. Who would vendors have to apply for permits from for example, to sell hot dogs in a booth on the Embarcadero?
Commissioner Gravanis asked whether the Port could add to a food vendor concessionaire permit a prohibition on selling plastic water bottles. She explained that there is no ban on plastic water bottles, but in order to make America’s Cup a sustainable event, there may be an agreement that issuing this prohibition is essential. What mechanism is available to make sure that this prohibition is added to permits?
Ms. McClellan stated that Port leases will be executed with the Event Authority. She explained that Mr. Adam Van deWater of the Office of Economic and Workforce Development is working with the Port on negotiation and execution of those leases. Commissioner Gravanis stated that she hopes that the Sustainability Plan would be the tool needed to make the Board do the right thing but is unsure if the Plan will have the power to do so and if the timing is right. Ms. McClellan stated that lease negotiations are in process now but won’t be executed until after CEQA, so decisions can’t be made until then. The timing is very close and parallel. In order for the event to be successful, CEQA needs to be finished before venue leases are put in place and construction will start.
Mr. Van deWater stated that the America’s Cup was won by the Golden Gate Yacht Club, but technically America’s Cup is not an official City project until it is cleared by CEQA. Once it is a project, permits will have to be filed with various agencies such as the Recreation and Park Department for the use of Marina Green and with the Port for the use of their piers. It may be necessary to go through the Intergovernmental Select Committee on Traffic and Transportation for control of the space around the piers. The merchandise and their real value are the trademarks, which is the event itself and selling the television rights to do that event. Then it is the merchandising, the sale of food and beverage that goes along with the estimated number of spectators. The City would love to see those vendors who sell food, beverages and logos where they are permitted on the Marina Green serve some of these spectators. They will have to be outside of that perimeter and not be on permitted land that the ACEA is using, but they could be still serving the public coming to the northeast of the City. This would require a separate Department of Public Works permit. That would be part of the economic impact and value of the City hosting the event where both parties have benefits.
Mr. Van deWater stated that persons coming to watch the event will be staying in San Francisco hotels and restaurants, which is where the City gets its value long-term. This will help improve the General Fund and is the economic benefit that a lot of people have been talking about. Commissioner Wald stated as well as the jobs that will be created.
Mr. David Pilpel (1) asked that ESA’s PowerPoint presentation be provided to the Commission Secretary for the record; (2) stated that the EIR has to be approved by the Planning Commission, and there will be other bodies that review the EIR, but who has approval authority over the Sustainability Plan? and (3) since the Commission on the Environment sets policy for the Department, the Commission could decide that it is the policy of the Commission to approve or not approve the Sustainability Plan unless it does the following. He encouraged the Commission to engage in this exercise in its power as a Commission.
Director Nutter stated that she believes there is something in the host agreement that is titled the LEED plan, which is the Sustainability Plan. Director Nutter stated that the host agreement includes a LEED plan, which is essentially the same as the Sustainability Plan. It is the ACEA that has the responsibility for executing the Plan. She inquired with Mr. Van deWater if there is a process for approval of the plan. Mr. Van deWater stated that the host event agreement calls for nine different plans, e.g., the People Plan, LEED Plan, Waste Management and Zero Waste Plan, Security Plan, Advertising Plan, Marketing Plan, and there are two additional plans that have been recognized that are important to this conversation (1) the Public Access Management or Parks Plan relationship with the Golden Gate National Recreation Area (GGNRA) and National Park Service (NPS) for managing spectator volume; and (2) the Sustainability Plan, which is not specifically called for in the host venue agreement but was recognized early on to oversee the entire plan. Per the host venue agreement, there would be a LEED Plan, Waste Management Plan, and People Plan all of which have sustainability elements to them, but we would not have a Sustainability Plan. In order to live up to the commitment to be a zero waste sustainable event, a Sustainability Plan is being created that will address issues such as what is carbon neutral and how far do we cast that net, what do we mean in terms of waste diversion or reduction, what are we doing for the use of power both at the spectator areas and water, and how are we unifying all of this into one plan. In conversations with the Department of the Environment, the Event Authority, the Office of Economic Workforce Development, and others, it was decided that the Sustainability Plan will create that framework to help Ms. McClellan go to the marketplace to help fundraise for the City from a sustainability perspective and to help demonstrate that commitment to holding a sustainable event. The Sustainability Plan will be developed between the Department of the Environment and the Event Authority as part of this working group under the schedule that Ms. McClellan raised by which we have the white paper of what is required by local, state, and federal law and what we would like to see, such as refillable water stations, which is on the list. ESA was brought in as a technical consultant to make specific recommendations and fine tune suggestions.
Mr. Van deWater reported that a detailed Sustainability Plan outline will be published in the next couple of weeks, and then a Draft EIR issued in late June early July. There will be a timeframe for the comments and response period. There won’t be the educational benefit of the comments and response period for the outline, but EIR comments can be included in the Sustainability Plan going forward.
Director Nutter stated that because what we are envisioning will be included in the Sustainability Plan on the building requirements specifically, it is possible that we could fulfill our commitments to the LEED plan by doing the Sustainability Plan. Commissioner Wald asked who would approve the Sustainability Plan. Is it the negotiation between the ACEA, Department of the Environment, and the ACOC? Who is the decider on the EIR? Mr. Van deWater responded the Planning Commission and the Board of Supervisors. Commissioner Wald inquired whether the ACEA and ACOC will be influential voices in the decisions. Mr. Van deWater stated that he believes it will be jointly approved by the ACEA and the City through the Department of the Environment. Commissioner Wald asked whether it would be approved in a public venue. Mr. Van deWater stated that a series of public meetings will be held to solicit feedback on the Sustainability Plan.
Mr. Van deWater stated that the host venue agreement for the preliminary draft of the People Plan required it to be issued on March 31st. This was one of the first five plans to be issued. Subsequently, a progress report was issued based on the 35 public stakeholder meetings held in that intervening time and on comments received by email, in-person and in other meetings. Mr. Peter Albert is spearheading this effort and talking with regional transportation providers on impacts. Mr. Albert is working with the MTA on cost estimates and further refining those details. Three progress reports will be issued based on that preliminary draft over the next several months. The host venue agreement requires that the People Plan be delivered to the ACEA by December 30. The goal is to have three progress reports and the preliminary draft of the People Plan in the public realm with comments, responses, and actions to take, cost estimates, implementation strategies and deliver the Plan in early September for approval by September 30. A similar strategy is being thought about for the Sustainability Plan, where you have the EIR process, invite feedback on the plan, and continue to refine it from there.
Commissioner Wald suggested that the Commission on the Environment approve the Sustainability Plan since it is within its purview and expertise in order to give it a green seal of approval at a public hearing. Mr. Van deWater stated that would be up to Director Nutter. He reported that the ACEA is looking to host an athletic event within their expertise, which is sailing. They want to hold this event in San Francisco. The City has to permit that use so they have to go through a series of conditions largely codified in the event and host venue agreement. In addition, they have to apply for various permits and leases. The ACEA will meet the letter of local, state, and federal laws and all of its requirements. The ACEA also wants this to be a green event and it is in their best interest in terms of marketing, sponsorship and everything else to have a green event, and they are committed to that. Having a green event sometimes comes with a cost so they are not going to do everything they are asked to do. The City perspective is to identify how to have a successful event that will fulfill the City’s cultural interests and provide economic benefits in a sustainable manner.
Ms. Lorraine Palmer, Sea Scavenger Conservancy, reported that Sea Scavenger Conservancy is a non-profit project that focuses on the cleanup of ocean plastics. She asked if it is possible to indicate within these individual plans which line items or concepts in those plans are governed by the EIR and which ones are more aspirational. This would be a way to focus on items that may not be required in the mitigation, but may be important to advocate for. At what point do we know that the Sustainability Plan is not a part of the host agreement yet? Will the Sustainability Plan be adopted as part of a contractual item?
Mr. Adam Van deWater reported that the host venue agreement has been the guiding document ever since it was signed and has been agreed to by all of the three parties in this agreement, the City, ACOC, and ACEA. That is not to say that it can’t evolve. We are here to say that the very concept of sustainability shows its evolution. Going back to amend it could take one or two actions. Increases to the financial obligations of the City would have to go through the Board of Supervisors since they adopted it as the City’s level of commitment. If the activity defines it in a way that does not increase the City’s financial exposure, it could be those three signatory parties that could make those amendments. The premise that has been operated under so far is that the Sustainability Plan clarifies commitments already made in the host and venue agreement, the LEED Plan, the Waste Management Plan, and the general commitments to make this a sustainable zero waste event. This Plan is our visionary framework and document for realizing those commitments. If we reach a point where we are proposing things that are reasonable and are conditions for the event to happen in San Francisco, and the ACEA indicates it won’t do anything more than the basic letter of the law, a contractual amendment could be thought about. Right now we are operating under the shared purpose that we are creating something that is in their best interests and that of the City and we are working collaboratively to come up with solutions that will allow us to make this a green and sustainable event without making it cost prohibitive to them.
Mr. Van deWater stated that Director Nutter has had innovative ideas toward this end that would be low cost to the ACEA and would be high value to the City and the environment. Commissioner Wald stated that it is not presumed that you would change your relationship to the various bodies. Is it true that the additional commitments would be put in writing? For example, if the parties decide they are going to have fuel cells on Marina Green, aren’t they going to put that in writing so no-one that goes to the event finds old engines being used. Mr. Van deWater stated that we need to connect the vision to the implementation. Previous tenants of Marina Green have requested a greener technology for their events. In years past, the company that sets up special events for the Opera or a corporate function has not known of a vendor that will supply the power requirements without using diesel generators. Maybe that has changed and we can ask one of these tech companies to emphasize their product at the event. What we don’t want to do is say to the ACEA that you have to have green power on the Marina Green as a condition for hosting the event when there is no supplier available.
Commissioner Wald stated that if everybody agrees that there is a vendor and if everybody agrees that using that vendor is a good thing, it could be part of the contract between the parties. Director Nutter stated it could be part of some agreement. Commissioner Wald stated that if you show up during the event and if they are not using the vendor that everyone said should be used you could point to the document that says the vendor that wouldn’t use diesel generators was supposed to be used. She stated she does not know when and how this will happen or in what document.
Ms. Palmer stated there is a law that requires zero discharge of marine debris. She hasn’t seen that requirement in any plans yet or does not know if it is being addressed. She stated that when she looks at these plans, she wants to know what is being required by the EIR, where it is being addressed, and if it’s optional, why. She wants to know what is governing it. Commissioner Wald stated that it sounds like it will be in the EIR because it part of a law, policy, or regulation. Commissioner Wald stated that EIR will be useful for allowing us to walk between what is required and what isn’t. Ms. Palmer stated it will clearly distinguish what is required and aspirational.
Mr. Stephen Krefting, former Environment Commissioner, representing the Presidio Environmental Council, San Francisco League of Conservation Voters, and participant in the Council of Environmental Organizations working on the America’s Cup. He stated that he sometimes wishes that San Francisco was more like New York in that while our city limits go past Treasure Island, go up to Red Rock, and take in a slither of Angel Island, we don’t control Sausalito, Oakland, or Alameda. How do we know that financial remediation will be provided to the National Park Service and Golden Gate National Recreation Area for significant impacts on their land? Are they going to be making any money off of the sites that will be used for the event? There are legal limits to the jurisdiction of the Commission on the Environment, but we need to keep in mind throughout all of these discussions, ways to fund what is necessary all around the bay in terms of protecting the environment. You don’t want vendors in Sausalito to hand out plastic bags to shoppers or plastic bottles to float in the bay. You have to identify a way to make agreements with other entities to share common rules about how these things are done and to see if the transportation agencies will talk to each other and coordinate in a good fashion. There is great potential in the use of Golden Gate Transit that has been untapped for many years and in legacy improvements to transportation, in particular to the Presidio. The money needs to go to other communities as well.
Commissioner Wald inquired whether the City is coordinating with other entities. Director Nutter stated that our Department is not doing so yet. A discussion has been held about having a network of sustainability directors in the Bay Area who meet on a regular basis and using that platform to talk about what activities in San Francisco can be exported to other cities. We don’t have control over other jurisdictions, but we can share best practices and thinking around sustainability, which we plan to do.
Mr. Albert stated that one of the legacies we hope to leave with the America’s Cup is the way the region and San Francisco work together. The second regional transportation provider’s meeting that focuses on how well we are all cooperating with the America’s Cup will be held tomorrow. He reported that the Executive Director of the Municipal Transportation Commission pointed out that America’s Cup is a Bay Area event, not a San Francisco event and makes a great impact on transportation. What is interesting is how much support we are getting from the regional transportation providers, not just BART, CalTrain, Golden Gate Transit, but also CalTrans and the Municipal Transportation Commission. Some ideas you will be seeing shortly is the Clipper Card being extended universally so it is an unlimited or extended Clipper Card and is invisible whether you are on a bus, ferry, or BART. Work is in progress to extend that to bike sharing. There is interest in innovative ideas that are happening in the region. Golden Gate Transit is limited in the way it can serve San Francisco. It can pick up people in Marin and drop them off in San Francisco, but can’t pick up people in San Francisco and drop them off in San Francisco. Because this is an extraordinary event, we are getting agreements and support for pioneering Golden Gate Transit as another transit vehicle on the street and to allow for the use of the Clipper Card to help people move from one part of Van Ness Avenue to another. If this were a permanent transportation plan there might be more anxiety, but because people recognize how extraordinary this event is and if this idea did not work out, we could say we gave it a good try and would give us more comfort and flexibility in pioneering these agreements between the region and the City. We will be seeing a lot of these ideas come in from the public.
Mr. Albert stated that at the end of June, there will be a second progress report where it is hoped to make clear what agreements were worked out with the regional transportation providers. It is hoped that will be a good example for the Sustainability Plan. The agreements that have been worked out between the City and the region through the People Plan will be a mini legacy for the long term legacy of all plans working together.
Commissioner Gravanis inquired that if the Department of the Environment and the ACEA agree that the Sustainability Plan will call for no releases of helium balloons for example, are the people in Marin County going to feel like they need to pay attention to that agreement? She stated that she would like to see early negotiations and discussions and communication to make sure that nobody in Marin County or Oakland are going to say, who does the Department of the Environment think they are, to be the one city involved in the Sustainability Plan and then tell us what to do.
Mr. Van deWater stated that Mr. Albert has been coordinating the People Plan with all the transportation providers and other cities. Similar efforts have been done with the Security Plan to engage the region in terms of their local police and sheriff’s departments, the marine units, Highway Patrol, FBI, Secret Service, etc. Similarly a general cast was done for involvement of all local governments. There has been outreach to city managers and planning commissioners from the north, east and south bays. This has not been accomplished yet with the Sustainability Plan but has been on other plans developed, e.g. the People and Security Plans. Since this event is in San Francisco Bay, it will have regional impacts.
Ms. Lurilla Harris inquired about the entity responsible for handling the security. Mr. Van deWater reported that the Deputy Chief of Operations will be coordinating with various law enforcement agencies throughout the region, country and state. It will be a large effort for the local police, the regional highway patrol, and possibly will require federal involvement.
Ms. Jan Blum inquired whether there would be coordination with the Park Service. Mr. Van deWater concurred. There would be shared manpower between the park police, California, state and federal agencies. Discussions have been held about having volunteer traffic control, so the law enforcement can do law enforcement and not just pointing people in the right direction. The Chief of Operations has been holding regular briefings and working on getting all hands on deck in order to have a coordinated effort.
Mr. Pilpel suggested that the next time America’s Cup is brought back to the Commission, that the Plan should be tied in better with specific smaller actions, not the EIR approval and mitigations, but the DPW and Recreation and Park Department permits. That is where the details will come out.
Commissioner Wald inquired whether the Draft Sustainability Plan will be available by the next Policy Committee meeting on July 11. Director Nutter reported that a framework document should be available soon. Commissioner Wald inquired whether public hearings would be held. Director Nutter stated that a discussion should be held on the process between the three parties. The discussion of the Sustainability Planning framework was continued to the July 11 Policy Committee meeting.
5. Commission Outreach List Project Update. (Continued from the May 9, 2011 Meeting) Sponsor: Commissioners Wald and Gravanis; Monica Fish, Commission Secretary (Explanatory Document: Memo to Policy Committee and Commission Outreach Draft List) (Informational Report and Discussion)
This agenda item was continued to the July 11, 2011 Meeting.
6. Director’s Report and Updates. Speaker: Melanie Nutter, Director (Informational Report and Discussion)
Director Nutter reported that she had attended a C40 Climate Summit in Sao Paulo Brazil last week. There were fifty-seven cities from around the world talking about sustainability efforts in their cities. She presented on the City’s Zero Waste and received a phenomenal response from people congratulating San Francisco on their great work and how we are leading the way internationally. Ms. Partin was also in attendance presenting on Green Taxis. Announcements were made that (1) the World Bank would be participating in and supporting cities in their sustainability plans; and (2) ICLEI would be coming out with a tool for all cities to track their carbon.
Director Nutter announced that an Ordinance was filed to repeal the 1932 Ordinance that governs our current waste system. In the name of competitive billing, it would split up Recology’s current control over the system, which has helped us get to our 77% diversion rate. The City Attorney is reviewing the Ordinance, and information is being prepared about what the effect will be on our zero waste system.
Director Nutter introduced Department of Public Works Director Ed Reiskin to discuss an issue that Commissioners have expressed an interest in about a proposal related to management of street trees. Ms. Hui, Urban Forestry Council Coordinator, is in attendance to speak on this issue.
Mr. Reiskin, Director, Department of the Public Works (DPW) stated that DPW is responsible under the Urban Forestry Ordinance, which is part of the Public Works Code, for management and stewardship of the City’s urban forest. Staff are dedicated and committed to this effort and understand the importance of a very healthy and strong urban forest. The way the urban forest is managed right now from a maintenance perspective is that there are about 90,000 street trees in San Francisco, about 2/3 of which are the maintenance responsibility of private property owners. The other 1/3 are maintained by the government. There are reasons for why the majority is maintained by private property owners and others by the government, but it does not explain the situation. DPW right now has 11 arborists maintaining approximately 30,000 trees. With the current staffing, there is ability to trim trees on an average of every 10 – 12 years. The industry standard for maintaining trees would require maintenance every three to five years. There is less than half the capacity to adequately maintain those 30,000 trees. He discussed budget cuts that DPW has had to face in every aspect of its operation. There are now only 11 people to maintain those 30,000 trees which is not adequate or responsible. The fact that most are maintained by private property owners is also not an equitable provision of government service.
Mr. Reiskin stated that he is proposing under his authority under the Public Works Code to relinquish responsibility of those trees to private property owners. The Urban Forestry Ordinance lays out a procedure by which that can happen which includes the government making sure that the trees are in good condition before they are relinquished. There are noticing requirements, opportunities for a public hearing for each and any individual who requests one to review the decision of the government to relinquish. Because of the requirement to get the trees in good condition before relinquishment, it is projected that it would take DPW seven years to relinquish on the order of 24,000 street trees, which may be an ambitious target. It is proposed that the process is started to return the 1/3 or a portion of the 1/3 of trees back to the private property owners so they would be maintaining trees just as the other two thirds of those that have street trees in front of their houses.
The Mayor’s proposed budget in this fiscal year requires an additional DPW budget reduction for street trees. The 11 arborist will be reduced to 7 that are responsible for maintaining these 30,000 trees, but even without a budget cut, the trees cannot be maintained adequately. There are concerns about how well private property owners maintain their trees and is a matter of debate. DPW maintains that it maintains trees better even in its diminished capacity than private property owners. Currently, 2/3s are being maintained by private property owners, so a radical shift is not being made. A better long-term strategy is being seen for the City to have the funds to maintain the entire urban forest and all of the 90,000 street trees. There are ways that other cities have approached this through a landscape assessment district. The City of Oakland has one for part of their urban forest, and other cities have them. To have a dedicated funding source to properly, consistently and professionally maintain all of the street trees would be DPW’s recommendation and preference in the long-term. Until that happens, DPW is trying to bring the amount of street tree assets more in line with the resources available to maintain them. Mr. Reiskin stated that he requested the hearing on this topic at the City Operations and Neighborhood Services earlier today and the issue will probably be discussed at DPW’s budget hearing next Monday.
Commissioner Gravanis inquired whether any of these trees that would be relinquished are ones that were planted under the FACE or the RAP program in the 1960’s and 70’s. Mr. Reiskin reported he does not know the details of those programs, but a lot of the trees are in current or former redevelopment areas, which is one of the reasons they came into the City’s responsibility. Commissioner Gravanis stated that many of these trees were planted without the permission of the property owner, which is a different situation than the trees that were planted through Friends of the Urban Forest or other programs where the property is involved in the decision. She asked how to deal with the surprise by private property owners. How does the fine for chopping down a tree without a permit compare to the annual cost of maintaining a street tree? It may be that a lot of people would remove a tree in order to avoid the cost of maintenance or the liability of someone tripping over the sidewalk if the tree caused a lot of root damage. Mr. Reiskin stated that he believes the fine for illegal removal starts at $1400. Annual maintenance costs vary quite a bit. DPW has been encouraging in recent years planting lower-maintenance trees particularly in terms of how they break up the sidewalk. Generally, the costs are not onerous. It will be more difficult for those of lower income than for others. Right now property owners are responsible for maintenance of sidewalks. This issue was raised by the City a couple of years ago at which point the City was saying that if you don’t want to maintain the tree, come and get a removal permit. That is certainly not a policy that DPW is supportive of or that is consistent with a number of City plans, e.g., the Better Streets Plan. Generally, the removal of a healthy tree would not be permitted.
Commissioner Gravanis asked if DPW would be dealing with all of the paperwork, such as 3R reports in terms of people purchasing a home with a tree in front of it, to make sure that they will know that they will be assuming maintenance responsibility of that tree. Mr. Reiskin stated that right now everybody is responsible for their sidewalk and most people are responsible if there is a tree in front of it. He is unsure how that flows through the real estate process. Commissioner Gravanis stated you would not want to take the risk of surprising people. She stated that the Policy Committee had a discussion about work stalling on the Urban Forest Plan and the idea that if we don’t have money to do the whole plan and focus on street tree maintenance, to give consideration to a landscape assessment district by which private property owners would be able to pay into a fund that would result in a lot less cost per tree because of the economy of scale, and the ability of a professional landscape company that would be able to do a whole block at once. It was hoped that would be picked up by the Urban Forestry Council or DPW. Isn’t it conceivable to put that in the books within the seven years to focus attention on first? Mr. Reiskin stated that these discussions have been held and research held on steps that would be required, and even laying out a timeline. Support would be needed from elected officials and the Board because it will require their approval. He spoke in support of this program but stated that it would take time to accomplish. There has not been that much interest in making this happen because of the current economy. If the economy were to rebound, it might be a good time to advance it.
Commissioner Wald stated that it would make more sense to consider this type of program before trees are relinquished so you wouldn’t have to take them back at a future time. Consider which trees might be more appropriate to give up, such as ones that are unsuitable for the places they are located, and then have a conversation with a landowner about a more targeted program that would be consistent with the kind of program you would like to have and goals for those programs. Where is the impetus for the landscape assessment district going to come once you announce that trees will be relinquished? Mr. Reiskin stated that people think that if the government is maintaining my tree now for free, they would certainly be less inclined to support an assessment district. As trees will be relinquished, there will be more people who would stand to benefit. He is unsure how trees can be relinquished strategically so that it works better in the future. DPW would have to get the trees in good shape to relinquish. Even for the trees that are not well suited to the environment, there is reluctance to encourage people to cut them down if they are healthy. Unless the tree is causing a safety hazard, causing significant property damage or has space constraints that can’t be addressed, an application to remove a tree that is otherwise healthy will be rejected.
Ms. Mei Ling Hui, Urban Forestry Council Coordinator distributed DPW Tree Plan Fact Sheets. She discussed the concerns expressed at the Board of Supervisors Committee meeting today on the plan. Most of the public spoke against the plan and noted costs, tree size, sidewalk and tree maintenance concerns. Commissioner Wald asked in the case when the property owner is not responsible for the tree, would they not be responsible for the sidewalk? Mr. Reiskin stated that a private property owner is not responsible for damage to the sidewalk caused by the tree if it’s a city-maintained tree. If a sidewalk is cracked and it is not related to the tree, then it is the property owner’s responsibility. If a tree is breaking up or lifting a sidewalk, that is the City’s responsibility if it is a City-maintained tree.
7. Announcements. (Discussion) This agenda topic was not discussed at this time.
8. New Business/Future Agenda Items. (Discussion) Future agenda items discussed for the July 11 meeting included (1) review of the Outreach List; (2) Sustainability Framework for the America’s Cup; and (3) Balloon Ordinance update. Agenda item requests discussed for the August meeting included (1) factual data on the Bag Ordinance, (2) Commission on the Environment Retreat follow-up; and (3) Recreation and Open Space Element of the General Plan. Director Nutter stated that there is a case pending at the state level that is supposed to be resolved in September that may direct the timing on the bag issue. This case would dictate how much money a City would have to invest in CEQA review of a bag ban or additions to a bag ordinance. Commissioner Gravanis reported that the Bird-safe Building Guidelines would be coming to the Planning Commission soon and pointed out that the Commission was not able to weigh in on it because the Commission was advised that it was not allowed to talk about window treatments for saving birds. It was suggested that one or two Policy Committee meetings be devoted to Charter provision interpretations.
Public Comment: Mr. Pilpel stated that he attended a briefing of SFMade which is an organization that promotes local manufacturing. He suggested that this type of discussion be incorporated into the Sustainability Plan and all activities within the Department. He suggested a discussion on the Commission’s policy goals, which was on the Retreat agenda but not discussed.
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 7:20 p.m.
Respectfully submitted by,
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, July 11, 2011at 5:00 p.m. in Room 421, City Hall.
** Copies of explanatory documents are available at (1) the Commission’s office, 11 Grove Street, San Francisco, California between the hours of 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., (2) on the Policy Committee’s website https://sites.google.com/a/sfenvironment.org/commission/policy-committee with each set of minutes, or (3) upon request to the Commission Secretary at telephone number 415-355-3709, or via e-mail at [email protected].
Approved: August 8, 2011
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