June 10 2013 Policy Committee Approved Minutes


MONDAY, JUNE 10, 2013, 5:00 P.M.

COMMITTEE MEMBERS:  Commissioners Johanna Wald (Chair), Ruth Gravanis (Vice-Chair), Nicholas Josefowitz
Public comment will be taken before the Committee takes action on any item.

1. Call to Order and Roll Call.  The Commission on the Environment Policy Committee meeting convened at 5:08 p.m.  Present:  Commissioners Gravanis and Josefowitz.  Excused:  Commissioner Wald.  Commissioner Arce was in attendance at the meeting.

2. Approval of Minutes of the May 13, 2013 Commission on the Environment Policy Committee Meeting. (Explanatory Document:  May 13, 2013 Approved Minutes) (Discussion and Action)  Upon Motion by Commissioner Josefowitz, second by Commissioner Gravanis, the May 13, 2013 Commission Meeting Minutes were approved without objection (AYES:  Commissioners Josefowitz and Gravanis; Absent:  Commissioner Wald).

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.

Commissioner Josefowitz inquired about the status of the Geary Bus Rapid Transit System Plan.  Mr. Michael Schwartz, San Francisco County Transportation Authority (SFCTA) suggested that SFCTA staff working on the Geary BRT Plan provide an informational update at a future Policy Committee meeting. 

4. Update on the Van Ness Avenue Bus Rapid Transit Project and Review and Possible Approval of Draft Resolution 2013-10-COE in Support of the Project for Recommendation to the Commission on the Environment. Speaker:  Michael Schwartz, Senior Transportation Planner, San Francisco County Transportation Authority (Explanatory Document:  Draft Resolution and Presentation) (Discussion and Action)

Mr. Michael Schwartz provided an update on the Van Ness Avenue Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) Project (BRT) discussing the BRT network context, project purpose, need, and features.  He described the BRT alignment for the Van Ness dedicated center lane, limited left turn “Locally Preferred Alternative” (LPA), benefits, impacts, key issues, and areas of interest.  Mr. Schwartz discussed the Final Environmental Impact Statement/Report (EIS/EIR), key differences between the Draft and the Final EIS/EIR, and project schedule. He reported that the Transportation Authority Board will be considering certification of the EIR and project approval in July, and the Municipal Transportation Authority will be taking a parallel action for project approval.   Certification from the SFCTA Board will be requested at the end of July, and the Federal Transit Administration will be taking an action on the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) five or six weeks later.  Thirty percent design is under way at this time, and plans are to begin construction in 2015 with a completion date of 2017 with operations beginning in 2017/early 2018. (Reference Presentation)

Commissioner Josefowitz inquired about the cost of the project, ridership, and frequency of bus service.  Mr. Schwartz reported that the project would cost $126 million and on sources of funding from the Federal Transit Administration discretionary grant program, Proposition K (the local transportation sales tax), CalTrans repaving and repair funds for Van Ness, and from Central Freeway parcels.  He reported on current shortfalls that may be solved through increased regional, state or federal grants after certification of the Final EIR.   Mr. Schwartz reported that the combined ridership on the two current bus lines is about 40,000 people a day, and in the segment of the BRT between Mission and Lombard, there are approximately 18,000 boarding.  It is expected that there would be an increase of 35% ridership in the near term.  Mr. Schwartz reported that due to current service cuts, buses now run every ten minutes for the 47 line.  The project would bring service levels back to 7 ½ to 8 minutes, which was the frequency before the service cuts, and that there would be potential to increase the frequency through cost savings on the project.  He stated that it would take fewer buses to keep the same frequency because buses are moving quicker, so operational costs would be saved and could be either routed to other areas or reinvested in the BRT lines.   

Commissioner Gravanis discussed her disappointment with the benefits that current bus shelters provide and suggested that future design keep the passenger in mind in providing adequate shelter.  Mr. Schwartz reported that the Arts Commission Civic Design Review Committee will be reviewing all upcoming bus shelter designs for aesthetic value and that functional value would be of primary concern.  He reported that comments are being accepted at this time as the design is currently just starting.  Director Nutter and Commissioner Josefowitz suggested integrating renewable energy elements as they are functional and useful for bus shelters. 

Director Nutter stated that in order to achieve the mode shift of getting 50% of people out of their cars and onto public transit, biking or walking, that this kind of project may show such great improvements in travel time and in the quality of service that people would prefer a well- functioning public transit system as opposed to sitting in gridlock.   She reported that the next climate goal milestone is in 2017, the year Van Ness BRT is scheduled to start service.

Commissioner Arce spoke in support of the project in helping to meet the City’s sustainability goals and discussed job creation that would result from the project that would be covered by San Francisco’s local hiring ordinance.  Commissioner Gravanis asked Mr. Schwartz to provide statistics on decreasing vehicle miles traveled and greenhouse gas reductions, adding a reference to stormwater management, and suggested language revisions to the Resolution.    Commissioners Arce, Gravanis and Josefowitz and Mr. Schwartz proposed amendments to the Resolution that will be considered at the Policy Committee meeting on July 8, 2013. (Reference Draft Resolution as Amended for the July 8, 2013 Meeting). 

Public Comment:  Mr. Cal Broomhead spoke in support of the project. 

Upon Motion by Commissioner Josefowitz, second by Commissioner Gravanis, this agenda item was continued to the July 8 meeting for the Committee to review and consider approving an amended Resolution for recommendation to the Commission on the Environment. (AYES:  Commissioners Gravanis and Josefowitz; Absent:  Commissioner Wald). 

5. Presentation on Launch of Citywide Climate Adaptation Planning Effort.  Sponsor:  Melanie Nutter, Director; Speakers:  Cal Broomhead, Climate, Energy, and Renewable Energy Program Manager and Calla Ostrander, Staff Climate Action Coordinator (Discussion)

Director Nutter reported on the citywide climate adaptation planning effort that the Department of the Environment will be leading.  She reported on her and Mayor Lee’s attendance at the Clinton Global Initiative meeting, where one of the key topics was climate adaptation and resilience.  At that meeting, there was a realization by world leaders that it is important for cities to not only mitigate carbon emissions, but to create an adaptation plan.

Mr. Cal Broomhead discussed the integration of climate, energy efficiency and solar work, and marketing and discussed current project activities and challenges.  He reported on the post American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) reorganization of the energy- efficiency program and focus by sector with each customer base (commercial, multifamily, and single family).  He discussed the vision for the climate program and structure for adaptation within the climate program.   Mr. Broomhead reported that climate has been thought about in terms of mitigating and reducing greenhouse gases to protect against the worst effects of climate change on humans and the general environment.  There is also the adaptation element in order for nature and human settlements to adapt to climate change and look for positive, nature-based solutions to climate adaptation so that civilizations can thrive and counter adverse effects.

Mr. Broomhead reported on the Department’s role in the climate adaptation planning effort that includes leading municipal mitigation efforts, coordination activity, continued work on departmental climate action plans, performing municipal and community-wide inventories, leading the citywide activity on mitigation through community engagement and outreach, and insuring that climate work advocates for adaptation and other key sustainability issues.  The Climate Program is playing a role in unifying the City’s disparate activities and will continue with climate adaptation work.  A meeting with City departments is scheduled this week to talk about and develop an agreement for climate adaptation and for scheduling regular meetings.  Commissioner Gravanis requested a written report from the meeting.

Ms. Calla Ostrander stated that the more communities mitigate through100% renewable energy, the less adaptation efforts will be required.  She discussed the Department’s main goal in fostering City departmental coordination and collaboration on climate adaptation initiatives into capital planning, private developments, land use and building codes, and relevant City ordinances and increasing community awareness of climate risks and capacity in order to better respond to emergencies.  A discussion was held on current sea level rise and flooding that has been experienced and investment in priority high-risk development areas. A discussion was held on projections for future climate impacts and City department activities to counter impacts.  Climate adaptation planning will be integrated into Department Climate Action Plans and in creating strategies for adaptive measures and new developments.  A grant has been received to fund interdepartmental coordination for one year and to do community outreach for the second year to increase resiliency.  The Department is also participating in regional and national efforts with key partners. The first interagency meeting is scheduled for June 13.  (Reference Presentation)

Commissioner Gravanis inquired about the San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission’s (BCDC) activities to implement its Climate Action Plan. Ms. Ostrander reported that BCDC has reached out to the City to participate in the Dutch Climate Change Initiative, which helped fund the Adapting to Rising Tides Study and is now looking to fund a demonstration project on a vulnerability and infrastructure assessment into the Mission Bay Islais Creek area.  The PUC may provide funding for the initiative since it is already investing in stormwater intrusion and high storm water levels.

Commissioner Gravanis discussed the importance of the Planning Department’s involvement in zoning determinations for new development in order to allow for managed retreat as a way to address sea level rise. Director Nutter and Ms. Ostrander discussed the importance of integrating environmental and sustainability principles into infrastructure design in order to take into account potential impacts and managed retreat.  Commissioner Gravanis suggested increased outreach to the public to gather input into the process.  Ms. Ostrander reported that response to climate falls into three major categories that includes (1) planning and zoning; (2) outreach; and (3) capital planning to spend on adaptive planning.  The Department will be working with the City Administrator’s Office on emergency planning and building resiliency. 

Commissioner Josefowitz suggested establishing a baseline of how much the community knows about local climate risks so that it can be used as a benchmark and metric for establishing the importance of the work.  Ms. Ostrander reported that Mr. Donald Oliveira, Public Outreach Program Manager, is reviewing the possibility of conducting neighborhood awareness studies.  Director Nutter reported that messaging about climate impacts and establishing a baseline would be part of the outreach plan.  Commissioner Gravanis suggested that this information could support grant writing efforts for future assessments and outreach.  

Future updates will be provided to the Committee as new information becomes available.

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

Director Nutter provided a written Director’s Report and highlighted (1) her attendance at the National Academies Workshop in Portland to discuss how cities can work with federal agencies and academia on sustainability programs; (2) meeting with the Mayor to discuss sustainability plans for the new Warrior’s stadium; (3) hearings that have been held on the refuse rate process and the issuance of the Department of Public Works Director’s Report; (4) sustainability grants applied for climate adaptation work; and (5) biodiversity luncheon scheduled for June 20 and postponement of Department open house. 

Commissioner Gravanis inquired about the Department’s involvement with the America’s Cup event.  Director Nutter discussed Department staff’s monitoring and involvement in zero waste efforts for the America’s Cup event.  Commissioner Josefowitz discussed his attendance at the meeting to discuss the Warrior’s Stadium stating that he was impressed with sustainability efforts taking place.  Director Nutter discussed the challenges with LEED status for a sports stadium and the possibility of this project leading the way for adaptive strategies for other waterfront developments.  She suggested that the Policy Committee could be a venue for public comment on sustainability and the Warrior’s Stadium.

7. Communications.  (Explanatory Document:  Correspondence Log) (Information and Discussion) 

Commission Secretary Monica Fish reported that the Correspondence Log for communications received for the Commission and status to date will be transmitted to Committee Members.

8. Announcements. (Discussion) 

Commissioner Gravanis announced that there would be a meeting at the San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission on June 20th to discuss Piers 30 and 32.  She announced that a butterfly count was held at Yerba Buena Island, and that many butterflies were found.

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

Commissioner Josefowitz requested a presentation on plans for the Geary and other Bus Rapid Transit projects.  The Van Ness Bus Rapid Transit project Resolution would be scheduled for the July 8 Policy Committee meeting.  Commissioners discussed reviewing priorities established by the Policy Committee in selecting agenda topics for future meetings.    Director Nutter suggested that a draft of the Department’s 3-5 years Strategic Plan be discussed at the August Committee meeting and discussed professional services that are being considered to work on the plan. 

Director Nutter and Commissioner Gravanis discussed holding a Commission retreat in September and potential format for the retreat, e.g. Strategic Plan community engagement, community-focused retreat, or issue workshop such as Eco District activity.  Commissioner Gravanis suggested that the Committee discuss the retreat at its August meeting.  The Commission would be discussing off-site meeting plans at its July 22 meeting. 
10. 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.
11. Adjournment.  The Policy Committee meeting adjourned at 6:52 p.m.

The next meeting of the Commission on the Environment Policy Committee is scheduled for Monday, July 8, 2013 at 5:00 p.m., 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., (2) may be available on the Policy Committee’s website http://www.sfenvironment.org/commission/agendas 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].  The meeting audio can be reviewed at this website link by meeting date http://www.sfenvironment.org/commission/audio.

Approved: July 8, 2013