05.22.12 Commission Meeting Approved Minutes





TUESDAY, MAY 22, 2012, 5:00 P.M.



COMMISSION MEMBERS:  Commissioners Matt Tuchow (President), Ruth Gravanis (Vice-President), Angelo King, Alan Mok, Heather Stephenson and Johanna Wald


Public comment will be taken before the Commission takes action on any item.

  1. Call to Order and Roll Call.  The Commission on the Environment meeting convened at 5:08 p.m.  Present:  Commissioners Tuchow (6:35 p.m.), Gravanis, King, Mok, Stephenson and Wald. 


  1. Amend Approved Minutes of the January 24, 2012 Commission on the Environment Meeting. (Explanatory Document:  January 24, 2012 Corrected Minutes Section and Letter Requesting Corrections to Minutes) (Discussion and Action)  Upon Motion by Commissioner Wald, second by Commissioner Stephenson, the January 24, 2012 Approved Minutes were amended (AYES:  Commissioners Gravanis, King, Mok, Stephenson and Wald; Absent:  Commissioner Tuchow).


  1. Approval of Minutes of the March 27, 2012 Commission on the Environment Meeting. (Explanatory Documents: March 27, 2012 Draft and Approved Minutes) (Discussion and Action)  Upon Motion by Commissioner Wald, second by Commissioner Mok, the March 27, 2012 Commission Meeting Minutes were approved (AYES:  Commissioners Gravanis, King, Mok, Stephenson and Wald; Absent:  Commissioner Tuchow).


  1. Public Comments:  Members of the public may address the Commission on matters that are within the Commission’s jurisdiction and are not on today’s agenda.


Ms. Lurilla Harris inquired whether the Commission has or will be taking a position on the Beach Chalet synthetic turf proposal.


Mr. Joshua Arce, Brightline Defense Project, commended the Commission for commenting on the importance of incorporating the City’s new local hiring policy and environmental justice component into the America’s Cup as part of the Sustainability Plan.  He announced that an agreement has been reached with the America’s Cup, City coalition partners, and organized labor that the event will be all local hiring union jobs that will lead to sustainable working conditions.  Mr. Arce reported that plans to rebuild Piers 30 and 32 that were cancelled previously are now being discussed again.  He discussed the delay of plans to install solar panels on City Hall due to union disputes that took place with the Sunset Reservoir solar installation, and the state resolution that has resolved this dispute by opening up the work to all unions.


Mr. David Pilpel stated that he has been reappointed to the Sunshine Ordinance Task Force and spoke in support of the Department’s programs and work.   


Commissioner Gravanis announced that today is Biodiversity Day and wished everyone a Happy Biodiversity Day.


  1. Update on San Francisco’s Healthy Nail Salon Initiative.  (Explanatory Document:  Healthy Nail Salon Recognition Program Presentation) Sponsor:  Melanie Nutter, Director; Staff Speakers: Sushma Bhatia, Toxics Reduction Program Manager and Swati Sharma, Commercial Toxics Reduction Coordinator (Informational Report and Discussion)


Ms. Sushma Bhatia updated the Commission on San Francisco’s Healthy Nail Salon Recognition Program, discussing the large number of nail salons and employees in San Francisco, worker characteristics, and work conditions.  She reported on health concerns posed to nail salon employees due to exposure of chemicals in nail products.  Ms. Bhatia reported that the Nail Salon Recognition Ordinance was adopted in 2010 as a way to implement safer practices by manufacturers, consumers, nail salons, and beauty supply stores.  After passage of the Ordinance, San Francisco Environment started a research project to identify the three ingredients in nail products that pose the most health concerns and environmental impacts, and staff is conducting outreach to nail salons to not use products containing these harmful chemicals and to adopt healthier practices. 


Ms. Swati Sharma reported that San Francisco Environment has adopted regulations to set the criteria for the use of safer products, safer practices, and training.  She reported that the California Department of Toxics and Substance Control tested products that claim to be free of the three ingredients that pose a health concern, and the study found that product claims were oftentimes mislabeled.  San Francisco Environment is working on outreach to manufacturers, to nail salons, and beauty supply stores to supply safer products and provide protective equipment.  Ventilation unit rebates are being offered for early adopters of the program.  Ms. Bhatia reported that this program is creating a model for other jurisdictions and asked the Commission for their support in implementing this voluntary program.


Commissioner Stephenson inquired whether there were downstream toxics issues from disposal of products.  Ms. Bhatia reported that the concern is more about chemicals being released into the environment causing air/health issues than a downstream issue from disposal of products.


Commissioner Wald inquired whether the program would include certification or placement of signage at the nail salon that shows that it meets the criteria of a healthy nail salon as a way to inform the public.  Ms. Bhatia reported that the Department will be offering recognition to those nail salons that meet the criteria by offering promotional support through its social-media channels and healthy nail-salon decals.  Commissioner Wald suggested targeting owners of more than one nail salon as a way to implement the program expeditiously and to spas that cater to people that may be more health conscious and would be interested in promoting products that are healthier and more sustainable. 


Commissioner King stated that this program would be an excellent candidate to involve the news media in as a way to alert the public about the safety of products.  Commissioner Stephenson suggested recruiting Yelp to advertise this program in their newsletter to San Francisco residents and to add a badge marker of healthy nail salons on their website.  Commissioner Gravanis inquired how the Commission can help with this program.  Ms. Bhatia suggested that outreach could be held in neighborhoods where nail salons are not participating to convince them to be a green salon and become certified.   Commissioners commended staff for their work on this program.


  1. GreenStacks, San Francisco Environment’s Award-Winning Collaboration with the San Francisco Public Library System and the Friends of the Public Library.  (Public Library GreenStacks Presentation) Sponsor:  Melanie Nutter, Director; Staff Speaker:  Shawn Rosenmoss, Senior Environmental Specialist(Informational Presentation and Discussion)

Ms. Shawn Rosenmoss discussed GreenStacks, the partnership between San Francisco Environment, Friends of the Public Library, and the San Francisco Public Library system that is working together to offer a comprehensive environmental program serving the community.  She discussed how the library system and its facilities are able to bring educational programs to the community through its operations, buildings/Branch Library Improvement Program, green book mobile, green multi-cultural/lingual collections, and programming that is targeted to a wide range of audiences.  There are ten LEED gold/silver branches in the City or in process and each library has a green report card that is being replicated around the country.   Ms. Rosenmoss elaborated on two of the newest programs, the Kill-a-watt program and GreenPlanetStreaming environmental films that will be added to the Department’s website.   GreenStacks has won innovation, green building, and climate awards and has received a grant for zero waste signage and Liquid Crystal Displays (LCD’s).  Website: www.sfpl.org/greenstacks.  Ms. Rosenmoss suggested that Commissioners be interviewed for the Library’s Green People webpage and assist in programming efforts.  


Commissioner Wald expressed concern about whether the collaboration was being used to drive San Francisco Environment’s agenda.  Ms. Rosenmoss responded that GreenStacks shares the same values and agenda as SF Environment, which is to help businesses and residents in San Francisco become educated on environmental issues and give them the resources they need to take action and make behavior changes. Commissioners commended Ms. Rosenmoss on her work and on the success of the program.  


  1. Update on the Electric Vehicle Program.  (Explanatory Document:  Electric Vehicle Program Presentation) Sponsor:  Melanie Nutter, Director; Staff Speaker:  Bob Hayden, Manager, Transportation and Clean Vehicle Program (Informational Presentation and Discussion)


Mr. Bob Hayden updated the Commission on the current electric vehicle market and the large number projected to be available in the future.  He reported that cars and trucks are the cause of 38.8 percent of greenhouse gas emissions in San Francisco and discussed the importance of firstly influencing people away from cars into public transportation and other alternative methods of transportation and then moving the City’s vehicle fleet to an electric- transportation system.  Mr. Hayden reported on the increase of public-charger installations around the City in public areas since January of this year.


Mr. Hayden reported on the ChargePoint California Demonstration project, a program funded by the California Energy Commission to research challenges faced with installing charging stations in San Francisco’s multi-family buildings, where two-thirds of San Francisco residents live.  This program will develop a knowledge base and fund the charging equipment and much of the installation chargers for selected buildings in San Francisco.  San Francisco Environment in partnership with PG&E, Coulomb Technologies, and Clean Cities Coalition reached out to the multi-family community and various organizations to make them aware of the program and offered workshops.  Sixty-eight applications have been received from an application process held in the spring, and forty-one buildings have been selected to participate in the program.  Mr. Hayden discussed program statistics and challenges faced with allocation of costs and access as well as building and legal issues.


Commissioner King suggested that an analysis be prepared to compare electric vehicle technology with other options such as natural gas and renewable energy technologies that do not pose installation challenges especially in denser cities.   Mr. Hayden reported that the program is researching and working with all clean-tech options that produce zero or the lowest greenhouse gas emissions.  Deputy Director Assmann reported that the California Air Resources Board reported that the only way to reach the goals of AB32 would be for all vehicles to be electric and to use electricity powered from renewable sources.  Mr. Hayden reported that all City chargers are supplying renewable energy. 


Public Comment:  Ms. Lurilla Harris inquired about grant availability for installing electric vehicle chargers in single-family homes.  Mr. Hayden reported that the Bay Area Air Quality Management District has a program to allow $700 for a home charger.  Ms. Harris stated that there is an Electric Car Association that meets on Saturdays at Luscious Garage on 9th Street. 


  1. Planning for the Commission on the Environment’s Annual Retreat.  Sponsor and Speaker:  Melanie Nutter, Director (Discussion)


Deputy Director Assmann reported that the Commission’s Policy Committee has developed a set of recommendations that could be a focal point of the Commission’s retreat this year, one of which is to work on a Sustainability Plan. Commissioner Wald suggested that Commissioners consider engaging in the same kind of process as the Policy Committee has to identify the issues that this Commission wants to prioritize in the coming year.  Topics identified were a result of Commissioners Gravanis and Wald’s recognition that the Commission/Committees should be more proactive and strategic in terms of selecting topics to be addressed at meetings that would help achieve the goals of the Department and the Commission.  Topics selected were the Sustainability Plan, Biodiversity Plan implementation, Climate and Renewable Energy, and metrics.  The Policy Committee will be meeting in June to discuss how to implement priorities and possibly recommend one or more priorities to the Commission.


Commissioner Gravanis reported that a discussion was held as to what extent the Commission can add value to the whole process and do some of the work that may not get done otherwise.  She asked whether the Commission would prefer hearing staff reports at the retreat or interact on selecting priorities.


Commissioner King suggested that the Commission retreat should be a way for Commissioners to interact with each other, review the Commission Bylaws, discuss what the Department’s activities are, what policies the Commission has worked on recently, and decide what to work on in the future.  He asked that the retreat not be focused on staff presentations and that attendance should include Commissioners, the Director and a selected number of Department heads.   Commissioner Stephenson suggested that the Commission hold a discussion on its vision for the future and to create a calendar of future agenda topics that could be heard in addition to new topics.  Commissioner Mok concurred that the retreat should be a way for the Commission to focus on future priorities and select important issues to work on.   


  1. Operations Committee Report. (Information and Discussion)

Chair’s Report:   Highlights of the April 18, 2012 meeting and review of the agenda for the July 18, 2012 meeting to be held at the Department of the Environment Eco Center, 11 Grove Street.


Commission Operations Committee Chair King reported on discussions held at the Committee’s April 18 meeting on the Department’s planned move to 1455 Market Street and the Department’s outreach strategies and staffing.  He discussed the positive amenities that the new location has to offer but expressed his concern that the Eco-Center would be located upstairs and not on the commercial corridor ground floor.  It was reported that there would be ground floor space available in the future.  Commissioner King reported on his suggestions that the Outreach team consider providing bilingual training in both English and Cantonese in order to build staff capacity.  Discussions were held on approaches to consider for evaluating outreach techniques and measuring the impact and effectiveness of social media outreach.  Commissioner Stephenson reported that the Outreach team will be providing ongoing reports to the Committee on its communications and programs. 


  1. Policy Committee Report. (Information and Discussion)

Chairs Report:  Highlights of the April 4, April 30, and May 14 meetings and review of the agenda for the June 11, 2012 meeting to be held at City Hall, Room 421.


Committee Chair Wald reported that the focus of the April 30 meeting was on California’s High Speed Rail project, the Van Ness Bus Rapid Transit Plan, which was recently approved at the Planning Commission, and the America’s Cup Sustainability Credit.  The April 4 and April 30 meetings both included discussions about priorities that the Commission and Committees should be pursuing in the coming year, and the June meeting will include a discussion on how to implement selected priorities. Commissioner King suggested that the Policy Committee discuss the feasibility and safety of synthetic turf installations in athletic fields as opposed to maintenance of natural grass fields.


  1. Commission Secretary’s Report. (Explanatory Document: Commission Secretary’s Report) (Information and Discussion)

         Monica Fish, Commission Secretary

Commission Secretary Fish provided a written report and highlighted City legislation, communications, and correspondence received since the last Commission meeting in March.  Commissioner Gravanis suggested that the Commission be provided with a report as to what extent Department staff has had in directly developing City legislation.

  • Communications and Correspondence
  • Update on City Legislation


  1. Director’s Report. Updates on Department of the Environment administrative and programmatic operations relating to Budget Planning, Strategic Planning, Clean Air/Transportation, Climate, Energy, Public Outreach and Education, Environmental Justice, Habitat Restoration, Green Building, Zero Waste, Toxics Reduction, and Urban Forestry. (Explanatory Document: Director’s Report) (Information and Discussion)


Deputy Director David Assmann reported that the Department’s Fiscal Year 2012-13 budget and pending move is scheduled for hearings at the Board of Supervisors Budget and Finance Committee on May 24 and May 31 and to the full Board a week after.  Work on the lease is scheduled for completion before the end of the week, and subcommittees are working on the design, furniture, and LEED options.   He also reported on current staff turnover and on the Department’s continued success in securing grants.  Commissioner Tuchow inquired whether there was a difference in the budget that the Commission approved and the one that is scheduled for approval by the Board of Supervisors.  Deputy Director Assmann reported that the Budget Analyst is proposing an $18,000 cut that has been agreed to. Commissioner Wald suggested that the new space be a model for what the Department is promoting for the rest of the city. 


  1. Announcements.  (Information and Discussion)  Commissioner Wald reported that Davies Symphony Hall does not have provisions for composting, and the primary sponsor of the Black and White Ball is Fiji Water, which will mean there will be single-serve water bottles at the event.  She asked that the Department help align Davies Symphony Hall and the Black and White Ball with City goals and policies.  She noted the remarkable job that has been accomplished at the Ferry Plaza that now has composting, recycling, and provides assistance to the public on these efforts.   Deputy Director Assmann reported that Davies has to provide composting provisions since it is the law and that Department staff will work with them to do so.  He stated that the Department will try to influence the decision of the Black and White sponsors, but noted that it is not illegal to sell single-serve plastic bottles.  Commissioner Gravanis suggested adding language in all City lease and events permits to prevent the sale or give away of single-serve plastic water bottles in areas that have a source of water available.  Commissioner Wald reported that the America’s Cup event is not going to have single-serve water bottles regardless of how far they are from the tap.  She suggested making the language as strong as possible and not setting the threshold too low. 


  1. President’s Announcements.  (Information and Discussion)  Commission President Tuchow asked the Commission for input on future Commission meeting agenda topics. 


  1. New Business/Future Agenda Items. (Information, Discussion and Possible Action)  There was no new business or future agenda item topics discussed at this time.


  1. Public Comments:  Members of the public may address the Commission on matters that are within the Commission’s jurisdiction and are not on today’s agenda.  There was no public comment at this time.


  1. Adjournment.  The Commission meeting adjourned at 7:00 p.m.


The next meeting of the Commission on the Environment is scheduled for Tuesday, July 24, 2012, 5:00 p.m. at City Hall, Room 416. 


Respectfully submitted by Monica Fish, Commission Secretary

TEL:  (415) 355-3709; FAX: (415) 554-6393


** 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 Commission’s meeting website at http://www.sfenvironment.org/commission/agendas included with minutes by meeting date; (3) upon request to the Commission Secretary, at telephone number 415-355-3709, or  via e-mail at [email protected].


Approved: July 24, 2012