December 14 2015 Policy Committee Meeting Approved Minutes


MONDAY, DECEMBER 14, 2015, 5:00 P.M.


COMMITTEE MEMBERS:  Commissioners Johanna Wald (Chair), Elmy Bermejo, Jacquelyn Omotalade


1.     Call to Order and Roll Call.  The Commission on the Environment Special Meeting was called to order at 5:04 p.m. Present: Commissioners Arce, Wald, Bermejo and Omotalade.  Commissioner Arce started the meeting by congratulating Commissioner Omotalade on her recent appointment to the Commission on the Environment and announced her appointment to the Policy Committee.

2.     Approval of Minutes of the October 26, 2015 Commission on the Environment Policy Committee Meeting. The Policy Committee Meeting was called to order at 5:07 p.m. (Explanatory Document: October 26, 2015 Draft Minutes) (Discussion and Action)

Public Comment:

Mr. Pilpel indicated he did not receive the meeting materials.  He also requested to speak at a future meeting of the Committee on the substance of the items on today’s agenda since he did not have a chance to review the materials.

Upon Motion by Commissioner Bermejo and second by Commissioner Wald, the October 26, 2015 Policy Committee Meeting Minutes were approved without objection (AYES: Commissioners Ward and Bermejo).

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.

Mr. David Pilpel said that during the September meeting the Policy Committee sent a resolution to the full Commission on the Tech Commuter Bus Program which was not voted on.  Since then the MTA adopted the permanent program and the environmental review period ends this week.  Mr. Pilpel hoped that staff would follow through on the item.  He understood that there were labor and environmental and traffic concerns with this issue.  He also said that at the July meeting of the Commission there was not a properly seated quorum.  As a follow up to that meeting in July the Step Up Power Down program did not come back to the Commission for re-adoption and he suggests it be added to the consent calendar for the January meeting.

President Arce welcomed new Commission Affairs Manager Anthony Valdez.

4.     Review of Resolution 2015-06-COE in support of the Portola Green Plan and Recognition of the Portola as San Francisco’s Garden District.  Item was referred back to the Policy Committee at the November 9, 2015 meeting of the Commission on the Environment.  A Special Meeting of the Commission on the Environment was called to order at 5:13 p.m. (Explanatory Document:  Draft Resolution 2015-06-COE) Sponsor: Commissioner Joshua Arce; Speakers: Lucia Pohlman (15 minutes) (Informational Presentation and Discussion) (Discussion and Possible Action)

President Arce introduced the resolution and said that it was amended during a meeting of the Portola Urban Greening (PUG) Steering Committee.  He said that PUG added background and detail from the community perspective.  President Arce said he is pleased that Portola will be officially recognized as San Francisco’s Garden District and that he supports the Green Plan and hopes the Department will support their efforts.

Lucia Pohlman thanked the Committee for inviting the Portola Urban Greening Project to the meeting, for the resolution and for recognizing the greening work in the Portola.  She said that the Garden District identity is rooted in the garden tours, public artwork and neighborhood greening efforts as well as the neighborhoods agricultural and botanical history.  It its first year, nonprofit Portola Urban Greening created the Portola Green Plan which includes the history of the district and a roadmap for greening.  In its second year, Portola Urban Greening has been focusing on having the Portola recognized as San Francisco’s Garden District and recognizing the individuals involved in the program.  The public is welcome to learn more information at

Commissioner Arce asked Ms. Pohlman to explain the difference between the former and amended version on the resolution.  Ms. Pohlman said that the amended resolution has a deeper sense of the history of the Portola District including how after the 1906 earthquake the Portola provided all the agricultural resources for the city.  An explanation of agricultural resources in the area as well as the area’s geography were also added.

Commissioner Arce moved to approve the resolution with a second by Commissioner Bermejo.

Director Raphael said that she appreciated the depth of the amended version of the resolution and felt like both the resolution and presentation were strong.  She suggested mentioning the importance of resilience during emergencies.

Commissioner Wald asked what the Commission and Department can be doing to support the Portola Green Plan.  Director Raphael said she will follow up with the Department’s outreach team to discuss how the Department can support the program.

Policy and Communications Director Rodriguez suggested, and the Commissioners agreed to, adding a clause requesting that the Board of Supervisors take formal action to recognize the Portola Garden District.

Commissioner Wald proposed technical amendments to the resolution.

Commissioner Arce proposed adding the word “resilience” to the resolution.

Public Comment:

Mr. David Pilpel said he was supportive.  It was his expectation that the resolution would go back to the full Commission, he had a few questions and suggested the changes be reviewed by the deputy city attorney.  He requested that a web link be placed inside of the resolution and on the agenda online.  He suggested changing the language of the resolution so that it doesn’t sound like the Commission is directing the Department to take a certain action and also wanted to make sure it’s clear that the resolution is clear of issues regarding land use which falls outside of the Commission’s jurisdiction.  He also suggest the Commission check with the Board of Supervisors first to see if there is support for the proposal.

Ms. Lurilla Harris suggested the resolution define geographically where the Portola district boundaries are.

Mr. David Gabriner with the Portola Urban Greening Steering Committee is a resident of the Portola and thanked the Commission for their support of the Portola community.

Ms. Laura Kemp from the Goettingen Neighbors Group is a resident of the Portola.  She said that the 280 and 101 have separated communities and thanked the Commission for acknowledging the Southeast corridor.

Ms. Lurilla Harris asked why the Alemany Flea Market is mentioned in the resolution if it was only located in the Portola for a few years.

Commissioner Arce said that the City Attorney had been consulted and that it is not up to the Commission to offer the assistance of the Department of the Environment and that a previous version of the resolution has been amended as such.

Commissioner Wald proposed that the resolution read that the Commission supports the Department.

Commissioner Arce said that he consulted with the City Attorney and proposed removing the language that says the Commission formally recognizes the Portola as San Francisco’s Garden District and placed that language in the clause urging the Board of Supervisors to do so.

Commissioner Wald proposed technical amendments to the resolution.

Upon motion by Commissioner Arce, second by Commissioner Bermejo the resolution as amended was approved by the Commission on the Environment without objection (AYES: Commissioners Arce, Bermejo, Omotalade and Wald; Noes: None)

At 5:47 p.m. Commissioner Arce left the room and the meeting continued as a meeting of the Policy Committee.

5.     Announcement of a Department of the Environment public hearing about the 2016 Reduced Risk Pesticide List to be held on December 16, 2015 at 4:30 p.m. at the ground floor conference room, 1455 Market Street, San Francisco, Ca 94103.  (Explanatory Document:  Notice of Public Hearing to Adopt 2016 Reduced Risk Pesticide List)  Speaker: Chris Geiger, Toxics Reduction and Integrated Pest Management Coordinator, Department of the Environment (15 minutes) (Informational Announcement and Discussion).

Director Raphael noted that each year the Department must provide a list of pesticides that are considered reduced risk.  This year the World Health Organization determined that the common pesticide Roundup is a probable carcinogen. As a result the Department put it into the highest tier of pesticide which can be used under only extreme circumstances as a last result as the Department is trying to eliminate Tier 1 chemicals.  Roundup has caused concern by many in San Francisco and around the world as people ask if Roundup is still necessary.  She felt like the Commission needed information about the list so it can be confident about the decisions the Department is making around Roundup.

Chair Wald asked if the Policy Committee should make a recommendation to the Commission. 

Policy and Communications Director Rodriguez clarified the three step process to use the Policy Committee meeting to notice the public, followed by a public hearing for public comment then based on the information they gather bring a proposal to the Policy Committee for review and make a recommendation to the full Commission.

Mr. Chris Geiger said that the list is the outside bounds of the program – the last resort for pesticide use and that there are many other alternatives that should be used before the items on the list.  When the World Health Organization made their determination about Roundup there was a reassessment of pesticide use in San Francisco.  There have been meetings with public agencies in the region who are concerned about how they would properly get their job done while protecting public health and safety.  There was an agreement in the group that herbicides would not be used for purely cosmetic purposes.

Commissioner Wald asked if this extended to golf courses.  Mr. Geiger said that the exception is Harding Park golf course because of the contract with PGA and golf tours but that there are other restrictions for golf courses.

Mr. Geiger said that other restrictions include no pesticides within 15 feet of a path unless it’s a public health or public safety issue.  These rules will come as a companion document to the list.  He said the next step is to talk with departments about goals for reduction.

At the next Policy Committee meeting the Committee will be voting to approve the policy list which will renew commitment to principles and show public what the Department is striving for.

Commissioner Wald suggested inviting groups to the next Policy Committee meeting who have signed on to the agreement.  Commissioner Wald said that this program is one of the Department’s signature programs and the Department’s oldest program that was celebrated when it was enacted by the Board of Supervisors.

Policy and Communications Director Rodriguez pointed out that a hearing notice was in the Commissioners’ packets and encouraged them to spread the word to anyone who may be interested in coming to voice their concerns.

Public Comment:

Ms. Lurilla Harris said that there are two endangered species living on the Sharp Park golf course that are being run over by the lawn mowers and being poisoned and asked what the Department is doing to protect them.

Mr. Geiger said that currently pesticides are not being used at Sharp Park and that they close holes in wet season during flooding and block off flooded sections to protect the species.

Ms. Lurilla Harris asked why the golf course is still being used if it floods so often.  Commissioner Wald said that that is a land use issue and outside the purview of the Commission.

6.     Director’s Update. Deborah Raphael, Director (Discussion)

Director Raphael represented San Francisco in Paris for climate talks with Roger Kim from the Mayor’s Office along with Kevin Drew from the Department.  She discussed the green zone of the conference where she gave two separate talks – one hosted by the City of Oslo about transportation and Local Governments for Sustainability (ICLEI) picked San Francisco as a leader in compost and carbon sequestration.  She also attended bilateral meetings with other cities.  She noted the positive energy among the various representatives from around the world who were present in the green zone and the sense of possibility it created.

Direcior Raphael reported that the Mayor was in the Vatican talking about climate change and 0-50-100 with mayors from around the world. 

The west coast mayors from Seattle, Portland, Los Angeles and San Francisco met in Portland inspired by the Pope’s call for social justice and environmental action.  They met for two days about homelessness and the climate.  During the conference San Francisco announced that it has met the commitment it made at the Vatican to ensure that all diesel used by San Francisco is now renewable including public safety vehicles.  This eliminates the carbon impact of diesel fuel.  San Francisco is the first city to do this in the United States.

Director Raphael noted that the California Public Utilities Commission is holding hearings about the future of renewable energy – making decisions on net energy metering and the Power Charge Indifference Adjustment (PCIA).  LAFCO, the Department of the Environment and the SF Public Utilities Commission all made comments to the California Public Utilities Commission.  The Department is concerned about the recommendation PG&E has made about net energy metering and rolling back on funds.

The energy efficiency team at the Department who receives pass-through money from PG&E earlier this year was concerned about not making their goals but the team rallied and came in 113 percent of their goal

Director Raphael said she is excited about what is going on under the Equal Justice Taskforce which uses an application from a smart phone to report environmental problems in neighborhoods.  There are meetings at local, state and federal agencies to determine the needs of communities.  It has been tested in other locations in California to handle illegal dumping.  For San Francisco this is particularly a problem in the Bayview.

Bob Hayden is going to retire at the end of the year to move to Portland. The clean transportation team will be reorganized.

Director Raphael has brought in an outside consultant for two day communications trainings for employees and managers.  The strategy is to learn how to have difficult conversations, separate stories from fact and create working relationships between managers and staff.

Commissioner Bermejo followed up on the conversation of the west coast mayors and asked if the topics discussed at the conference will presented at the Winter meeting of the US Conference of Mayors in January in Washington, D.C. Director Raphael said she will check into it and announced that San Francisco has been selected as the site for the seventh annual convention of energy secretaries where they will meet to discuss clean energy.  The meeting will happen June 1 – 2, 2015.

Commissioner Bermejo said it would be nice to see Director Raphael’s presentations that she gave during the climate talks in Paris.

Commissioner Omotalade said that she goes to the Environmental Justice Taskforce meetings almost monthly.  She appreciates the conversations that are happening among attendees in support of a good cause.

Director Raphael said funding for Bradley is finished at the end of the year so she is going to see if other agencies can pitch in to preserve the program.

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

Policy and Communications manager Rodriguez reported that the Policy Committee is scheduled to hear three items at its next meeting for Monday, January 11.  Two action items include the resolution for the approval of herbicide use and the formal adoption of the 2016 Reduced Risk Pesticide list for recommendation to the full Commission.  There will also be a presentation on the Department’s implementation of the Safe Medicine Ordinance and a presentation on the Annual Report.

Commissioner Omotalade said she has had a policy idea since she came back from Paris and experienced how residents of Paris used the bike sharing program that is integrated with the metro card.  After the attack happened in the City of Paris and the metro shut down, residents were using bike sharing to get around the city. She said that bike sharing would be an important asset in the event of an earthquake and that there should be a synching of bike sharing and clipper card.  Director Raphael said she had initial conversations with the Bicycle Coalition about resiliency and using bicycles as resiliency but there had been a change in leadership at the Bicycle Coalition and when there is a new executive director that the conversation should continue.  Commissioner Wald said that perhaps it is time to reach out to the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission and the Metropolitan Transportation Commission to see if the agencies can work together.

Commissioner Wald pointed out that at one time each member of the Policy Committee picked at least one program in the Department to be the expert in.  She said the committee should consider continuing this tradition now that there is a full Committee.

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.

9.     Adjournment.

The next meeting of the Commission on the Environment Policy Committee is scheduled for Monday, January 11, 2016 at 5:00 p.m. in City Hall, Room 421.

** Copies of explanatory documents are available at (1) the Commission’s office, 1455 Market Street, Suite 1200, San Francisco, California, 94103 between the hours of 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., Photo identification is required for entry to the building. (2) on the Commission’s website; (3) upon request to the Commission Affairs Manager, at telephone number 415-355-3709, or via e-mail at [email protected] within three business days of a meeting. If any materials related to an item on this agenda have been distributed to the Committee after distribution of the agenda packet, those materials are available for public inspection at the Department of the Environment, 1455 Market Street, Suite 1200, San Francisco, CA 94103 during normal office hours or will be made available on the Commission’s website as attachments to the agenda or meeting minutes.