Shades of green - Page 3

The Green Issue: Will SF really use its federal 'green jobs' money to lift up working class communities?
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Guardian illustration by Danny Hellman

He said there's been an expansion of the city's lighting and refrigeration cooling retrofitting program, starting with small business owners who speak English as a second language. "It's good," McQueen said. "But it's not enough."

He believes green job success will depend, in part, on including hiring parameters. "A job in the city's southeast sector may not pay $70,000 a year, but it would be a huge step toward creating a family-sustaining job," McQueen said, noting that the Obama administration has "to a certain extent" adopted Jones' definition of green-collar jobs. "I'm not sure that they have codified it," McQueen said. "They have recommendations."

Asked to define green jobs during a recent media roundtable on projected budget deficits, Newsom talked about weatherization and sustainability and plans to expand the city's training academies before handing the floor to the Office of Economic and Workforce Development's Kyri McClellan, whom he described as his "green czarina."

McClellan, who describes herself as "the lead cat-herder" of Recovery Act funds, told reporters that San Francisco is expected to receive a quarter of a billion dollars in formula funds in the coming fiscal year, 95 percent of which have been allocated to "shovel-ready" projects that were already queued up under the city's 10-year capital plan.

During a subsequent board committee hearing, McClellan shared job estimates — 30 jobs from the $11 million Department of Public Works street paving allocation and 250 jobs from the $18 million Housing Authority retrofitting allocation — that raised eyebrows.

McClellan said that OEWD is "moving as quickly as possible to take the dollars we've been allocated, get approval from the Board of Supervisors, and get programs up and running."

Observing that the city also has parallel funding for training programs such as CityBuild and a Green Academy, McClellan added that "no one is working harder than Rhonda Simmons." Reached by phone, OEWD's Simmons said she has been working with San Francisco State University professor Raquel Pinderhughes to identify five job sectors that have "the capacity to grow the greatest number of green jobs."

These include solar installation, energy efficiency, landscaping/public greening, recycling, and green building. "In an economy like this, you have to be competitive," Simmons said. "And almost all the programs that come out of my shop are geared toward low-income to moderate-income folks."

Observing that OEWD is using a $238,000 federal earmark to seed a Green Academy and that will expand the GoSolarSF workforce incentive, compete for a $500,000 EPA brownfield cleanup training grant, and coordinate with the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission to develop "workforce incentive language" for biodiesel reuse program and energy efficiency projects, Simmons notes that it was the unions that helped create CityBuild in the first place, and the city is working to ease current concerns.

"It is our intent as OEWD designs the academy that any training programs must demonstrate that they train individuals for occupations with opportunity for upward mobility," Simmons said, after emerging from a meeting cochaired by Crowfoot and Pinderhughes to help community-based organizations understand green jobs and figure out how to link with the Green Jobs Corps that Pinderhughes set up in Oakland.

Eric Smith runs the Bayview-based Green Depot, a nonprofit that promotes biodiesel use in neighborhoods facing environmental justice issues and ran a $9,000-per intern pilot program with Global Exchange.