August 14 2013 Operations Committee Meeting Approved Minutes


WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 14, 2013, 5:00 P.M.


COMMITTEE MEMBERS: Commissioners Angelo King (Chair) and Heather Stephenson

1. Call to Order and Roll Call.  The Commission on the Environment meeting convened at 5:15 p.m.  Present:  Commissioners King and Stephenson.

2. Approval of Minutes of the May 1, 2013 Operations Committee Meeting. (Explanatory Document: May 1, 2013 Operations Committee Meeting Draft Minutes) (Discussion and Action)

Upon Motion by Commissioner Stephenson, second by Commissioner King, the May1, 2013 Meeting Minutes were approved (AYES:  Commissioners King and Stephenson).

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

4. Update on the Department of the Environment’s Budget for Fiscal Year 2013-14. (Explanatory Document:  Budget Review Executive Summary and Recommendations of the Budget and Legislative Analyst) Sponsor:  Commissioner Angelo King, Speaker: Joseph Salem, Program Manager, Finance and Administration (Informational Report and Discussion)

Commissioner King requested an update on Department programs that were reported to have shortfalls at the May 1, 2013 Operations Committee meeting.  Mr. Joseph Salem reported on the Board of Supervisors approval of the Annual Appropriation Ordinance budget for the Department and changes that came about as part of the process.  He presented the narrative from the Board of Supervisors that lists recommendations and reductions made in funding for the San Francisco Unified School District director position and Zero Waste program professional services.  Grants that the Department previously approved or multi-year grants previously accounted for are not part of the Annual Appropriation Ordinance explanatory document.

Mr. Salem reported that two of the program areas that were reported to have budget shortfalls as of the last reporting cycle in February for the Renewables and Clean Transportation sections have been closed due to new grants that were received.  There is a shortfall that still exists in the Climate area that is being worked on, and there is one encouraging grant for biodiversity that falls under the Climate program. 

Commissioner Stephenson inquired whether other departments cover the cost of the Sustainability Director.  Mr. Salem reported that the Department has been funding fifty percent of the position costs and the School District the other half.  Costs for the position have been increasing, and the Department was attempting to increase funding as a result.

5. Review of the Department of the Environment’s Process for Handling and Approving Grants. (Explanatory Documents:  Environmental Justice Grant Application Review Process, Zero Waste Grants Policy Matrix, Request for Proposals for Zero Waste Projects and Scoring Sheets) Sponsor: Commissioner Angelo King; Speaker:  Kevin Drew, Senior Residential and Special Projects Zero Waste Coordinator, Zero Waste Program (Informational Report and Discussion)

Commissioner King requested a report on the list of Department grantees, which program areas have funded grantees for the past three years, timelines for Request for Proposals (RFPs), and a presentation on the process and how selections are made.  He discussed letters received from grantees that were not funded and the need for the Commission to stay informed in order to be responsive to communications received.

Ms. Shawn Rosenmoss, Department of the Environment Senior Environmental Specialist, Development and Community Partnerships, reported on her work streamlining the Department’s grant-making process.   She reported that for all Department grants to non-profit entities, a standard Request for Proposals (RFP) is issued listing specific goals and objectives for the particular program releasing the RFP.  Programs that have released RFP’s include Toxics Reduction, Zero Waste, the SF Carbon Fund and Environmental Justice.   Ms. Rosenmoss articulated that this type of RFP is only for making grants to non-profits, and that all Departmental programs release RFP’s to secure contractors who perform specific services related to Department work.

Before an RFP is issued, program staff determines the evaluation and scoring process for proposals received to ensure that applicants cover the information most vital to matching projects to the Department’s goals. The draft RFP is reviewed and approved by both program and administration staff.  A proposal Reading Committee is formed that consists of in-house and outside experts on program issues, as well as areas of non-profit program management.  The Reading Committee uses the same scoring sheet for all proposals.  The Reading Committee comes together to review, discuss and average scores.  For applicants meeting the minimum required score, a second interview or site visit is scheduled. Each applicant is asked the same set of questions by a second review panel.  Once grantees are selected, based on the final interviews, available grant funds are allocated among the grantees. All documents are public documents, and community organizations are urged to ask questions as to why they were or were not funded. 

Mr. Kevin Drew reported on the increased outreach about the RFP that resulted in more proposals received, but that less funding was available due to budgetary constraints.  Many new organizations with very good proposals applied for funding, which resulted in groups that had been funded many times before not being funded.  Zero waste funding is based on tons diverted; however, program staff are thrilled that funded projects have so many co-benefits—such as job creation and youth development.

Ms. Rosenmoss reported on other RFP’s such as the Environmental Justice Brownfields RFP that has been issued and the RFP using SF Carbon Fund dollars for carbon sequestration and mitigation projects. She reported that every City department that has travel by air is required to allocate some amount of the plane ticket costs into the SF Carbon Fund to offset the emissions of the travel that would be invested in local projects to sequester carbon and mitigate carbon emissions in San Francisco.  The SF Carbon Fund has funded projects such as biodiesel, urban orchards and tree planting, many of which have co-benefits such as food security and bringing beautiful places for people to live in.  Ms. Rosenmoss reported that auditors have reviewed the Department’s grant process over the last twenty years and the process was changed as a result of recommendations made.

Commissioner Stephenson inquired if organizations know how they are being scored.   Mr. Drew and Ms. Rosenmoss reported that the RFP includes a proposal template with clear information on what is being evaluated and the total number of points allocated to each component of the narrative.  Mr. Drew referred Commissioners to the Zero Waste Matrix which summarizes the goals and objectives of the Zero Waste program and details appropriate types of activities and projects for funding.

Commissioner Stephenson inquired about how the impact of programs is being measured and communicated.  Ms. Rosenmoss reported that the work plan submitted as a part of the proposal has goals, objectives, and project management plan. Once grants are awarded, projects report on progress toward the goals and objectives. Mr. Drew discussed how impacts are measured for Zero Waste projects by the amount of diversion and generation that is created and time spent.   Commissioner Stephenson inquired if there is a way to communicate the co-benefits of a project. Ms. Rosenmoss reported that co-benefits cannot be ranked heavily in the Zero Waste grant making process but are recommended so that people can think of their project more broadly.   These co-benefits are important for highlighting the economic and equity benefits of implementing smart environmental projects.

Commissioner King suggested that grant award recipients of $50,000 or more provide a presentation of their project to the Commission.   Mr. Drew discussed the outreach component in presentations to the Commission as a way to promote the Department’s grant program.  Ms. Rosenmoss reported that part of grantee requirements is to promote the Department of the Environment’s name and provide recognition through signage, listing on their website, etc.   Starting this fall, quarterly workshops will be held with grantees on targeted issues relevant to non-profit community based work with the Department and on capacity building.

Public Comment: Mr. Frank Mason discussed his philosophy of contract administration and project management for validating projects in order to make sure expectations have been met.   He stated that he does not support the carbon fund fee on departments because of the restrictions it may impose on department operations.  Ms. Rosenmoss explained that goals have been set for zero carbon, and that the carbon fund tax was established as one of the activities to reach the goal.   She stated that projects that funding was applied to can be accounted for.  Mr. Mason stated that he is in favor of budget line items that costs can be directly identified for.  He reported that the Urban Forest Master Plan does not show the true cost of carbon because it does not contain the life cycle cost of that tree and the cost to replace the concrete and the buckled sidewalks every four to seven years.  He suggested that a complete life cycle cost study be accomplished of what is being saved and what the benefits are.

6. Review and Selection of Commission on the Environment Operations Committee Accomplishments for 2013 for inclusion into the Commission’s 2013 Annual Report.  (Explanatory Document:  List of 2013 Commission and Committee Agenda Topics) (Discussion and Action)

Commissioners selected the Operations Committee work on review and approval of the Department’s budget, the process for televising Commission on the Environment meetings on SFGTV public television station, process for holding community meetings, discussion on updating the City software for buying green products, and review of the Department process for handling grants as topics to include in the Commission’s 2013 Annual Report. 

7. New Business/Future Agenda Items. (Discussion)  Commissioner Stephenson suggested that the Committee be provided with (1) a report on the plan for the public service announcement process for before and after meetings; (2) a presentation on Urban Agriculture once the Recreation and Park Department has issued a Plan in 2014; and (3) what percent of the Department’s budget is allocated to unfunded mandates.  Commissioner King stated especially for services performed for the City where there is no funding allocated to provide the service.  Commissioner Stephenson cited an example of the Climate shortfall as a service being provided to the City that is part of an unfunded mandate.  Commissioner King asked for a review of the Department of the Environment’s process for handling and approving professional services contracts and advocating for City maintenance for new urban forest tree planting.

Public Comment:  Mr. Frank Mason discussed the Department of Public Works planting new street trees without the required funding for maintenance and then discussing plans to relinquish maintenance to property owners.  He discussed the importance of first having the financial ability before starting projects.   Mr. Mason discussed the unimportance given to street trees in City budget discussions.

8. 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.

9. Adjournment.  The Commission on the Environment Operations Committee meeting adjourned at 6:30 p.m.

The next meeting of the Commission on the Environment Operations Committee is scheduled for Wednesday, November 13, 2013, 5:00 p.m., at City Hall, Room 421, San Francisco, CA  94102.

**Copies of explanatory documents are available at (1) the Commission’s office, 1455 Market Street, Suite 1200, San Francisco, California between the hours of 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., (2) may be available on the Operations Committee meeting website as attachments with each agenda or meeting minutes , (3) upon request to the Commission Secretary, at telephone number 415-355-3709, or via e-mail at [email protected]. The meeting audio can be reviewed at this website link by meeting date

Respectfully submitted by,

Monica Fish, Commission Secretary
TEL:  (415) 355-3709; FAX: (415) 554-6393

Approved: November 13, 2013