January 17 BCDC Commissioner Workshop on Environmental Justice Notes

PUBLIC ACCESS

Discussion:
Brainstorm on any missing intersections of EJ and public access to add
  • Linking to k-12 experience.
  • Linking to public schools.
  • Public access spaces that may be flooded.
  • Security – do you feel safe or unsafe from having security?
  • Programming of space – be more explicit how it will be used and advertised.
  • Multi-lingual outreach/advertisement of public access areas. 
  • Adaptive amenities.
  • Water quality as public access issue.
  • Liveaboards – consider people who live on boats. The only way to be middle class while owning a boat in the Bay area is to live on it given the cost of boating. Liveaboard rules harm the boating community but no one is engaged with this community or is doing continuous relationship-building.
  • Issues impact everyone not just the most active users.
  • Some children taught that the experiences of being at the Bay are not for them – this is a chance to integrate this into school curricula.
  • Fishing amenities – cultural and language access.
Brainstorm on how BCDC could address these intersections given its role, jurisdiction, and authority
  • When EJ amendment is complete, could BCDC update the public access design criteria?
  • Need outreach early in the design of public access areas.
  • Need more proactive and continuous outreach to different groups
  • Leverage the public transit that is there – make access BARTable.
  • Need to create a list for early outreach to EJ groups on all issues in various ways.
  • Need broader public outreach and education around public access. 
  • Diversify locations of public access requirements.
  • Need to engage youth so they are aware and use public access spaces.
  • Engage organizations to help BCDC improve engagement, especially to youth.
  • Provide skills/training to youth on how to actively use the Bay (i.e. swimming, kayaking, fishing, etc.) which can create a lifetime love and stewardship of the Bay.
  • Have BCDC’s Design Review Board require community engagement in applicants’ design processes.
  • Invite community groups to Design Review Board meetings.
  • Add EJ representatives as members to the Design Review Board.
  • Hold Design Review Board meeting in/near project sites.
  • Encourage cities to be more active in public access design plans and engagement. 
  • Programming spaces will get folks there –could BCDC require a certain number of events per year?
  • Design Review Board should consider environmental justice in its design criteria. 
  • Improve advertisement of public access areas to targeted populations (needs to be culturally and language appropriate).
  • Design public access areas to reflect regional values around multiculturalism, social justice, and environmental sustainability.
  • Source public access building materials sustainably.
  • Public access amenities should include elements and signage that embraces natural and indigenous/multicultural history and presence.
  • Redesign Public Access Design Guidelines to include environmental justice and social equity
  • In lieu of physical access, can BCDC require money in trust for EJ purposes such as community engagement?
  • There are other ways to improve safety of public access beyond uniformed security guards and police. There can be rangers, guides, and public events.
  • Focus on stewardship of public access.
  • How can BCDC encourage the 100-foot shoreline band to not be treated like a setback but rather encourage folks to activate the spaces?
  • BCDC needs a better understanding of how certain communities use the public access and the Bay to design better public access
  • Flexibility in designs such as moveable furniture. 

SHORELINE PROTECTION/FLOODING

Brainstorm on any missing intersections of EJ and Shoreline Protection/Flooding to add
  • Outreach and education are critical as residents may not be aware of flood/hazard risks in the area or know what or how projects are being designed for flood protection
  • Two-way transfer of knowledge: both from BCDC to residents, but also from residents to BCDC and recognizing that communities know best what they need and have a lot of knowledge specific to the areas in which they live that is valuable
  • Inability to access meetings limits communities’ ability to participate
  • Thinking about recreation in the short-term and long-term with the construction of shoreline protection.
  • How do we manage expectations? How long should we protect structures for?
Brainstorm on how BCDC could address these intersections given its role, jurisdiction, and authority
  • Improved community involvement in process including better outreach and making participation accessible.
  • Meetings at locations convenient to the projects in question.
  • BCDC staff could go to meetings already in existence that are discussing this issue (ex: Bayview Hunters Point EJ Response Task Force) to engage the communities on projects in their neighborhoods.
  • Improved outreach on sea level rise awareness and extent of impacts.
  • Community often has no knowledge of meetings or what projects are being considered – need to bridge that gap.
  • Improved community education.
  • Projects need to engage the community at the onset at the pre-application stage
  • Can shoreline protection provide access to the water?
  • Partnerships between agencies and communities to increase representation of communities.
  • Draw on community programs that already exist, utilize the networks of community-based organizations and create partnerships with these organizations to share information and work together to engage more participation.
  • Create map and list of existing organizations and contact information.
  • Utilize the Bay Area Climate Adaptation Network (BAYCAN).
  • Projects are often already designed before they are reviewed by the public. Need to change this.
  • Communities are told what the project is without an option to comment at the first steps.
  • Create a requirement for applicants to work with community in development of project proposals, find a way to create a standard (or best practices) to ensure community engagement in project designs are done comprehensively and meaningfully with the community
  • There needs to be community processes, not just a community meeting. Community involvement should not be a check-list item but a real engagement process.
  • Add community involvement into the standard of review.
  • Look to nonprofits who are trying to create strong community processes for projects (ex: Asian Pacific Environmental Network).
  • Ask questions early on before moving forward, such as, “would this type of use make sense?”
  • There needs to be community involvement at every phase of the projects including research, planning, and review.
  • BCDC needs to give information to applicants about what is required for community process.
  • Need to consider contamination and the potential mobilization of contaminants.
  • Ensuring communities adjacent to protection can access the Bay.
  • Making private landowners a part of the permitting process.
  • Create a repository of regional information about who regulates and who enforces what.
  • Create MOUs and contracts with groups.
  • Create a regional public access plan that includes local government and stakeholders.
  • Collaboratively incorporate community in flood plans.
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MITIGATION/HABITAT RESTORATION

Brainstorm on any missing intersections of EJ and mitigation/habitat restoration to add
  • Involvement of public after restoration – missing education link.
  • In theory we have closed several contaminated sites and done mitigation but what will sea level rise to do it?
  • Public access is missing from this conversation. Restoration could restore access and education to EJ communities (example in West Oakland as habitat restoration was also used to re-create connection to the shoreline for fishing, education, and recreation).
  • Restoration and habitat can tie in cultural and recreational opportunities.
  • How do superfund sites and contaminated lands play into mitigation?
  • Social restoration is missing from mitigation.
  • Sustained and maintained relationships with the community.
  • Shoreline communities and contaminated lands that are ask risk of flooding.
  • Signage related to illiteracy.
Brainstorm on how BCDC could address these intersections given its role, jurisdiction, and authority
  • Community involvement in the initial selection of mitigation project, design of mitigation project, in the identification of community (language, cultural use of shoreline (fishing)) – who should be involved/included?), in post-restoration (educational component, internships, monitoring).
  • Applicants for projects should fully address EJ issues.
  • We have focused much mitigation on habitat restoration and banking, could we expand that to include protection from sea level rise. This type of mitigation could include higher levels of protection from sea level rise in EJ communities. We should prioritize protecting disadvantaged communities instead of just protecting the shoreline. We could even do protection banking.
  • Encourage mitigation projects that combine habitat, education, and social opportunities in EJ communities.
  • Job opportunities can also be a part of mitigation projects so the whole community is a part of it.
  • Figure out who to bring to the table for the mitigation projects.
  • Develop regional plan of priority areas where mitigation from SLR is needed and use as mitigation for social and habitat impacts.
  • There should be mitigation for social impacts.
  • How would we embed this into existing regulatory work? Is this though policy updates or regulation changes?
  • Build in measures to ensure that mitigation that is required does not lag behind project. Maybe require mitigation prior to project start? This may be challenging financially.
  • How do we get the right people at the table?
  • ShoreUpMarin in Marin City could serve as a model for linking many groups in the community to solve issues. There is an opportunity to share stories and successes.
  • Habitat restoration/mitigation not just for species but also for community.
  • Work with and not for the communities on these projects.
  • Moving from helping to partnering and collaborating.
  • Build trust and relationships.
  • Need to have broad, collaborative planning and bring people to the table.
  • Mitigation needs to be culturally relevant with signage in appropriate languages.
  • Forms/materials need to be rethought – language, literacy, government jargon, acronyms, etc.
  • Long-term community benefits and collaborations.
  • Incorporate community priorities.
  • Invite community to collaborate, do not impose a project onto a community.
  • Community needs ownership over a project.
  • Are the terms “habitat” and “restoration” and “mitigation” appropriate? Are they accessible?
  • Look to Literacy for Environmental Justice – SF-based organization involved in restoration projects (Yosemite Slough is one example).
  • Need to consider relationships (consider movement of water and how it connects communities).
  • How do we include more complete communities as “interested parties”?
  • How do we ask communities who is impacted by a project?
  • Ask the applicant of a project, “how will this impact community?” and, “Are you working with community?”
  • Work with Neighborhood Councils (Ex: Richmond) – projects are often presented to advisory councils.
  • Develop a list/database of community groups/environmental groups/etc. to notice of projects.

OTHER POLICY AREAS OF CONCERN

Brainstorm on what other policy areas should or could be address by BCDC and why
  • Contaminated lands.
  • Workforce development.
  • Fossil fuels and climate change mitigation.
  • Incorporating environmental justice frameworks.
  • Recognizing racist role.
  • New port in Vallejo.
  • ORCEM cement plant in Vallejo.
  • Phillips 66.
  • Is BCDC protecting communities or public health?
  • BCDC continues to preserve industrial areas without considering public health impacts.
  • BCDC needs to take a stronger stand on issues (ex: rock blasting in Napa, port in Vallejo, coal terminal in Oakland, regional powerplants, Selby Slag, etc.).
  • Create safety buffer zone around frontline communities that does not allow for polluting industries any adverse public health impacts.
  • There needs to be a public health analysis and sign off on permit decisions.
  • BCDC needs to stop preserving industrial land uses and instead protect public health.
Brainstorm on what other (non-Bay Plan) BCDC plans, policies, procedures, or guidance could or should be amended to address environmental justice and social equity
  • Increase BCDC staff resources around environmental justice.
  • Processes needs to slow down in order to talk to communities.
  • There needs to be action beyond talk.
  • Staff need more technical expertise around pollution, contamination, public health and CEQA requirements.
  • BCDC needs to address tribal issues.
  • Amend McAteer-Petris Act to include environmental justice and public health.
  • Remove any language in BCDC plans, policies, laws, etc. that promotes retaining industrial uses.
  • BCDC should stop helping applicants meet the permit requirements if they do not do so initially.

ACCESS TO AND ENGAGEMENT IN BCDC’S PUBLIC PROCESSES

Discussion on what is and is not working regarding BCDC’s public process
  • Conducting meetings and producing materials only in English is not working.
  • BCDC often relies on public process/community engagement in CEQA requirements carried out by the local governments – is this really working?
  • The general public does not know BCDC exists.
  • 100-ft noticing requirement is not enough.
  • Process is now dependent on applications and negotiations with BCDC permit analysts over a long period of time  à this is not ideal for community involvement.
  • Right now, commissioners do not have early knowledge about projects and risks until the project is brought before them. This does not lead to the most informed decision-making. 
  • Many projects are permitted as administrative permits that do not have a public meeting or process and limit the ability of public knowledge and involvement in decisions.
  • Website is not enough.
  • Commission meeting time is not convenient.
  • Communities need action; they are tired of going to meetings.
  • BCDC needs improved coordination with other agencies, especially DTSC.
Discussion on how BCDC can improve access to its public process and required applicant public process
  • Create list of EJ organizations, NGOs, and communities to add to interested parties lists and to send courtesy emails of upcoming projects when they are early in the pre-application stage.
  • Create Help Desk.
  • Webcast meetings.
  • Language access in required public access signage and posted notices.
  • Hire Chief Public Information Officer.
  • Create a social media presence across different platforms that that is culturally and language-appropriate.
  • Create universal info-graphics/symbols for signage.
  • Use documentaries.
  • Informational handouts at meetings for how to participate in meeting and give public comment (similar to Coastal Commission).
  • Create applications/mapping tools for the public.
  • Provide translation and interpretation at public meetings (meetings and materials).
  • Engage with the media.
  • BCDC needs a community relations/engagement team with specific skills and training who is responsible for early and regular engagement, rather than ad hoc engagement/winging it/engagement as an add-on or afterthought. 
  • Improve website to be more user-friendly and less jargon-y as well as ADA-compliant and multi-lingual.
  • Create diverse community advisory boards.
  • Hold commissioners accountable for outreach.
  • Communicate permitting process so proponents know when to call BCDC.
  • Participate in lower formality engagement opportunities such as tabling/having a booth at public events.
  • Create one-page summaries of projects with photos and accessible language/description to go on website and as hand-outs at meetings. 
  • Conduct survey to find out what people think and know of BCDC.
  • Use the state auditors’ feedback from the enforcement audit to get more outreach resources.
  • Can BCDC pool its resources with Coastal Commission and Coastal Conservancy to improve meeting accessibility?
  • Create a glossary of common terms (in all appropriate languages)—Coastal Commission is working on this and BCDC could use/build from the list.
  • Include more informal, less intimidating engagement.
  • Need to do multilingual outreach on public access beyond signage at the site.
  • Need to raise awareness about the Bay beyond people who live or work near the shoreline. It needs to become more of a shared resource.
  • BCDC needs to be clearer about how the public can make their voices heard in its processes, including answering the questions, “how do people get involved with advisory boards and committees?” “how do people get chosen to be on the Commission?” and, “How do people contact Commissioners?”
  • Use enforcement actions and fines to improve access (ex: Coastal Commission’s “Your Coast” application)
  • Participating in BCDC’s processes should not be a financial burden, meetings should be at times that people do not have to miss work to access them, should provide food, and accessible by transit. 
  • In order for people to become involved, BCDC will need to do outreach and build trust.
  • Community members should be involved the process from the beginning.
  • When planning meetings, take into account and coordinate with community availability to attend.
  • Use existing partners and organizations.
  • There needs to be longevity and formal long-term relationships. Create these by funding community partnerships and participation.
  • BCDC should start with looking at past projects and think about how the process could have been designed differently.
  • Establish a necessary baseline level of engagement with a community.
  • Add requirements around engagement in the pre-application phase.
  • Communities do not know what is going on and that should be recognized, valued, and accounted for in meetings and presentations.
  • Outreach and education should not be 1-way, it should be 2-way transfer of knowledge.
  • Communities know their circumstances best but may not know background process and research on project development and approval.
  • BCDC should notice projects under consideration.
  • There is a lack of explanation of the “trade-offs” in development of projects.
  • Need to ask the communities what they want, staff cannot make this decision.
  • If projects are just posted on the website and there is not a community process, then the community may not know about the project until construction starts and then it is too late to influence anything.
  • Can there be a preference for communities that bring forth projects?
  • Can there be a scaling of engagement based on the size of a project and/or type of permit?
  • Make sure communities know where and what projects are being considered.
  • Add a section to the application to discuss how the project addresses environmental justice.
  • Create a permit application requirement to include local stakeholder/public engagement in pre-application stage.
  • Improve coordination with other agencies on outreach over and above legal requirements.
  • Need to create a Tribal Consultation Policy.
  • Engagement needs to be consistent over long permitting timelines.
  • Task commissioners with outreach including 1-on-1 meetings with staff to understand needs and talking with constituents.
  • More information to commissioners ahead of time so they can make the most informed decision.
  • Provide stipends for community groups to participate in meetings.
  • Use commissioners as a resource for community contacts.
  • Staff needs to get out of office and do engagement.
  • Actually listen to the public and implement feedback and input.
  • Create an official outreach plan for the agency.
  • Do outreach to local working groups.
  • Notice community centers and have a community outreach person on staff.
  • Work with the community organizations and grassroots organizations to get the word out about meetings. Money to compensate community groups for their time and expenses in helping with this outreach.
  • Rotate the meeting locations around the Bay (different cities and buildings), including in communities. Also live-feed video at satellite locations.
  • Trust is one of the key issues that should be addressed. Many folks do not trust the government, Oftentimes, there are only one to two people of color in the room. Government agencies need work on building trust.
  • Do you really want to make a change or a difference? This is crucial for successful engagement. If an agency doesn’t truly want communities at the meeting, then engagement will not work. Agencies need to be transparent.
  • Encourage different communities to look at government jobs/work.
  • Reconsider job descriptions and qualifications and how they may lead to inequity.
  • Be more transparent and upfront about purpose of meetings/content.
  • Use different media outlets to target specific populations (webpage, snapchat, twitter, newspaper, radio, etc.).
  • Contact the city of a proposed project – ask city staff to begin outreach as they often know local groups and individuals.
  • If BCDC knows of regular commenters or interested parties, let them know.
  • Water is our connector and connection - consider using “water level rise” instead of “sea level rise”.
  • Public access improves connection to the Bay and increases caring for the Bay.
  • Fishing signage should not be in English first when the majority of the fishers do not speak English.
  • Need to relate to people’s day-to-day life.
  • Set up regional participation center.
  • Develop a non-profit partnership to help spread the word about a meeting, rather than a paper notice or website post.
  • Need to make water and the Bay relevant.
  • Let the community decide their priorities around the scale and type of engagement.
  • Utilize community knowledge of an area at public meetings.
  • The goal is for the community to have more impact and involvement that works for them.
  • Educational programs that are culturally appropriate (including language).
  • BCDC (and all agencies) needs an ombudsman.
  • Need a way for the public to easily see what projects, applications, etc. are in their area, across all agencies.