February 13 2013 Operations Committee Meeting Approved Minutes


WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 13, 2013, 5:00 P.M.

Department of the Environment Eco Center
11 Grove Street, San Francisco, CA  94102

*The Wednesday, February 13, 2013, 5:00 p.m. meeting of the Commission on the Environment Operations Committee regularly scheduled to meet at 1455 Market Street, San Francisco, CA, was changed to meet at the Department of the Environment Eco Center, 11 Grove Street, San Francisco, CA  94102.

COMMITTEE MEMBERS: Commissioners Angelo King (Chair), Alan Mok, Heather Stephenson

1. Call to Order and Roll Call.  The Commission on the Environment Operations Committee meeting convened at 5:05 p.m.  Present:  Commissioners King, Mok and Stephenson. 

2. Approval of Minutes of the November 29. 2012 Operations Committee Rescheduled Meeting. (Explanatory Document: November 29, 2012 Operations Committee Meeting Approved Minutes) (Discussion and Action)  Upon Motion by Commissioner Mok, second by Commissioner Stephenson, the November 29, 2012 Meeting Minutes were approved without objection (AYES:  Commissioners King, Mok 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.

Item 7 was heard before Items 4 – 6.

4. Approval of the Department of the Environment’s Fiscal Year 2013-14 Budget. (Explanatory Document:  Fiscal Year 2013-14 Budget) Sponsor:  Commissioner Angelo King; Speaker:  David Assmann, Deputy Director (Discussion and Action)
Deputy Director Assmann presented on the Department of the Environment’s Fiscal Year 2013-14 budget discussing total expenses, revenues, and variances for all program areas from fiscal year 2012-13 to 2013-14.  He reported on the increase in salary expenses for the fiscal year due to the requirement that every City department pay for health care retiree costs and increases to costs for benefits and salaries.  Mr. Assmann discussed major shortages in Climate and Clean Air/Transportation program areas due to grant funding that has ended, but indicated that there is a potential that future grants may help close the gap.  (Reference Explanatory Budget Document.) Commissioner King requested that the Committee schedule a future discussion on projects that have major gaps in funding.  He suggested that the Commission support the Department Director in advocating for funding for unfunded mandates that have been created to meet the City’s overall goals.    

Mr. Assmann reported on his attendance at the Urban Forestry Council Planning and Funding Committee meeting on February 12, 2013 to discuss allocation and potential increased funding and staffing for the Urban Forestry Council.  He discussed prior City department commitments to funding and subsequent reductions that led to reduced funding and staffing for the Urban Forestry Council.  Efforts are being made to work with Departments to increase their commitment to funding that would benefit the Council in the future.  A meeting is scheduled to discuss staffing and work priorities. 

Public Comment:

Ms. Rose Hillson, Urban Forestry Council Member, thanked Mr. Assmann for attending the Planning and Funding Committee to explain budgetary issues.  She reported on her perception of what happened when Council staffing was reduced and work was allocated to volunteer Council members.  She presented explanatory documents that show a funding allocation of $51,000 for Council staffing that remained the same the next fiscal year when staffing reductions occurred.   Ms. Hillson discussed the need for better communication with members before abruptly making decisions.   She stated that Mr. Assmann had assured the Committee that additional funding would be sought and all allocations by departments would be directed to the Council.   She discussed the amount of time the Council spent on the budget issue instead of working on urban forestry. (Reference explanatory Public Comment document.)

Ms. Nancy Wuerfel thanked Ms. Hillson for her comments and spoke in support of a future resolution for adequate funding and support for the Council.  She pointed out that the Mayor’s Office budget book does not show the Urban Forestry Council in its organizational chart and asked that it be included in the future.  Ms. Wuerfel also asked that Mr. Assmann provide total budget figures so that Commissioners are better able to review the budget.

Mr. Eric Brooks suggested that the unfunded mandates conversation be a topic of a televised Commission meeting so the public is made aware.  He stated that he would like to reiterate Ms. Hillson’s comments about the inadequate amount of funding for the Council and the need for additional staffing and identifying increased funding.  Mr. Brooks discussed his role as a lead organizer for CleanPowerSF and discussed the work that Local Power is doing to plan a local build-out that will create approximately 300,000 jobs a year.  He stated that many of these jobs are directly related to local installation of renewables and efficiency mechanisms at approximately the same cost to customers as PG&E. Mr. Brooks discussed Local Power’s plan to involve the Department of the Environment in implementing energy efficiency and other installations as a funded mandate and asked for a presentation by Local Power before the Commission.

Commissioner King asked that a separate cover sheet with budget totals should be provided in the future.  Commissioner Stephenson asked that variance columns appear consistent throughout the program area budgets.  A future discussion would be scheduled to follow up on programs that have budget shortfalls.  Upon Motion by Commissioner Mok, second by Commissioner Stephenson the Fiscal Year 2013-14 Department of the Environment budget was approved (AYES:  Commissioners King, Mok and Stephenson).

5. Status of the Department of the Environment’s Office Move. (Continued Discussion from the November 29, 2012 Meeting) Sponsor: Commissioner Angelo King; Staff Speaker: David Assmann, Deputy Director (Informational Report and Discussion)

Deputy Director Assmann reported that the Department is scheduled to move to 1455 Market Street on Friday, March 1.  He discussed the amount of work toward the move process, donations received for the space, new phone system, and conference room availability for meetings on the 12th floor and Ground Floor that is outside of security.  Commissioner King inquired about the Eco Center.  Deputy Director Assmann reported that there is an option for Eco Center space that is being considered that may become available next August.  

6. Process for Commission on the Environment’s Community Meetings and Outreach Component.  Sponsor: Commissioner Joshua Arce; Speakers:  Commissioner Angelo King and Donald Oliveira, Public Outreach Program Manager (Discussion and Possible Action)

Commissioner King discussed the importance of identifying content and outreach for attendance at community meetings before identifying logistics.  He suggested going out to neighborhoods with grants, jobs, and contracting opportunities, working with Community Based Organizations (CBO’s) funded by the Department, homeowners, and homeowner associations to promote residential programs.   He suggested that the Outreach team identify the logistics for meetings.   Deputy Director Assmann reported that he would consult with program managers on grants, contracts, services, and other neighborhood plans they have in the next twelve months. 

Commissioner Stephenson suggested going out to neighborhoods and asking constituents what they want to talk about.   Commissioner Mok suggested holding a community meeting at least once a year on different subjects and considering requests from the community.   Commissioner King stated that he is not ready to select a date for a meeting until a subject and agenda has been selected.  He discussed the importance of correlating the topic of discussion with the Department’s work.  The Committee discussed the importance of developing the content that correlates to the Department’s work that constituents care about and then identifying the neighborhood.  Mr. King would consult with Mr. Oliveira on next steps.  This agenda item was referred back to Commission President Arce for further consideration and discussion at a future Commission meeting.

Public Comment:  Mr. Eric Brooks stated that he would like to reiterate what Ms. Jackson stated that the Bayview Hunters Point neighborhood and Treasure Island have extreme problems with asbestos and various exposures because of the Naval Station at both of those locations.  He stated that he realizes that the Department is not allowed by Charter to weigh in on land use issues.  He suggested that there be community meetings held in the southeast sector to discuss the naval site and impacts to public health because of asbestos implications.   Mr. Brooks stated that the Department should not be shut out of land use and toxic waste cleanup issues and urged the Department to be aggressive, proactive and radical in order to challenge these boundaries when neighborhood meetings are held to discuss these topics.  Mr. Brooks also discussed his involvement in ensuring that the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) process is not weakened. 

7. Process for Videotaping and Publicizing Commission on the Environment Meetings on San Francisco Government Public Television Station. (Explanatory Document:  SFGOVTV Budgetary Projections for Videotaping Commission Meetings for 2012-13 at City Hall Offsite, Responses to Commissioner Inquiries, and SFGOVTV Viewership Data) Sponsor:  Commissioner Joshua Arce; Speakers:  Commissioner Angelo King and Donald Oliveira, Public Outreach Program Manager (Discussion and Possible Action)

Commissioner King reported that Commissioners are deliberating on making a value judgment as to the usage of Department funds for televising Commission meetings based on the benefits it may provide.  He asked Mr. Jack Chin, General Manager of SFGTV, Department of Technology, to report on viewership the Commission may expect.

Mr. Jack Chin reported that SFGTV is available on three cable systems in San Francisco (1) Comcast; (2) Astound and (3) AT&T.  The AT&T U-verse system reaches beyond San Francisco to San Mateo County to Pleasanton and Alameda County.  SFGTV is not part of the Nielsen rating system so viewership data is not provided.  The information that viewership data is based on is the number of Comcast cable subscribers. Comcast’s subscribers are approximately 189,000 which translate to three households per subscriber on average and about 570,000 viewers.  The video would be available through SFGTV on the internet and could be linked back to the Commission website.  Once the meetings are complete, videos are available on archive that people can access.  It would include RSS feeds, so if a member of the public is interested in a particular item of the Commission and subscribes to that item, they would be able to receive an automatic download of that item whenever it is discussed at a meeting.  The Commission can create topics on their site and members of the public when accessing the Commission page are able to subscribe to the whole meeting or a particular item on the agenda that links back to that feed. SFGTV in the fourth quarter will be introducing mobile streaming on smart phones and tablets. 

Mr. Chin reported that the data figures provided are samples of viewership data for a few Commissions based on different range of interest for topics discussed.  An annual report of viewership for all Commission meetings is included.  The figure does not include live streams since accurate data is not available.  All archives are available for download by way of audio and video.  Agendas and minutes can be integrated into the video system so once you have a meeting it will generate an agenda and template for minutes so the viewer can see everything in one place.   The site is hosted on the Granicus vendor site and can be linked into the Commission’s website.  The Commission currently has audio on the site.

Commissioner King inquired with Mr. Donald Oliveira, Public Outreach Program Manager, as to how videotaping Commission meetings can be integrated into the Department’s overall outreach strategy.  Mr. Donald Oliveira stated that televising meetings would be a good outreach tool if the intent is to promote Commission activities.  Commissioner Stephenson stated that the goal is to increase access and participation in meetings.  She asked Mr. Oliveira what the Outreach Team could otherwise do with the $8000 that it would cost to televise meetings to further those two goals.   Mr. Oliveira reported that there are current outreach activities that could include Commission outreach and that meetings could be made more interactive through social media. He did state that this type of activity can also produce unwanted input. 

Commissioner King discussed his concern that the Commission is currently making decisions that may affect the public and is not getting the best benefit of public input at this time.  He spoke in support of the archival function and the ability to broadcast meetings on television to promote Department programs in order to educate the public on Department programs, for example, composting.  Mr. Chin reported that public service announcements throughout the day at targeted times can also be provided to help with outreach efforts.

Commissioner Mok inquired about the turnover time for downloading and watching a program once the meeting is complete. Mr. Chin reported that in accordance with the Sunshine Ordinance, the turnover time for public viewership is 72 hours; however, realistically the turnover is within less than or ten hours after a meeting is complete.

Deputy Director Assmann reported that the Commission had considered televising its meetings in the past but it was not affordable at that time. Funding is now available since the cost is more affordable and is a low-cost way to reach out to a larger audience on Commission and Department issues.  Results can be revisited at a later time. 

Public Comment:

Mr. David Pilpel stated that televising routine Commission meetings may not be exclusively the best way to promote outreach because the regular meetings may be relatively boring.  He stated that discussions at Committees and outreach campaigns may be better ways to engage the public.  Mr. Pilpel suggested reviewing the best ways to use the money and encouraged a longer form video such as Environment in Focus where you could take a topic and focus on it, provide community education, and advertise Commission and Committee meeting participation at the same time.  He spoke in support of holding neighborhood meetings that he feels should be a major focus for the Commission.

Ms. Espanola Jackson spoke in support of televising Commission meetings.  She stated that the Commission was established initially because of toxicity issues in the southeast community.  She stated that most residents in the southeast community are unable to travel downtown, do not have computers, but do listen to the radio and television channels 26 and 78.  Ms. Jackson reported that the Commission was required initially to hold community meetings.  She suggested that the Commission meet at the Southeast Community College location on topics of importance to the community and discussed health concerns of residents.  Ms. Jackson spoke of meetings of another Commission that concerned the southeast community that no one was aware of because no hearing was held in the community.

Ms. Nancy Wuerfel spoke in support of the Commission televising all of its meetings and holding an additional meeting in the community.  She discussed the importance of having regularly scheduled meetings so people know when meetings will be held.  Ms. Wuerfel discussed her interest in watching Commission business on SFGTV and the awareness and value it brings to the community.  She discussed the importance of closed captioning.  Mr. Chin reported that closed captioning is a separate contract service through a City vendor that is billed hourly and is part of the proposal.  Closed caption data becomes metadata for archives so when someone goes onto the website and searches for a topic of interest such as recycling, it will access all the videos for wherever recycling is on the agenda or discussions.  Ms. Wuerfel stated that televising meetings puts the Commission on the map and strengthens its importance in comparison to other Commissions who televise meetings. She welcomes a meeting in the community and suggested targeting a topic that would address community concerns. 

Mr. Eric Brooks, representing San Francisco Green Party and Our City, stated that he is an environmental justice and consumer advocate whose main topic of interest is to follow global warming issues.  He stated that because of the climate and overall environmental crisis on this planet, all of the nation’s Departments of the Environment and Commissions are the most important commissions.  He stated that the purpose of televising regular meetings is more about increasing the importance of the Commission.  He urged the Committee to approve the proposal and televise all meetings of the Commission and outwardly emphasize the importance of the Commission to the community.

Mr. Chin reported that televising Commission meetings would only be possible starting in the new fiscal year in July in order to build SFGTV’s capacity and include in its budget.  Commissioner King confirmed with Mr. Oliveira that standards and goals for broadcasts would be worked out with the Outreach team. Upon Motion by Commissioner Mok, second by Commissioner Stephenson, televising Commission meetings was approved and would be added to the Department’s budget for FY 13-14.  The Commission would be provided with a report on the Committee’s recommendations.  Deputy Director Assmann reported that a Work Order would be issued for televising meetings starting July 1.

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

Commissioner Stephenson requested a presentation on Urban Agriculture and a discussion on improving City green purchasing mechanisms from an operational perspective.  Commissioner King stated that he would consider whether green purchasing should be heard by the Policy or Operations Committee.  A discussion on the Department’s budget as it relates to program shortages would be scheduled for the May meeting in addition to a continued discussion on standards and approving metrics to analyze the success of televising Commission meetings.   

Public Comment:

Mr. Eric Brooks spoke in support of the Committee holding an urban agriculture discussion and including permaculture and multi-tiered tree gardens.  He stated that when urban agriculture was before the Board of Supervisors last year, he could not influence advocates to support soil testing.  He urged the Committee to consider identifying a source of funds for this effort in order to provide better opportunities for agriculture.

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 Operations Committee meeting adjourned at 6:50 p.m.

The next meeting of the Commission on the Environment Operations Committee is scheduled for Wednesday, May 1, 2013, 5:00 p.m., at 1455 Market Street, San Francisco, CA  94102.

** Copies of explanatory documents are available at (1) the Commission’s office, 1455 Market Street, San Francisco, California between the hours of 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., (2) may be available on the Operations Committee meeting website http://www.sfenvironment.org/commission/agendas 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 https://sites.google.com/a/sfenvironment.org/commission/environment-commission/audio-archives.

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

Approved: May 1, 2013