November 10 2014 Policy Committee Meeting Approved Minutes


MONDAY, NOVEMBER 10, 2014, 5:00 P.M.


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


1. Call to Order and Roll Call.  The Policy Committee meeting convened at 5:05 p.m.  Present:  Commissioners Wald and Gravanis.  Director Deborah Raphael and Policy and Communications Director Guillermo Rodriguez were present.

2. Approval of Minutes of the October 8, 2014 Commission on the Environment Policy Committee Rescheduled Meeting. (Explanatory Document:  October 8, 2014 Draft Minutes) (Discussion and Action)  Upon Motion by Commissioner Gravanis, second by Commissioner Wald, the October 8 2014 Meeting Minutes were approved without objection (AYES:  Commissioners Wald and Gravanis; NOES:  None).

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.

Ms. Miriam Gordon, California Director of Clean Water Action, discussed Clean Water Action and Clean Water Fund collaborations with six Bay Area Local Government agencies including the Department of the Environment on Rethink Disposable, a program to reduce trash at the source with a focus on food and beverage packaging.  She reported on current outreach to city restaurants in order to reduce their use of single-use food and beverage packaging and future plans through this partnership to engage businesses to reduce disposable products. Additional information on the program is available on the Department of the Environment’s website on Rethink Disposable.

Commissioner Wald requested a report on progress made and how goals were met through this program at a future Committee meeting.

4. Presentation on Proposed Safe Medicine Disposal Stewardship Ordinance.  (Explanatory Documents:  Safe Medicine Disposal Presentation, Proposed Ordinance, Legislative Digest, Press Releases and Articles) Sponsor:  Deborah Raphael, Director; Speakers:  Chris Geiger, Municipal Toxics Reduction Coordinator and Samantha Roxas, Legislative Aide, Supervisor Chiu (Informational Presentation and Discussion)

Links to Articles:
SF Gate Article:
CBS Local:
King County, WA Program

Legislative Aide Samantha Roxas reported that the San Francisco Safe Drug Disposal Stewardship Ordinance introduced by Supervisor Chiu on October 21, 2014 would meet a social and environmental need that would keep unused drugs out of public waterways and streets and reduce the dangers of storing unused medicines in the home.  She discussed Ordinance requirements and provided background information on past efforts that were put on hold due to opposition by the pharmaceutical industry.  Ms. Roxas reported that similar programs in Alameda and Kings Counties were upheld by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals affirming the ability of medicine manufacturers to provide for the collection and disposal of home generated medicine.  She reported that the Ordinance would make permanent San Francisco’s current successful pilot drug take-back program and provide funding for a continued expanded program.

Municipal Toxics Reduction Coordinator Dr. Chris Geiger reported that the Safe Drug Disposal Stewardship Ordinance would double the amount of the current pilot program collection sites, provide for recruitment by producers for voluntary participation of retail pharmacies and local enforcement, provide for a mail back envelope alternative, establish outreach responsibilities, and would result in a no point of sale fee to consumers.  Topics of discussion included the environmental and public safety need for this program, the large amount of pharmaceuticals collected through the pilot program, the availability of a secure collection system for controlled and non-controlled substances, and program funding. 

Dr. Geiger discussed the Department’s support for the Ordinance that would accomplish the goals of the successful pilot program to have convenient access to a medicine drop-off site in each supervisorial district and to secure a sustainable funding source.  Additional topics of discussion included Alameda and King Counties Extended Producer Responsibility Ordinances, programs in Canada and Europe that are funded by pharmaceutical industries, and next steps.

Commissioner Gravanis suggested that program outreach material provide information to consumers that pharmaceuticals do not have to be collected in their containers. Commissioner Wald suggested that collection instructions be provided in written material that is distributed with pharmaceuticals.  Policy and Communications Director Guillermo Rodriguez reported on plans to produce consumer/system user surveys on the effectiveness of the pilot program for input into a future program.  Commissioner Wald suggested that the Ordinance make explicit funding that would be directed to the Department of the Environment for administering the program.  Director Raphael reported that the gap in funding from the end of the pilot program to inception of Ordinance requirements would be addressed.

Public Comment:

Ms. Lurilla Harris suggested that the Ordinance should include instructions on an acceptable method for final disposal of pharmaceuticals.  She suggested that pharmacies include medicine disposal instructions in medicine instructional pamphlets that are distributed with medicines.

Mr. David Grant, Co Chair, California Alliance for Retired Americans spoke in support of the legislation citing positive effects the bill would have on seniors and the environment.  He discussed the 950,000 California seniors with a large array of medicines in their cabinets and the need for safe disposal to reduce medical mistakes and prescription abuse.   Mr. Grant discussed a similar bill that was withdrawn in the state legislature due to opposition by PHARMA, the nominal cost that would result in safe disposal, and the need to make safe drug disposal a state law.   

Mr. Michael Lyon, Board, California Alliance for Retired Americans, spoke of his and his family’s support for the legislation discussing a medical procedure that he experienced and confusion that can be experienced with taking a wide variety of medicines.  He pointed out that because of abuse in the use and availability of strong pain relief medicines, they may not be readily available to those who really require them.  Mr. Lyon discussed the dangers of having strong pain relief drugs in the home because of the danger they may pose to children.

Ms. Hene Kelly, Legislative Director, California Alliance for Retired Americans (CARA), reported that the Safe Drug Disposal Ordinance is one of the priorities that members voted on for CARA to work on.  She reported that she would be working on a bill that CARA voted on at the state that had not been approved.  She discussed her daughter’s experience with accessing a drug that was left in an accessible place and the possibility of others doing the same.  Ms. Kelly discussed the nominal cost that would be incurred to administer this program and the worthwhile benefits that would result.

Ms. Agleira Panos, Marin County Pharmacists Association, spoke in support of the program asking that San Francisco start the program so that Marin can do the same.   Ms. Panos discussed confusion that can be experienced by people when they have a large amount of medicines prescribed to them, the need to cut down on over-prescription of drugs, and the benefits of dropping off medicines at pharmacies.  She reported that new Drug Enforcement Agency regulations allow certified pharmacies to take back drugs including narcotics.  Ms. Panos reported that most drugs that kids have on the streets come from homes.  She questioned why there is opposition to the nominal cost to administer this type of program when they are being administered in other countries. 

Ms. Glory Eminue, Touro University Student, Public Health, spoke in support of the legislation and reported on an article she read in the San Diego paper discussing the benefits of the Drug Take Back Program in reducing deaths and student misuse of prescription drugs.  She suggested that consumers can be provided with instructions on medicine disposal during pharmacy consultations.  Ms. Eminue discussed the importance of such a program in making sure that medication does not get in the wrong hands and then become a gateway to much stronger drugs.

Ms. Miriam Gordon, Clean Water Action and Clean Water Fund, spoke in support of the statewide and Alameda County’s bills and plans to strongly support the San Francisco’s Ordinance.  She reported that the pharmaceutical industry had downplayed and challenged the environmental impacts to the aquatic environment and public health at the county and state level.  Ms. Gordon reported that the response was to cite the large amount of pharmaceuticals that were collected from a small scale pilot program that did not end up in waterways and the quantity that could result from a larger scale program.  She reported on research that shows the environmental impacts and continued source of exposure and dangers to the marine environment and human health impacts from drinking water and consumption of fish.

Ms. Jennifer Ellis, Coordinator, Ashland Cherryland Together, a grassroots collaborative in Unincorporated Alameda County, reported on her support for the legislation and the timeliness of the program because (1) the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals judgment that upheld Alameda County’s Ordinance has cleared the way for other jurisdictions; (2) new Drug Enforcement Agency regulations provide the ability for pharmacies to participate and makes clear the role law enforcement can take; and (3) the Affordable Care Act not only provides the community with health care but access to more prescriptions. 

Commissioner Gravanis suggested that the Department of the Environment provide suggestions to producers on what to consider in development of program plans.  She suggested that education and outreach be provided to doctors to not overprescribe drugs and that take back instructions be provided along with prescriptions.  Additional suggestions made were for pharmacies to include a flier along with medications and include information about what medications can be taken after expiration dates as a way to reduce excess.

Director Raphael discussed a potential partnership on program outreach with the Department of Public Health (DPH).  Commissioner Wald suggested that the Department should play a bigger role by holding hearings in neighborhoods about peoples’ experience with the pilot program as a way to make it clear to decision makers why this type of program is needed and should be expanded with sustainable funding.  She suggested that a partnership with DPH be established early so the program is solid before moving into actual implementation.  Communications and Policy Director Rodriguez discussed the benefits of the Department’s experience in running a successful pilot program and its role in approving the program plan.
5. Department of the Environment Activities and Future Committee Direction.  Sponsor and Speaker:  Deborah Raphael, Director (Discussion) 

At the request of Director Raphael, this agenda item was continued to a future meeting.

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

Director Raphael provided a Director’s update on (1) Department and Recology plans to provide a mayoral briefing on Zero Waste efforts and increasing participation; (2) meetings held on compliance requirements for establishing recycling redemption centers and creating a state bill to establish a pilot program; (3) PG&E approved funding for the Department’s 2015 energy efficiency programs; (4) status of contractor work on reassessment of the Department’s energy efficiency programs; (5) Harvard Business School Graduates to work on how to procure sustainable funding for Department renewable energy projects and identify future projects; (6) stakeholder meetings to develop an expanded better roofs policy; (7) Urban Agriculture field trip to the Garden Project and suggested Commission tour; (8) Port of San Francisco contract language discussions on Petroleum Coke and ways to ensure a facility is not established at Pier 70 in the interim; (9) Department’s work to support electric vehicle charging station infrastructure; and (1) Director meetings with staff and EnvironmentNow staff success story. 

In response to Director’s report discussions, Commissioner Wald suggested establishing a moratorium on the PETCO project that would leave time for conversations to take place.  She suggested researching whether people would consider purchasing an electric car if there were charging stations in their garage and whether the people in which buildings that had infrastructure installed purchased an electric vehicle.  Policy and Communications Director Rodriguez reported that the Department’s role was to fund the education of property owners on what steps they need to take to successfully install charging stations and to work with the Rent Board on tenant costs.   Commissioner Wald suggested that staff success stories be added to the Department’s website, and that the Mayor is made aware that the EnvironmentNow program is the most effective city job training program that there is. 

Public Comment: 

Ms. Lurilla Harris reported that she had called Board of Supervisors members to suggest that a City run recycling redemption center be located on Monday through Friday where the Alemany Farmers Market and Flea Market reside on Saturday and Sunday. 

Ms. Miriam Gordon suggested linking solar incentives with the installation of electric vehicle charging stations in buildings.  She stated that Clean Water Action has had many applicants for their positions originating from the Department of the Environment and commended the Department for creating generations of environmentalists.
7. Communications.  (Explanatory Document:  Correspondence Log) (Information and Discussion)

Commission Secretary Monica Fish provided an update on Commission communications received and status to date.

8. Announcements. (Discussion) 

Commissioner Gravanis announced a talk on November 15, 10:30 a.m. on Treasure Island about the Michelle Obama Treasure Island Job Corps Green Acre urban garden.

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

Commissioner Gravanis suggested a follow-up to the Department’s and San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC) joint meeting, an update by SFPUC on their watershed management approach, and how to coordinate SFPUC program efforts with Department of the Environment goals.   She reported on a talk held at SPUR on the benefits of a car-free lifestyle and how this topic ties in with consumer education.  She suggested that a future discussion be held on the carbon footprint of a car.  Commissioner Wald and Director Raphael discussed developing blue sky exercises and collaborations with San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency on this topic and that the Commission and Committee be a venue for blue sky ideas.  Commissioner Wald suggested holding a future meeting with the Berkeley Environmental Commission and scheduling conferences of environmental commissioners to talk about opportunities, challenges, and common work efforts.  Director Raphael asked that Commissioners take a role in leading this effort.  She suggested the possibility of inviting commissioners to the United States Conference of Mayors. 

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 were no members of the public present at this time.

11. Adjournment.  The Policy Committee meeting adjourned at 7:00 p.m.

The next meeting of the Commission on the Environment Policy Committee is scheduled for Monday, December 8, 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 

Approved: January 12, 2015