ASHLAND CONSERVATION COMMISSION
February 27, 2002
CALL TO ORDER -Chairperson Susan Reid called the meeting to order at 7:02 p.m. in the City Council Chambers. In addition to Reid, members present were Bruce Moats, Russ Chapman, Mort Smith, Joanne Krippaehne, Jim Hartman, Charles Bennett and Paige Prewett. Staff present included Dick Wanderscheid and Sonja Akerman, and Dan Murphy represented Ashland Sanitary & Recycling. Member Howard Braham was unable to attend the meeting.
APPROVAL OF MINUTES - Krippaehne moved and Bennett seconded to approve the minutes of the January 23, 2002 meeting as submitted. The motion passed with a unanimous vote.
PUBLIC FORUM - Ross Finney informed the Commission a group of people who were interested in The Natural Step has recently formed the Rogue Valley Natural Step. The group is currently a loose-knit organization, but would like to become affiliated with the Oregon Natural Step network, which is in the process of defining its own self and splitting away from Northwest Earth Institute (an organization that empowers individuals and organizations to protect the earth). Finney read a statement regarding Commission endorsement of adding www.oregonsolutions.net (which is a comprehensive web site initiated by the State of Oregon regarding sustainability) as a link on the City of Ashland web site. This is an excellent resource for sustainability information. The site was created as a result of Governor Kitzhaber's executive order on sustainability. Finney said it would be really nice to have sustainability information on the City's web site and suggested the Commission go to the Oregon Solutions site and take a look at all it has to offer. Wanderscheid said he did not know if it would be necessary to formally ask the City Council and/or City Administrator for permission to add this link, but would check it out. Reid asked the members to check out this web site prior to the next meeting, as it will be on the agenda. Krippaehne said she recently attended a Rogue Valley Natural Step meeting and had encouraged Finney to get the support of the Conservation Commission to add a link to the Oregon Solutions web site. She said that to her, the site is very consistent with the Commission's desire to back up its sustainability goal with information and resources about how we can accomplish sustainable practices in the building arena.
Malena Marvin said she has also attended meetings of the Rogue Valley group and supports Finney's request. Currently, Ashland does not have a sustainability presence on the web and it is through the web that people find out about most everything. She envisions a collection of pages that highlight the programs already in place, a big picture of the solar panels on the Council Chambers and a write-up of Ashland's programs. She would like to push this forward. Marvin said she is also representing Ashland Community Action, and mentioned the organization would be meeting the following evening at the Wilderness Charter School on Morse Street. The group will be talking about vision and process used while working toward sustainability, affordability, etc. The public is invited. Prewett volunteered to attend the meeting and report back to the Commission next month.
Prewett suggested Finney also take a look at the Chamber of Commerce web site for possible link access towww.oregonsolutions.net.
Reid said she would like to get feedback from the Commission about the City of Ashland joining Northwest Climate Response, an organization that is an offshoot of the Northwest Energy Coalition. Northwest Climate Response is supported by larger cities (such as Portland and Seattle) and Reid thinks it is important for cities of all sizes to join. It would not be a big cost and Ashland would be a model for smaller cities and smaller utilities to take part in a much bigger picture. She also noted that the Oregon Environmental Council (OEC) is still around and is currently working with car dealerships to switch out the small mercury switches in cars. The OEC is an important lobby force in Salem and should be used by Southern Oregon since it does not have a lobby force for environmental issues. She is asking for feedback from Ashland citizens and organizations about joining Northwest Climate Response. Reid said she is not asking for the money to come from the Conservation Commission, rather that the City budget money for this.
When asked by Hartman, Wanderscheid responded there are three solar electric systems that have been installed on residences since the rebate program ($2/watt) began last July. If these systems produce more than they use, the City will buy back the power. Wanderscheid noted the State Legislature passed a law last fall that required all electric utilities to offer net metering. Ashland has been offering this for over five years now. Because there is still a 40-50 year payback on the systems, not many people are willing to install them. The federal government is now proposing a tax credit for solar electric systems, which could perhaps bring down the payback period to 40 years. This, he said, is a step in the right direction.
Carlos Delgado, local architect, related he has spoken briefly with Krippaehne about the sustainable housing program. While there are a lot of sustainable programs in such cities as Eugene, Portland and Seattle that pertain to development, Ashland is behind the times in this respect. Delgado said he would like to participate in getting concrete sustainability measures adopted that relate to the average citizen as a subcommittee member at the least, or perhaps as a member of the Conservation Commission. Wanderscheid said that with Delgado's background and interest, it would be good to have him on the Commission because sustainability has been a Commission goal as well as a Council goal for the past year.
ASHLAND SANITARY & RECYCLING UPDATE - Murphy reported Ashland Sanitary now has a schedule of spring events. 1) April 13 will be chipper day at the transfer station from 8:00 a.m. to noon. 2) April 19 and 20 will be free latex paint disposal at the transfer station from 7:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. 3) The household hazardous waste event will be on April 3 and 4 from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. at the Jackson County Expo Center. 4) Discount day at the transfer station will be June 15 from 7:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. 5) The transfer station is currently undergoing a paving project, which will lessen the impact from dirt and dust during dry weather.
Fluorescent Light Disposal - Wanderscheid said he wanted this on the agenda due to the February 13 Daily Tidings Guest Forum on recycling compact fluorescent light (CFL) bulbs and fluorescent tubes. He has also had inquiries about disposal of fluorescent lights. Murphy explained that the disposal of CFLs is a new issue and there are no statewide regulations for recycling them at this time. Don Cordell, general manager of Rogue Disposal & Recycling, is currently on a mercury subcommittee and the members are trying to get something into the next legislative session. Industry, Murphy related, fights this type of regulation, however. He also reported that Governor Kitzhaber has written a letter that contains a goal of preventing all persistent biochemical toxins (PBTs) from being thrown away by 2018 (this includes fluorescent bulbs, TVs, computers, etc.). Currently, CFLs comprise a very small quantity. Ashland Sanitary and Rogue Disposal offer year-round recycling of fluorescent bulbs/tubes. Murphy related there is presently a Talent resident who hauls them to California. Tubes are 25 cents per foot to recycle. CFLs will be 25-80 cents per bulb because there are no plants set up to process the mercury vapors now. Reid asked if landfills are monitored for mercury and Murphy responded they are. Hartman commented people still save money by using CFLs even though they would have to pay to bring them to the landfill. Murphy said it is not illegal to throw CFLs in the garbage at this point in time. Wanderscheid said he thought it was important to let people know that Ashland Sanitary has a program for fluorescent lights, and although it is not free (unlike other recycling programs), it is still a good idea to pay a little money to recycle them properly.
Marketing - Krippaehne reported the primary focus of the meeting last week was on the preparation of the Earth Day celebration and the related development of promoting the theme of What's swept off the street stays out of the creek art contest. Prewett added they met with John Peterson at the city yard and looked at the street sweeper. She then passed out the flyer that went to the middle school. Prewett said she also gave a packet to art teacher Sharon Devora with pictures of the street sweeper depicting where the design will be placed. In addition, the flyer packet included pictures of birds, beavers, fish, storm drains, etc. The idea is to have the public vote on Earth Day after the marketing committee and Public Works chose the best few. Prewett said if the weather and advertising are good, they are estimating 100-200 people will attend the celebration. She has talked to all kinds of folks that may be interested in having exhibits at the celebration. Energy Outfitters will be there with wind and solar power displays, there will be composting demonstrations with Claudia Law, worm composting demonstrations, an electric bike, skateboards, a Honda hybrid, Community Bike Program, etc. The Conservation Division will have a couple tables there and she is hoping the Conservation Commission will also have a presence there. The clothesline will be set up and the Conservation Commission banner will be hung. She said they are hoping all the Commission members will be able to help out, which will include setting up tables and steering the volunteers in the right direction beginning at 8:30 a.m. The celebration will be on April 20 from 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
Prewett said Ashland Community Food Store and Ashland Sanitary are generously donating money to sponsor the event and is asking the Conservation Commission to help pay for food and publicity. Rogue Valley Transportation District (RVTD) will have a special bus route because parking is so limited. It will cost $60/hour to have this route. Chapman reported the committee figured it would cost about $2,000 to put on this event. Prewett moved to approve the allocation of up to $500 to be used for the Earth Day Event at North Mountain Park on April 20 from 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Smith seconded the motion and it passed with a unanimous vote.
Smith mentioned he would like to have an architect set up at a table on sustainable building practices for the Earth Day Celebration. Krippaehne will help recruit someone.
Krippaehne said the committee had also talked about making a presentation to service clubs and she will mock up slides for the next committee meeting. In addition, Smith said he talked with the editor of the Tidings about sustainability/conservation tips and Editor Larry Berteau is interested in providing space for this. He then talked to John Javna, who brought him several books he has written on the subjects. The concept is that once a week on Fridays (probably on the weather page) these tips will be printed beside the Conservation Commission logo. Prewett will also ask Water Analyst Robbin Pearce and Energy Analyst Cathy Cartmill for seasonal tips. Smith said any ideas should be passed on to the committee.
Sustainable Housing - Wanderscheid said he had recently been approached about the Earth Advantage Program, which may be sold to the Bonneville Power Administration (BPA). If BPA purchases the program, it would allow the City of Ashland to take advantage of it, much like the Super Good Cents Program. The benefit of having a regional program is that regional support is also available. Portland General Electric (PGE) developed this program and is now in the process of approaching public utilities about potentially licensing them to administer the program. The Earth Advantage Program deals with everything from recycle content to air quality to energy efficiency to landscaping. It would be especially good if BPA bought in to it because we could get it for less money. The bad news is that the City Council chose to send the large-scale development ordinance back to the Planning Commission at its last meeting. This will be incredibly time consuming for the Council and will take four to five months of his time. Reid said she was not at the meeting but would like to see what will be lost if this ordinance has to begin again. Wanderscheid stated he wants to look more at the Earth Advantage Program and will meet with Krippaehne to go over it. If the City goes with this program, it could jump-start the whole sustainability process. This will be on the March agenda. Wanderscheid also noted that PGE came to town and talked with local builders. Builders will have to pay to get their homes certified under Earth Advantage, which is the opposite way most programs have been set up in Ashland. We have always paid contractors to build energy efficient homes. There were builders, however, who were very interested in this and have already paid to be in the program. Earth Advantage could be a good way to proceed. It would generate regional interest and regional advertising in the northwest.
Addition of Youth Liaison Member - Prewett stated she went to a sustainability committee meeting at the university and talked with someone who was interested in becoming the liaison. Hartman said this is still in the works as far as a high school student is concerned. Wanderscheid said the mayor is willing to appoint students, but the City Attorney has said the ordinance would need to be amended, which may take some time. If the addition of youth liaisons cannot be accomplished informally, it will just take longer. In the meantime, the Commission should invite students to attend the meetings.
Conservation Commission Display - Prewett suggested putting this on the list of goals.
COMMISSION ITEMS NOT ON AGENDA:
Green Business Program - Krippaehne reported she had asked Ross Finney about the status of the program and about receiving Green Business materials. They discussed marketing and questioned who would be giving businesses support from the City if they were recruited now. Is there adequate staff support now? Should the program be actively marketed now? Finney said that in his conversation with Krippaehne, he felt it would be important to first get a good idea to make sure the City Staff was prepared when businesses are directed that way. He is in the process of working with businesses in the County now. The Green Business Program exists in the City as it did two years ago. Finney said he is currently working with Cartmill on Caldera Brewing, but doesn't know if she has been contacted by other businesses also. Wanderscheid explained Cartmill is extremely busy now but he is proposing to hire a new Energy Analyst for the Conservation Division next fall. He agrees the program should not be marketed until everything is ready and can be handled by Staff. Krippaehne proposed making a goal of recruiting a certain number of businesses per year. Wanderscheid suggested waiting until the budget is adopted so we know if a new analyst will be approved. Krippaehne added she doesn't want to overwhelm Cartmill, nor does she want to lose businesses trying to get on board with this. Finney said that if there are businesses that want to become part of this program and Cartmill is too busy, he would work with the City on a contractual basis. Wanderscheid said there is no money budgeted this year for Green Business. Finney replied that it usually takes around 30 hours of his time to work with a business. However, he would suggest the Commission officially state it is interested in promoting the Green Business Program and that in an effort to jump start interest, the Commission provide a consultant and/or City Staff person for two or three hours per business in order to begin the process. If he were to provide the hours, he would structure what he does to get as much accomplished as possible rather than delving deeper at that time. Of course, each business varies as to the amount of time that would be required. Bennett said he supports this idea because he wants to keep the Green Business Program alive and he suggested making this one of the goals.
Change March Meeting Date - Because March 27 is in the middle of spring vacation and Wanderscheid and Akerman will be out of town, the Commission decided to meet on March 21 at the Nature Center.
Budget - The current balance is $3,338.05.
Goals - Wanderscheid stated goal setting will be first on the next agenda. In looking at the goals the Commission is working on this year, they include street sweeping (the pilot program has already happened), energy/water conservation program marketing (currently working on), sustainable housing (currently working on), marketing Adopt-A-Street and Green Business (currently working on), and T.I.D. (will be budgeted in the Water Department to fix the system). Chapman stated he wants to add stenciling of storm drains to Adopt-A-Street. Bennett said he would like to add the Fourth of July Parade as a goal.
Goals will be 1) continue to market resource conservation programs (this covers energy, water, street sweeping, Adopt-A-Street and Green Business), 2) sustainable housing, 3) Fourth of July parade and 4) display. Bennett said the web site is also critical under marketing. Wanderscheid said he will draft the goals for adoption at the next meeting. Krippaehne stated she would like to put substance to the goals by adding benchmarks so that at the end of the year, the Commission can see what has been accomplished. Bennett said it is also important to have short term and ongoing goals. Smith stressed the importance of having all Commissioners volunteer as members of at least one subcommittee then making it a point to attend the meetings.
The Oregon Natural Step Network meeting - Wanderscheid stated there will be a meeting in Portland on March 7. Krippaehne added it is an hour and a half breakfast meeting, so Reid said if anyone wants to attend, he or she would have to spend the night. Krippaehne said she had an alternate proposal. The Oregon Building Officials Association is having its spring educational institute on March 22. An entire day will be devoted to green building and she would like to attend this session. Since it is in Eugene, she would drive up and back in the same day. Registration is $150 and she said she would appreciate any help from the Commission. Chapman moved and Bennett seconded to approve the allocation of $150 for Krippaehne's registration. The motion was unanimously passed. Krippaehne will report back to the Commission.
ADJOURNMENT: There being no further business, the meeting adjourned at 9:05 p.m.