November 12 2014 Operations Committee Meeting Approved Minutes


WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 12, 2014, 5:00 P.M.


COMMITTEE MEMBERS:  Commissioners Angelo King (Chair), Heather Stephenson, Sarah Wan

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 Operations Committee meeting convened at 5:03 p.m.  Present:   Commissioners King, Stephenson and Wan.

2. Approval of Minutes of the August 13, 2014 Operations Committee Rescheduled Meeting. (Explanatory Document:  August 13, 2014 Operations Committee Meeting Draft Minutes) (Discussion and Action)  Upon Motion by Commissioner Stephenson, second by Commissioner Wan, the August 13, 2014 Meeting Minutes were approved without objection (AYES:  Commissioners King, Stephenson and Wan; 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.  There was no public comment at this time.

4. Update on Urban Agriculture Programming.  An update will be provided to the committee on citywide urban agriculture programming and the Recreation and Park Department’s and Department of the Environment’s activities.  (Explanatory Documents:  Resolution, Department of the Environment Urban Agriculture Program Update, and Program Recommendations) Sponsor: 

Commissioner Heather Stephenson; Speakers: Hannah Shulman, Urban Agriculture Program Coordinator, Recreation and Park Department, and Mei Ling Hui, Urban Forest and Agriculture Coordinator, Department of the Environment (Informational Report and Discussion)

Department of the Environment Urban Forest and Agriculture Coordinator, Mei Ling Hui, provided background on San Francisco’s Urban Agriculture programming that was previously housed at the Department of the Environment’s Toxics Reduction Program and is now housed by the Recreation and Park Department with Urban Agriculture Program Coordinator Hannah Shulman as the program lead.   Ms. Hui reported on the different focus areas of the Urban Agriculture Interagency Working Group participants; e.g., Department of the Environment’s focus is in urban agriculture as it relates to food security, toxics reduction/natural areas, and on education and outreach; Recreation and Park Department has a land owning focus; San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC) is on youth development; and Department of Public Works is on the street parks program.  She reported on her participation in the interagency working group to complete current work and then establish a broader scope of work through Strategic Plan guidelines in the areas of food security and toxics reduction/natural areas.  

Recreation and Park Department Urban Agriculture Program Coordinator, Hannah Shulman, reported that a Resolution was approved in 2012 to create an Urban Agriculture program in San Francisco.  She reported on program funding, her role to create a Strategic Plan, and work in conjunction with the Urban Agriculture Working Group and City agencies to collaborate and support new and existing projects.   Activities are to include continued support of projects on public and private land, providing technical assistance, working to build capacity for the community gardens program, and providing resources through urban agricultural resource centers.  Ms. Shulman reported on Recreation and Park Department’s implementation of a website that provides information about city urban agriculture and available resources. 

Commissioner Stephenson inquired about urban agriculture site statistics. Ms. Shulman reported that there are at least 135 total urban agriculture sites, approximately 25 percent are San Francisco Unified School District sites; approximately 25 percent are Recreation and Park Department managed community gardens; approximately 25 percent are private sites, and approximately 25 percent are non other agencies’ public land sites (including Department of Public Works property).  Commissioner King requested a map of the 135 sites.  Commissioner Stephenson discussed her interest in the work of the Food Security Task Force, the kind of impacts a local garden or person growing their own food may have on climate change and food production around the country, the impact on city planning, and creating an assessment of the future potential for the city.  She requested information on whether there is scarcity of land for those that have expressed interest in creating an urban agriculture site.  Urban Agriculture Coordinator Shulman discussed the need to establish funding for data collection to identify future potential.   She reported on her plans to create an Annual Report for the Board of Supervisors and Mayor that would assist in this effort.

Commissioner Stephenson suggested influencing workers and volunteers to attend information sessions on the current state of the drought and irrigation practices.  Ms. Hui reported on SFPUC’s work in this area providing education and outreach.   Commissioner Stephenson, Ms. Hui, and Ms. Shulman discussed the Community Action Plan and opportunities to provide outreach about the nexus between climate resiliency and agriculture.  Outreach Program Manager Donald Oliveira reported on the nexus between Department of the Environment’s programming and funding opportunities and gardens.
Commissioner King suggested consulting the San Francisco Urban Agriculture Alliance for data input.  Ms. Shulman reported that data collection was not the main focus of the San Francisco Urban Agriculture Alliance, but that volunteer representatives do attend meetings and participate in discussions.   Commissioner King inquired whether larger producers prepare assessments and how food is allocated from agricultural sites.   Ms. Shulman reported that Alemany Farms, a lager producer, keeps documentation records that could help make the case for production capabilities.   She reported that food has been allocated to volunteers, Alemany dwellings folks, and to the free farm stand. 

Commissioner King discussed the importance of this program as a way to exchange public land for the public good.  He suggested subsidizing program costs by establishing recreational programs around urban agriculture and incorporating policies and goals for youth education, workforce training and jobs, and subsidizing programs for working families to include affordable pricing and better food choices.   Ms. Hui reported that the Task Force is focused on increased access.  Ms. Shulman reported that she is researching sustainable funding and for a Board of Supervisors member to continue sponsorship of the program.   Commissioner King suggested consulting with the Supervisor whose district has the most concentration of agricultural farms.

Commissioner Wan inquired about the number and distribution of schools that have community gardens in San Francisco.  Ms. Shulman reported that 25 percent are San Francisco Unified School District sites, that 32 of these sites participate in urban agriculture, and that there is a larger number of community gardens on the east side of the city. 

Communications and Policy Director Guillermo Rodriguez inquired how the City’s Integrated Pest Management Program is incorporated and the type of tracking mechanisms that are being used for the use of fertilizers and pesticides on urban agriculture public and private sites.  Ms. Hui reported that IPM and citywide policies are followed on publicly owned land.  

Public Comment:  Mr. Eric Brooks, Sustainability Chair San Francisco Green Party, Coordinator for Our City, discussed his interest in urban agriculture and spoke in support of the program.  He suggested that the Department and Commission steer the program out of the Recreation and Park Department because of their policies in favor of the installation of plastic turf instead of grass and cutting down of trees that provide benefits for carbon sequestration.   Mr. Brooks reported that the Resolution dropped the requirement to include soil testing particularly in districts that are known to contain a lot of toxic chemicals, and that funding should be established for this effort.  He suggested that an Urban Agriculture sub group be added at the Department of the Environment or to create a Department of Agriculture.

5. Update on the Department of the Environment’s First Quarter Fiscal Year 2014-15 Budget.  (Explanatory Documents:  FY 2014-15 First Quarter Budget Documents) Sponsor: Commissioner Angelo King; Speaker:  Joseph Salem, Program Manager, Finance and Administration (Informational Report and Discussion)

Finance and Administration Program Manager Joseph Salem reported on the Department of the Environment’s first quarter budget for Fiscal Year 2014-15 covering program area budgets, grants and other funding sources, amount spent to date, amount encumbered, spending rates, time period encompassed, and work order and impound account funds.  Commissioner Stephenson inquired whether a City agency working group has been established or progress made in acquiring general fund support to cover employee benefits and other costs that grants do not provide for.   Mr. Salem reported on his discussion with two City agencies that reported that they offset non-labor costs with general fund support.  He stated that an agency has not been identified that receives the same type of grant funding and does not receive general fund support to offset costs.  Mr. Salem reported on his communication with the Mayor’s Budget Analyst to identify a long-term funding solution.  Policy and Communications Director Guillermo Rodriguez reported that the Department is starting the budget process for Fiscal Year 15-16 and the Deputy Director will be reviewing work orders.

Public Comment:  Mr. Eric Brooks reported that the Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCo) has completed commissioning a study for the build-out plan for community choice aggregation (CleanPowerSF).  The company that was selected identified how SFPUC can utilize CleanPowerSF’s budget once it begins implementation to receive funding for staff and private contractor tasks.   He suggested that the Department of the Environment explore a partnership with the CleanPowerSF program to supplement its budget and implement energy-efficiency programs.

6. Review of Organizational Structure for Future Commission on the Environment Community Meetings.  Sponsor:  Commissioner Angelo King (Discussion) 

Commissioner Angelo King noted that Commission community meetings initiated more interest from the public than those held at City Hall and asked whether it is believed to be an effective use of Department resources.  He suggested that outcomes from each meeting be evaluated and asked Mr. Oliveira to provide information on the qualitative benefits of community meetings in order to justify resources. Commissioner King spoke of the importance of the Commission providing an understanding of the value of Department activities to the community instead of focusing on other Department activities. 

Commissioner Stephenson spoke in support of holding meetings in the community twice a year, and having cross collaborations amongst City departments.  She suggested an agenda item at each meeting to showcase and educate the public about a Department program and to offer translation services as was provided at the September meeting.  Commissioner Wan spoke in support of holding community meetings as a way to provide education and engage residents in neighborhoods, and spoke of the value of translation services that were offered.  She asked to be provided with a better understanding on the impact of staff time, planning that is involved, and budget for these meetings.  Policy and Communications Director Rodriguez reported on costs that were budgeted and agency partnerships that provided the Department and Commission with opportunities and resources.  

Public Outreach Program Manager Donald Oliveira spoke of the qualitative benefit of community meetings to justify the use of staff time.  He asked that the Commission determine a meeting schedule and provide information on agenda topics and logistics to Department staff for the next fiscal years’ meetings in order to leverage agenda programming and meeting logistics.  Mr. Oliveira and Mr. Rodriguez discussed the importance of highlighting the Department’s work with other City departments in order to create opportunities and maintain partnerships for current and future work.    Mr. Oliveira suggested that there be two community meetings per year spaced accordingly and scheduled around Department neighborhood campaigns.   Policy and Communications Director Rodriguez discussed public comment received on issues that are not within the Department’s jurisdiction, efforts to connect community members with the appropriate agency or Commission to contact, and the need to better educate the public about Department activities.   Commissioner King requested that neighborhood campaign dates be provided to the Commission in order to provide a meeting schedule to Department staff.

Public Comment:  Mr. Eric Brooks spoke of the importance of the Commission holding community meetings and urged the Commission to continue.  He noted that the public’s request for Commission involvement in land use and natural areas issues should be a signal for the Department and Commission to urge the Board of Supervisors to change the City Charter so that the Department and Commission can be involved in these issues. 

7. Organizational and Change Management Assessment for Department of the Environment Energy Related Programs including Climate, Energy Watch, Renewable Energy, and Green Building. (Explanatory Document:  Request for Proposal) Sponsor:  Jennifer Kass, Deputy Director; Speaker:  Guillermo Rodriguez, Communications and Policy Director  (Informational Report and Discussion)

Policy and Communications Director Rodriguez reported on the issuance of a Request for Proposal(s) (RFP) and selection of an organizational consultant to assist the Director and senior staff on an organizational and change management assessment for Climate, Energy Watch, Renewable Energy and Green Building program structure.  The RFP was initiated because of staff changes and vacancies in these programs and the impact of these programs to the Department’s budget and staff resources.  

Commissioner Wan inquired about the timeline that an assessment and recommendations would be made by the consultant and corresponding implementation timeline.   Mr. Rodriguez reported that an assessment and recommendations would be provided in approximately six to eight months, but that there is a request to expedite the process in order to fill staff vacancies that are currently being filled on a temporary and consultant basis.  Implementation would start as recommendations are made on a parallel track. 

Public Comment:  Mr. Eric Brooks reported that he has worked on CleanPowerSF and community choice aggregation for the last eleven years as a professional organizer.  He spoke in opposition to the Department’s exclusion of the CleanPowerSF program in its Climate Action Plan that he believes was influenced by the Mayor’s Office.   He suggested that the Commission and staff reinstate recommendations for CleanPowerSF implementation and connect with the Local Agency Formation Commission to push for its adoption so the Department can make use of resources and income opportunities that this program would provide.  Mr. Brooks suggested that Commission members review the EnerNex report that makes recommendations on the Department’s role in CleanPowerSF.

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

Commissioner Stephenson inquired about scheduling a discussion about barriers to meeting zero waste goals.  Policy and Communications Director Rodriguez reported that the Policy Committee meeting earlier this year held discussions on zero waste, and that it could be considered as a topic for a future Commission meeting to discuss issues that remain.  He reported on November 25 Commission meeting agenda topics that includes Executive Director Performance Appraisal and Supervisor Avalos’s legislation that would require fuel stations to publish the impact that a gallon of petrol has on CO2.  Commissioner King suggested that Committee Members review Committee tasks and Charter requirements for other City Commissions and provide recommendations for future agenda items to Commission Secretary Fish. Commissioner King requested information on the LAFCo Ordinance, contact information, and schedule of meetings.  Ms. Fish reported that information is available on the Board of Supervisors meeting website.  Commissioner Wan suggested a discussion on the Sustainable Chinatown Initiative.

Public Comment:  Mr. Eric Brooks asked that the Commission consider discussions at future meetings about reaching out to a Supervisor for sponsorship and drafting legislation that would be on the ballot to increase the responsibilities and authority of the Department of the Environment.    He suggested that Committee Members be provided a copy of the EnerNex report that provides recommendations on what the Department’s role should be for the CleanPowerSF program.

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 6:40 p.m.

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

The next meeting of the Commission on the Environment Operations Committee is scheduled for Wednesday, February 11, 2015, 5:00 p.m., at City Hall, Room 421, San Francisco, CA  94102.

The next meeting of the Commission on the Environment Operations Committee is scheduled for Wednesday, August 13, 2014, 5:00 p.m., at City Hall, Room 421, San Francisco, CA  94102.
** 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 21, 2015