San Francisco Department of the Environment

Commission on the Environment Milestones

Commission on the Environment 20th Anniversary


For 20 years, the San Francisco Commission on the Environment has supported forward-thinking policies for the Department of the Environment and the City as a whole.


San Franciscans Vote to Establish the Commission on the Environment

Voters of San Francisco pass a charter amendment, which among other things, established a new San Francisco Commission on the Environment and the San Francisco Department of the Environment.


First Commission

The first Commission on the Environment is sworn in.

San Francisco’s First Sustainability Plan

San Francisco Department of the Environment and Commission on the Environment endorse San Francisco’s First Sustainability Plan.


Advocacy for Bicycle Plan

Commission urges Board of Supervisors to adopt the citywide Bicycle Plan developed by the Department of Parking and Traffic.


Advocacy for Power Plant Closures

Commission advocates that the City close the remaining two power plants operating in San Francisco’s southeast neighborhoods.

Advocacy for Use of Alternative Fuel for Public Transportation

Starting in 1998, the Commission passes a series of resolutions urging the purchase of alternative-fuel vehicles for public transit.


Environmental Justice Grants

Commission creates the Environmental Justice Program and begins issuing $13 million in Environmental Justice Grants to community based organizations serving the Potrero Hill and Bayview Hunters Point communities.

Urges Prioritization of Urban Forestry

Commission urges the Mayor and Board of Supervisors to make urban forestry a high priority in San Francisco.


Community Meetings

The Commission begins holding at least one community meeting a year outside of its regular meeting room in City Hall to bring the discussion about the City’s environmental policies and programs out to San Francisco’s various neighborhoods.


San Francisco Zero Waste Goals

At the request of the Board of Supervisors, the Commission on the Environment sets San Francisco’s Zero Waste goal.


Precautionary Principle

Commissioners work hard against powerful interests to adopt the Precautionary Principle. The Precautionary Principle -- a milestone for San Francisco – requires that in the absence of conclusive proof that something is harmful, the burden lies with the producer to prove that it is safe when conducting the City and County’s affairs.

Creation of San Francisco Environmental Code

The Environmental Code was developed to consolidate the City's ordinances governing protection of the environment, natural resources and sustainability that were previously scattered throughout the Administrative Code.

Mandate for Toxics Reduction in Dental Offices

Commission worked with the San Francisco Public Utilities Commisssion in an  effort to mandate mercury separators in all dental offices.


Ban on Single Use Plastic Bags

Commission supported a ban on single-use plastic bags in San Francisco, setting the stage for the California state-wide ban.

SF Hosts UN World Environment Day

Commission calls on San Francisco Department of the Environment to adopt key Urban Environmental Accords developed at the conference by mayors from around the world.

Advocacy for Garden in Every School

Commission calls on the Mayor’s Office and the San Francisco Unified School District to create a garden in every school in San Francisco.


SF Carbon Fund

Commission begins approving projects that mitigate and sequester greenhouse gas emissions. The San Francisco Carbon Fund is funded through an innovative fee of 13% of the cost of municipal employees’ air travel for city business as well as from private conferences seeking to mitigate their event-related emissions. 


Biodiversity Program

Commission advocates for a biodiversity program that protects San Francisco’s remaining natural heritage, including plant and animal species supported by naturally occurring ecosystems, naturalistic landscapes and urban development.

Preservative-treated Wood Containing Arsenic

Commission calls on the City to find alternatives to the use of wood treated with arsenic for playgrounds and in the Port.


Calls for Congress to Expand Commuter Benefits Employee Transportation Benefit

Commission calls on the United States Congress to extend the Commuter Benefits Employee Transportation Benefit to encourage and incentivize the use of public transportation by San Francisco residents.


Marine Plastic Reduction

Commission pushes for statewide effort to address producer responsibility in minimizing marine plastic pollution.


Bottled Water Legislation

Commission supported legislation halting the purchase of plastic water bottles by the City and encourages increased availability of drinking water in public areas.


Solar Installation

Commission supports policies making San Francisco the first City in the country to require solar installation on all new buildings.


Electric Vehicle Readiness

Commission supports legislation requiring that parking spaces in new buildings or buildings undergoing major alterations have infrastructure to make them ready for electric vehicle chargers.

SF’s Greenhouse Gas Emissions Have Decreased 28% Since 1990 

San Francisco reduces its carbon footprint, exceeding the 2017 milestone for greenhouse gas emissions reductions.

Related Content

Mayor's Earth Day Breakfast (Video: Debbie Raphael, Mayor Ed Lee)
Quotes from Past and Present Commissioners
Commission on the Environment 20th Anniversary
About the Commission on the Environment

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