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11.14 Approved Minutes







MONDAY, NOVEMBER 14, 2011, 5:00 P.M.






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



1.    Call to Order and Roll Call.  The Commission on the Environment Policy Committee meeting convened at 5:05 p.m.  Present:  Commissioners Wald and Gravanis; Excused:  Commissioner Prakash.


2.   Approval of Minutes of the October 24, 2011Policy Committee Regular Meeting. (Explanatory Document: October 24, 2011 Draft and Approved Minutes) (Discussion and Action)  Upon Motion by Commissioner Gravanis, second by Commissioner Wald, the October 24, 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. Lauren Spalter, San Francisco State University student, suggested implementing city, state, and national community service as a way to raise public awareness and to protect and restore the environment in a system similar to jury duty whereby there would be a requirement for five hours of community service a year as a civic duty. 


Committee Members and Deputy Director Assmann provided their input into new programs, educational campaigns and existing environmental projects that could potentially be tied into this concept.  Director Nutter reported that the Department is in the process of hiring a Department Grassroots Outreach Coordinator with the focus of integrating the EnvironmentNow team with volunteer efforts and amplifying work in the community. 


Ms. Kelsey Wilson, San Francisco State University student, discussed the success of the plastic bag ban in reducing plastic litter and in educating the public about reducing consumption of items that damage the environment.  She discussed the false advertising around many plastic products that are labeled as degradable and the impact of these products to marine animals and the environment.  She suggested that additional efforts be made to further educate the public about the environmental impacts of the materials they consume and correct the misperceived idea of what degradability means for products that are labeled as such.    


Mr. David Pilpel suggested publicizing and discouraging the use of certain chemicals that may cause problems in the environment and public works process.  He stated that this effort is an opportunity for a partnership between Toxics Reduction and Public Utilities Commission staff.  In reference to community service, Mr. Pilpel suggested that the Department’s volunteer coordinator organize a supervised service-credit oriented volunteer program. 


4.   State Legislative Updates on Zero Waste Legislation.  Sponsor:  Melanie Nutter, Director; Staff Speakers:  Guillermo Rodriguez and Jack Macy, Commercial Zero Waste Coordinator (Informational Report and Discussion)


Mr. Jack Macy reported on California legislation that has recently passed:

·         SB567 Truthful Environmental Advertising in Plastics expands the scope of current plastic labeling requirements from bags and food containers to all plastic products. Commissioner Wald asked that this information be included in the Department and Commission’s Annual Report.


·         AB341, Solid Waste Diversion.  Mandates recycling for multi-family buildings four-units or more and would require commercial recycling.  This program has been implemented in San Francisco, but is now mandatory in California.  CalRecycle is in charge of identifying a plan on how the state is going to reach 75% solid waste diversion.  It extends the state’s goal from 50 to 75% diversion and shifts responsibility from local governments to Cal Recycle.  Director Nutter stated that she participated in a press conference today with the Department, environmental groups, and labor to discuss a report that was issued stating that if the nation were recycling and composting at a 75% diversion rate, 1.5 million jobs would be created.  The report states that the bill is good not only for the environment, but for the economy and recycling.


·         AB1149, California Beverage Container and Recycling and Litter Reduction Act.  This bill extended a sunsetting bill to help facilitate more regional Plastic Market Development programs. This bill authorizes CalRecycle to invest 50% of the savings from PET processing into helping channel resources to plastic markets.  


Mr. Macy reported that the Board of Supervisors Neighborhood Services and Operations Committee at its November 14 meeting approved extending the plastic bag ban to all retailers in the city.  Certified compostable and plastic labeled properly will be allowed.  Commissioner Wald suggested that a report be issued on the economic impact of the plastic bag ban.  Mr. Macy discussed local jobs that have been created by companies that reuse old scrap cloth by making them into canvas bags.


Commissioner Wald inquired whether the Department was receiving support and coordination from environmental groups in order to maximize the success of bills.  Mr. Macy discussed the support and compelling data that was put together by a coalition of groups on the food-ware ban that led to its success and continued support the Department is receiving.  Commissioner Gravanis suggested that the Department submit articles to groups such as the Sierra Club and San Francisco Tomorrow who are always looking to publicize this type of information. 


Mr. Guillermo Rodriguez discussed successful tactics that the Department utilizes and resources at its disposal in order to advance legislation through the Mayor, lobbyists in Sacramento and Washington, and within the City family.  Commissioner Wald suggested that the Department also reach out to members of the Commission to gather support, and through Commission members, their networks.


Public Comment:


Ms. Ashley Pellouchond introduced herself as a third-year law student and bar-certified student clinician in the Environmental Law and Justice Clinic. She inquired about the legality and enforcement for false advertising of plastics claiming to be 100% biodegradable.  Mr. Macy stated that a product has to be compostable in order to be biodegradable and discussed concerns in the area of cutlery that is oftentimes labeled as degradable when it is not compostable.  Ms. Pellouchond inquired whether these companies can be sued for false advertising.  Mr. Macy stated that he would like the Attorney General to enforce the truth in advertising legislation.  Commissioner Wald suggested that a Department contact person be established to take calls about companies who are not in compliance.     


Mr. David Pilpel suggested that the green business program be brought into this effort to educate businesses about their business practices and proper food disposal methods.  He suggested that businesses work with manufacturers and distributors about the types of products they should be selling. 


5.   Update on Draft Balloon Release Ordinance and Next Steps. (Explanatory Documents:  Commission 2000 Resolution, Board of Supervisors Draft Ordinance and Master Report File 002105) Sponsor:  Commissioner Gravanis; Staff Speaker:  Guillermo Rodriguez (Informational Report and Discussion)


Mr. Guillermo Rodriguez reported that the Commission on the Environment passed a Resolution eleven years ago urging the Board of Supervisors to pass an Ordinance prohibiting the mass release of balloons.  From a review of historical records, the Ordinance did not advance further than being originally introduced and assigned to Committee.  Deputy Director Assmann reported that there was no opposition to the content of the Board legislation at that time, but that it did not progress because Supervisor Katz had left the Board. 


 Mr. Rodriguez reported on legislation that exists in the Police Municipal Code prohibiting the mass release of balloons for advertising purposes without a permit, but explained that most people are unaware of this prohibition.  He discussed the public opposition to the illegal release of balloons as part of an advertisement stunt early in March at the Moscone Center.  There was no permit obtained from the Police Department, and a fine could have been issued, or the District Attorney could have taken action. The result was bad press that caused the company that was hired to be liable for a lot of damages and cleanup costs.  


Mr. Rodriguez reported that initial staff discussion about next steps would be to work with the Port in anticipation of the America’s Cup and Opening Day celebrations to draft language to add to their lease agreements indicating express prohibition of mass release of balloons during the event.  Another idea is to cite the current Police Code prohibition and add it into City department lease agreements and permits where mass balloon releases could be expected.


Committee Members discussed adding prohibitions into America’s Cup vendor agreements and leases and implementing an educational and outreach campaign directed to the general public and organizations about balloon release permitting requirements and the dangers balloons cause to our oceans and sea-life. Commissioner Gravanis expressed her interest in seeing the lease and vendor agreements to identify who would be accountable, how enforcement would be handled, and penalties that would be issued.  Commissioners discussed methods that could be used to ensure that vendors are not selling balloons at the America’s Cup event.   It was suggested that PG&E and other utility companies be contacted to gather their support since Mylar balloons can get caught in power lines and cause outages.  Mr. Rodriguez reported that it is a state infraction to intentionally release a Mylar balloon. 


Commissioner Gravanis spoke in favor of the proposed draft language that information should be made available to the renter of helium tanks and purchaser of helium-filled balloons at the time of sale, but is concerned with language that prohibits only mass releases, defined as more than 9 in a 24-hour period, and how that would be enforced.  She suggested changing the language to no intentional release of balloons.  Commissioner Wald stated that there is a need for enforcement in order for people to pay attention.


Director Nutter proposed legislation similar to pharmaceutical drug disposal legislation that mandates drug stores provide information on where to bring pharmaceuticals back.  She suggested that there be outreach and education around the requirement for a permit that could be made available through retailers of the product at the point of sale.   Commissioner Wald suggested identifying companies that rent or sell helium balloons and try a voluntary approach first before considering a mandatory approach.   Commissioner Gravanis pointed out that if someone was unaware of the permit requirement, and a violation was issued by the police, they could go to the merchant and ask why they weren’t informed.  Deputy Director Assmann suggested that the Board of Supervisors pass legislation directed to all Commissions.  Mr. Rodriguez and Mr. Pilpel explained that some Commissions have exclusive jurisdiction over their property, and the Board cannot influence their leases.  Director Nutter suggested a Mayor’s Directive. 


 Mr. Rodriguez was asked to provide input on next steps at future Policy Committee meetings. 


Public Comment: 


Mr. David Pilpel concurred with revising the draft Ordinance language to state intentional release of balloons and providing balloon-permitting information at the point of sale, but expressed his concern with the possibility of first amendment violations, as you cannot force merchants to participate if they choose not to.  He suggested adding a requirement into city leases and agreements such as short and long-term real estate and Recreation and Park Department rental agreements and working with the Bay Area Air Quality Management District, Bay Conservation and Development Commission, and Coastal Commission on policy development.  Mr. Pilpel reported that the Port Commission agenda and informational report on America’s Cup project approvals does not reference the Department or the Commission as having project approval authority and suggested that the Commission provide input into the plans even if formal approval is not required.  Director Nutter reported that the Port is the designated approval commission for the America’s Cup event, and that only commissions named in the Host Agreement are required to provide approvals on specific plans. 


Ms. Ashley Pellouchond stated that the intent requirement of releasing balloons is problematic and suggested fining anyone who releases balloons even if it is an accident.        


6.   Commission Outreach List Project Update. (Continued from the October 24, 2011 Meeting) Sponsors: Commissioners Wald and Gravanis; Speaker:  David Assmann, Deputy Director (Informational Report and Discussion)


Deputy Director Assmann reported that an update would be provided to the Committee once the Department’s Outreach team is in place and a strategy developed.   Director Nutter reported that an announcement will be made shortly about the hiring of a 5644 Outreach Manager.  It was suggested that this agenda item be tentatively continued to the February 13, 2012 Policy Committee meeting.


7.   Committee Suggestions for the Commission on the Environment 2011 Annual Report Content for recommendation to the Commission on the Environment. (Continued from the October 24, 2011 meeting) (Explanatory Document:  Commission 2011 Annual Report Draft) (Discussion and Action)


Committee Members discussed actions that were taken by the Commission in formats other than Resolutions and suggested a future discussion be held on whether to use the Resolution format as a mechanism to adopt important policy statements and approvals such as budgets and the Department’s Strategic Plan.  Suggestions were provided in order to make changes to the organization and content of the report.  Director Nutter reported that plans are to prepare a mid-year Strategic Plan and hold a review next spring in conjunction with the fiscal year.  She stated that it would be a policy decision for the Commission to decide whether it wants to do a fiscal or calendar year Annual Report. 


Commissioner Gravanis inquired whether the Commission Operations Committee has the authority to issue approvals and asked for a future discussion about Commission and Committee approval procedures.  Deputy Director Assmann reported that it was necessary for the Operations Committee to approve grant applications this year due to timing required for approvals.  


Ms. Fish reported that the Annual Report is submitted to the Board of Supervisors and Mayor and is part of the Department’s Annual Report and Efficiency Plan, which is posted on the Department of the Environment’s website.   Committee members suggested that the Commission review the organization and content of the Annual Report at its November 22, 2011 meeting. A Draft of the Report would be reviewed by the Policy Committee at its December 12, 2011 meeting and would be brought back to the Commission for approval at its January 24, 2011 meeting unless a decision is made to change the report to a fiscal-year format.     


Public Comment:  Mr. David Pilpel reported that the Charter requirement is not specific as to whether the Commission’s Annual report should be a calendar or fiscal-year report.  He suggested a proposed schedule for review of the Annual Report by the Commission and its Committees, including more dialogue about Commission actions and priorities, and plans/challenges for 2012.  


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


Director Nutter reported on conferences and press events that she recently attended and recent legislative activity at the Board of Supervisors.  Commissioner Wald asked that Director Nutter make a presentation to the full Commission about the Urban Environmental Accords Summit and next steps that are planned.  Director Nutter announced that the Department will be holding a Holiday Open House and Volunteer Appreciation party on December 6 at the Eco Center from 5 – 7:30 p.m.  She reported that she is instituting a high-level programmatic metrics document next month as part of the Commission’s Director’s Report.


Director Nutter announced that the America’s Cup Zero Waste Plan Draft is scheduled for posting by the end of November.  Committee Members requested that the America’s Cup Sustainability Plan be scheduled for the November 22, 2011 Commission meeting as an informational report and discussion.  A decision would be made as to whether to hold a special meeting on the Plan in December so that Commissioners can take possible action on the plan, or do so at the January 24, 2012 regular meeting.  Committee Members requested that the Plan be provided to them in enough time for review before the meeting.


Public Comment:  Mr. David Pilpel encouraged Commissioners to keep the America’s Cup Sustainability Plan on the November 22 Commission agenda for discussion and possible action and scheduling final action at the January Commission meeting.  He suggested that the Policy Committee at its December meeting create a Resolution for the full Commission to consider in January.   He asked Director Nutter to provide a written Director’s Report to the Policy Committee on months when there isn’t a full Commission meeting.  Commissioner Gravanis requested more frequent updates on Department activities through a vehicle similar to senior staff reports, but not as detailed. 


9.  Announcements. (Discussion)  Commissioner Wald announced communication she received that she had provided information on for a case study in San Francisco.  Commissioner Gravanis reported the discovery of a new Monarch roosting site at Yerba Buena Island.


10.  New Business/Future Agenda Items. (Discussion)  Future agenda items suggested for the December 12, 2011 Policy Committee meeting include: (1) America’s Cup update (2) banning the use of single-serve plastic water bottles in locations where a water supply is available; and (3) Commission Draft Annual Report review.  Future agenda topics for the January 13, 2012 Policy Committee meeting include (1) Future Agenda Checklist Staff Assessment and Committee review; (2) Draft Climate Action Plan review; and (3) California Environmental Quality Act and other training for staff.  Commissioner Gravanis requested (1) a status report at the February Policy Committee meeting on the Urban Forest Master Plan; (2) a future discussion on proposed actions for sea level rise; and (3) a staff report on the best time to schedule discussions on the refuse rate process.   


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.  There was no public comment at this time.


12.  Adjournment.  The Commission Policy Committee meeting adjourned at 7:23 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, December 12, 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:  December 12, 2011

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