May 22 2014 Commission Special Meeting and Policy Rescheduled Meeting Approved Minutes


THURSDAY, MAY 22, 2014, 5:00 P.M.


*The Monday, May 12, 2014 Policy Committee Meeting was RESCHEDULED to Thursday, May 22, 2014 at 5:00 p.m. 

COMMITTEE MEMBERS:  Commissioners Johanna Wald (Chair), Ruth Gravanis, and Nicholas Josefowitz


1. Call to Order and Roll Call.  The Policy Committee meeting convened at 5:07 p.m.  Present were Commissioners Gravanis, Josefowitz and Wald.  Commissioner Arce joined the meeting at 5:08 p.m. at which time it changed to a Special Meeting of the Commission.

2. Approval of Minutes of the April 9, 2014 Commission on the Environment Policy Committee Rescheduled Meeting. (Explanatory Documents:  April 9, 2014 Commission and Policy Committee Draft and Approved Minutes) (Discussion and Action)  Upon Motion by Commissioner Gravanis, second by Commissioner Josefowitz, the April 9, 2014 Policy Committee Meeting section of the Minutes was approved without objection. (AYES:  Commissioners Gravanis, and Josefowitz).  Upon Motion by Commissioner Gravanis, second by Commissioner Wald, the April 9, 2014 Commission on the Environment Special Meeting section of the Minutes was approved without objection (AYES:  Commissioner Arce, Gravanis, Josefowitz and 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.  There was no public comment at this time.

4. Informational Presentation on the Van Ness Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) Implementation Update.  The Committee/Commission may create and vote on a Draft Resolution making recommendations on the Van Ness BRT to the SFMTA. (Explanatory Documents:  Boarding Platform Height and Van Ness BRT Presentation) Sponsor: Commissioner Nicholas Josefowitz; Speaker: Peter Gabancho, Van Ness BRT Project Manager, Capital Programs and Construction, San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (Informational Presentation, Discussion and Possible Action)

Commissioner Josefowitz reported that the Commission had previously approved a Resolution in support of the Van Ness BRT project and requested an update on the project. Van Ness BRT Project Manager Peter Gabancho presented a conceptual visual simulation of the Van Ness BRT with a center-running BRT with right side loading, center median and limited left turns.  A report was provided and discussion was held on key features of the BRT project, network context, existing and proposed service on Van Ness Avenue, separate but related projects, existing City infrastructure improvements (parallel projects), functional and operational requirements, fleet procurement, project cost summary, project schedule, design features, and challenges and opportunities. 

Mr. Gabancho discussed the rationale for changing the boarding platform height from level boarding to a six- to eight-inch high platform at stations (reference explanatory document), and Commissioners Wald and Josefowitz discussed alternative possibilities that may accommodate a level-boarding platform.  Commissioner Gravanis inquired what methods would be used to incorporate a low impact design approach to stormwater.  Mr. Gabancho discussed the $3 to 6 million dollars worth of work on green infrastructure working with the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC) that includes installation of permeable pavement and rainwater swells to channel rainwater.

Public Comment:

Ms. Lurilla Harris stated that when proposing that new platforms be installed, to keep in mind that the current MUNI platforms do not reach the curb where they are supposed to.  Mr. Gabancho responded that drivers may not always pull up against the curb, and that an exclusive lane may make drivers more comfortable in doing so to minimize the gap.  He stated that training of drivers to stop at the curb may be required.   

5. Discussion of Working with the Port of San Francisco to Create a Policy Prohibiting Transportation and Export of Hazardous Fossil Fuel Materials such as Coal, Crude Oil, and Petroleum Coke in the City and County of San Francisco.  (Explanatory Documents:  Draft and Approved Resolutions and ierra Club Fact Sheet on “Why the Bay Area should say “No” to Coal and Petroleum Coke Exports”) Sponsor: Commissioner Joshua Arce; Speakers: Policy Director Guillermo Rodriguez and Commissioner Joshua Arce (Discussion and Possible Action to initiate work with the Port of San Francisco to create a proposed policy)

Commissioner Arce reported that the Sierra Club along with a coalition of environmental justice and community members are leading an effort to oppose the transportation and export of hazardous fossil fuel materials such as crude oil, coal, and Petroleum Coke “petcoke” in the City and County of San Francisco because of the greenhouse gas emissions caused by the industrial use of these hazardous materials, the linkage to serious health hazards to people and wildlife, as well as many other adverse effects as referenced in the Fact Sheet and Resolution. He asked that the Commission request that Department staff work with the Commission to enact citywide legislation regarding the transportation and export of these materials following the Port Commission’s adoption of a policy regarding these actions on Port property.  

Communications and Policy Director Guillermo Rodriguez reported that this Commission and Department staff have worked with the Port Commission in the past to develop innovative environmental policies, for example the zero waste policy for events along the waterfront that the Port adopted and was ultimately the basis for a citywide policy approved by the Board of Supervisors earlier this year.  He stated that staff would be willing to help support Port staff in crafting a policy and maintain the role of San Francisco being a leader in major environmental issues.  Commissioner Gravanis suggested that an Ordinance be considered in addition to a policy and that staff research whether there is an inter-state commerce issue that should be considered. 

Public Comment:

Mr. Kurt Grimes, A Philip Randolph Institute (APRI) in San Francisco, a community based organization in the Bayview that provides community outreach for development programs and services.  Mr. Grimes stated that the Bayview neighborhood is home to many environmental injustices that plague the community.  He reported that APRI will be supporting the Heron’s Head Eco Center and invited Commissioners to APRI’s party on May 28th.  He thanked the Commission for their leadership on this issue and stated that APRI is in strong support of legislation on this issue.

Ms. Jessica Yarnall Loarie, Staff Attorney with Sierra Club Environmental Law Program, Beyond Oil Campaign, spoke in support of the Commission’s leadership on this issue noting that health and safety impacts are key elements of the Resolution.  She stated that there are many other communities that have been active on the transport and export of hazardous fossil fuels and presented statements of opposition from leaders across the Northwest on the coal issue.  Ms. Loarie reported that it may not be possible to ban the transportation of these commodities by rail because of interstate commerce regulations and suggested changing the Resolution wording to “opposing” transportation… instead of “prohibiting” in addition to other amendments. It was suggested that the City Attorney be consulted to better address these concerns. She stated that the Port may have the authority to make sure these commodities are not being exported through its leases and has been approached about the transport and export of fossil fuels and coal in particular, in which they have taken a leadership position.      

Ms. Jess Dervin-Ackerman, Conservation Organizer for the Bay Area Chapter of the Sierra Club, spoke in support of the Commission’s leadership on the Resolution and for recognizing the leadership of the Port who have held to their convictions on this issue.  She spoke in support of including community health and safety and the climate impact, which are the biggest problems with coal and coal exports.  She stated that enacting legislation would be a way to leave coal in the ground and would help curb climate disruptions.

Ms. Devorah Ancel, Staff Attorney with the Sierra Club Environmental Law Program, Beyond Oil Campaign, thanked the Commission for taking this initiative that if approved will set a precedent for California and the entire nation.  She discussed the importance of having San Francisco on board with other Bay Area cities in this effort.  There has been an increase in crude oil by rail in the nation and in Northern California in particular (57% increase in Northern California in 2013).  Rail tank cars that carry crude oil are inadequate for carrying oil and tar sands and as a result there have been accidents causing more oil to spill in the last year than in the last four decades.  There are numerous proposals in the Bay Area to build new rail terminal facilities at refineries or to expand existing rail terminals to import oil by rail, put it on a marine vessel, and then take it to one of the Bay Area refineries.  There has been limited to no CEQA reviews on these proposals and very little public notice.  Sierra Club has been involved in challenging and commenting on these proposals.  She discussed involvement by other Bay Area cities in passing Resolutions and putting pressure on California’s DC Delegation to put pressure on the White House to pass better regulation on the safety of this type of transport.

Mr. Jed Holtzman, San Francisco resident, environmental scientist, coordinator of 350 San Francisco, a grassroots climate advocacy group, spoke in support of the Resolution and the Commission and Department’s leadership in this area.  He reported that petcoke is being generated every day in Benicia, Martinez, Richmond and Rodeo, and because it cannot be burned in the Bay Area, it piles up and causes particulate matter.  He stated that the Bay Area has piles and rail cars full of petcoke, that our refineries are generating something worse than coal, and that there is no where to put it unless it can be exported somewhere, which is not the answer.  This is a waste product that is not regulated on a federal level.  Petroleum coke and other petroleum products are being exported in the locations mentioned. If not for the Port of San Francisco taking action, it would also be exported from San Francisco. These refinery communities along with Pittsburg, Oakland, and every city in the transportation corridor from Eastern Contra Costa County to Western Alameda County are affected by trains coming through with solid materials escaping and emissions from trains and trucks. 

Mr. John Rizzo, Sierra Club Chapter’s Political Chair, stated that an ordinance has to be enacted.  He stated that the reason we have petroleum coke and crude oil is from fracking in North Dakota.  The things we see now that we did not see ten years ago is because the oil fields of the cleaner oil are being emptied and the oil and coal companies are finding new ways to produce product.  This is going to increase instead of decrease, and there will be more pressure seen on Ports to accept this material for export or for use otherwise.  This Policy now and good intentions are great, but ten years from now the oil companies will be writing bigger checks and there will be different leaders that may not want to turn down the giant check from oil companies, so it needs to be law, and we can’t accept putting more toxic material into the southeast, which already has more than its fair share of toxic materials.  He urged the Commission to push this Resolution to the Board to make it law and offered the Sierra Club’s assistance to move it forward.

Mr. Cal Broomhead, speaking as a member of the public, stated that it would seem counterintuitive that any Port Commissioner would approve of the shipping of materials that would inundate their Port, and that it would be a dereliction of their duty to do so and could be an opportunity for legal intervention.

Upon Motion by Commissioner Arce, second by Commissioner Wald, the Resolution was approved as amended (AYES:  Commissioners Arce, Gravanis, Josefowitz and Wald) (Explanatory Document:  Approved Resolution)

Commissioner Arce left the meeting at this time (6:58 p.m.).  The Commission meeting reverted to a Policy Committee meeting at 6:58 p.m.   

6. Climate Consumption Inventory.  Presentation on an alternative method of performing a carbon footprint inventory for a jurisdiction. Sponsor:  Commissioner Ruth Gravanis; Speaker:  Cal Broomhead, Climate and Energy Manager (Informational Presentation and Discussion)

Commissioner Gravanis mentioned the correlation between agenda topics that the Commission and Committees discuss and consumerism. She asked what is being done to address the “reduce” (buy less) part of “reduce, reuse, recycle,” and suggested that we help consumers make smart choices by educating the public about the environmental impacts of things and services they buy from the beginning to the use and disposal of the product. 
She questioned the promotion of purchasing electric cars and while ignoring the carbon footprint of the manufacture of the car.  She stated that a good place to start is to understand the carbon footprint of these products and services.

Climate and Energy Manager Cal Broomhead provided a report by the Stockholm Environment Institute on “Consumption-Based Emissions Inventory for San Francisco” that estimates the greenhouse gases released to produce, transport, sell, use, and dispose of goods and services consumed in San Francisco. He presented a carbon consumption inventory discussing San Francisco’s traditional community greenhouse gas emissions inventory percentages and San Francisco’s consumption based emissions inventory.  Mr. Broomhead reported that the largest items in the consumption based emissions inventory are food and beverage, followed by vehicles.  A Green Cities Coalition report on the carbon content of different food choices and of eating at restaurants was presented, and a discussion was held on opportunities to close the loop and reduce consumption. 

Commissioner Wald suggested that the Department consider producing a carbon footprint application that could be added to the website and including a campaign to inform people that the information is there.  Mr. Broomhead discussed the importance of the Department promoting car sharing as a way to reduce the vehicle consumption footprint.  Commissioner Gravanis suggested incorporating messaging that vehicles have a carbon footprint whether they are driven or not and including a guide that explains at what point it makes sense to purchase a new vehicle versus keeping the older car as a way to provide information to make smart choices.   

Communications and Policy Director Guillermo Rodriguez reported that staff presented the Climate Action Strategy Update to the Board of Supervisors Land Use Committee and focused on the consumption methodology on how to capture and measure an overall carbon footprint in order to help drive policy and decision making.  Two alternatives were offered (1) the traditional model that most jurisdictions use that really capture the emission at the end of the tailpipe; and (2) the consumption methodology that has been discussed.  The consumption methodology completely reverses numbers and shows what priorities should be at different locations and areas.  He reported that the Climate Strategy Update has a two page section reviewing other methodologies.

Mr. Rodriguez reported that Department staff has been talking with the Natural Resources Defense Council about their recent national study on the amount of food waste that is seen in grocery stores and the potential there is to reduce that from a zero waste perspective in conversations and outreach with consumers about consumption, waste, understanding best buy date labeling and resulting climate impacts.

Commissioner Wald left the meeting at 7:05 p.m.

Climate and Energy Manager Cal Broomhead discussed the Trans-Boundary Infrastructure footprint that calls out greenhouse gas emissions produced by air and transit travel.  Mr. Broomhead reported that air travel at San Francisco International Airport is not in our inventory, and there is no protocol for the Bay Area or anywhere on how to agree on how to account for air travel in our footprints. A request has been made to the Air District that a meeting be convened to talk about how to allocate the carbon footprint on BART, Caltrain, and air travel.  Commissioner Josefowitz suggested counting the location on where emissions are actually being emitted.  

Next steps discussed are to consider press outreach, outreach to supermarkets and vendors on how to address food waste, hold focus groups, and have public conversations with neighborhood associations and with the public to request feedback.  Mr. Rodriguez reported that additional staffing would be available to work on this effort in the near term.  Mr. Broomhead reported that consumption could be incorporated into the Department’s Strategic Plan.  Commissioner Gravanis agreed that next steps would be to incorporate consumption in the Strategic Plan in the waste management and carbon plan arenas and working with consumers to make smart choices.      

7. Director’s Report and Updates. (Informational Report and Discussion)  Communications and Policy Director Rodriguez reported that the Department’s new Director, Debbie Raphael, will be starting on June 2.   Mr. Ryan Jackson will be the temporary assistant to the Director.  A discussion was held on upcoming Department events. 

8. Communications.  (Explanatory Document:  Correspondence Log) (Information and Discussion)  Commission Secretary Fish provided a written report of Commission correspondence received and status to date.

9. Announcements. (Discussion)  There were no announcements made at this time.

10. New Business/Future Agenda Items. (Discussion)  There was no new business or future agenda items discussed at this time.

11. 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 were no members of the public present at this time. 

12. Adjournment.  The Policy Committee meeting adjourned at 7:28 p.m.

The next meeting of the Commission on the Environment Policy Committee meeting is scheduled for Monday, June 9, 2014 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 access to the building; (2) on the Policy Committee’s website, 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 the website link by meeting date