San Fransisco Examiner Article

Preparing city for life after oil

By Joshua Sabatini
Examiner Staff Writer 3/15/09

SAN FRANCISCO – To avoid “a much darker future” The City should pursue transforming a city golf course into farmland, offer free Muni to low-income residents and quickly turn garages of homes into livable spaces, according to a city task force whose mission is to prepare San Francisco for an oil shortage.

The so-called Peak Oil Preparedness Task Force was created in December 2007 and has spent the last 15 months hammering out a plan that would transform San Francisco into a city with more people riding Muni, chicken coops in backyards, widespread farming on public and private lands, and extensive use of wind, solar and tidal energy.

Headed toward a greener future: The City’s Peak Oil Preparedness Task Force has suggested disincentives for driving cars as one of 70 recommendations to wean San Francisco from oil dependency.

“A much darker future” could “unfold” if The City does not see through the more than 70 recommendations in the 97-page report, the task force says. The task force is expected to finalize the report Tuesday and later submit it to the Board of Supervisors.

The report touches on an array of topics, including public power, citywide high-speed Internet access for every resident, requiring energy audits of buildings at point of sale, raising the charges at city parking facilities and meters and other disincentives for driving cars. All recommendations are based on reducing The City’s dependence on oil.

Task force chair Jeanne-Marie Rosenmeier said she is “optimistic” the members of the board will implement the recommendations, and suggested they do so within five years.

“It’s a great opportunity for San Francisco,” she said.

In May 2007, Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi introduced a resolution establishing the task force to prepare The City for a significant decline in oil, which would skyrocket city costs.

Among the reports recommendations is to have the Recreation and Park Department study “what portions of parklands and golf courses could be changed from recreational to food production uses.” The report also recommends exploring a tax on fast-food sales to help fund local food production.

The report predicts that oil cost will increase prompting many more people to give up driving cars.

“Building owners may increasingly choose to convert former garage space to living space or other uses,” the report says. “The Building Department should begin now to establish an expedited permit process for these conversions.”

If The City implements the recommendations, the task force envisions that come 2050 “San Franciscans are far ‘happier’ than they were in the early 21st century.”

Peak oil

What it is: A theory that oil is a finite resource that at some point will reach a maximum level of output

What could happen: After oil reaches its maximum output, supply will drop off, leading to a shortage and an increase in cost.

When it could happen: There is no consensus among experts on when an oil decline would occur. Some say as late as the 2030s, while others argue it has already begun.

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