November 25 2014 Commission on the Environment Meeting Approved Minutes


TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 25, 2014, 5:00 P.M.


COMMISSION MEMBERS:  Commissioners Joshua Arce (President); Angelo King (Vice-President), Ruth Gravanis, Heather Stephenson, Johanna Wald, Sarah Wan


1. Call to Order and Roll Call.  The Commission on the Environment meeting was called to order at 5:05 p.m.  Present:  Commissioners Gravanis, Stephenson, Wald and Wan; Excused:  Commissioners Arce and King.  Commissioner Gravanis was appointed as Acting President for the meeting.

2. Introduction of Department of the Environment Deputy Director Jennifer Kass. Sponsor and Speaker:  Deborah Raphael, Director (Discussion).  Director Raphael introduced Department Deputy Director Jennifer Kass to the Commission discussing her recent appointment as Deputy Director and qualifications for the position.  Deputy Director Jennifer Kass reported on her work plans and focus as Deputy Director for the Department.  Commissioners welcomed and congratulated Deputy Director Kass to the position.

3. Approval of Minutes of the September 30, 2014 Commission on the Environment Rescheduled Meeting. (Explanatory Documents: September 30, 2014 Draft and Approved Minutes) (Discussion and Action)  Upon Motion by Commissioner Wald, second by Commissioner Stephenson, the September 30, 2014 Meeting Minutes were approved without objection (AYES:  Commissioners Gravanis, Stephenson, Wald and Wan; Absent:  Commissioners Arce and King).

4. Public Comments:  Members of the public may address the Commission on matters that are within the Commission’s jurisdiction and are not on today’s agenda.  There was no public comment at this time.

5. Review and Approval of Draft Resolution 2014-16-COE approving Department of the Environment Funding Recommendation for Grant Award to Support Used Oil Community Mural Project in Bayview Hunters Point.  (Explanatory Documents:  Approved Resolution and Funding Recommendation) Sponsor:  Deborah Raphael, Director; Speaker:  Sraddha Mehta, Senior Environmental Justice Coordinator (Discussion and Action)

Director Raphael reported that Bayview Hunters Point is one of the neighborhoods that suffer from the largest incidence of illegal dumping of garbage, trash, electronics, motor oil and toxics chemicals.  A grant was received from CalRecycle, the state agency that oversees funding of household hazardous waste collection initiatives, to increase awareness in the area for proper disposal and the challenges of what illegal disposing has on the community.  One of the Items the Department wanted to do is produce a mural to highlight the issue of illegal dumping of motor oil and utilize local talent that would speak in a way that the community would be inspired by. 

Senior Environmental Justice Coordinator Sraddha Mehta requested approval of the Department’s funding recommendation for the Bayview Hunters Point community mural project that is focused on used motor oil.  She reported that the Department received a grant from CalRecycle to increase awareness of abandoned motor oil and conduct outreach in the community about safer disposal options.  The Department decided to do this through a community mural project and an outreach and education campaign.  A Request for Proposal(s) was issued on October 24 to select a community based organization to plan for the mural and conduct outreach.  Ms. Mehta reported on proposals received, the interview process, and selection of the Bayview Opera House who would be working with a local muralist.  The Opera House will leverage their existing art programs serving youth, and the 3rd on Third project, a monthly event series in Bayview that supports local  merchants and features art and culture activities for families. 

Commissioner Wan inquired about the proposed location for the mural.  Ms. Mehta reported that the Department would be working with the San Francisco Arts Commission and the Opera House to analyze and select a site most appropriate based on visibility and where there has been a lot of dumping.  Commissioner Stephenson inquired about a target date for unveiling of the mural.  Ms. Mehta reported that the mural would be unveiled by next summer.  Commissioner Wald suggested that grantees appear at future Commission meetings to speak about their proposed project. 

Upon Motion by Commissioner Wan, second by Commissioner Stephenson, Resolution 006-14-COE was approved without objection (AYES:  Commissioners Gravanis, Stephenson, Wald and Wan; Absent:  Commissioners Arce and King).

6. Discussion and Possible Action to Make Recommendations to the Board of Supervisors (BOS) on BOS File No. 141094 [Environment Code – Greenhouse Gas Information Labels for Gas Pumps]: Ordinance amending the Environment Code to require service station operators to place labels on gas pumps advising the public of the amount of carbon dioxide generated by burning a gallon of fuel and making environmental findings. (Explanatory Documents:  Draft Ordinance. Legislative Digest, Status Update on Beyond the Pump Campaign 11/25/14, Sierra Club Letter of Support) Sponsor: Deborah Raphael, Director; Speaker: Jeremy Pollock, Legislative Aide to Supervisor John Avalos (Discussion and Possible Action)

Commission Secretary Monica Fish read a statement by Commission President Joshua Arce into the record as follows:

"Supervisor Avalos' ordinance to require Greenhouse Gas Information Labels for Gas Pumps is a strong proposal that we can adopt as part of our efforts to increase awareness of the realities of climate change and to help move the needle on greenhouse gas emissions in the City.  I hope that we can get any questions that we may have about this proposal answered tonight so that the Commission on the Environment can take action to support the proposal through a letter of support to the Board of Supervisors."

Legislative Aide to Supervisor John Avalos, Jeremy Pollock, discussed the proposed ordinance to put information labels on gas pumps in an effort to educate people about how burning gasoline and diesel fuel contribute to global warming.  He stated that the proposal was brought forward by 350 Bay Area who is also working with the Berkeley City Council to draft a similar ordinance.  He asked for the Commission’s feedback on the ordinance as it applies to the information label, program administration, and how the message would apply to alternative fuel vehicles.  Mr. Pollock suggested that the policy choice for the initial ordinance would be to limit the message to gasoline, diesel, and biodiesel fuel and not to include electric and compressed natural gas (CNG) vehicles.

Mr. Jamie Brooks, 350 Bay Area, discussed the social norms approach to lower greenhouse gas emissions in transportation in an effort to influence behavior change.  He stated that the labels would create transparency at the pump, locate the responsibility at the point of purchase, and disclose to consumers the dangers associated with their purchase of fuel.   Mr. Brooks reported on the proposed location of the labels and campaign concepts to not only increase awareness, but to connect personal consumption of energy to the problem in an effort to offer alternatives and initiate behavior change.  He reported that the primary source of United States greenhouse gas emissions is transportation through personal consumption of fuel.  Mr. Brooks stated that the strategy for label location and content is to bring urgency at the point of sale and to create better policies for transportation and climate change.  A discussion was held on studies that have shown how labels have effectively initiated behavior change and awareness and have led to future policies (citing the anti-tobacco campaign as an example).

Clean Transportation Program Manager, Robert Hayden, discussed conversations that were held with Supervisor Avalos’s office as the Ordinance was being developed relaying the Department’s position that any action that is effective in influencing people to realize their impact on climate change and initiate behavior change is positive.  Specific to transportation, anything that can be accomplished to educate people that there are choices other than automobiles that are far less impactful on climate change and if they do have automobiles, that there are choices on the types of automobiles and fuels to purchase,  would be useful.  He reported that one of the aspects of the Ordinance that is useful as an information resource is to invite people to access the Department of the Environment’s Climate website for further information. 

Mr. Hayden suggested that the proposed wording in the ordinance “The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has determined that a typical passenger vehicle burning one gallon of fuel produces on average of almost 20 pounds of tailpipe carbon dioxide (CO2…”, be made specific to petroleum fuel and to drop the number in references to cleaner fuels such as Compressed Natural Gas or for electricity for electric vehicle cars, which has a dramatically lower greenhouse gas emission component.   Mr. Hayden suggested that the section that authorizes the Department of the Environment to enforce and identify rules and regulations for posting of the label be reconsidered as there are other City departments and agencies within City government, DPH and the Fire Department, that currently have enforcement activities with gas stations and have processes for doing inspections.  He reported that the number of gas stations have been dropping dramatically and is currently between 70 and 90 depending on which department’s records are correct. 

Commissioner Gravanis requested an estimate of the cost to implement the program as envisioned and whether there has been thought to alternative programs to meet the same goal.  Mr. Hayden reported that staff time for developing the actual rules for enforcement, label graphic design and printing, first year distribution, would be between $60,000 and $100,000.   Mr. Hayden reported that the Environment Department currently has outreach activities related toward climate change, but nothing aimed at vehicle users specifically related to the type of fuel they use 

Commissioner Gravanis stated that there is a handout that includes other ways to reduce gas usage and should be made available so people know what the alternatives are.  She stated that the point of sale may be a good place to educate people in some cases because they can stop and not buy the product, but is not sure how people would change their behavior from a label they read at the gas pump.  She suggested putting a sign on or inside a bus about how much CO2 a person is reducing by riding a bus and then begin to launch a broader campaign where a consistent logo and message is placed in other places besides the nozzle or hose.
Commissioner Gravanis provided additional suggestions for handout language as follows:  in “ten ways to reduce gas use,” instead of saying “to make sure your next car gets better miles per gallon,” to say “make sure your next car if you really need one gets better miles per gallon.”  Instead of saying “next time you move or buy a house, consider a place close to transit,” say “next time you move or buy a house consider an apartment or condo that does not have a garage because you don’t really need one or consider one that has a car-share pod in the basement instead of separate private parking spaces.”   In reference to car rentals, where it states “when traveling look for the highest fuel efficient vehicle” consider that non car owners use car rentals for reasons other than travel.  She suggested thinking through the language with an eye for reducing car ownership, and not just vehicle miles traveled, regardless of the type of fuel that the vehicle uses.
Commissioner Wald spoke in support of the goals of the proposed ordinance stating that we should do everything necessary to reduce unnecessary driving and eliminate or reduce CO2 emissions.  She provided suggestions for improving the effort that included: (1) making the label less wordy and ensuring that it communicates the message in an interesting way, more graphically, and immediately so as to influence people to read the message; (2) adopting metrics to measure and track the efficacy of the proposal and its desired effect and who it is having an effect on; (3) establishing a regular reporting element so everyone will know that efforts have been accomplished to reach the desired goal to reduce either the purchase of gasoline or driving; and (4) that the agency charged with developing and enforcing the program be funded.  

Mr. Pollock reported on ideas for simplifying the label language to “the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has determined that burning petroleum fuel contributes to global warming.  To learn about San Francisco’s efforts to combat global warming, go to”  He reported on feedback received on label content such as a statement “burning fuel produces carbon dioxide which contributes to global warming.”  Mr. Pollock spoke in support of the label containing graphics such as a car with a CO2 cloud.  He reported that consideration has been given to measuring effectiveness by administering an occasional opinion survey to people at the fuel pumps, but that there would be more thought given to that recommendation.  Mr. Pollock stated that additional ideas would be considered for an enforcement mechanism to make sure the program is implemented effectively.  He cited Berkeley’s passive enforcement model by way of consumer complaints for gas stations not complying with label installation, and for the Department of Public Works and the Fire Department to carry out enforcement since they do regular inspections of gas stations.

Commissioner Stephenson spoke in support of the cognitive process stating that repeating a conversation on a daily basis is an effective mechanism for influencing behavior change.   She stated that the current label language should be articulated in an understandable way and in a way where a person feels empowered and not preached to.  She spoke of the difference speaking to a person in the second person and in a colloquial way makes.  Additional suggestions made (1) messaging should be short and cite a recognizable statistic in order for action to be taken; (2) the subject of the message should be up front and that sources and footnotes should be in fine print; (3) the icon should be compelling, flashy and interesting so it is readable; (4) offering an alternative action in a comprehensive manner is imperative; (5) asking someone to write down a URL is not a compelling action; and (6) creating different labels for different fuel types; and (7) supports the hang tag, but suggested including messages on the front and back so that transportation options could be included.  

Mr. Pollock stated that the decision for creating different labels would be made by policy makers and discussed the necessity to reduce costs and confusion that may be incurred through customized messages.  Commissioner Stephenson suggested a statement that reads “each gallon of this fuel that you use produces an average of 20 lbs of CO2, the primary gas that contributes to climate change” and to include the footnote of the EPA.

Commissioner Wan spoke in support of suggestions made about day to day messaging so people understand how it impacts their daily life and to simplify messaging so it translates to their daily life.   She suggested that the label be translated in languages that people use in San Francisco and that there should be a public awareness campaign before labeling is launched to provide education of why it is being done. 

Commissioners discussed their concern that the statement that reads the “U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has determined that a typical passenger vehicle burning one gallon of fuel produces on average almost 20 pounds of tailpipe carbon dioxide (CO2)…”, would be hard to visualize.   Mr. Pollock stated that he visualizes 20 lbs of carbon dioxide as equal to a three foot exercise ball. Commissioner Gravanis suggested including that idea in the graphics.   Commissioner Wald suggested creating a series of signs in the hose talker because it would bring people back to paying attention to the labels rather than getting used to the fact that they are there.

Director Raphael requested information from Public Outreach Program Manager Donald Oliveira on what the costs to the Department would be for designing a campaign and if it would require a separate campaign and funding from regular Department programming.  Public Outreach Program Manager Donald Oliveira suggested the possibility of including campaign messaging with other Department campaigns on climate change or other Department program campaigns.    He stated that there is not current funding available or a campaign that directly ties into this proposal.   Director Raphael reported that if funding is not received, a grant would have to be written, but funding would not be guaranteed.  A discussion was held on who would be responsible for supplying and paying for the hose talker that the label would be in.   Mr. Pollock reported that the ordinance states that the Department’s role would be to provide label guidelines, but it would be up to the stations to provide the hose talkers.   He requested suggestions on the best way to move forward with implementation. 

Public Comment: 

Mr. Jack Lucero Fleck,   350 Bay Area, stated that the most important action to take at this time is for the Commission to express support for the project.  He suggested (1) that the City provide the gas stations with labels and charge for them instead of asking gas station owners to provide the labels; (2) including two different languages one in front and another in back of the label customized to neighborhood demographics; (3) hiring a professional graphic artist to design a graphic with a car with a CO2 cloud above it and rotate designs; (4) keeping the design simple to reduce costs; and (5) moving in tandem with Berkeley’s proposal.

Ms. AnneMarie Donjacour, San Francisco resident and UCSF professor, spoke in support of hearing more ideas generated about a greenhouse gas and global warming topic.  She concurred with Mr. Fleck’s statement about transmitting the enthusiasm and creativity to the Board of Supervisors and discussed the availability of design and resources to implement the proposal.  Ms. Donjacour discussed the amplification of free advertising that would become available by news outlets that would help with the outreach campaign.  She stated that this proposal would also help build support for public transit and would show that municipal governments are working on the demand as well as supply side.

Ms. Karen Babbitt, Chair, Conservation Committee, Sierra Club, spoke of her support and the Sierra Club’s support for the ordinance and urged the Commission to support the ordinance.   She stated that the Sierra Club supports the ordinance because consumers need to have tools to make informed decisions and labels have the potential of providing the tool once the language is made as clear as possible and the font easily readable.  She suggested that the label not just contain a warning but provide a resource to visit a website that would provide ideas of all options that are possible. 

Ms. Shomolie suggested adding information to paper receipts as a way to communicate and distribute the message.

Unidentified Speaker stated that she is active at the Berkeley City Council and is interested in learning about San Francisco’s activities because she heard that San Francisco has a better environmental plan than Berkeley.

Upon Motion by Commissioner Stephenson, second by Commissioner Wan, the Commission approved a request to staff to draft a letter of support about the intent of the ordinance and to include recommendations made at this meeting (AYES:  Commissioners Gravanis, Stephenson, Wald and Wan; Absent:  Commissioners Arce and King).

7. Director’s Report. Updates on Department of the Environment administrative and programmatic operations relating to Budget Planning, Strategic Planning, Clean Air/Transportation, Climate, Energy, Public Outreach and Education, Environmental Justice, Habitat Restoration, Green Building, Zero Waste, Toxics Reduction, and Urban Forestry. (Explanatory Document: Director’s Report) Speaker:  Deborah Raphael, Director (Information)

Director Raphael reported on current key Department activities that includes (1) Director Performance Review to include senior staff input to be scheduled for the January Commission meeting; (2) next year’s Director’s Performance Appraisal will include responses to an all Department staff culture climate survey; (3) Transfer of sponsorship to Supervisor London Breed and co-sponsor Supervisor Eric Mar of the Safe Medicine Disposal Ordinance; (4) Mayor’s authorization of a Residential Property Assessed Clean Energy program Resolution and next steps; (5)Director’s and Commissioner Wan’s tour of Chinatown Single Room Occupancy hotels and grant received to work on greening the Chinatown neighborhood with a focus on public housing; (6) contractor selection to help with reevaluation and reorganization of the Department’s Energy and Green Building programs; (7) full funding received from PG&E and SER to fund the Department’s energy efficiency work for 2015; (8) Racing to Zero movie screening that features Zero Waste Program Manager Robert Haley; and (9) press influence on certification of future green businesses.

Commissioner Wald commended the format of the Director’s Report, plans to green Chinatown, and expressed personal support for the Director’s decision to broaden the input of the Director’s Performance Appraisal.  She suggested that a future Commission community meeting be held in Chinatown.  Commissioners Gravanis and Wald and Director Raphael discussed the personal success story of EnvironmentNow staff member, Tina Addi and future aspirations to continue similar successes for future staff.

Public Comment:  Ms. Anya Deepak announced the screening of Racing to Zero at the Department of the Environment on December 3, 2014 at 9:30 a.m.

8. Announcements.  (Information and Discussion)  Commissioner Gravanis announced her resignation from the Commission effective November 30, 2014 and urged everyone to submit recommendations to the Mayor’s Office of potential candidates.  Commissioner Wald commended Commissioner Gravanis for her contribution to the Department, the Commission, and the community.  

Public Comment:  Ms. Sraddha Mehta reported on her prior role as Commission Secretary and the participation and interest that Commissioner Gravanis, who was then a member of the public, had shown in environmental issues.  She thanked her for her contribution and dedication to the Commission on the Environment.

9. Operations Committee Chair’s Report.  Highlights of the November 12, 2014 Meeting. (Information and Discussion)

Committee Member Heather Stephenson reported on topics discussed at the November 12 meeting that includes (1) Department budget update and discussions on securing General Fund money to cover employee benefits not provided for by grant funding; (2) Urban Agriculture presentation; and (3) discussions of community meetings held in the Mission and Bayview neighborhoods and plans for future community meetings.

10. Policy Committee Report. (Information and Discussion)
Chairs Report:  Highlights of the October 8 and November 10, 2014 Meetings and review of the Agenda for the December 8, 2014 Meeting to be held at City Hall, Room 421.

Committee Chair Wald reported on topics discussed at the October 8 meeting that includes (1) review and approval of Committee Resolution in support of the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Authority Transit Effectiveness MUNI Forward program; (2) update on the San Francisco Green Business program.  She reported on November 10, 2014 meeting discussions on the proposed Safe Medicine Disposal Stewardship Program.  Commissioner Wald announced that the December 8, 2014 meeting was cancelled due to the fact that there would be only one member of the Policy Committee at that time resulting in a lack of quorum.

11. Commission Secretary’s Written Report. (Explanatory Document: Commission Secretary’s Report and Correspondence Log, 2015 Meeting Schedule, Memo to Commission of Guidelines for Commission Meeting Minutes) Monica Fish, Commission Secretary (Information)
• Communications and Correspondence
• Update on City Legislation

Commission Secretary Monica Fish provided a written report on communications and correspondence received and an update on City legislation.  She provided Commissioners with a 2015 Commission and Committee meeting schedule, Correspondence Log of all communications received by the Commission and status to date, and memo on guidelines for compiling Commission meeting minutes.  Policy and Communications Director Guillermo Rodriguez reported on legislative weekly updates that he distributes that includes Board of Supervisors meeting items that are relevant to the Department’s work and to program staff.
12. New Business/Future Agenda Items. (Information, Discussion and Possible Action)

Commissioner Stephenson suggested a discussion at the January meeting on making recommendations for requesting General Fund money.  Director Raphael suggested that the topic be discussed at the Operations Committee with input provided by Deputy Director Jennifer Kass and Finance and Administration Program Manager Joseph Salem.  Commissioner Wald suggested discussions about the next joint meeting with the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission.  She endorsed the idea that Director Raphael introduced for Ms. Catherine Sneed to present on the Garden Project and ways to bring publicity to the project.  Commissioner Wan suggested that the General Fund discussion be heard at the January meeting in preparation for the Department’s submittal of the budget to the Mayor’s Office in February.   She suggested a presentation on the Chinatown greening project.  Director Raphael suggested holding this discussion at the next community meeting held in the Chinatown neighborhood.

13. Public Comments:  Members of the public may address the Commission on matters that are within the Commission’s jurisdiction and are not on today’s agenda.  There was no public comment at this time. 

14. Adjournment.  The Commission on the Environment meeting adjourned at 6:47 p.m.

The next Regular Meeting of the Commission on the Environment is scheduled for Tuesday, January 27, 2015, 5:00 p.m. at City Hall, Room 416.

** Copies of explanatory documents are available at (1) the Commission’s office, 1455 Market Street, Suite 1200, San Francisco, CA  94102 between the hours of 9 a.m. and 5 p.m.  A photo I.D. is required for entry to the building, (2) on the Commission’s meeting website at included with minutes by meeting date; (3) upon request to the Commission Secretary, at telephone number 415-355-3709, or via e-mail at [email protected].  For an audio recording of this Commission meeting, access this link 

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

Approved:  January 27, 2015