Minutes of November 2, 2010 Special Commission Meeting
1. Call to Order. The meeting was called to order by Chair Randolph at the Ferry Building, Second Floor in San Francisco, California at 2:05 p.m.
2. Roll Call. Present were Chair Sean Randolph, Vice Chair Halsted; Commissioners, Bates Gibbs, Gioia, Goldzband, Lundstrom, Maxwell (represented by Alternate Addiego), McGrath, Nelson, Ranchod, Reagan, and Shirakawa (represented by Alternate Carruthers).
Not Present were: Resources Agency (Baird), Sonoma County (Brown), City and County of San Francisco (Chiu), Department of Finance (Finn), San Mateo County (Gordon), Governor’s Appointee’s (Jordan Hallinan and Moy), U.S. Army Corps. of Engineers (Hicks), Alameda County (Lai-Bitker), Marin County (McGlashan), Business, Transportation and Housing Agency (Sartipi), State Lands Commission (Thayer), Napa County (Wagenknecht), Association of Bay Area Governments (Wieckowski) and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (Ziegler).
3. Public Comment Period. Chair Randolph asked for public comment. There were no speakers to give public comment.
4. Public Hearing and Discussion on Bay Plan Amendment No. 1-08, Which Would Revise Various Sections of the San Francisco Bay Plan to Address Climate Change and Add a new Climate Change Section to the Plan. Chair Randolph announced that this was a continuation of the public hearing opened on October 7th dealing with the proposed revisions to the Bay Plan to Address Climate Change.
A panel consisting of Dr. Peter Gleick with The Pacific Institute, Marc Holmes of The Bay Institute, David Lewis with Save the Bay and Mr. Gabriel Metcalf with SPUR would discuss the institutional perspectives on the proposed amendments.
Another panel discussion will be held on the 18th to round out the rest of the 10 organizations invited.
Testimony would be welcomed after the panel discussion.
Dr. Peter Gleick stated that the Pacific Institute was an independent, non-partisan research group working around issues dealing with freshwater resources and climate change at the local, state and international levels.
Dr. Gleick made two points about science and planning. One point was that climate change is clearly happening and the second point was that planning under sea level rise means no longer assuming that the future is going to look like the past and this will require different planning.
Gabriel Metcalf mentioned that climate change dwarfs the kind of environmental problems we are used to dealing with.
In the Bay Area the one thing that we need to do above all else to reduce the threat of climate change is to stop sprawl.
Because of the greenhouse gases emitted since the Industrial Revolution our planet will continue warming and sea levels rising no matter what we do. They will rise for more than a century even if we started doing everything right today.
Mr. Metcalf stated that CEQA had caused more environmental damage than any other law because of unintended consequences.
Mr. Holmes’ opening remarks were that most of the riprap around the Bay was poorly engineered and that even without sea level rise, during storm events, wind and wave action would strew even large pieces of this concrete debris and riprap rock.
Many wetlands remain available to be restored and this is a cost-effective and preferable solution to rising sea levels.
The proposed amendments are essential in that they support the kind of activity that is needed to restore tidal marshes.
Mr. Lewis stated that Save the Bay is very interested in an era of sea level rise in protecting and enhancing what’s already been created.
The main thing that’s happened in the last year has been an extensive outreach to local governments and Bay area businesses with misinformation and BCDC staff along with others has made extensive efforts to correct these misrepresentations.
The State Climate Adaptation Strategy is not law. It’s a strategy that says to all state government agencies; update your policies to reflect the state’s guidance.
Commissioner McGrath mentioned that a 2005 GAO report indicated that FEMA’s mapping is not very accurate and there’s problems abut how it gets done.
Dr. Gleick added that whether FEMA does anything doesn’t affect whether or not the sea level is going to go up. Local governments have to do something because sea level rise will happen.
Mr. Lewis opined that one way to put pressure on the federal government was to adopt these policies.
Dr. Gleick added that the choice about how to protect existing development is an economic question and partly depends on the cost of building protective infrastructure.
Mr. Lewis shared the fact that under SB 375 the state is supposed to be doing some statewide planning about where the 10 to 20 million people who are going to live in California are going to live and the regions are supposed to be doing the same.
Dr. Gleick told the group that he thought the maps were good enough for the areas of vulnerability to start the planning process and put restrictions where needed.
Mr. Lewis added that the hard question will be how and where to protect existing development that is not high value except to the people who are there and who own the infrastructure.
Commissioner Gibbs asked if the Bay Planning Coalition had put forth a time table for how long they would like BCDC to delay the implementation of these amendments.
Chair Randolph responded that they had not given a time table.
Panel members agreed that an indefinite delay would not be a good thing.
Commissioner Gioia added that he is an advocate in local government for infill instead of sprawl; that everyone would have to work together to come up with a regional collaborative strategy.
Chair Randolph surmised that the Bay Planning Coalition, the Bay Area Council and the Building Industry Association were concerned about the new proposed language because they felt that the language that they had suggested was not reflected in any recognizable way in the new staff language.
Executive Director Travis told the group that he thought there would be four or five new Commissioners in the coming year. He also mentioned that staff is recommending keeping the public hearing open until the 18th of November.
Commissioner Lundstrom shared with the group that she thought the extra time was very important to local governments because they are the ones who will incorporate these amendments into their policies.
Commissioner Gioia asked if people made the distinction between the interim standards and the suggestions on guidance on a long-term basis.
Executive Director Travis responded that an expression of, “it’s fine to do a long-range strategy, we’re all for that, but don’t put any interim guidelines in place before then” had been voiced.
Commissioner Addiego mentioned that his constituency of South San Francisco, knowing a date certain for a vote, would be ready.
Commissioner Carruthers added that the Commission was finally getting the attention of people out in the communities.
Chief Planner LaClair told the group that there were a number of local officials who had questions insofar as trying to understand what would be required and what might be precluded insofar as issuance of permits was concerned.
Commissioner Gibbs thought that the sending of a kind of “speak now or forever hold your peace” letter to interested parties would be advisable.
Chair Randolph took an informal poll as to whether the Commissioners present were in agreement with a February or March vote on the amendments. The Commissioners were all supportive of this time frame with some expressing the desire for an announcement of a specific date on voting.
Arthur Feinstein made the following public comments: There is a great deal of frustration on many people’s part in not being able to get these amendments adopted.
Infill needs to be thoughtfully defined because if you define infill so broadly that every area that can be flooded can be labeled infill then your policies are meaningless.
Mike Jacob had this to say: I would request that the Commission make a finding that the new language does not impact or amend the Seaport Plan.
Jim Hardy, City Manager for Foster City said: Foster City is an important community and it’s protected by levees at least 100 years old. I assume our city’s shoreline is one of the areas that is going to be protected from sea level rise although that is not always clear from statements made and your documents.
Commissioner Gioia joined the conversation: He wondered where the suggestion that BCDC is encouraging a policy to let Foster City be flooded came from.
Executive Director Travis answered by stating that he did not know where it came from and it was not something BCDC said or intended.
Commissioner Gioia added that this comment exemplified the failure of some to interpret the policies in the way they are intended. He asked Mr. Hardy to point out the language that the lawyers are saying leads to this conclusion.
Mr. Hardy responded by citing the following from the new language: Some developed areas may be suitable for ecosystem restoration if existing development is removed to allow for a Bay migration inland, although relocating communities is very costly and may result in the displacement of neighborhoods.
Executive Director Travis responded: What you’ve read is a finding of fact, and policies guide what you do about those findings of fact.
Commissioner McGrath informed Mr. Hardy that the goals of the strategy should be to protect most existing shoreline development and that would necessitate regional planning among many agencies in order to fund the measures needed.
Commissioner Carruthers asked for Mr. Hardy’s advice by stating: Inadvertently you are illustrating a problem we have run into a lot. The findings which have one kind of status in our mind are interpreted by the public as having another kind of status that is not intended.
How can we clarify for people that the findings have no status of law and are observations about what appears to be the situation? It’s only the policies that have any kind of force.
Mr. Hardy said that having a policy might translate into something that is outside of BCDC’s jurisdiction.
Commissioner Carruthers asked: How does a finding regarding what is, raise a jurisdictional question?
Mr. Hardy responded: Findings are often made in public documents to support the basis for policy which in some ways become an interpretation.
Commissioner Gioia added: You have to read all of these policies and findings in their totality in order to understand more fully what it really means and how to apply it.
Chair Randolph added that BCDC has to be very conscious of how we phrase our findings and not have them be just random statements of fact.
Commissioner Goldzband related that city managers should understand the difference between a finding and a policy and how it is interpreted.
Ms. Cecily Barclay made the following public comments: I’m here to try to explain to you why I think people are upset and what we can do to keep moving forward.
Many public agencies still don’t really get how the BCDC policies affect what they’re going to do. They need time to understand.
Mr. Nicholas Targ commented: A lot of confusion is manifested by the way the proposed amendment is written.
If we don’t mean for the policies to have any CEQA or CZMA implications we make that express.
Issues of environmental justice are real and as Commissioners you have a moral and legal obligation to consider them.
Commissioner Carruthers asked Mr. Targ: How has what’s been progressing here exemplified an absence of environmental justice?
Mr. Targ responded: Starting with the process, none of the documents have been produced or translated into any other language.
By looking at the maps we know that other-side-of-the-tracks communities are going to be disproportionately impacted.
Commissioner Gibbs asked Mr. Targ if he was representing himself individually, his firm Holland & Knight, or any client or clients that he would like to identify. Mr. Targ responded that he represents many clients who are impacted, but that with his statements about environmental justice he was representing himself.
Commissioner Gibbs stated that he had no reason to believe that Mr. Lewis is not as concerned with environmental justice as anybody else. Many Commissioners are also very concerned with environmental justice.
Commissioner Gioia stated that the Commission did include environmental justice in its deliberations on the new language. The Commission has to ensure that communities like the city of Richmond understand how policies can get implemented in ways that present opportunities for them.
Commissioner Gibbs asked Mr. Targ to cite any authorities he felt gave the Commission the ability to address environmental justice. Mr.Targ welcomed the request and that he would take that as a challenge.
Commissioner McGrath said that the Commission had identified the possibility of disproportionate impacts and all were concerned about it.
Commissioner Nelson requested that some clarification be given regarding the concerns related to consistency regarding CEQA and CZMA.
5. New Business. No new business was discussed.
6. Old Business. No old business was discussed.
7. Adjournment. Upon motion by Vice Chair Halsted seconded by Commissioner McGrath, the meeting adjourned at 4:40 p.m.
Approved, as corrected, at the San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission Meeting of November 18, 2010
R. SEAN RANDOLPH, Chair