Minutes of May 7, 2009 Commission Meeting
Call to Order. The meeting was called to order by Chair Randolph at the Ferry Building, Second Floor in San Francisco, California at 1:00 p.m.
Roll Call. Present were Chair Sean Randolph, Vice Chair Halsted, Commissioners, Baird (represented by Alternate Vierra), Bates, Bourgart, Chiu, Gibbs, Gioia, Goldzband, Gordon, Jordan Hallinan, Hicks (represented by Dillabough), Lai-Bitker Lundstrom, Maxwell, McGlashan, McGrath, Nelson, Reagan (represented by Alternate Kondylis), Smith, Thayer (represented by Alternate Kato), Wagenknecht and Wieckowski.
Not Present were: Sonoma County (Brown), Department of Finance (Finn), Governors Appointee (Moy), Santa Clara County (Shirakawa).
Public Comment Period. Chair Randolph asked for public comment. There was none.
- Approval of Minutes of April 2, 2009 Meeting. Chair Randolph entertained a motion to adopt the Minutes of April 2, 2009.
MOTION: Commissioner Goldzband moved, seconded by Commissioner Kondylis, to approve the April 2, 2009 Minutes. The motion carried unanimously.
- Report of the Chair. Chair Randolph reported on the following:
- Next BCDC Meeting. As part of our budget reduction plan, we are cancelling our May 21st Commission meeting. Therefore, our next BCDC meeting will be in four weeks, on June 4th. At that meeting, which will be held here at the Ferry Building, we will take up the following matters:
- We may vote on making revisions to our Bay Plan to address climate change. We’re holding a public hearing on those changes today.
- We may hold a public hearing and vote on an application to make improvements to the confinement facilities at the San Quentin State Penitentiary. As you may recall, we considered this application earlier this year, but the applicant withdrew it before we voted on the permit.
- We will hold a public hearing and vote on changing the structure and composition of BCDC’s Citizens Advisory Committee.
- We will receive a briefing on the work of the Dutch in adaptation to sea level rise.
- Finally, we will consider a status report on the progress we are making in carrying out our strategic plan.
- We may vote on making revisions to our Bay Plan to address climate change. We’re holding a public hearing on those changes today.
- Ex-Parte Communications. Chair Randolph invited Commissioners who have engaged in any as-yet-unreported ex parte communications to report on them at this point.
Commissioner McGrath spent time talking with various people about sea level rise as a general subject. Included was Ray Seed of the University of California, Lester McKie of the San Francisco Estuary Institute, and BCDC Executive Director Travis.
Commissioner Kato, in the normal course of business with the State Lands Commission, spoke with representatives from Treasure Island Development Authority (TIDA), and the City Redevelopment of San Francisco regarding the Exploratorium.
- Next BCDC Meeting. As part of our budget reduction plan, we are cancelling our May 21st Commission meeting. Therefore, our next BCDC meeting will be in four weeks, on June 4th. At that meeting, which will be held here at the Ferry Building, we will take up the following matters:
- Report of the Executive Director. Executive Director Travis provided the following report:
- Budget. As usual, I’ll begin my report today with some information about our budget. As you may recall, last November, when the global economic decline forced cutbacks in government spending in California, we proactively instituted a plan to generate $100,000 in savings this fiscal year. We did so largely because we expected that we would be directed to make expenditure reductions in the months ahead. Per our plan we kept two staff positions vacant, we’ve reduced the scope of an existing consulting contract and curtailed other planned contracts, we’ve held off on replacing aging office equipment and we’ve tightly controlled staff training expenses and travel.
- Our plan has worked. As a result, we’ve spent about $100,000 less than we normally would have by this point in the fiscal year. The mandated state furlough program has reduced our expenditures an additional $75,000. But beyond taking back this unspent $75,000, we’ve been directed to reduce our spending by only $35,000. Therefore, in essence, we have $65,000 in the bank.
We can’t carry these savings into our next fiscal year. However, we can spend the money to replace a copier, printer, computers and software, and on other expenses that we will surely incur next year if we don’t make these expenditures this fiscal year. By making these purchases now, we can begin the next fiscal year with a small contingency reserve to tap into in case we face additional budget cuts next year. Therefore, unless you direct me otherwise, we will proceed with those purchases in the manner I’ve outlined.
Even though the 2008-09 fiscal year isn’t over, and the Legislature is still working on the 2009-10 fiscal year budget, it’s time to begin developing our budget for the 2010-11 fiscal year. Concept proposals for budget changes must be submitted to the California Natural Resources Agency in early June. The instructions we’ve received contain the following ominous sentence: “The expansion of existing or the addition of new programs will not be entertained.” In other words, the only types of budget change proposals that will be considered are those proposing to reduce or eliminate existing programs.
Given these constraints, unless you direct me otherwise, we are not intending to submit any budget change proposals for additional state General Fund support in FY 10-11. When and if we receive additional financial support from the federal government or other sources, we can get state authorization to incorporate that money into our budget without going through the formal budget change proposal process.
As always, we’ll keep you apprised of any changes in the budget situation.
- Interns. We will have two highly qualified legal interns joining our staff this summer. Kelli Shields, who is a student at the Golden Gate University School of Law and worked for the Center for Biological Diversity before entering law school; and Galina Velikovish, who is at the UC Hastings College of Law, has worked for the California Public Utilities Commission and the Richmond School District. Kelli and Galina will be working with us from June through August.
- Enforcement Case. Working with our colleagues at the Bay Area Toll Authority, Caltrans and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, we’ve found a way to resolve an enforcement problem that has been around for over 15 years.
In 1974, BCDC issued a permit that allowed the old Dumbarton Bridge, which was built partially on a trestle across the Bay, to be replaced with a new, concrete span. A condition in the permit required the eastern and western ends of the old trestle to be retained as public fishing piers if feasible or be removed if the piers were found to be unsafe for public access. The eastern pier is open to the public. The western pier was open to the public for over a decade, but in 1993 it had to be closed due to safety concerns. To replace this lost public access, in 2000 BCDC included a condition in a permit for the widening of the western approach to the bridge which required Caltrans to provide new public access facilities on the shoreline by 2004.
Until now, Caltrans has not had the funding to pay for either the pier removal or the alternative public access. Fortunately, the Bay Area Toll Authority has provided sufficient funding for the planned seismic retrofit of the Dumbarton Bridge to allow Caltrans to compensate for the loss of public access that has occurred over the past decade and a half since the public pier was closed. Caltrans will accomplish this by providing $1,194,000 to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service which will install a new trail, two viewing platforms, signs and other amenities, along half a mile of a levee, will upgrade a parking lot for public access users, and will build a 2,000-foot-long barrier to prevent the parking lot from being flooded during high tides.
We believe this is a fair resolution to this long-standing problem, and therefore, unless you direct me otherwise, we will issue authorization next week to require Caltrans to transfer the money to the Fish and Wildlife Service by the end of the year. When you authorized the South Bay Salt Pond Restoration Project you required the Fish and Wildlife Service to provide public access in this area by the end of 2013. But the Service believes it can now have the access improvements completed and open by 2011.
- Budget. As usual, I’ll begin my report today with some information about our budget. As you may recall, last November, when the global economic decline forced cutbacks in government spending in California, we proactively instituted a plan to generate $100,000 in savings this fiscal year. We did so largely because we expected that we would be directed to make expenditure reductions in the months ahead. Per our plan we kept two staff positions vacant, we’ve reduced the scope of an existing consulting contract and curtailed other planned contracts, we’ve held off on replacing aging office equipment and we’ve tightly controlled staff training expenses and travel.
- Commissioner Consideration of Administrative Matters. Executive Director Travis stated that the administrative listing was sent to the Commissioners on April 24th. Bob Batha is available to respond to any questions Commissioners may have about the matters on the listing.
- Consideration of Contract for Administrative Support Services. Assistant Executive Director Mamie Lai reported to the Commission that, for the past 30 years, BCDC has relied on the California Coastal Commission to provide administrative support services. BCDC now has the staff resources needed to handle its budget, accounting, business services and contracting responsibilities in-house. Therefore, the administrative services needed from the Coastal Commission have been limited to human resource functions. These services will cost approximately $130,000 per year for the next two fiscal years.
Contracts between California state agencies, called interagency agreements, do not require competitive bidding. Therefore, unless and until BCDC has the staff resources needed to perform all of its own administrative services in-house, the staff recommends that BCDC continue to contract with the Coastal Commission for the needed services.
Chair Randolph asked if anyone from the public would like to address this issue. Seeing no one, he called for the motion.
MOTION: Commissioner Bourgart moved, seconded by Commissioner Wagenknecht, to approve the contract. The motion carried unanimously by a hand vote.
- Public Hearing and Vote on Material Amendment No. One to BCDC Permit No. M06-8 to authorize East Bay Regional Park District to develop and operate an aquatic recreation facility on the shoreline of the Oakland Estuary, in the City of Oakland, Alameda County. Chair Randolph introduced Karen Wolowicz, BCDC staff, who provided some background on the application.
Ms. Wolowicz stated that the permit application is to construct a recreational boating facility with storage, launching and training facilities for non-motorized boating and associated shoreline public access in the Commission’s Bay and shoreline band jurisdiction.
In 2007, pursuant to BCDC Permit Number M06-8, the Commission approved an adjacent and associated project consisting of a shoreline park, public access, trail, landscaping, a parking lot, restroom, and other amenities. Together both projects expand Martin Luther King Regional Shoreline Park. The project proposed would result in approximately 30,000 square feet of improved public access in the Commission’s shoreline band jurisdiction. Combined with the public access committed in the original authorization, or Phase 1, the project will result in approximately 55,000 square feet of public access. Also, the project would result in approximately 23,000 square feet of fill in the bay for shoreline stabilization and boat launch access.
The Commission should consider if, as proposed, the project would be consistent with its laws and policies regarding fill in the bay, public access, natural resources, water quality, and safety of fill.
Mike Anderson, Assistant General Manager for Planning, Stewardship, and Development for East Bay Regional Park District, began his remarks by stating that he is hoping that the Commission will accept and approve a concept they have been working on for about a decade. The site is Martin Luther King Regional Shoreline, which is one portion of San Leandro Bay. Many of the people who live in Oakland are really unable to get any kind of access to the shoreline in this area at all. In fact, many people who live there are not aware there’s actually a Bay out there. They know where the Oakland Coliseum is, they know where the freeway is, but very few actually get a chance to come down that way. So the purchase of this property by the park district, which was done quite some time ago, really was meant to provide a unique and special access.
The overall master plan for the site is to develop a passive recreation area. It is a previous BCDC permit where we put in place for the first time parking, some picnic areas, restrooms, and really just access to the shoreline which had not existed there before.
The Bay Trail, which was built about 15 years ago, extends back up to Tidewater Avenue along the existing roadway, which basically makes a link now that didn’t exist before. That was part of a project BCDC already approved, and it is in place.
To the right of that is an area that’s now called Flexivan. It’s leased to a container corporation; they have it stacked about 20 or 30 feet high with chassis for containers. The park district passed Measure WW this last election cycle and our plan is to put that project in place during the next couple of years to convert what is now a storage area for containers into more passive recreation and access to the shoreline. So that is a phase that will be coming to the Commission in the future and we have funding to actually put that in place.
What we’re here for today is to talk about what’s on the left-hand edge. And this is a place where we were approached by the Oakland Strokes about ten years ago to consider putting a boathouse in place that they could use to launch and store boats, shells for racing.
When they approached us, one of the issues for the park district board was how are we going to weigh public access against this private organization? How are we going to be sure that the public will really be served by these improvements? And what we’ve done is worked out an agreement that has the Oakland Strokes doing an outreach effort to the local community, so that would be kids who live in East Oakland that right now are one of the lowest economic areas in the Bay Area, being allowed to participate and be introduced to the programs that the Strokes have out there at Tidewater.
Now, what we’re thinking is that, whether or not it’s one kid in ten years or three kids in 50 years that really get something out of that program and move on because of it, maybe into a college education, who knows, there’s a huge benefit there and something we could never provide as a park district, and the board appreciated that as a significant improvement for public access.
There also is the plan to have public access to the docks. The docks that will be constructed will have an accessible ADA-compliant ramp that will be open to the public. People can come with car top boats, park, carry boats down the ramp and launch from that site during the normal park operating hours, which is curfew in the evening and of course opens about dawn. So we saw once again another positive aspect to this project.
The other thing that we’ve talked about and is really important to realize is that there are already programs going on in the estuary -- Canoes and Sloughs, Save the Bay -- which are taking people out and showing them what is happening in the estuary in terms of the resource damage, as well as resource restoration. The hope in this site is to bring the same uses and give them a place to store Kayaks and canoes at this new aquatic center. A place where they can go out with kids in programs partially funded through the park district and by their own donations to go out and explore the wetland areas where we have some of the nicest bird habitat in Northern California.
We have basically a lot of good things coming out of this for the public, we hope that you will find it as attractive and important as we do, and hope for your approval of this project.
Ms. Marjorie Smith provided a brief overview of the site layout. There are three buildings -- referred to as Building 1, Building 2, and Building 3 -- that go from south to north. Building 2 and 3 are used primarily for boat storage, rowing shell storage. The buildings are arranged around two boat staging areas; a large boat staging area for rowing shells and a small boat staging area for canoes and kayaks.
The buildings and staging areas are located on the east side of the site away from the estuary, and then between the buildings and the estuary is the Bay Trail, overlapping a fire lane that runs the length of the site.
At the north end of that Bay Trail we have a fence for a secure storage area we opened that up to give a good width for a potential connection to Bay Trail further north when and if the neighbor implements that.
Chris Patillo, PGA Design, discussed the landscape plan. She stated that the main element of their work is a 12-foot-wide multi-use trail that runs the entire length of the project. There is a small entry plaza, which is scored colored concrete, and it has a rolled curb so the entire plaza area is very accessible. There’s a little more concrete on the bands between the buildings. A bike rack will be provided and an accessible boat dock.
There will be four benches along the route -- all of them have backs, very comfortable -- and they are all facing the water. And there will also be public access signage very clearly indicating that this is meant for the general public, not just the members of the Strokes.
The planting is a fairly simple plant palate and includes a lot of grasses. Predominantly we’ve used a deer grass and a feather grass, both of which we’ve used at Union Point Park just up the estuary and they’ve been very successful. We also have quite a bit of turf here but it’s usable turf. They need a staging area to set the kayaks down as they get them out. But more importantly than staging for the kayaks, it’s a place for people to sit and watch. In a public access area, to me, one of the things you want is to get people to come down, and coming down to watch rowing activities is really pretty entertaining, and so I think it’s an enhancement to provide something for people to come and look at and that encourages public access to the waterfront.
There is also a bios-wale in that curved area surrounded by the dark green so that all of the water from the entire site, from the building and the site, will go into a channel and into a bios-wale, where the water will be filtered before it goes back into the estuary.
There’s a small narrow green sliver between the public access path and the top of the riprap which is a mixture of native species. And there’s one tree, another California native, at the front of Building #1.
Mr. Dilip Trivedi, Moffat and Nichol, touched upon the unique aspects of the project itself. These are very large gangways and very low freeboard that is required for these docks. And the combination of these two really resulted in the reason for the dredging and for the riprap.
The property line for the Army Corps-owned tidal canal is one of the only pieces, or only water bodies in the Bay, which is owned by the San Francisco District Army Corps. And that is very close to the property line itself. Trying to obtain the right-of-way easement into a federal property was a huge constraint, so the solution was to bring it closer in, and that’s the reason for the dredging and the riprap.
The dock is a two phased process. There’s half the dock which is going in as a first phase this year and then the other half next year.
Ms. Smith talked about the three building elevations as they would be seen from the west, from the estuary. As we’ve discussed before, the project program was broken into three buildings. This allows us to build the final building in the future, and we also further broke down the building forms with two types of roof, the high roof with the curve that is inspired by the curve of a rowing oar. And so the idea was to break down these forms so as one moves along the Bay Trail or along the estuary there’s a rhythm of forms, and the curve really helps to unify the buildings, the curved roof form.
The color scheme at the base of the building is a dark blue and other areas there are light blue; it reinforces the horizontal and grounds the buildings.
The primary volumes for Buildings 2 and 3 are for storing rowing shells. Building 2 also has an exercise room, and adjoining that, outside kayak storage. Upstairs in Building 2 there is a mezzanine adjoining a balcony from which you get a view of the estuary. Building 3 is just rowing shell storage.
The uses in Building 1 are really to support the boating programs. There are restrooms to the left and then to the right is an office, and then a meeting room on the corner. The meeting room will be available to boating programs, but also to East Bay Regional Park District naturalist-led programs and programs to educate the public about the estuary. Upstairs is a security residence for a park caretaker.
For Building 2, the wide boards will be that darker color, the narrower boards above, the steel balcony. You can see the large overhead doors for bringing the rowing shells in and out of the building.
And Building 3 really is mirroring the boat storage form of Building 2, so it’s just that single volume.
And then Building 1, and a very similar vocabulary as Building 2 and 3, just at a smaller scale. And then in the corner is a large storefront glazed opening here that opens with store front doors to the entry plaza and to the estuary.
Chair Randolph then opened the Item for public comment.
Mr. Arthur Feinstein, Citizens Committee to Complete the Refuge and the Sierra Club, stated that he was totally supportive of getting folks out on to the Bay and getting kayaking going, it’s a great project, but there are some caveats there.
This is perhaps, as was introduced, one of the richest bird habitats in San Francisco Bay. When I was Executive Director of Golden Gate Audubon, the Port of Oakland restored 74 acres of wetland at Martin Luther King. And after that, as part of the project, we did seven years of bird monitoring, and I understand that that monitoring has continued. And the results were spectacular. Thousands and thousands of diving ducks, of shorebirds, et cetera, are out on the waters of San Leandro Bay.
Diving ducks are what I’m going to talk about right now. Over the last 30 years their numbers have plummeted nationwide by 70 percent, maybe 75 percent. They are one of the duck species that are moving toward disappearance, I mean there’s still lots of them around, we get 200,000 to 250,000 a year; but we used to have 500,000 to 600,000 a year coming to San Francisco Bay. People are not quite sure what the reason is, but one of the reasons is probably disturbance. And I’ve talked to some of you before about this, but studies have shown, if you look at duck behavior, that only 10 percent of the duck’s time in life is spent with discretionary movement; 58 percent of the time is spent not moving at all, just roosting on the water, conserving energy. Ten percent or 11 percent is spent feeding, another 10 percent on preening and other activities. But only 10 percent is actually just moving around.
The thing is, they need energy. They’re out in the wild, cold water, they have a very delicate balance between living and dying or reproductive success when they fly to the arctic during the breeding season. These are the impacts that happen, if you don’t have enough energy you either fall out of the sky and die, which happens to these birds if they do not have enough energy reserves. Or when they get to their breeding grounds they don’t have successful reproduction because they don’t have enough energy.
If they are disturbed repeatedly, their energy reserves are depleted because they only spend again 10 percent of their time just moving around without feeding or doing something they need to do. And so when we disturb them and you see the birds flush or swim away, that’s actually an impact, it’s not just a minor, oh, get out of the way type of thing, it actually really can have a significant impact on them.
There have been several studies about what impact means on the bay. Jules Evans, consultant, has done a three-year study at the East Shore State Park for State Parks and has found that a single kayak can disturb diving ducks at a range of 150 feet, up to 300 feet for nesting birds. So one kayak can be a significant impact to these ducks and these diving ducks tend to be on the Bay in what’s called rafts, they form large communities on the Bay just roosting, so you can see 500 to a thousand at a time in one very distinct area. And if you’re more than 300 feet away or 150 feet away it’s not a problem, but if you get close enough some skittish bird will flush and then they all take off, and then you have that impact we’re talking about which -- you don’t see a dead bird right away, but it can result in death long term.
So, again, in the San Leandro Bay we have up to two, three thousand of these diving ducks there in a relatively small body of water, it’s secluded from the whole Bay, and obviously has a lot of food resources because this is where these ducks are. The tidewater project is a great opportunity to get the people out on the Bay, but we have to make sure that we’re not killing the resource at the same time we’re trying to appreciate it.
East Bay Park District is going to do signage at tidewater to advise boaters what to do so that they don’t disturb the birds, and we’re very appreciative of that. However, you don’t know if it’s going to work unless you’re out there monitoring it. So I’m urging you and the club and the citizens’ committee to ask the park district to incorporate a reasonable monitoring program to see that the signage is actually followed and to see -- because these birds move around where they are so that the signage may need to be changed -- so that it takes into account what areas people should not go to. It may not be a static sign that’s going to be there in terms of all the issues.
And finally, there are some very sensitive areas where we have endangered species and we have these big diving duck populations. So, again, I would urge you to include in your order here that there be some buffer zones established where boaters are not to go so that they don’t disturb, so it’s not just a sign saying please don’t disturb the birds, but actually please don’t go in this area. I think that would take care of the problem along with the signage and then we can have the best of all worlds which is wonderful access to the bay, great experiences for kids and for adults boating on the bay, but we still keep our birds alive and we don’t end up driving them down the tubes.
Chair Randolph asked if there was anyone else who wanted to speak on the topic. Seeing none, he welcomed a motion and a second to close to the public hearing.
MOTION: Vice Chair Halsted moved, seconded by Commissioner Kondylis, to close the public hearing. The motion carried unanimously.
Chair Randolph then asked for Commissioner comments.
Commissioner Gibbs asked if the Commission could hear from the representative from the East Bay Park District regarding Mr. Feinstein’s last proposal and any other feasible alternatives to that.
Mr. Anderson responded that he and Arthur had worked on a lot of projects together and he talked to him before the meeting and he was kind enough to let him know where he was going to make his point, and I think that in the signage there should not be an issue at all with indicating there’s going to be an area that’s excluded or where people should not go.
The trick on signs is enforcement. What we don’t want to do is be obligated to have someone out there who’s policing that particular issue. We do have naturalists who will be out there on a regular basis. If it’s acceptable to have the signage and our normal operation be the enforcement, I think that’s something we can certainly live with, we don’t have a problem with that. And I think, the important thing here is -- as Arthur says -- to protect the resources. We want to both educate and protect them, so signage to show exclusion areas, with no need to actually bring out someone specifically stationed there to watch and kind of monitor them actively, is fine. Monitoring the effect, I think we can certainly include that in with the bird counts which happen out there on a regular basis. I don’t see a problem with that.
Commissioner Gibbs stated that, as he understands it, there are naturalists who are out there on a fairly regular basis. If they saw anything that was disturbing to the birds they could be reporting it too?
Mr. Anderson responded that there would be an opportunity for someone to either talk to the people as they come back -- because you don’t want to yell across to them, you know, that’s going to disturb birds also -- but to basically have some mechanisms to talk to people and say “you shouldn’t be in that area, we noticed that you were there, and you really should be out of that area, it’s important for these reasons for natural resources.” So, a process of education and a process of basically monitoring on a casual basis.
What we don’t want to end up with is a special monitor of the bird area who sits out there and basically has to kind of guard it, because there’s no way to really enforce it unless you did that. But with casual observation we can do that, that’s not a problem.
Commissioner Jordan Hallinan asked if there was any reason why -- if the district is paying for a security person, is there any reason that person can’t get some kind of education on how to do such monitoring as opposed to having to rely on the volunteers, somebody who’s actually getting paid to be out there and provide security?
Mr. Anderson replied that they don’t usually pay their security residents. What they give them is a place to stay, they’re park district employees, often public safety employees, and so they’re there and they live there, but they also work, and the idea is that usually in the evening when the park is closed and people begin coming into the site who should not be there -- because it’s curfew or activities get a little out of control -- they can both call police, get some response, and go down and maybe deal with some of the issues. So security in this case is not so much about someone being there on a daily basis, there are going to be people who are operating the park, park rangers, and there will be programs put on by naturalists, once again all district employees who will be there in the day time. The security residence is really more about those times when the park is not open.
Commissioner Jordan Hallinan queried if whoever is sleeping in the security residence is not actually there during the day? Mr. Anderson replied that they may be working, they’re not required to be there. They are not paid to be a security force at the park. The residence basically is something that they have as a rental and they will be there during the evening. Part of their contract with us is to actually be aware of things that are going on in the park. They are there in the evening and in the off hours, because they probably work a regular day job.
Commissioner McGrath asked “if I have a kayak, I actually do, and I want to launch from the dock here, how close can I get and then once having put my kayak down where would I be parking?”
Mr. Anderson responded that the existing parking area, adjacent to the entry plaza, that’s now in place will be the most likely for people to park, and there’s about 50 spaces that are currently there. The roadway coming into the site is the private driveway essentially to the park. Tidewater, the public access street, has gates and security at Tidewater. There’s no parking on the driveway. But we have spaces already in place where you can park, car top boats, you pick up, you go past the restroom, you put your boat down on the lawn area, get yourself rigged up and ready to go and you can either walk down the ADA ramp or down the main ramp and launch from the dock. The overall distance I would hazard a guess is probably in the neighborhood of 200 feet.
Commissioner McGrath also commented that San Leandro Bay is indeed a very sensitive site. He has kayaked on San Leandro Bay from the existing ramp and the existing East Bay Regional Park District dock across the Bay where you can park and launch in a much more convenient manner with no signage or anything of any sort. So he kind of takes the viewpoint that with signage in an effort to educate the public you’re actually better providing them a new and convenient site which advises them and has peer pressure to advise them of proper behavior.
Currently there are places that you can launch very close to sensitive bird species without any signage that exists, so this actually, if it’s well signed is actually – could represent an improvement. But more than that, he didn’t think there will be hoards walking the 200 feet to launch and competing with boats. In his opinion, it’s not going to be a hugely popular kayaking location.Commission Nelson stated that he agreed with Commissioner McGrath, it’s likely that the predominant users are going to be affiliated one way or another with Oakland Strokes. But there’s an advantage there in that the park district has the ability to work with those folks and make sure that they’re using – that they’re respecting the need to protect wildlife in that area. So if the applicant would be open to some sort of an amendment in this permit that would provide for the park service to work with Oakland Strokes to make sure that they’re respecting wildlife in the San Leandro Bay area -- something I suspect the rowing club would be more than willing to do. That probably gets, along with signage, at the vast majority of the users in this site.
Mr. Anderson responded that he didn’t see anything wrong with that at all. He would be happy to make sure the Strokes are well educated about the resources out there -- they’re a good group of folks, a lot of those kids are pretty smart, they’re headed off to college educations, they appreciate the resources. So, yeah, no problem there. The other part of this, there will be programs that will be basically staging out of this site that are going to be specifically to educate the public, kids and adults, about the resources. So you have that other aspect which hopefully over time begins to build a better understanding in the community about the value of those resources out there. So we’re kind of attacking from two sides, no problem.
Commissioner Nelson expressed his appreciation for the willingness of the applicant to informally monitor the use of the site, but added that it’s difficult for a single applicant to do a very rigorous monitoring program on the basis of one site. The Commission had a similar discussion around the Bay Trail when discussing that issue. He asked if the staff can refresh Commissioner’s memory on what the Commission’s decision was about how to handle that issue, and whether it is an issue that, rather than discussing with regard to a particular application, they might take up as part of the strategic planning process, to think through how to make sure the Commission is handing this appropriately, not just at an individual permit basis but throughout our whole program.
Commissioner Lai-Bitker stated that she was quite familiar with the area, particularly because she drives a lot on the local drive, so she sees the very rich bird shelter on the Bay. She asked what kind of monitoring there is right now regarding the bird sanctuary and how much is that going to help with this new project, because isn’t it about a quarter or a half a mile down south?
Mr. Anderson replied that it was; that the restoration project that Mr. Feinstein referred to is about 70 acres, very close to Swan Way, the Swan Way end of MLK, that is a project that their district participated in also and is monitoring, and continuing to monitor. So that will continue. It’s a very rich site, as he indicated, it’s been a very successful restoration, and I think it came from a BCDC requirement on the Port of Oakland.
There is a general bird count that is held on Martin Luther King Regional Shoreline and the Bay on an annual basis, and then of course we have our own naturalists who will be stationed out in this area who will be putting the program together and keeping track of what’s going on with the wildlife. So we have some coverage in a general way, and I call it casual in the sense that as stewardship of the area out there we’re participating in the whole spartina program, the whole spartina removal, we are concerned about Clapper Rail populations, and we have stewards that are out there monitoring all these things. So my key is just to not have to have some person stationed out there whose job is simply to watch this. I think we have enough eyes and people out there we can actually do a good job of monitoring.
Commissioner Lai-Bitker commented that she personally feels this is a great opportunity to provide for the inner city youth in East Oakland and also just across from Alameda to be able to participate in this really good, healthy exercise and activity, and they open up the whole area for open access. It is a wonderful thing for us in the area and for the Commission.
Commissioner Bates asked if other rowing organizations will have an opportunity for this. Mr. Anderson responded that they have three buildings, you may have noticed, and the Strokes would definitely inhabit one of them. The third building, if we can afford to build it, would be something available for other rowing clubs or interests. So the Strokes and the park district need to work out if we have the funding to build it how we would work that, but I think there would be opportunities for other clubs.
Commissioner Bates asked if the third building is “a done deal” at this point. Mr. Anderson responded that it is not. Commissioner Bates expressed his appreciation; that the park district does a great job.
Commissioner Kondylis asked if they were contemplating doing solar or the standard use for these buildings? Not in the storage shed, but for the other areas -- the club and the residence.
Mr. Anderson replied that most of the areas are going to be unfinished on the inside, they’re just storage for the boats themselves. Ms. Smith added that the only building on the site that is conditioned is Building 1. And the conditioned portions of that are the meeting room below, the restroom, the office and the upstairs security residence. It’s a very efficient hot water heater, flash hot water heater that goes to a fan unit. And then there’s a separate one for the meeting room and the security residence above, being that this meeting room doesn’t need to be conditioned all the time and the security residence probably does.
In addition, the walls have been designed with maximum insulation, we’ve taken care with the details for really sealing those walls and ceiling, both from a durability standpoint and also just tight assembly. So, pretty simple moves, but it should be fairly energy efficient. In addition – there’s no cooling by the way in the building, and just the heating. And we have sunshades on Building 1 where we have this big opening on the security residence, sunshades that will keep that cool without active cooling and also keep the meeting room cool. So mostly passive techniques.
Ms. Wolowicz then stated the staff recommendation that the Commission authorize the proposed project. In addition, the recommendation should be revised to reflect revisions noted in the attached errata sheet. The essence of the revisions include adding an extra two feet of height to two of the buildings, adding one foot to another building, and removing the two parking spaces adjacent to the public access area from the required public access for this permit.
The staff recommendation also contains special conditions that require the permittee to take a variety of measures. One of those conditions requires the permittee to maintain public access areas, for improvements that are damaged by future flooding by raising land elevations, and to ensure usability to the public access areas and improvements where appropriate. Other conditions include special plan and plan review by BCDC staff, best construction management practices to minimize impacts to natural resources such as herring and water quality, and upland disposal and seasonal limitations on dredging.Staff has also added one condition. As discussed today, on page 6, under Special Condition II-B-5, states “three public access shore signs and one interpretive panel near the boat dock authorized herein to educate the general public about the nearby bay habitat.” And then staff will add “particularly identified but off limit areas of sensitive habitat or containing sensitive species such as East Slough, Arrowhead Marsh, favorite rafting areas of water fowl, et cetera. The sign will be regularly, at least every year, updated to reflect shifts on the uses of such areas and such information conveyed to the users of the facility.”
The staff believes that the project is consistent with BCDC law and bay plan policies regarding bay fill, public access, natural resources, water quality, and safety of fills.
Commissioner McGrath asked for discussion on a possible amendment regarding clarity of public use of the site. The park district has a naturalist on site at the Martin Luther King Shoreline, and I think it might be more effective to, in addition to the signage which is fine, to have her do quarterly training of the staff that work at the site. If you train the trainers, the people involved.
Mr. Anderson responded that quarterly training might have to be a little better defined about what exactly the training is supposed to involve. Clearly the people who are naturalists are quite capable of doing training and they run the programs, but I don’t know how deep you want to go into what the training is supposed to be about and how far it goes up the research ladder. It’s a little vague, I guess. But I think the concept is fine, we can certainly have that. Commissioner McGrath followed by stating that he wants the Park’s naturalists to come and speak with the people who actually are involved with the kids and the rowing. Mr. Anderson responded that he was fine with that.
Commissioner McGrath continued, saying that he was interested in something in the signage. There’s a very general condition about the public access signage, and he would wonder, from the staff’s perspective, would that also include some provision which makes sure that the signage indicates that the dock is public and not intended for storage of equipment? One of the problems that does periodically occur in marinas and other facilities is docks are used simply for storage, for staging equipment and getting it on the water, but a whole bunch of equipment will be stored there and the public can’t get there. Would this be an acceptable amendment to make sure the signage included such provisions? Mr. Anderson responded that he was very comfortable with that.
Commissioner Gibbs commented that, as someone who lives in Alameda and crosses that High Street Bridge almost every day, this was a remarkable improvement over what’s there. Currently it’s an area of the Bay and the East Bay that could really use some dramatic improvement. I think in terms of access both literal and socio-economic it’s also remarkable. The design, every phase of this is just wonderfully done and executed. In his time on the Commission it’s one of the most exciting and innovative projects, in terms of access to the bay and everything that we’ve seen. So he wanted to commend the applicant and the whole team and is really looking forward to seeing it in place.
MOTION: Commissioner Lai-Bitker moved, seconded by Commissioner Kondylis, to approve BCDC Permit No. M06-8, with the changes referenced above. The motion carried unanimously.
VOTE: The motion carried unanimously with a roll call vote of 21-0-0 with Commissioners Vierra, Bates, Bourgart, Chiu, Gibbs, Gioia, Goldzband, Gordon, Jordan Hallinan, Lai-Bitker, Lundstrom, Maxwell, McGlashan, McGrath, Nelson, Kondylis, Kato, Wagenknecht, Wieckowski, Vice Chair Halsted and Chair Randolph voting “YES”, no “NO” votes and no abstentions.
- Public Hearing on San Francisco Bay Plan Amendment No. 1-08 Concerning Climate Change. Chair Randolph introduced Leslie Lacko, who provided the staff report.
Ms. Lacko began by stating that staff is preliminarily recommending that the Commission amend the San Francisco Bay Plan by adding a new climate change policy section and amending the Bay Plan policy sections on protection of the shoreline, safety of fills, tidal marshes and tidal flats, and public access.
The proposed new and updated findings and policies are based on the information contained in the Draft Staff Background Report on climate change entitled Living With the Rising Bay, Vulnerability and Adaptation in San Francisco Bay and the Shoreline.
The staff presented the key findings from the report to the Commission at its last meeting on April 2nd. She briefly summarized the April 2nd report, stating that the key findings of the report were that climate change has already been observed in global surface temperature, warming of ocean water, and melting of both land and sea ice. No matter how much humans mitigate or reduce greenhouse gas emissions from this point forward it’s inevitable that the planet will warm between 1.8 and 5.4 degrees Fahrenheit. These changes increase acidification and sea level in the ocean. Over the past century tide gauges have documented a nearly eight-inch rise in sea level in San Francisco Bay, which is consistent with global sea level rise.
As a result of higher sea levels combined with storm activity, extreme storm events will substantially increase the region’s vulnerability. A rise in sea level of 16 inches at mid century and a rise of 55 inches at the end of the century were the scenarios that staff used to perform the analysis in the draft staff background report.
Staff found that a substantial increase in vulnerability to flooding would occur on 180,000 acres by mid century and 213,000 acres of shoreline by the end of the century.
The analysis in the staff report further examines vulnerability in several sectors on the shoreline, such as commercial and industrial areas, transportation, recreation, and public access. It also looked at vulnerability of the bay and its ecosystem processes, important habitat areas, and how future management decisions may compound climate change impacts.
Staff looked at BCDC and other government institutions and their limitations and how they might be prepared or unprepared for climate change. And finally, staff looked at adaptation strategies that fit within the limits of the Commission’s current authority to determine which ones were appropriate for this Bay Plan policy update.
Prior to releasing the report on April 7th, an earlier draft was reviewed by technical reviewers, other state agencies, regional agencies, and several of the Commission’s Citizen’s Advisory Committee members. The technical reviewers included climatologists, hydrologists, geomorphologists, ecologists, coastal engineers, biologists, and some land use planners. The staff spent several months responding to all the commenters and making the necessary changes in the report.
Returning to the preliminary staff recommendation, staff’s recommended approach is somewhat unique from other Bay Plan amendments, while still relying on past practices and uses of the Bay Plan. In the past, the Commission has adopted policies pertaining to its regulatory authority established in the McAteer-Petris Act and, where the Commission has determined that a particular issue is critical to address, its policies have been more guidance policies than regulatory policies.
The findings and policies in this preliminary recommendation follow this approach. However, due to the Commission’s limited authority there may be more guidance policies than in most Bay Plan amendments.
The scope of changes in the Bay and on its shoreline from climate change cut across nearly all the policy sections of the Bay Plan. One approach for addressing these impacts would be to amend every single policy section; however, we never apply the policies from one section in isolation from policies in other sections of the Bay Plan.
The staff believes that the most effective approach is to create a new climate change policy section that can be used with other policy sections in the Bay Plan and to update only those particular sections that require more specificity or clarity.
The findings in the proposed climate change section support policies within this section, as well as other policy sections. In so doing, they provide needed explanations and definitions of terms, they explain the sound science regarding the causes of climate change and how scenarios are used to address uncertainty, and explain the connection between climate change and sea level rise, as well as the Commission’s responsibility to use a risk averse approach to protect the public. They provide more detailed information where necessary, such as by explaining how and why storm events will cause most damage from flooding and how particular sectors will be impacted from climate change and sea-level-rise-induced flooding.
The findings further describe the patchwork of government authority over the Bay and shoreline and the need to provide a framework for decision making that really resembles the scale of climate change impacts, but still maintains a manageable scope.
The proposed climate change findings and policies sections include policies that address: first, updating sea level rise scenarios and using them in the permitting process; second, developing a long-term strategy to address sea level rise and storm activity and other Bay-related impacts of climate change in a way that protects the shoreline and the Bay; and third working with the Joint Policy Committee and other agencies to integrate regionally mitigation and adaptation strategies and adaptation responses of multiple government agencies, to analyze and support environmental justice issues, and support research that provides useful climate change information and tools.
The findings and policies section on protection of the shoreline formally address shoreline protection structures for one purpose, which was to prevent erosion. The staff proposes to amend this section by broadening the scope of this section to include protection from flooding. The proposed changes address this expansion and include additional information about impacts from shoreline protection. Additions to the findings also anticipate the desire for new and extensive shoreline protection as sea level rises.
The proposed updates to the policies on protection of the shoreline broaden their application to address future flooding, and include specific guidance regarding the circumstances for which a shoreline protection structure is allowable at a given location. General guidance on when a shoreline protection structure is allowable is included in Policy 1 of the proposed climate change section of the Bay Plan.
And although the Commission’s mitigation policy section of the Bay Plan guides the Commission’s decisions on when and how to allow mitigation, this proposed update provides further guidance that states explicitly the need to provide mitigation for shoreline protection projects.
The Bay Plan policy section of safety of fills is currently the home of the Commission’s existing findings and policies on sea level rise. So portions of the findings were relocated to the climate change section and both the existing findings and policies were updated for clarity and consistency with new language in other areas of the plan. The proposed policies also make it explicit that fill can be approved for shoreline protection, a practice in which the Commission has engaged for most of its existence consistent with the provisions of Section 66605 of the McAteer-Petris Act, which allow fill to establish a permanent shoreline, minimum amounts of fill to improve shoreline appearance, and fill for water-oriented uses.
The proposed amendment to the findings and policies section on tidal marshes and tidal flats are aimed at providing more specific information related to the impacts of climate change on these systems, such as the need for sediment to sustain marsh migration as sea level rises. The updates suggest taking a regional look at updating ecosystem restoration goals in light of climate change and provide direction to ensure that buffer zones are incorporated into restoration projects where feasible and sediment issues related to sustaining tidal marshes are addressed.
About 87 percent of public access that the Commission has required over the last 40 years is vulnerable to flooding from 55 inches of sea level rise. The proposed findings describe the range of impacts from flooding on public access and the difficulties of designing public access in the face of sea level rise and related flooding. The proposed policy updates will require the creation of public access that will be resilient to sea level rise and legal documentation, which we already require, that will guarantee the public access for the life of the project even if sea level rises, which we do not currently require.
On May 15th, the staff is bringing the preliminary recommendation to the Joint Policy Commission (JPC) for their endorsement on the proposed findings and policies and, in particular, their endorsement of our proposed role for the JPC in developing a regional strategy for sea level rise and climate change.
In closing, I would just like to add that one of the early lessons learned by staff during the preparation of the vulnerability assessment in the staff report is that planning for adaptation to climate change is really an iterative process. This is the first step. The uncertainty that still exists and the rapid rate at which new information becomes available makes revisiting the vulnerability assessment critical. This however is no reason to wait. We have well documented evidence of future impacts of climate change that fully support the approach outlined in these proposed amendments to the Bay Plan.
Chair Randolph then opened the public hearing.
David Lewis, Executive Director of Save the Bay, stated that the situation is a lot like the rampant Bay fill that was taking place in the 1960s that led to BCDC’s creation and it deserves a course of action that’s just as robust.
In 1965, the original Commission established under the McAteer-Petris Act, told the legislature that the Bay needed to be protected from filling while a regional plan was being developed and a permanent regulatory system was being put in place. And the legislature agreed. It placed a moratorium on Bay fill and created BCDC to study and recommend a regional regulatory approach to protect the Bay. BCDC got interim permitting authority so that the destruction of the Bay wouldn’t accelerate during the next four years of study, unless the Commission explicitly permitted it. And so, you should be seeking the same kind of power now while you devise a detailed regional adaptation plan. You should have the power to issue or deny permits for proposed new development in undeveloped shoreline areas that are at risk of inundation from sea level rise, including areas that could provide opportunities for marsh creation and other adaptation if they aren’t paved before a more detailed regional plan is adopted.
This staff report identifies some serious vulnerabilities for the Bay from climate change and it really makes a very strong case that public health, economic security, quality of life, and the health of the Bay ecosystem would likely suffer if individual municipalities make uncoordinated decisions about development in inundation zones. We clearly need not only regional planning for climate change adaptation, we also need key actions, starting immediately, including accelerating marsh restoration, preserving opportunities for marsh migration, increasing flood protection using natural methods where possible, and reducing the infrastructure and people that are at risk.
The report underscores that these needs are urgent and it explains where BCDC’s authority currently falls short of what the region requires. In fact, it’s a very strong case statement for BCDC leading future regional efforts around climate change adaptation, except that it fails to say explicitly that BCDC should get the additional authority to accomplish what the Bay needs.
So right now, on adaptation to climate change, what the Bay most needs is what it got on fill in 1965. BCDC must have additional authority to prevent bad shoreline development decisions while it creates a detailed adaptation plan. And this is completely consistent with the risk averse approach that Leslie said the Commission should pursue.
So we’re encouraging the Commission to accept some detailed changes to the staff recommendations so the policy and findings that you adopt can do three things. One, continue to treat climate change with appropriate urgency and enhance BCDC’s growing credibility on this topic. Two, ensure that you preserve opportunities for adaptation and don’t increase risks to people, wildlife, and infrastructure while regional planning proceeds. And finally, third, to explicitly ask for the regional additional authority that you need for appropriate adaptation planning.
We’re also again suggesting additional changes to other sections of the Bay Plan. The climate change policies as staff explained are intended to apply to the whole Bay Plan, but you have selected other policies to update and we want to suggest some areas to make, especially the salt ponds and managed wetlands policies consistent.
Finally, having no agency lead the regional planning and regional implementation on climate change would be dangerous and unacceptable. BCDC is the agency best positioned to do this work and to get additional authority. And only by clearly asserting the additional authority that you need and should have as we recommend will you encourage other agencies and individuals that think they’re better able to do this to explain why that would yield a better result.
Arthur Feinstein, Citizens Committee to Complete the Refuge and also Sierra Club, San Francisco Bay Chapter, seconded everything David Lewis said. He congratulated BCDC staff for doing this. You know, if you look out at how beautiful it is and what a wonderful Bay we have, it just seems so unreal that our world is threatened by what’s happening here. I think most people, you know, they hear it and then it goes away and they don’t really take it to heart, and thank God your staff is doing that because it’s truly scary if you think about a four and a half foot rise in the Bay, we’re – at least my granddaughter is going to be living in a totally different world. If we don’t take steps now to address that issue it’s going to be a fairly devastated world at least right here and in many other places. So happily, your staff is working on it and so I hope you go with them.
I think David’s suggestion about asking for some increased authority is needed. It’s all very well to say, “oh, the sky is falling,” but somebody needs to say “and we’re going to do something about it,” and you can’t do that without some ability to implement things.
I do want to bring up a couple of issues. One is on page 18, under Tidal Marshes and Tidal Flats, Policy 6. The report talks about the fact that tidal marshes are likely to disappear as the Bay rises. Some of them will get increased sedimentation and continue to exist, but some will have to move uplands inboard if we want to continue to have tidal marshes. Seventy-five percent of our fish species depend on tidal marshes and wetlands, you know, so it’s not a small thing to lose our tidal marshes. It’s significant if we lose them.
I think that you should add language that says that the Commission will go and identify the areas that are still available for tidal marsh migration and to urge local -- until you get the authority that David is talking about -- that you at least urge local governments and agencies to protect those areas and to discourage development on those areas. And so that’s another step forward that I think you need to put into this.
Also on page 7 on your preliminary staff recommendation under “Findings,” it talks about the JPC taking a role here. The JPC does not have a resource agency on it, and because so much of the impacts are going to be to natural resources, I think if it’s going to be effective as an entity that is sort of doing a lot of planning on this, you need the resource agency as a part of the team, not just somebody who talks to you because then you can ignore them. Well, if they’re part of the team, they’re going to have a stronger voice and I think that’s tremendously important when you’re talking about the Bay.
I will also say that on page 63 on your map, you do have a priority development project in the City of Newark which is actually within the San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge boundaries, it is immediately adjacent to the refuge, it is going to be under water and we’re hoping that it becomes part of the refuge. So we were pretty disappointed to see that as a priority development area and we think very inappropriate. You shouldn’t be encouraging development in an area that’s going to be drowned.
Ellen Johnck, Executive Director of the Bay Planning Coalition, stated that her members own and operate public works facilities and various types of infrastructure along the shoreline of San Francisco Bay and the Delta region. They serve commerce and industry and population needs for housing, transportation and recreation.
As responsible business owners and members of their local community, they plan for and have constructed flood protection facilities for public safety as well as business continuation in the event of flooding and other disasters. They appreciate BCDC’s leadership and extensive research to inform the public about potential sea level rise as a result of climate change and global warming. The staff report, Living with a Rising Bay, is an important educational tool and is one of the many tools they are using to assess the impacts of potential sea level rise to identify necessary safety actions.
They have embarked on an evaluation of the report and the proposed Bay Plan amendments and assembled a team of coastal engineers, hydrologists, property owners and managers to provide constructive feedback on the recommendations. They are very committed to working with BCDC to produce the most feasible and prudent Bay Plan policies on this important subject.
Now, given the comprehensive nature of the report and the massive import of this subject, they find that they need a little more time to complete the evaluation of the proposals. They believe this report and the amendments have substantial implications for the BCDC permit process and request that the Commission extend the comment period for about 30 days and schedule another public hearing.
The Bay Planning Coalition began the issue of studying the issue of the increase in the rate of sea level rise about 20 years ago. At that time it did not have the information available today to identify a more explicit linear progression, as opposed to an anomaly in sea level rise. Now, as a result of the IPCC report and several others, we have new knowledge, in fact, we’ve had a cascade of data and information. This cascade phenomenon has added an additional layer of uncertainty and scientific complexity as to the degree we must plan for a certain level of rising sea in a far off future of 50 to 100 years.
Now, while it may be prudent for public awareness and for planning purposes to specify a target baseline value for potential sea level rise, it is important to recognize that there will be both temporal and spatial variability around the Bay. As a result we must be wary of setting overly conservative, uniform, and arbitrary values that may be used for regulatory purposes.
Generally, we believe that about three and one half feet from the hundred year flood plain would be an appropriate target for developing adaptation strategies such as setbacks depending on location. And actually a couple of our members have adopted this target baseline as a result of the new information that’s come out in the last couple of years. However, we do not believe that we should be locked into any specific number but adapt the target depending on location.
Establishing adaptation strategies for sea level rise is something which must be done, but let’s take a deep breath. Let’s think about this collectively and use our best scientific approaches. Pending the completion of our evaluation of your report, here are just a couple of initial thoughts.
Number one, one of the proposed policies which we wholeheartedly support -- and that’s your policy on page 8, regarding the need to develop a regional adaptation strategy. And BCDC should not develop this unilaterally. As you have recommended, others should be involved, such as local governments, local flood control districts, state and federal agencies, Army Corps of Engineers, USGS, et cetera, and private land owners. One model planning organization of course is the long-term management strategy for dredge material disposal.
Number two, in general and rationally, a regional adaptation strategy should be developed before Bay Plan policies and regulations are adopted by the Commission. What we’d like is for the regional adaptation strategy to consider a phased approach such as what we’re doing with the South Bay Salt Pond Restoration Project. We also think this phased approach should be considering a phased investment. As you know, we’re in a cash strapped and uncertain economy and only a certain number of owners will be able to afford specific adaptation strategies such as a major pier replacement now for an occurrence 50 years out.
Number three, Bay Plan policies should encourage and not discourage shoreline protective measures. We are concerned that proposed policy “B” actually discourages rather than encourages shoreline protective measures.
And finally, number four, an important feature of a regional adaptation strategy should include the co-benefits of dredge material beneficial reuse planning; for example, wetland restoration and levee reinforcement and that doubles as a planning tool to adapt to sea level rise.
Thank you. And we look forward to working with you to develop a feasible and prudent approach to this critical issue.
Commissioner Kondylis asked why Ms. Johnck kept saying potential sea level rise? Ms. Johnck replied that when she says potential -- she means to refer to the level at which it’s going to happen -- it’s more around the level. She agreed that it’s happening and the Coalition has information to say this is more linear than anomalous.
Commissioner Kondylis suggested that she needs to find another word because it sounds like they don’t accept that it is rising and it’s just the degree to which it’s going to happen. Ms. Johnck responded that it’s the level and to the degree to which we adapt and to what safety actions are to be taken.
Michelle Jesperson, the Climate Change Representative for the Bay Program of the State Coastal Conservancy, began by stating that they had provided a detailed letter to Leslie Lacko earlier today. As a background, the Conservancy is working on many climate change issues in the Bay in coordination with BCDC, including developing the State’s Adaptation Plan, conducting numerous wetland restoration projects throughout the Bay that incorporate adaptation measures for sea level rise, and supporting modeling efforts to provide regional information that can help to better assess changes in hydrology, sediment, salinity, and habitat under various climate change scenarios.
Overall, they are very supportive of the proposed Bay Plan amendments and the proactive efforts that BCDC has undertaken to address the vulnerabilities from sea level rise and other climate change impacts in the Bay Area.
She also mentioned that the Conservancy is undergoing its own evaluation of climate change policies and, as a granting entity, it is looking at how it can better assess its own projects by requiring or by developing criteria by which to evaluate projects for both the greenhouse gas emissions and also their vulnerability to sea level rise and climate change.
So with respect to the draft report and amendments, first, the report and amendments seem to downplay or minimize the adverse impacts of hard or structural shoreline protection. She urged the Commission to consider adding language that emphasized soft shoreline protection devices, such as wetlands, where feasible and appropriate, and they also hope the Commission will consider recognizing the suite of adaptation options that may be available to reduce risks to public health and safety in the face of sea level rise.
They also suggested adding references to sub tidal habitat and eel grass beds in the proposed findings and policies regarding shoreline protection and habitats that deserve protection in the Bay.
They are concerned that the vulnerability analysis and inundation map in the report present a greater level of certainty than is warranted by the limited data used to do the analysis, most notably that the analysis does not account for the existing levees or shoreline protection and suggested providing a more clear statement that maps are meant to be illustrative, and place obvious labels on the map regarding the data limitations. To that end, the Conservancy is also interested in partnering with BCDC to fill in some of these data gaps that would help to conduct a more robust analysis.
Finally, the Conservancy supports revising wetland conservation goals and restoration goals to reflect the significant work that’s been done since the Bay Habitat Goals Report was completed and would like it to also incorporate sea level rise and other climate change impacts. However, the Bay Lands Habitat Goals Project was a species-based approach to identifying wetland targets, conservation and restoration targets and they recommend that the next planning project be based on ecosystem based management.
Chair Randolph stated that there had been a couple of requests to hold the public hearing open so, unless Commissioners think otherwise, he is going to suggest the Commission hold the hearing open until the next meeting in June.
Commissioner Gioia remarked that the comments offered by Dave Lewis go to the heart of what he sees as BCDC’s role going forward. He was a member of the Joint Policy Committee -- although not a member currently -- but also serves on three of the boards of – three of the four agencies that are represented on JPC. On one hand, he does think that there needs to be a role for JPC and there needs to be a lot of discussion of coordination of policies both from a land use perspective, transportation planning, air quality issues. So it is relevant.
The concern he has is, JPC is still sort of an informal body that doesn’t really have any real authority and ultimately it sort of gives advice and all the decisions go back to the four agencies. As BCDC is the only agency of those four that has actually direct land use authority, and it’s unique and it’s been successfully used with regard to saving the Bay from fill, it is relevant for the Commission to think about what its role should be. Should we look at, and it’s really – it has to also frankly come from legislatures to propose that change -- but we could offer advice about that as the expansion of our role, of our authority, and whether that should expand beyond the hundred-foot shoreline band into areas that are potentially at some level facing inundation. I can tell you, the county board that I serve on, Contra Costa for example, is in the middle of doing a specific plan and revising the general plan for an area within North Richmond that is partially within the area that could be inundated. And, that county board is going to consider climate change, but ultimately I think the best data, the best thinking, is really here at the regional agency.
And so I would like to put out there for BCDC -- and it may involve thinking through what policies we put in place -- at least a recommendation that it consider expansion of its authority with regard to land use in this area. Because, ultimately I have no real faith that the JPC is going to have any real authority any time soon.
And what will happen is, development will continue to occur while everybody is studying this issue, and it will be much more expensive to obviously address the impacts after the development is built instead of before the development. And again, I point to North Richmond because there’s an area of vacant and under-utilized industrial properties that is under pressure eventually for residential development.
So I think that should be part of this plan and I am interested in your thinking on that issue.
Commissioner Kondylis stated that the document expressly recognizes that it doesn’t take into consideration the melting of land ice, and she didn’t know if – she is thinking that BCDC hasn’t addressed it as much as it probably should because that seems to be where the real threat is coming from. She knows it is addressed, but it’s accelerating so much now, and he didn’t know if it was appropriate to put something in there or not as a further warning or heads up that this is happening.
The second thing is the Pacific Institute maps and these maps are a little bit different. For instance, in Suisun and Fairfield it shows the 100-year flood going all the way into downtown Fairfield, but the BCDC maps don’t -- is that because it used different data – I think they used 3.6 meters?
Ms. Lacko responded that they used the same scenario that BCDC used and the data upon which they based their analysis is essentially the same as the data that BCDC based its analysis with a very minor difference. Adam Perris of BCDC staff did some analysis to see what the difference was, and there was a one percent difference.
Commissioner Kondylis continued with the third thing: this concern about salt water -- and I recently saw a map at a conference where the predictions were salt water intrusion all the way up to Sacramento. It’s very hard to get your arms around this whole problem because it’s worse than what we’d like to believe and I don’t know how you resolve it because I don’t know if the modeling is good enough to do that, especially when you throw in the peripheral canal. He would appreciate it if staff could maybe refine that Fairfield-Suisun a little bit.
Ms. Lacko clarified that she was talking about ice sheet melting in Greenland and Antarctica; and then stated that they did factor that into which scenarios they would use for their analysis. Essentially what we’re factoring in, in the scenarios, is based on the Ranmsdorf Approach, is past ice sheet melt and not future ice sheet melt. So there is some factoring of ice sheet melt in our scenarios. We did decide to use a higher scenario rate of rise than the IPCC because of the uncertainty around ice sheet melt and other state agencies have made similar decisions.
Commissioner Kondylis commented that it seems to be accelerating every time they put out a new report, exponentially, not linearly. Ms. Lacko agreed. There still is a real lack of consensus about how to address that and there’s still a lack of information about how ice sheets actually melt, and so how do you project that into the future? There’s a lot of uncertainty there.
Ms. Lacko stated, your other point then is about salt water intrusion and we do address salt water, changes in salt water in the background report and how that affects the north Bay and the Suisun Marsh. Staff didn’t go as far as to address how far salt water will intrude into the delta because that’s primarily outside of BCDC’s jurisdiction and so well handled by so many other groups that are dealing with that issue.
Commissioner Kondylis remarked that someday BCDC will pick up the Suisun Marsh and then the Delta Authority will pick up – there’s a gap in there where there is no oversight at all around Collinsville, so someday somebody might pick that up.
Chair Randolph further clarified Commissioner Gioia’s comment about the Joint Policy Committee. The authority that exists within the JPC really exists within its member agencies and there really isn’t anywhere with authority among the other agencies in this area we’re talking about related to resources, so it really does point to the need for looking at our new climate change element in our plan to secure the right kind of authority to keep up with and implement the plan.
The opportunity in the JPC is to leverage and integrate and coordinate our policies with those of the other agencies to have a more, sort-of, integrated region-wide impact. So, I think the two really work hand-in-hand, but I think we really need to look to having our own authority expanded but to do so in a very thoughtful way.
Commissioner Lundstrom noticed that -- on a different subject -- on page 8, Item 2A, protect the shoreline environment and then you name names such as airports, ports, regional transportation. I’d also suggest you put water-related industry, because you’ve got some 20 oil terminals that are not part of the ports system and you do discuss this on page 77. So I believe water-related industry is part of the facilities that you have talked about that are affected by that.
And then I do have some concerns about Shoreline Protection Policy number 1, on page 11. You state “new shoreline protection projects or reconstruction should be authorized” -- and you go on the say -- “if it’s engineered to provide erosion control and flood protection for the expected life of the project based on a 100-year flood protection event.” In choosing that number, I’m concerned about how you reached that number. I’m concerned about it for this --
I was involved for a year and a half in a project involving the Highway 101 crossing of Corte Madera Creek. That highway gets flooded by storm surges and because that area has a very high rainfall for the Bay Area. The project partners looked into how to control flooding in that area and the partnership was the County of Marin, the town of Corte Madera, and the City of Larkspur, and CalTrans. There were four elements. We tried to get a flood control project together. CalTrans wanted 100-year flood protection. What that meant was a 12 foot high berm on the outside in Corte Madera Creek and in the Bay. That was 100-year flood protection. So I think stating 100-year flood protection might not be where you want to go and I’d rather see before we adopt a policy such as this that you get much, much more input, particularly those areas -- and I’m looking at Tim here, at CalTrans -- do you want where you want to maintain flood protection in low-lying areas of other critical areas, do you want – is it reasonable to say you should have 100-year flood protection, because you don’t know what that would mean.
And this particular flood project did not go forward because the folks who lived on the creek did not want an outward, big 12-foot-high wall, of a big pyramid -- a levee in other words -- in the creek, and that was the only way that the engineers and the EIR demonstrated that you could have 100-year flood protection. So I’m just saying that this particular policy you need to have a lot more input on before we adopt it carte blanc.
Ms. Lacko replied that that was a really excellent point and made one point of clarification to help understand the intent of this policy. The 100 year flood really is referring to protection for a 100-year flood event. The other policies in the Protection of the Shoreline section, (which we’re proposing to change to Shoreline Protection) those policies really guide what the shoreline protection should look like, whether it should be hard or soft or some combination thereof. But this policy just speaks to a degree of protection that is necessary for public safety.
Commissioner Lundstrom stated that in some cases, having been involved in flood control, some areas do not accept a 100-year flood protection, they might accept – say, for our area we just wanted 35-year flood protection because of the implications. I’m just arguing that we need more discussion about setting hundred-year flood protection all over the Bay for especially new shoreline protection.
Executive Director Travis drew the group’s attention to Figure 1.19 in the Living With a Rising Bay. It would be about page 35 or so. It shows the 100-year floodplain and it shows the area subject to high tide with 16 inches of sea level rise, and you see they look pretty much the same. So the scenarios that we’ve used -- 16 inches is about four-tenths of a meter, that’s what’s expected, that’s what’s possible at mid century, 40 years from now, 41 years from now.
A 100-year floodplain means you have a one percent chance of flooding in any year. In 40 years that’s going to be high tide, so you’re going to flood every year. So thinking about 100 years of flood protection, 100 year floodplain protection now means basically one refi away of an existing 30-year mortgage you’re going to be underwater. So I think suggesting 100-year flood protection may be very conservative.
Commissioner Lundstrom asked if we go forward and set these standards and it’s the 100-year floodplain and it turns out that sea level rise is 10 feet instead of three feet, can someone come back and say it’s your fault because you didn’t tell me to plan for this? Executive Director Travis reminded that BCDC was sued because it issued a permit to authorize a levee improvement -- BCDC didn’t design it -- and it was overtopped and failed, and the local community sued, the homeowners sued BCDC, they sued the local government, they sued the engineering company, they sued everybody they could find. So sure, that’s the great American tradition, sue everybody for everything. Whether we would be found liable is another issue entirely.
Commissioner Lundstrom stated that if you’re going to do some of the hardscape stuff, design it so that it can be added to later.
Commissioner McGrath began by commenting that this is one of the most complicated things he has ever dealt with, much less here at the Commission. And let me first say that what the staff has brought and how far it has brought it is wonderful, it’s a great start, but we’re not done and we’re not ready. This is going to guide in a policy sense 30 to 50 years worth of adaptation, and it will be iterative, but we need to spend enough time to be sure that we’re ready to kick that process off. John Gioia started the very interesting question about governance that I think deserves a substantial amount of discussion.
I don’t know that I’m going to go all the way to where David Lewis is, but I think we have to have a discussion about what kind of institution and also when you reach some conclusions about what the institution that is going to manage these things might be. I’ll come back to that a little bit.
The concerns that I have. First of all, sediment deposition. If the marshes have any chance of keeping up, sediment deposition has to continue. But what happens in the delta could either increase downstream deposition or decrease it. If an island is gone so is the sediment, and the sediment’s already dramatically diminished. If you want to think about sediment deposition, you have to think the second thing that’s missing in here, which is some consideration of flood control, and Commissioner Lundstrom started that discussion. There are five or six fairly substantial watersheds in the Bay that will flood more and be increasing our risk with a 12- to 16-inch increase in the water elevation down at the Bay, because what happens on a stream is determined by what level you start with downstream.
So things are going to spill out of their channel. We might lose a lot of the local sediment deposition and it means in my mind we have to start thinking about the flood regime. Particular to that, I think we have to be a little more careful. The recommendation for policy two is a good start, but I think we have to look at the language in that and be really clear when we’re talking about a wall that protects us from the Bay and a wall that might protect us from upland flooding. I think the terminology has to be consistent and as I read through this I got confused as to when we were talking about flooding due to overtopping of the shoreline or flooding that might be due to upland sources, and they’re both in there but they’re kind of used synonymously.
I think we need to remap our floodplains and that needs to either be a recommendation that comes out of us or a finding that FEMA is doing it, and it will be relied upon, and it will arrive at about here. I think – when I looked at this and I sat down with a bunch of maps of the Bay and I said, “okay, this scares me. What’s really going to happen.”
I think we need a geographical context and a cumulative impact context. And this goes back to the point that John Gioia raises about what we do and how quickly we do it. There’s big chunks of the Bay, like the salt ponds in the south Bay, the salt ponds in the north Bay, lots of parks and lots of very low density development that probably can adapt without huge structural investments with public ownership.
There’s lots of areas -- and I think of the I-80 corridor and downtown San Francisco, and the 101 corridor and the estuary that we saw today -- where it doesn’t matter if a little more development goes on, they’re already so intensely developed that you’re going to have to provide some protection.
Then there’s some areas in between where the question is, if we go on with the status quo are we setting ourselves up for a huge bill down the road, either for a publicly financed protective device or buying out homes that are put in there between there and now.
So I think we need to spend some time focusing in on what it means geographically. That’s the governance question. I don’t think we should be involved in whether or not in-fill development happens in San Francisco or along the estuary where we’re already committed, but maybe there are some places where it does matter. So that’s that geographical picture. And I did sit down with watershed maps and try to look at that and try to figure out what priorities are.
So I think it’s a wonderful start, I think it’s an important area, but I think we need to spend some time talking about the geography of the Bay to figure out how this might be applied and how we might want to tweak this policy.
Commissioner Nelson offered two specific suggestions, one following up on Commissioner McGrath’s. The first and the simpler suggestion is that on page 19 of the proposed changes in findings and policies, in the discussion on tidal marshes, there’s a discussion of encouraging appropriate buffers where possible to provide both protection for wildlife and space for marsh migration. I think it would be appropriate to include similar language in discussing shoreline protection and shoreline development, and when I went back I didn’t find that language. Again that’s language encouraging those buffers. I think Marin Audubon’s letter mentions buffers and to me that’s an appropriate policy both for marsh restoration and for shoreline protection and shoreline development purposes. It is there for marsh restoration, not there for shoreline development. At least I didn’t find it. So that’s one specific suggestion.
The second is following up on the note that Commissioners Gioia and McGrath have already mentioned. The map that Travis referred to, Figure 1.19, is interesting because it’s so different from the map that led to BCDC’s creation. In 1960 the Corps wrote a series of maps looking at the path the Bay was on getting steadily smaller. And that map, more than any other single thing, is what sparked the effort that led to the creation of BCDC. And the realization at that point was that there was a patchwork of jurisdictions with authority over what was left of the Bay, that shrinking Bay. And the legislature decided that we needed a regional plan and that led to the creation of BCDC.
What this map suggests is that -- as Travis has said -- rather than shrinking, the bay is going to be expanding. But when we look at that region, that light blue region around the Bay, we have that same problem we had in 1960, a patchwork of jurisdictions. We have pretty good authority over Suisun Marsh, we have limited authority over managed wetlands and salt ponds, we have no authority over a lot of diked bay lands, there’s no regional agency that ties those together. I think it makes a lot of sense for us to step back and think about how we tackle that problem, how we make sure that the Bay Area has a regional strategy that looks at all of those at-risk areas and comes up with coherent regional solutions, and expanding our jurisdiction might be our recommendation.
I do want to just note that there’s a parallel effort happening in the delta. The Delta Vision Task Force produced their recommendations regarding future management of the delta. And one of their specific recommendations was expanding, modifying the authority of the Delta Protection Commission in what is in the delta called “the secondary zone” to make sure that we’re doing a better job of managing the less-deep portions of the delta, the margins of the delta. And that really is analogous to the conversation we’re having here. The legislature and the Delta Vision Task Force looked at that patchwork of jurisdictions in the delta and they looked at that in-between land that you were just talking about of places where, if we make a series of bad decisions as a region, the ultimate price tag in terms of impacts on people and economic impacts could be tremendous.
In the delta the task force has already recommended that the legislature step in and modify the Delta Protection Commission, our sister agency’s authority in the delta. We haven’t really had that conversation yet regarding these at-risk areas in the Bay and I think we need to have that conversation.
Commissioner Goldzband noted that he was really struck when he reviewed this because, to utter a cliché, “we are products of that which we have experienced.” And unlike a huge majority of people on this body, not only am I not an elected official, I will never be nominated nor will I ever serve as one, and I admire all of you who do in a big way. But I grew up professionally as a staff member of arguably the most successful big city California mayor over the past 50 years who, while he was a United States Senator and Governor of this state, probably always felt that the best job he ever had was being mayor of San Diego because – and I forget actually he went on vacation for one day during the first two and a half years of his administration and what did Pete Wilson do, he went down to San Jose and spent the day with Mayor McInerny looking over downtown redevelopment strategies. And I grew up in that, you know, milieu, in San Diego City Hall and I think that’s because, and I think that my reaction to this is because of that.
I think that our staff has done a tremendous job of outlining a lot of the challenges, but I am unwilling to go and vote for something unless all of us around here have sat here and listened to mayors tell us what this really means for their cities and their constituents around the Bay. And unless public works directors tell us what this really means for their budgets and what this really means financially to their very strained budgets.
I want, candidly, the head of CalTrans to be in front of us and say this is how it’s going to affect transportation if you do this. I want the Army Corps of Engineers here -- not just the representative, but the colonel -- saying this is how we’re going to play and this is how it’s going to affect what we do. I want the Resources Agency in front of us, not just beside us, saying this is how Fish and Game and this is how boating and waterways and this is how Park and Rec are all going to be responding, because unless we have that context we are going to step into regional planning in such a big way here that we’re going to be stuck in a big muddy, literally and figuratively.
So I really agree wholeheartedly in my soul with what Commissioner Nelson has said about sort of the geography and what Mr. Travis said about the geography, but I want our solutions to be based upon local input, and I don’t have that ability as a Commissioner to know what that local input really is, because I’m not an elected official. And I don’t know what the local mayors really think about all this and whether -- candidly, because so many of them are probably part time or at least some of them are, whether they truly understand what this means for the folks who are electing them.
And so I think this is a great first step, but as a gubernatorial appointee who has never once spoken to the Governor about what I do on this job, and never candidly plan to because that’s not the way I think it should work, I think one of the things that he might say is, this is all well and good but there are other people out there who have been elected to represent a lot of people out there and we didn’t know how they -- because they’re on the front lines where the rubber meets the road, where the water meets the shore -- and I need to know how they’re going to be affected by this.
So I don’t know where that leaves us or where that leaves me and I don’t know if those discussions have formally been held and if I simply haven’t seen the transcripts or what, but I just – I think I just need a little more context with regard to how those other players are dealing with this. Is that – and I don’t even know if that’s a fair question to ask but it’s where I’m at.
Executive Director Travis noted that the Governor has issued an Executive Order to all state agencies to develop climate adaptation plans. So, as was mentioned, we’re working with our colleagues at the Coastal Conservancy, the Coastal Commission, DWR, CalTrans, all of the agencies. I think it’s fair to say, having reviewed yesterday the State’s Resources Climate Adaptation Plan, that what we’re calling for here is entirely consistent with it. It is a plan that recognizes that we’re going to have to make profound changes as to how we do business in California, and the first order of business is trying to get the State agencies working together. And I think CalTrans is going to be a big player in this because there is so much transportation infrastructure around the Bay and along the shoreline of California that is either going to have to be moved or retrofitted. And then how do you – if you’re retrofitting it, how do you retrofit it in such a fashion that the retrofit provides the shoreline protection for other uses; and how do you design it in such a way so that it minimizes, reduces, and hopefully totally eliminates all the adverse impacts of hard surface shoreline protection. So that process is going on.
And similarly at the regional level we think that the best approach is, before anybody jumps out in front -- us or the Coastal Conservancy or anybody else who says we got the answers, give us the authority and we’ll take care of it -- that what we should be doing is working with local governments, working with our sister state agencies and regional agencies and moving forward and saying, “all right, here is what we found, here are the areas that are vulnerable, here are the areas that need protection, here are the areas in between, who has the best capability and where are the shortcomings.”
And only when you’ve gone through and done that assessment can you really then turn and say, “all right, now we need to change some state legislation to move some authority around.” And that’s why we have suggested that the best approach we believe is -- and I found the testimony interesting, some people said you’re moving too fast, others said you’re too slow, some said you’re too aggressive, others said you aren’t aggressive enough, and this is where the debate will be and why we need guidance from you.
We have outlined what we think are a series of rather prudent yet modest changes in the Bay Plan to deal with the situation as we know it now, the changes that we can make now within our authority now, and then have outlined also a secondary approach of working with the regional agencies and out of that may come some further changes in the future.
So while we tend to look at the Bay Plan as a Magna Carta for the Bay, I think with confidence we can say these policies won’t be around for 30 years unchanged. They will be refined and modified frequently as we get to know more, but that we should move now, we should move quickly to make some changes rather than wait until everything is done.
Commissioner Gioia remarked that, since we have Star Trek coming out tomorrow night, he is going to refer to, you know, sort of if I can get this right, one of Spock’s earlier quotes, “the good of the many outweighs the good of the one”, with “many” being the region, “one” being a specific agency. You know, I sort of rewind us back to the 1960s where, if you talked to individual mayors or city councils it would be, you know, our destiny is we need to fill the Bay and we need to grow. It took sort of a regional approach to step back and to stop that.
So I hear exactly what you’re saying, I served in some public office for, now for over 20 years, and at the county we have budget cuts, we look at impacts, you know, of decisions of regional agencies, but I do think that each of those agencies you cited obviously looks at this issue from the perspective of their agency. And in this case we’re looking at something larger, we’re looking at what’s sort of the impact on the region as a whole, and I think it’s fair to look at impacts on agencies as you implement things, but I do think it does take a “step back more regional holistic approach” to solve this and that this agency -- unless there’s another that comes down the line -- is probably the best suited to look at this. And, yes, obviously the judgment of all the Commissioners as it implements things is going to consider the impact, but you still need a blueprint. So, at a minimum, I think you need the work that’s being laid out here.
And at the same time, however far we go, I do think that expanding the jurisdiction of this Commission makes some sense. How it’s done, there’s a lot of discussion. But again, people credit -– you know, I know Save the Bay just had their spring tea yesterday with some of the original founders of the whole movement from the 60s, Silvia McLaughlin and others, who had the foresight to say, you know, this has got to be done regionally and not done jurisdiction by jurisdiction, and I think the same here.
So I think it’s a balance here of what you’re saying and how to step back and look at it from the regional perspective. And so I appreciate –- I think the comment is a good one, but ultimately –- CalTrans is going to look at it from the perspective of “how do we get these projects built.” And that’s their goal, that’s their role, there’s nothing wrong with that. I think we can sort of layer a different approach -- okay, we want projects to get built, but they have to be within the context of some of these larger issues.
Commissioner Goldzband agreed and added that, due to the history of McAteer-Petris, and due to not only the tradition and culture, much less the authority we have at BCDC, I would argue BCDC is the only Bay Area authority that actually has the chance to do something along this nature. Not only is it granted -- I joined BCDC just because I wanted to be a part of it.
My point is that it’s hard to make an informed decision about how far to go and about how the nuance, about how the building blocks of that authority should be laid without, at least in my case, further understanding how the locals are playing and how those agencies are playing. Because whatever it is we decide to adopt is going to ultimately affect them in a huge way and what I’m ultimately sort of concerned about is what happened to BCDC -- despite its best intentions -- as a result of the Bay Bridge, where essentially BCDC was shut out of the Bay Bridge process because people were scared that BCDC was going to stop the Bay Bridge process.
I want us to get in front of -- as we are -- and keep in front of this issue, but I want us to always have in the back of our mind a real working knowledge of how the folks who are on the front lines of this, in terms of building and conserving and so on, are playing in the field. So I think in the most part we’re totally agreeing, maybe I’m just looking for some more contacts.
Chair Randolph added that last Monday Commissioner Goldzband’s district had a meeting for local government related to climate change, and unfortunately I couldn’t make that one, I was out of town. But one thing we might think about doing is having BCDC doing something similar, specifically on what we’re talking about in the context of the Bay Plan, and sort of get that discussion on a region-wide basis. I know Executive Director Travis has been going door-to-door all around the region very effectively carrying the message, but we may want to try to wrap it all together at some point.
Commissioner McGlashan began by remarking that this has been a fascinating dialogue and he agrees with pretty much everything that has been said. I’d like to ask staff to give us some feedback on whether the policies can be decoupled from the question of authority. I think in my mind it’s important -- I’d like to ask Commissioner Goldzband if he’s comfortable --. I feel a keen sense of urgency to get these kinds of concepts out there. In our own minds it may allow us to think carefully about situations that are close to our jurisdictional boundary that we may want to provide some recommendation to local government. I can think of a couple in my own district where that might be pertinent. And getting the concepts adopted quickly and then keeping the spirit of adaptation ourselves open, we can change them as we embark on the question of authority. I think the authority question is tricky, there’s a lot of pride at the local government level and I think we do have to have some careful dialogue about what that would really mean and chat with some of the folks that would be affected.
So I think we would be the right agency to take it on. I think that’s going to be a longer discussion. I wouldn’t want to see these policies languishing because that could get tricky and take a while. So I just wanted to weigh in with the notion of urgency, let’s move forward with the policies. I like what the Audubon and the Save the Bay letters had to say, I would just second some of the comments that said “take a look at those.”
Commissioner McGlashan added that he wanted to get policies done and to acknowledge what other Commissioners have already mentioned about the need to take a hard look at authority, but he didn’t want the policies to wait, so it would be to -- especially Commissioner Goldzband -- if we’re comfortable with the concepts in these policies and are committed to a hard look at the authority question, he would love to get the policies done fairly soon because they are a great conceptual framework for BCDC’s local government partners to start dealing with.
Executive Director Travis stated what the recommended policies say now. They say “this is the way we think we should proceed as a society in dealing with things along the shoreline of San Francisco Bay.” They say “where BCDC has authority and jurisdiction now, it can apply that. Where we don’t have authority and jurisdiction now we advise others to use these kinds of policies.” They also say “staff go work with the Joint Policy Committee, all other agencies to try to get rolling on this strategy for a regional strategy, development of a regional strategy.”
The Commission has also put into its strategic plan that we should come up with legislation that directs us to do that, and then if that legislation passes we work together, we go back to the legislature and say, “all right, we’ve sorted it all out, here’s the strategy, here’s how authorities need to be changed, here’s who needs how much money, legislature give us that authority or give the money to somebody else.” That’s the way they’re laid out now.
You could also say, consistent with what I started with, “here’s the guidance that we will use now and staff, let’s just schedule some time to talk about this issue of changing our authority, we won’t wait for that regional strategy, grapple with that in the short term. But in the meantime we’re going to put these policies in place.”
Commissioner Smith picked up on a point Executive Director Travis was making and saying -- and Commissioner McGlashan as well -- there really is urgency to act on this in the pretty near future, and it sounds like we’re on a path to extend the comment period and extend the hearing, hopefully for a limited period of time, and give some time to, I would hope, make some very modest changes to the language that is before us. I mean I really commend staff for coming up with a really measured and pretty balanced approach on this, as you say it didn’t satisfy anybody a hundred percent. And I’m very concerned that if we get into tinkering mode on this, delays will become months, then years, and then no policies have happened.
I guess my sense is the combination of adopting the policy and the plan amendments that have been proposed, along with pursuing potentially some legislative changes, that that gives us a really good foundation to kind of force this discussion with other interested parties that Commissioner Goldzband mentioned and others have mentioned need to happen. So I would hope that we could kind of chart a course here, over the next month or two, to consider some pretty modest changes to what’s been proposed and then decide if we want to adopt them, recognizing that’s probably the first of several policies and plan amendments that will be done on this subject in the near future. I just don’t want the good to be the enemy of, you know – you know, seeking the best to stop us from doing something good in the near future.
Commissioner Bates stated that it seems like there are some certainties, unfortunately, which is we’re going to experience a certain rise of the Bay and the sea. So it’s going to happen. So the question is how much is it going to rise over what period of time? That we don’t really know. But it seems to me it’s pretty obvious, I think. I mean, we know the problem areas, I mean we know, we can look at these maps and we know the problems are there.
So the question then is what is the proper strategy to prevent the problem that we know is going to happen? And so I think it varies, depending upon the situation, and I do think that local governments -- you know, as a member of the local government for a long time and elected official for half my life practically -- I would say, from the standpoint of, some people have to be told you can’t do something, it’s not in your best interest, the long-term best interest of the Bay, for you to do this, because it’s not going to be smart over time. So I don’t know why we can’t figure out exactly what’s going –where the problem areas are, where we need to do adaptation, where we need to do other strategies, and say “this is the way we’re going to go.” And then I think you go to the legislature and say “in some cases maybe you’ve got to give us some more authority to regulate up to three and a half feet,” or something, I don’t know, or four feet or whatever. And then we can set the guidelines and the local officials and developers and business people, I think we have an obligation for us to say “this is how it’s going to be” so they know the rules, they know how the game’s going to be played.
Commissioner Gioia wanted to first say that his comments earlier about looking at long-term governance wasn’t meant to hold up, by the way, what we would want to do. I do think, and I’d like to suggest, that maybe staff work on developing some kind of additional policy that they can include here that would reflect BCDC’s suggestion, recommendation, observation, advice, whatever you would choose to call it, that there needs to be a comprehensive regional and unified approach in the implementation of these strategies in order for them to be successful, and that we urge that that issue gets addressed. I mean, I think we need to put in here some meat that we believe that there needs to be a broader perspective on the implementation, you know, and I just – you know, regional, comprehensive, unified, other kinds. So, maybe direct that staff come up with some kind of policy that could be incorporated into this document when it comes back to us.
Chair Randolph added that it’s probably useful, since we’re starting to move into the area of actual policy, to have more of a strategic public education effort and outreach -- especially with the local governments around us -- because we’re talking about policies now, and it’s not just the Bay is rising but we’re going to need to do something about it and think about it in different terms than we have in the past. And I think people need to be sort of prepared for these changes and be brought in, as far as we can bring them with us at this point.
Commissioner McGrath stated that he heard today -- and in the last week in talking with Executive Director Travis and other staff members -- an interpretation and a viewpoint about Policy 2 that I certainly didn’t understand in its first reading. And I look at it and I say, okay, maybe Policy 2 does provide the structure to do all the things that we need to be done here and maybe at the end of that, or some of that work of what’s suggested in Policy 2, we have that discussion about governance. And this is page 8. But I don’t get it out of the structure. So what I would suggest to staff is that, without the Commission trying to wordsmith it, you go back and look at could this be written perhaps more succinctly for the policy intent, with an explanation about how it’s going to work as a background so it’s a little clearer to me when I read it what you think I should have understood when I read it because I haven’t. And I mean I just think that’s an editorial problem that it perhaps needs a fresh set of eyes. Maybe it makes sense to put off for a period of time some of the geographical discussion, maybe many of the things that I’m concerned will be done in here in due course, but I certainly didn’t understand that the first and the second and the third times I read it. So just editorially look at that again, please.
Commissioner Lundstrom clarified that her earlier comments in no way meant to slow down the adoption of this. My concern was that the shoreline protection policy, new policy, has permit implications now and I wanted to make sure that there are no unintended consequences, and to hear on the ground how this might be affected, simply because I too am a veteran of a flood control district where people did not want to tax themselves for 100-year flood protection, they only wanted to . . . because of its implications. So all I’m saying is we need to hear from on the ground, like suggested public works directors. I’d like to hear from CalTrans, to see how this possible permit condition might play out on the ground. In the very broad arena we all say “sure we want 100-year flood protection.” I just want, as part of information gathering, that there be knowledge, go from the abstract to on the ground how this type of permit condition might affect projects.
Chair Randolph remarked that this conversation is going to continue, we’ll hold the public hearing open to our next public meeting in June and take further input which I know we’ll receive, and staff will take away the comments today and we’ll resume this conversation.
On behalf of the staff, Executive Director Travis thanked the Commissioners for their guidance and the direction they provided the staff.
Chair Randolph also thanked the staff for doing some really groundbreaking work. He recognized their outstanding efforts.
- Briefing on Regional Committees. Joe LaClair, and Lindy Lowe BCDC staff, provided the briefing. Mr. LaClair stated that the BCDC Strategic Plan includes an objective that says that by May 31st staff will provide a briefing on Regional Committees that the Commission is involved with, the work that they do, and how that work helps to advance Commission objectives.
One of the Commission’s core values in its strategic plan is partnership with other agencies and groups, and the Strategic Plan has a three-year goal that says “improve coordination and interaction with other agencies to improve the Bay.” So clearly the partnership is something that the Commission is committed to. And “following your lead, staff and Commissioner involvement on Regional Committees focuses on working closely with other agencies and groups to leverage their resources together with the Commission’s resources so that these partnerships can advance the Commission’s interests as well as other important regional goals.”
The Joint Policy Committee -- which the Commission was made a voting member of on January 1 as a result of AB-2094 -- coordinates the regional planning efforts of the four regional agencies that are members, the Bay Area Air Quality Management District, BCDC, MTC, and the ABAG. And among the current initiatives that the JPC is focusing on include climate protection, development of a sustainable community, strategy pursuant to SB-375, and focused growth.
The JPC has 20 voting members -- it was recently reduced in the wake of BCDC becoming a voting member -- five members from each agency, and Commissioners Gibbs, Gordon, McGlashan, and Vice Chair Halsted and Chair Randolph represent BCDC on the JPC. Commissioner Bourgart represents the Business, Transportation, and Housing Agency as an ex-officio member of the JPC committee, and the committee meets bi-monthly or as needed.
Participation in the Joint Policy Committee helps the Commission to advance its goals of playing an integral role in developing and implementing a regional and proactive strategy for dealing with global climate change.
In September of 2007, the JPC adopted a broad climate strategy that calls for the Bay Area to be a model for California, the nation and the world in climate protection and includes an initiative to develop infrastructure investment and land use control strategies relevant to sea level rise.
To date, the majority of the JPC’s focus has been on mitigating the impacts of climate change through promoting the FOCUS program, its input on regional transportation policies, such as those that are included in the recently adopted RTP, and a future regional sustainable community strategy.
In the fall of 2008, the JPC adopted a set of climate protection priorities that included a focus on adaptation with ABAG and BCDC as co-leads.
BCDC Staff will present the Living with a Rising Bay background report and policy recommendations to the Joint Policy Committee on May 15th for their feedback.
Another thing that we’re looking into with ABAG is to expand our partnership with them to develop a regional climate adaptation strategy. These are very preliminary discussions and we think that there is a role for ABAG certainly to address a number of the upland challenges that the region will confront dealing with adaptation challenges, such as wildfire and water supply disruptions, but the efforts that they undertake to deal with those challenges certainly need to be coordinated with the Commission’s work to address sea level rise and that a comprehensive integrated adaptation strategy is important.
And we also think that there are opportunities to integrate adaptation and mitigation. For example, the benefits of tidal marshes and tidal marsh restoration for carbon sequestration can be part of a mitigation and adaptation strategy. Also the focused growth program needs to be integrated with sea level rise adaptation so that it takes into account those areas that may be vulnerable to sea level rise and the appropriate protections are put in place.
The Seaport Plan Advisory Committee is another regional committee that Commissioners serve on as a part of the periodic update to the Seaport Plan. A Seaport Plan update is not currently on the work program, but there is a proposal to use a terminal in the Port of Richmond for a use other than what it is designated for in the Seaport Plan. That can be allowed, provided that the Seaport Plan Advisory Committee determines that the terminal won’t be needed for the use that it is designated for in the plan and the project meets all applicable Commission policies. Staff will be convening the Seaport Plan Advisory Committee for the first time in several years, probably in June or July to consider this proposal and that will develop information that you will ultimately consider on a permit application some time later in the fall.
Staff has also been following up on an objective in your strategic plan to work with the Bay Planning Coalition to develop a strategy that addresses the potential need for protection for water-oriented land uses around the edge of the Bay. The group has met three times, and there have been wide-ranging discussions about a variety of issues that this group may address. As the scope of the Planning effort was clarified, we learned that the staff resources of both BCDC and the Bay Planning Coalition are currently insufficient to adequately address this within the timeframe that was originally spelled out in the strategic plan. Staff will to be coming back to you later in the fall with a strategy that at least outlines what the challenges are and how we can move forward.
Ms. Lindy Lowe then briefed the Commission on the work that the Regional Airport Planning Committee is doing. The committee is updating the Regional Airport Systems Plan. Phase 1, which was completed in 2007, consisted of a series of expert panels. Work is under way on Phase 2 which is looking at alternatives to expanding the Bay Area’s existing commercial airports. Phase 3 will include a more detailed analysis on one or more of the most promising alternatives from Phase 2, or will proceed with further studies of expanding runways at existing airports.
The work in Phase 2 can be thought of by the Commission as a component of an uplands alternatives analysis attempting to ensure that all options that do not require fill have been analyzed and considered. The alternatives that are being analyzed in Phase 2 include: expanding commercial air travel to other airports, both inside and outside of the region, including Sacramento, Stockton, and Monterey, as well as the general aviation airports within the Bay Area; high speed rail; demand management approaches to reduce peak congestion such as larger airplanes and congestion-based fees; and air traffic control technology to allow pilots to safely fly and land planes closer together and in a variety of weather conditions.
The process for Phase 2 work includes a task force, three technical working groups, a consulting team, and RAPC. There will also be two rounds of public meetings at the mid-point and end of the process.
The Phase 2 work that has been completed so far includes the development of the consulting team task force and expert working groups and several meetings of these groups, the demand forecast, and a regional survey conducted in February on aviation issues.
The primary objectives of the demand forecast work are to identify the capacity limits of the Bay Area’s airports and when these limits are going to be reached.
The major finding of the forecast work so far has been that Bay Area air travel markets have behaved differently than those in the rest of the United States. The Bay Area had stable growth and followed the US trend line from 1984 until September 11, 2001. After September 11, 2001, and the significant downturn in the IT sector, Bay Area travel demand dropped more significantly than the rest of the United States. The United States demand regained the pre-2001 trend line in 2001, while the Bay Area has still not recovered. This is illustrated by the change in Bay Area travel between 2000 and 2007. It has gone down by 5.3 percent, while in the United States as a whole air travel demand has gone up by 14.9 percent in the same period.
Comparing the current study’s demand forecast to the 2000 demand forecast that was done for the last update to the airport systems plan, it is clear that it projects quite a bit less growth. The draft forecast begins to reach the 2000 forecast amount for 2020, but not until 2035.
Comparing the current study’s demand forecast to the FAA’s most recent forecasts, the numbers are close, with the FAA’s projections being slightly higher in 2035 while our current study’s forecasts are slightly higher in the early years but the differences are fairly insubstantial.
The second major component of work that’s been done for Phase 2 is the survey, which was conducted in February. The purpose of the survey was to determine views regarding airport expansion and assess support for a variety of strategies to deal with anticipated future demand. The survey asked respondents about their regional priorities. The top two priorities were protecting San Francisco Bay and improving the region’s air quality.
When asked their views on airport expansion the respondents were split evenly. Forty-six percent were against expansion and 45 percent were supportive of it.
The most attractive option for respondents was limiting flights to cities in California and having passengers use high speed rail for in-state travel. The second most popular was expanding runways at San Francisco International and Oakland International airports to accommodate more flights.
When told in a follow up question that expanding runways would require fill in the bay, support dropped by half.
There were 2,000 people polled all across the region. It was weighted, depending on population, and was both a telephone survey and an Internet survey. The most supported strategy was high speed rail.
Commissioner McGrath asked how high speed rail compares to aircraft? Ms. Lowe responded that it’s much better and, in terms of global warming implications, it is a significant improvement.
Chair Randolph noted that there is an article on the BCDC website that references high speed rail and it’s impacts and benefits on climate change.
- Consideration of Strategic Plan Status Report. Executive Director Travis stated there was one change, dealing with the issue of partnership with the Bay Planning Coalition. Both parties have agreed that more time is needed to work out the strategy and staff recommended that the deadline be delayed, from June 30th to August 31st.
MOTION: Commissioner Nelson moved, seconded by Commissioner McGlashan, to delay the deadline to August 31st. The motion carried unanimously.
- New Business. There was no new business
- Old Business. There was no old business
Chair Randolph entertained a motion to adjourn.
- Adjournment. Upon motion by Commissioner Smith, seconded by Commissioner Kondylis, the meeting adjourned at 3:55 p.m.
Approved, with no corrections, at the San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission Meeting of June 4, 2009
R. SEAN RANDOLPH, Chair