An SF Rec and Park vehicle parked at Civic Center Plaza. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)

SF’s gasoline dependency on the rise

Even though San Francisco has a policy to reduce gasoline use and buy more fuel efficient or zero emissions vehicles, The City’s gas usage has risen over the past four years by nearly 50,000 gallons.

And as The City’s gas guzzling increased, so did the number of vehicles using gas in the municipal fleet, along with equipment like lawn mowers and generators.

But despite this trend, the Board of Supervisors unanimously approved without debate on Tuesday a new multi-year $32 million gas contract with Western States Oil.

When the proposal was before the board’s Budget and Finance Committee last month, Alaric Degrafinried, assistant director with the Office of Contract Administration under City Administrator Naomi Kelly, said that “the number of vehicles that we as a city have in stock and the number of equipment that we have that requires gasoline has continued to climb.”

He continued, “For example, as we hired new police officers and things like that, it often also means there are more vehicles that we need to provide to the sworn officers. We also buy more equipment, lawn mowers, generators, things like that.”

In fiscal year 2014-2015, The City used 1.902 million gallons of gas to power 2,259 pieces of equipment, 1,277 cars or SUVs, 311 patrol vehicles, 209 vans and 591 pickups, according to data provided by Degrafinried.

Four years later, in fiscal year 2017-2018, The City used 1.949 million gallons of gas to power 2,326 pieces of equipment, 1,418 cars or SUVs, 353 patrol vehicles and 222 vans. The only reduction in vehicle types over the four years was in pickups, which declined to 560.

He said that the city is purchasing about 200 fuel efficient or zero emissions vehicles annually and advancing plans to install more charging stations across The City.

“Even though we are buying more of those vehicles that is not offsetting the fuel consumption,” Degrafinried said.

The contract was initially proposed as a $40 million, three-year contract with two one-year options. But Budget Analyst Severin Campbell recommended reducing the contract to $32 million, effectively imposing a cap on the amount of gasoline used to help ensure The City doesn’t use more gas beyond today’s level during the next five years.

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