October 25 2012 Policy Committee Meeting Approved Minutes

*THURSDAY, OCTOBER 25, 2012, 5:00 P.M.

*The Monday, October 22, 2012 Regular Meeting of the Commission on the Environment Policy Committee was RESCHEDULED to Thursday, October 25, 2012 at 5:00 p.m.

COMMITTEE MEMBERS: Commissioners Johanna Wald (Chair), Ruth Gravanis (Vice-Chair), Joshua Arce


Public comment will be taken before the Committee takes action on any item.

1.Call to Order and Roll Call.  The Policy Committee meeting convened at 5:05 p.m.  Present:  Commissioners Gravanis and Arce; Excused: Commissioner Wald.

2.Approval of Minutes of the September 10, 2012 Policy Committee Regular Meeting. (Explanatory Document: September 10, 2012 Policy Committee Draft and Approved Minutes) (Discussion and Action)  Upon Motion by Commissioner Arce, second by Commissioner Gravanis, the September 10, 2012 Meeting Minutes were approved without objection (AYES:  Commissioners Gravanis and Arce; 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.

Ms. Amber Hasselbring asked that the Commission consider scheduling a meeting to discuss the proposed Better Market Streets Plan and its effect on the Western tiger swallowtail butterfly that lives and lays its eggs in the London plane trees on Market Street that are proposed for removal.

Mr. Liam O’Brien, lepidopterist, discussed his concern that the Better Market Street Plan will threaten the habitat of the Western tiger swallowtail butterfly if London plane trees are to be removed to make way for a bike lane.  He noted that the Committee had discussed the Better Market Street Plan at a previous meeting and asked that additional discussions be held to propose alternative plans to save the butterfly’s habitat. (Explanatory Document distributed.)

4.Review and Discussion of Zero Waste Policy for Bottled Water at Events on City Property. Sponsors:  Commissioners Wald and Gravanis; Speaker: Julie Bryant, City Government Zero Waste Coordinator (Discussion)

Commissioner Gravanis reported on the progress made with prohibiting the sale of single-use water bottles through the America’s Cup Sustainability Plan and the adoption of a San Francisco Port Zero Waste and Events Policy.  She reported that the America’s Cup Event Authority contracted with a water supplier that allowed people to fill up their reusable water bottles at events.  Commissioner Gravanis suggested exploring additional ideas for prohibiting single-serve water bottles on city property under certain conditions.

Ms. Julie Bryant reported on environmental problems caused in the production, transportation, and filling of bottled water as well as cost and health concerns.  She reported on bottled water bans in the cities of Toronto; Ann Arbor, MI; Grand Canyon, AZ; and Concord, MA.  Ms. Bryant reported that in San Francisco, previous Mayor Newsom issued an Executive Order prohibiting the purchase of bottled water with City funds, and the Port enacted a Zero Waste and Activities Policy prohibiting all events with over 5000 people from selling, using or distributing single-use plastic water bottles.  In June 2012, Board of Supervisors President David Chiu introduced legislation requiring building owners and developers to install tap water filling stations on the premises.  The legislation is on hold pending negotiations with the Building Owners Association of San Francisco.  Commissioner Gravanis reported that the legislation is applicable only where drinking fountains are required.  Ms. Bryant added that it would also be applicable to building remodels but wasn’t sure and would report back with additional details.

Ms. Bryant reported on alternative bottled water free distribution systems used by event producers and reported on the positive feedback received from the America’s Cup event.  She explained that since there is no official policy in place, all event producers are taking a voluntary approach except on Port property.  Commissioner Arce inquired about challenges faced by event producers.  Ms. Bryant reported that event producers have expressed concern with the added cost, water access issues, space limitations, and logistics.  Commissioner Gravanis emphasized the importance of keeping people hydrated and health as a priority and suggested that a proposal be discussed that would consider exceptions to restrictions.

Ms. Cindy Shamban, San Francisco Municipal Transportation Authority, Division of Sustainable Streets, spoke on behalf of the Interdepartmental Staff Committee on Traffic and Transportation (ISCOTT) that coordinates temporary street closures for events. She discussed concerns with a prohibition of bottled water at street fairs that include space limitations, lack of infrastructure for providing tap water, competing infrastructure needs, narrow street size, Fire Department requirements, resource availability, ADA compliance, safety concerns, and additional costs for event producers.  Ms. Shamban praised the Department for using a gradual implementation approach and providing outreach and education.  She suggested inviting event producers to provide feedback as the policy moves forward and is being developed.

Director Nutter suggested that the Commission review case studies and all of the systems that are available to distribute water and share them with event producers in order to identify a direction if a policy were to be implemented.  Ms. Bryant discussed different ways to put bottle less water systems in place taking into consideration costs and water access.  Commissioner Gravanis suggested the possibility of starting with an Ordinance or advisory Resolution that addresses events at City Hall and in areas where water is readily available.  Director Nutter suggested that the Commission and San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC) consider a joint Resolution.

Public Comment:

Ms. Taylor Emerson, San Francisco resident, discussed the importance of keeping people hydrated at city events by providing free potable water and suggested using the term “potable” instead of “tap” to broaden people’s awareness of possible water sources.  She stated that every park in San Francisco has potable water with the exception of Golden Gate Park.  Ms. Emerson spoke in support of the Department and Commission’s policies and urged perseverance in identifying a future direction to take.  She applauded the behavioral change that is taking place at supermarkets due to the expansion of the plastic bag ban.

Mr. David Pilpel suggested that Department of the Environment staff attend ISCOTT meetings or become a voting member to become familiar with the application-review process.  He stated that ISCOTT members review the process for zero waste compliance for composting and recycling, and that staff’s presence would influence compliance with guidelines.  He urged the Commission to take administrative action and prepare a Resolution and/or letter to the City Administrator to establish conditions for events permitted under their purview to ensure bottled water free events.  He suggested holding additional discussions with other departments that issue leases and permits to discuss potential requirements.

Mr. Adam Stern, Climate Program Manager, inquired whether representatives from the bottled water industry have contacted Ms. Bryant and if there are challenges anticipated in broadening the scope of current requirements.  Ms. Bryant reported that she has not heard from industry to date, and that potential challenges may be heard once the policy moves forward.

Mr. Michael Davis, U.S. Pure Water, reported on his success providing bottled water free services for the past twenty years at events, a service that makes it possible for people to fill up their water containers for free at events (e.g., America’s Cup and the Oyster Festival) and when no water source is available.  Mr. Davis reported that there is a range of costs depending on the size of the event, type of event, and water availability and discussed potential income streams for event producers.  He stated that banning single serve water bottles would stop bottles from ending up in landfill and getting shipped to China where they are down-cycled or burned and create toxic fumes, address fossil fuel use, and potential health issues.

Commissioner Gravanis noted that some resistance might come from event producers that may want to rent to vendors who sell non-reusable water bottles in order to make a profit from the sale. She asked that staff consider options to pursue and outline pros and cons to discuss at a future meeting.

5.Review and possible approval of San Francisco’s Updated Carbon Fund Structure and Priorities. (Explanatory Document:  Memorandum to the Policy Committee on the Status of SF Carbon Fund) Sponsor:  Melanie Nutter, Director; Speaker: Calla Ostrander, Climate Action Coordinator (Discussion and Possible Action)
Mr. Adam Stern reported that the carbon fund is a great concept that has many opportunities to grow, but is restricted in its structure because it presents the projects that it is funded by as offsets, thereby limiting the types of projects that can be accomplished in San Francisco. He stated that there is an approach for the Commission to consider that would broaden the scope of the fund and enable more projects to be included that are consistent with intended outcomes. He asked that the Commission consider how projects are defined, the process for choosing them, and whether the fund can accept support from other organizations that might choose to contribute to it.

Ms. Calla Ostrander reported that the carbon fund is limited to one type of project that can produce a possible verified offset that is an urban forest project.  This project presents problems of scale, scope and cost to produce the offset and make it financially feasible.  She explained that a City agency is not equipped to develop offsets, does not have the capital to invest and take the risk of not having a return on offsets, and is not allowed to sell them in any way.   Ms. Ostrander asked that Commissioners suggest a direction to take for shifting the scope of the fund away from being a carbon offset fund to a San Francisco carbon fund that invests in projects that mitigate carbon. She explained that there are plenty of different methodologies to track how much carbon these projects are reducing, but they do not currently count as offsets. (Reference Memorandum for examples of project types.)  There is an opportunity to expand the list of projects early next year and make funding available for new projects.

Commissioner Arce suggested adding a requirement that projects should meet or exceed the City’s local hiring policies in order to include sustainability goals of a localized work force and a community development goal to help sustain communities through employment.  Ms. Ostrander suggested that a Committee be created to identify requirements and develop a new set of criteria for projects. Director Nutter stated that a potential next step could be to update the Mayor’s Executive Order establishing a carbon fund so that the scope of the fund can be revised. Commissioner Gravanis suggested reviewing the carbon fund Ordinance to establish what the Mayor can do by Executive Order and to what extent it would mean going back to the Board of Supervisors to revise the Ordinance. She suggested that proposed projects should consider the current impacts of climate change instead of only reducing further emissions and should also address ecological restoration and the City’s biodiversity goals.

Director Nutter reported on Department discussions on the importance of establishing a citywide adaptation plan beyond mitigation.  Mr. Stern stated that the focus should be on policies that would help the City reach its 100 percent renewable energy goals or on energy-efficiency projects.  Ms. Ostrander reported that any new requirements would have to be specified in a directive to the Department, as the carbon fund is set up to fund projects that invest in carbon reduction and their materials.

Commissioner Gravanis reported that she supports the direction the Department is taking, but requested more specificity on the kinds of projects that would be selected to expand to not only fighting climate change, but projects that would address the impacts of climate change.

Commissioner Arce stated that he supports suggestions that are proposed and the need to expand the scope of the fund beyond offsets. He stated that he feels strongly about including a plan for meeting or exceeding the employment goals of the City’s local hiring policy. He suggested including projects such as solar-water heating, electric car charging stations, and construction projects, whereby the City’s partners would pay prevailing wage.

Ms. Ostrander suggested that next steps should be to (1) change the definition from an offset based program, (2) creating a Committee or asking that the Commission Policy Committee work on creating guidelines for projects; and (3) direct funding to the Department of the Environment to work on projects.  Director Nutter spoke in support of directing some of the funding to support the climate work of the Department that would focus on fighting off climate change and the worst effects of sea-level rise and would request input from the Mayor on the viability of this recommendation. Mr. Stern suggested that the purpose of the fund be better defined in order to relay to potential sponsors what the benefits would be.

Public Comment: Mr. David Pilpel stated that he is unsure whether the current Mayor would have to update the Executive Directive as he believes the legislation actually controls the program, and the Department of the Environment Director actually controls use of the funds.  He stated that the Commission could urge the Board of Supervisors and Mayor to update the legislation, but irrespective of legislative changes, the Commission could set policy, establish priorities for funding and projects, and encourage the Director to implement policies.  He discussed the pros and cons of directing funding to grant projects versus keeping it within the Department.  Mr. Pilpel discussed the Mayor’s suggestion to expand the carbon fund program to local residents and businesses that would require more work to manage and urged that the cost-effectiveness of this effort be considered.

This agenda item was continued to a future meeting to identify next steps.

6.Identify Action Items to Achieve Selected Goals for Calendar Year 2012. (Explanatory Document:  Department of the Environment Strategic Plan New Goals and Timeline Draft) (Continued from the September 10, 2012 Meeting) Sponsors:  Director Nutter, Commissioners Wald and Gravanis (Discussion and Possible Action)
A.Department of the Environment’s Proposed Strategic Plan Goals and how the Strategic Plan and Planning Process Affect the Four Priorities previously Selected by the Policy Committee.
B.Strategies for prioritizing Policy Committee activities.
Director Nutter reported that the timeline for the proposed Strategic Plan process has been delayed due to work on other pressing projects, and that senior staff is in the process of reviewing and developing objectives related to goals.  Commissioner Gravanis stated that her impression was that the draft goals have not yet been approved by the Commission and asked for more opportunity for the Commission to provide input.  She provided input into the current goals and expressed her preference for the previous format that included an outline of how the program areas and work would fit into goals.

Commissioner Arce (1) spoke in support of the language for goal 2, (2) suggested that goal 3 should read “…promote social and economic equity, environmental justice, and job creation” and (3) suggested creating a goal for the Department that would encompass all four goals that would be similar to a mission statement. Director Nutter stated that an overarching theme would be a vision statement, and that goals would be the actual work to be done to meet that vision.  Commissioner Gravanis suggested that there be thought to how Strategic Plan goals would correlate with a Sustainability Plan, the Charter mandate and Commission Bylaws, and if they don’t correlate, to recommend changes be made. 

Commissioner Gravanis asked to consider ways to combine the four Strategic Plan goals with the four priority goals selected by the Policy Committee (climate/renewable energy, Sustainability Plan, metrics and biodiversity), and making it into a work program for Commissioners.  Director Nutter reported that a Climate Action Strategy should be available for the Committee’s review at the December meeting and for implementation starting in January 2013.  In the area of metrics, an intern has been hired to catalogue all of the metrics that are currently required from different sources, and the Commission will be asked to consider what to do with the data.  A temporary position is being created to work on biodiversity, and Commissioners can provide input into the work plan. There has been a lot of interest expressed by stakeholders to start work on the Sustainability Plan and there are a lot of various plans for sustainability in other jurisdictions.  After review of these plans, Commissioners could consider what form a Sustainability Plan should take, whether it is an actual plan or should take another form.

7.Director’s Report and Updates.  (Explanatory Document:  Director’s Report) Speaker: Melanie Nutter, Director (Informational Report and Discussion) A written Director’s Report was provided.

8.Communications.  (Information and Discussion)  Commission Secretary Fish reported that no communications were received to date.

9.Announcements. (Discussion)  Commissioner Arce reported that the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC) held a discussion on the outreach plan for CleanPowerSF, but that it did not include discussion about partnership efforts with the Department of the Environment.  He stated that he had reached out to the SFPUC General Manager and distributed copies of the Commission’s Resolution in support of the program and that addresses joint agency outreach efforts.  Commissioner Arce discussed problems that customers are facing with implementation of the GoSolarSF program and upcoming meeting scheduled by the Solar Task Force to save the program. He discussed the importance of this program as it relates to the Department’s 100% Renewable Energy goals and asked that the Committee also discuss efforts to save the program. Director Nutter reported that a joint meeting is scheduled with the Department and the SFPUC to discuss an outreach plan for CleanPowerSF.

10.New Business/Future Agenda Items. (Discussion) Commissioner Gravanis reported that the December 10 meeting will include the Department’s Climate Action strategy. Commission Secretary Fish announced that the November 5, 2012 meeting that will be rescheduled from November 12 will include a presentation by the San Francisco County Transportation Authority on the San Francisco Transportation Plan.  Ms. Fish was asked to provide a draft of the Commission’s Annual Report for review and discussion at the December 10 meeting.  Commissioner Arce asked that the December 10 meeting include a discussion on how the Department can help save the GoSolarSF program.
Public Comment:  Mr. David Pilpel requested a copy of written instructions created by the Mayor on how the CleanPowerSF program will work.

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 was no public comment at this time.

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

Respectfully submitted by

Monica Fish, Commission Secretary

Telephone (415) 355-3709; Fax (415) 554-6393

** Copies of explanatory documents are available at (1) the Commission’s office, 11 Grove Street, San Francisco, California between the hours of 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., (2) 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].  

Approved: December 14, 2012