Minutes of November 18, 2010 Commission Meeting
1. Call to Order.The meeting was called to order by Chair Randolph at the MetroCenter Auditorium, 101 Eighth Street, Oakland, California at 1:15 p.m.
2.Roll Call. Present were: Chair Randolph, Vice Chair Halsted, Commissioners, Baird (represented by Alternate Vierra), Chiu, Gibbs, Hicks, Lai-Bitker, Lundstrom, Maxwell, McGrath, Moy, Nelson, Reagan (represented by Alternate Kondylis), Sartipi, Shirakawa (represented by Alternate Carruthers), Thayer (represented by Alternate Kato), and Wieckowski (represented by Alternate Apodaca). Legislative member Charles Taylor was also present.
Not Present were: Association of Bay Area Governments (Bates), Sonoma County (Brown), Department of Finance (Finn), Contra Costa County (Gioia), Governors Appointee’s (Goldzband & Jordan Hallinan), San Mateo County (Gordon), Marin County (McGlashan), Napa County (Wagenknecht) and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (Ziegler).
3. Public Comment Period. Chair Randolph asked for public comment.
Mr. David Lewis with Save The Bay had the following to say: About 15 years ago we were involved in the creation of a national organization called, Restore America’s Estuaries. It’s an alliance of 11 groups like Save The Bay with its own staff and presence at the national level.
The topic of sea level rise and climate change and coping with this is on the minds of people all around the country and this Commission and its work is on the radar screen of people all over the nation.
People are really following what this Commission and what the state of California are doing. We really have the opportunity to establish a model for how coastal zone planning and regulation should occur and your work on climate change can set a model for other people.
Save The Bay has just been awarded a special grant from Bank of America called, A Neighborhood Builders Grant. This goes to organizations that are working on the ground in communities. It is a $200,000 grant.
Chair Randolph added: I participated in Governor Schwarzenegger's third Climate Summit held in Davis. The theme was that of sub-national jurisdictions, governments, provinces, states and cities in leading the charge on climate change around the world.
It was remarkable to see how much energy and focus there was among other places; across Canada, Mexico, Nigeria, Indonesia, everywhere. California was very much in the lead as a model. So what we do here is very important.
4.Approval of Minutes of November 2, 2010 and November 4, 2010 Meetings.
Chair Randolph entertained a motion and a second to adopt the Minutes of November 2, 2010 and November 4, 2010.
Commissioner Gibbs replied: Regarding the Minutes on November 2nd insofar as the series of questions that I put to Mr. Targ about on whose behalf he was testifying et cetera; that is not reflected in the Minutes and I would like to request that it be on the record.
I’d like to request that the Minutes be supplemented to reflect that exchange.
Commissioner Randolph answered: We’ll take care of that.
MOTION: Commissioner Halsted moved, seconded by Commissioner Nelson to approve the November 2, 2010 and the November 4, 2010 Minutes. The motion carried by voice vote with Commissioners Hicks, Kondylis and Vierra abstaining.
5. Report of the Chair. Chair Randolph reported on the following:
a. Next BCDC Meeting. Our next meeting will be in two weeks on December 2nd. At that meeting, which will be held at the Ferry Building in San Francisco, we will take up the following matters:
We will hold a public hearing and vote on making improvements to the shoreline public access at San Francisco’s Fisherman’s Wharf.
We will receive a briefing from our staff on our overall climate change program that extends beyond the Bay Plan amendments we’re considering.
We will continue our public hearing on proposed amendments to the Bay Plan to address climate change.
We will receive a briefing on planning underway for the Suisun Marsh.
We will consider a status report on the progress we are making in carrying out our strategic plan.
b. Ex-Parte Communications. That completes my report. In case you have forgotten to provide our staff with a report on any written or oral ex-parte communications, I invite Commissioners who have engaged in any such communications to report on them at this point.
Commissioner Gibbs commented: I did receive the legal treatise, commonly referred to as, Does One Hundred Feet Equal One Mile or More from Zachary Wasserman of the firm Wendell, Rosen, Black and Dean.
Chair Randolph responded: I also received a phone call from Mr. Wasserman too.
Commissioner McGrath added: I was asked to speak to the Citizens for East Shore State Park about the Bay Plan. I indicated the nature of our process and the issues.
Chair Randolph announced: That completes my report. We’ll move on to the Executive Director’s Report.
6. Report of the Executive Director. Executive Director Travis provided his report, as follow
a. ART Project. As I informed you last month, both NOAA and the Federal Highway Administration are providing funding for our ongoing work with local governments to assist them in climate change planning.
We call this venture Adapting to Rising Tides or the ART Project. Last week another important player in the climate change planning world selected our ART project to be part of its inaugural national program.
ICLEI is an international association of local governments who have made commitments to sustainable development. ICLEI provides technical consulting, training, and information services to build capacity, share knowledge and support local government in the implementation of sustainable development at the local level.
Through its Climate Resilient Communities Program, ICLEI is helping local governments proactively address climate change impacts in their communities.
Through its Inaugural Adaptation Communities Program ICLEI will be providing more detailed support to a few selected local governments that are committing to be adaptation leaders.
The Bay Area community that is selected for the ART project pilot planning project will become one of the eight ICLEI Inaugural Adaptation Communities and, as such, will receive additional technical support, assistance with media attention and have opportunities to learn from and share with the other seven communities across the country.
We’re looking forward to continuing to work with ICLEI at the national level and are excited about the benefits this program will provide for the ART Project and for Bay Area local governments.
Sara Polgar of our staff deserves the credit for securing ICLEI’s endorsement of our ART project.
b. Public Outreach. At our last meeting some members of the public expressed concern that we are not doing enough to engage the broad spectrum of the public who may be impacted by sea level rise, particularly those whose primary language is other than English.
This is a legitimate concern, especially because a disproportionally high number of the residential communities located in low-lying areas around the Bay have significant ethnic minority populations.
To determine how best to deal with this issue we consulted with our colleagues at the Metropolitan Transportation Commission who have extensive experience in providing information to a wide range of the Bay Area public.
MTC advised us that the five languages, in addition to English, most common in Bay Area are Chinese, Korean, Spanish, Tagalog and Vietnamese.
We’ve posted a simple fact sheet on our website to answer frequently asked questions about why BCDC is considering amending the Bay Plan to address climate change.
We’ve found that for a modest investment of a few thousands dollars we can have this fact sheet translated into the five languages I mentioned.
Therefore, we plan to make this investment and provide these translations on our website.
We will also contact each Bayfront local government to determine whether it would be helpful for them to receive flyers in these languages to distribute to their residents.
We will use the feedback from local governments and the responses from their constituents to gauge the interest in participating in the Bay Plan amendment process and to determine any additional steps we can take to encourage this interest.
Unless you direct us otherwise, we’ll initiate these steps immediately and report back to you on the results.
c. White House Visit. I’ll conclude my report today by asking Brad McCrea of our staff to brief you on a very special meeting he had a few days ago.
Brad was in Washington, D.C. at the invitation of U.S. EPA to make a presentation at the National Building Museum on the work we’re doing on climate change planning.
While he was there Brad was contacted by the National Security staff at the White House who wanted to learn more about our work. Brad met with them, along with staff from the Council on Environmental Quality and other presidential staff at the White House on Wednesday afternoon. Brad, tell us a bit about that meeting.
Mr. Brad McCrea made the following presentation: It was a great meeting that was billed for about 30 minutes but we talked for about one hour.
I met with National Security staff, the White House Domestic Policy Council, the Office of Social Innovation, the Council on Environmental Quality and a couple of people from National Security with regards to resiliency policy and response policy.
I gave them a quick overview of what we’re doing here and how we’re working at all levels of governance, from the international level to the local level.
I talked about how we’re working on both hands to integrate the reduction of GHGs with sea level rise planning, how we’re trying to encourage innovation.
I talked a little bit about the struggles, the challenges we’re having from the international level to the local level and that it gets much more difficult as you get closer to the local level.
I talked about four different things that the federal government could do to help.
One, they could lead by example.
Two, in the absence of federal legislation, if they required resiliency at federal facilities, that would be helpful.
Three, it would be helpful if they required FEMA to reflect sea level rise in its flood mapping.
Four, we think that the federal government should encourage funding for climate change adaptation planning.
Finally, I talked a little bit about science and providing critical data about the world’s ice sheets et cetera and suggested that it would be helpful if they provided support for replacing NASA satellites.
That completes my report so we can move on to Item #7, consideration of administrative matters.
7. Commissioner Consideration of Administrative Matters. On November 12th, we sent you a listing of the administrative matters our staff is prepared to act upon. Bob Batha is available to respond to any questions you may have about the matters on the listings.
Commissioner Lai-Bitker applauded the staff for the quick action to address the language needs in our area about what BCDC is doing with these amendments.
Chair Randolph added: In my day job we are planning a conference on climate change in late February and it is being done by the Bay Area Council’s Economic Institute.
This conference will be on green cities and sustainable urban development. We are looking to get mayors from around the world, urban planners, designers, architects and engineers together to talk about what the state of the art is and where it’s going.
I do want to offer them the opportunity of spending some time with BCDC staff to go through what we’ve done with the sea level maps, some of the strategies being designed and this may allow us to bring forward our partnership with the Netherlands on adaptive design.
We’ll keep you posted as this comes forward.
8. Briefing on Economic Impact of America’s Cup.
Dr. Jon Haveman of Beacon Economics made the following presentation to the Commission: What I’ll be presenting today is largely the results from a study that we undertook at the request of the Mayor’s Office to get an idea of what exactly it means economically for the City to host the America’s Cup.
The City is now undergoing an analysis to try to estimate the costs of hosting this event and the findings will be presented to the Board of Supervisors sometime in the next couple of weeks.
The Bay provides one of the top two or three venues for hosting an America’s Cup. All the previous events have been out on the open sea which makes it extremely difficult for spectators to watch.
The Bay provides an opportunity for people to sit on Angel Island or the Headlands and watch the event, which would be very good for San Francisco and the event itself.
Only three other locations in the world have hosted an America’s Cup and hopefully San Francisco will be the next.
Hosting an America’s Cup means there will be an extended period of time where there will be activity in the area.
There are several years of warm-up racing.
There’s the Challenger Series and there will be about 10 to 14 syndicates from other countries who will sail against each other in a round robin format for two to four months.
There will be a Defender’s Series during which BMW/Oracle will sail against one or two other American challengers.
There will be a defense that lasts from one to three weeks. It’s usually the best of five out of nine.
A lot of our modeling is based on experience during Fleet Week in San Francisco. This is a three-day event in which roughly a million people come to watch Fleet Week.
We turned to previous America’s Cups for our modeling parameters and we performed some case studies to get an indication for how much events like these do matter in terms of economic benefits.
Fleet Week increases economic activity at Pier 39 by about 25 percent.
As far as hotel accommodations and occupancy is concerned, our analysis shows an increase of about 80 million dollars in hotel revenue in San Francisco, and this is an underestimate because hotels will probably increase their rates during the event.
There could be an economic increase of about 68 million dollars for Napa and Sonoma Counties.
There is likely to be increased tourism in San Francisco.
We kept the international tourism about the same as was experienced in Valencia.
We estimated reduced super yacht activity in San Francisco because it is not a very common destination for super yachts.
We estimated much less government spending in San Francisco.
The regional draws of Napa, Monterey and all the other things we have going on here suggest that more people will come here than Valencia.
We estimate about 800 million dollars in direct spending by the syndicates, by Cup management, by tourists and what have you.
We estimate about 1.4 billion dollars of economic activity and that corresponds to about 9,000 jobs and 85 million dollars in additional state and local tax revenues.
We looked at the three tax revenue streams of transient occupancy taxes, payroll taxes and retail sales taxes and found that for San Francisco, that amounted to about a 24 million dollar net increase.
We estimated that the costs of accommodating the additional activity would be about 11 million to the city of San Francisco, so the net increase is about 13 million dollars.
Insofar as broader economic benefits are concerned, we found that if you use the United States as your point of reference, the benefits are about 1.9 billion dollars and that corresponds to about 12,000 jobs and about 93 million dollars in additional tax revenues.
Some caveats are that there will be congestion in the City.
There are going to be higher prices for locals and other tourists.
There will be crowding out of other economic activity.
City services will have to be ramped up.
This represents a truly unique opportunity for San Francisco and California.
If BMW/Oracle successfully defend then we will be doing it again in three years. That’s another 1.4 billion without the infrastructure costs because we will already have that in place. If they win that, we do it again.
Chair Randolph mentioned that a potential long-term benefit would be the opportunity to accelerate renovations to some of the piers along the waterfront in San Francisco.
The financial proposal to BMW/Oracle would be for private finance to come in and repair, upgrade and improve the piers which would free up available capital to do other rehab work in other piers.
Commissioner McGrath commented: San Francisco hosts a big boat race series every several years so there is an infrastructure and experience in racing. The America’s Cup Series is a mega-event.
9. Continued Public Hearing 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.
Executive Director Travis began by stating that a memo sent out last Friday identified six optional approaches the Commission might use to address the concerns expressed about amending the Bay Plan to address climate change.
It would be helpful to get the panelists’ and the public’s recommendations on which optional approach they think is preferable and then at our next meeting on December 2nd you provide our staff with policy direction as to which approach you prefer to pursue.
In brief, the six options are:
First, continue the course we’re on now: consider revisions in the proposed amendment language to respond to comments from the public.
Second, abandon the amendment process and leave in place the current sea level rise findings and policies that broadly discourage all development in areas vulnerable to flooding.
The third option is to delete the current sea level rise findings and policies from the Plan.
The fourth option is to continue the amendment process with the intention of adopting policies that are clearly limited for your use in making BCDC regulatory decisions within your permit jurisdiction.
A fifth option is to limit the amendments so they call for preparing a long-term regional sea level rise adaptation strategy but do not include any interim policy guidance to be used while the strategy is being prepared.
The final option is the one a number of critics of the Bay Plan amendments have advocated: develop an informal guidance document that does not include any enforceable policies. When we considered this option we quickly came to realize that it can’t be pursued on its own. You would have to do it in combination with one of the other five options.
None of the options is perfect. Each has its benefits and its drawbacks. We’ve tried to identify the most obvious pros and cons of each.
Chair Randolph then invited the six panelists consisting of Shiloh Ballard with Silicon Valley Leadership Group, Paul Campos with the Building Industry Association, Russell Hancock with the Joint Venture Silicon Valley Network, Ellen Johnck with the Bay Planning Coalition, Jeremy Madsen with the Greenbelt Alliance and Scott Zengel with the Bay Area Council to come forward, take their seats and give testimony.
The speakers spoke in alphabetical order starting with Ms. Ballard.
Ms. Ballard commented: Our Leadership Group represents about 320 companies in Silicon Valley and we advocate on their behalf.
We want to thank BCDC for getting everyone’s attention on this issue even though it has caused some concern.
Our first area of concern is the potential implications for this on CEQA. At the Leadership Group we advocate for smart growth, infill and putting growth where it’s appropriate and CEQA can sometimes be an impediment.
Related to this is the advisory nature of these amendments and we know that staff has definitely heard this issue.
Another issue is the publishing of maps and the implications of the maps in terms of affecting possible financing of projects in these areas.
We would also like to reiterate that any language about precluding development always causes concern.
The most important thing is to make sure that we are moving towards putting together a regional plan.
Once the policy threat that is currently on the table goes away, our organization is definitely committed to maintaining people’s engagement and making sure that we are all constructively engaged on this.
In moving forward we ask that you keep key stakeholders at the table, especially local government, and keep the momentum going.
Mr. Paul Campos commented: In my presentation today I will let you know what general principles my organization feels are important to guide development of sea level rise policy language and then to identify specific examples of text in the current proposal.
We are working on specific language that we believe would correct the problematic text and that will be forthcoming soon.
The first principle is that given BCDC’s repeated expression of its intent to create guidance that is advisory and non-regulatory, we think the language should say so unequivocally.
There is no language in the proposal that says these policies and recommendations are advisory.
The second principle is that the interim guidance should not attempt to prescribe or pre ordain the content of the future regional strategy.
An example of problem text in this regard is found in Climate Change Policy 5 and it reads, “The regional strategy should determine where and how existing development should be protected and infill development encouraged, where new development should be permitted, where existing development should eventually be removed to allow the Bay to migrate inland. The goals of the strategy should be –- “
And then there’s a lengthy list of detailed and prescriptive language and we think the interim guidance should not attempt to write the final strategy.
The third principle is that BCDC guidance and recommendations should not expressly or implicitly create a presumption that only certain types or categories of future projects or activities should be allowed with other projects and activities being discouraged or avoided.
The guidance and recommendations should identify a set of suggested issues and factors to be considered by a planning agency.
An example of problematic text is Climate Change Policy 6. It reads, “Until a regional sea level rise adaptation strategy can be completed, when planning or regulating new development in areas vulnerable to future shoreline flooding, new projects should be limited to–“
And again, there is a defined list.
There should be no language that directly or indirectly suggests that projects or activities should be conditioned on providing ironclad guarantees of adaptability or resiliency with respect to specified planning periods or scenarios.
The concept of reasonableness, feasibility and practicability should be reflected.
Climate Change Policy 6-D reads: “Redevelopment that includes the following elements and adaptation strategy for dealing with rising sea level rise and shoreline flooding with definitive goals and an adaptive management plan for addressing key uncertainties for the life of the project. Measures that will achieve resilience and sustainability in all elements of the project, a permanent, financial strategy that will guarantee the general public will not be burdened with the cost of protecting the project from any sea level rise or storm damage in the future.”
We think the notions of feasibility, reasonableness and practicality should be injected into this language.
And finally you should include the principle that the language should not include absolutes with respect to areas for acquisition, protection or Bay mitigation.
Areas with certain features should be considered for such action.
Climate Change Policy 3 states: “Undeveloped vulnerable shorelines that currently sustain diverse habitats and species or possess conditions that make the areas especially suitable for ecosystem enhancement should be preserved, enhanced or permanently protected to allow for the inland migration of the Bay habitat.”
We think they should be candidates for such action and evaluated rather than the statement that they automatically should be preserved.
We will provide comments on the options and hope to continue our conversation on December 2nd.
Mr. Russell Hancock presented the following: Our organization brings together public and private sector leaders.
We want to thank BCDC for bringing this issue before the public and thank you for playing a strident and aggressive role.
We don’t have any expertise in this area and this issue has not come before our Board.
While your process might have been adequate for other issues, this one is different. This issue will require a much longer, broader outreach process and today’s panel is evidence of that. We praise you for this and hope that it will continue.
As far as the six options put forward, we feel that some combination of five and six seems to be sensible to us. This combination would represent a means of updating the Bay Plan as required while recognizing the appropriate role of local communities.
We in the South Bay will offer up our offices if that is helpful and will help in organizing forums and events.
Chair Randolph thanked Mr. Hancock for his generous offer and stated that BCDC would take him up on the offer. Ms. Ellen Johnck testified next.
Ms. Johnck commented: BCDC should look at some criteria to be used in selecting one or more or a combinations of the options put forth today.
One criteria should be, what option or combination can build you the best consensus among a broad range of local, state and federal agencies and stakeholders that are involved in looking at sea level rise and remedies.
Another consideration should be, what option or combination can remove the concerns and the cloud that has developed on the issue of the language that you are proposing for the Bay Plan amendments, and the effect that it may have on local decision making.
You should also consider the potential alienation of private investment.
Another consideration is that the expansion of the public process should continue, especially with local governments.
The overall goal is really to educate and mobilize the communities into decision making and in this respect we need regionally consistent plans and policies.
One way of removing a cloud would be to consider putting some guidance into a stand-alone document.
Mr. Jeremy Madsen addressed the Commission as follows: You can consider Greenbelt Alliance as the Bay Area’s land use planning, nonprofit advocacy organization.
We work both on open space protection, protecting iconic landscapes of our region but also on making sure that we do the right type of development within our cities and towns, making sure that we achieve environmental sustainability and social equity.
By creating a plan now for how to adapt, we will more likely ensure a future in which our region enjoys a sustainable environment, a high quality of life and economic competitiveness.
I think ideally through good public input, a degree of consensus can be reached so that these amendments aren’t viewed with suspicion and resistance among some of the parties out there.
Now at the same time I want to be clear that I think this process should be brought to an end. There should be a schedule released as to when this process will be concluded.
I firmly believe that the Bay Plan Amendments should not be used as a tool to unduly discourage or preclude environmentally sustainable and socially equitable infill development.
I would suggest very strongly that the priority development areas of the FOCUS process should be called out in the policies.
I think the implications of guidelines beyond the jurisdiction of BCDC should be clearly spelled out in order to mitigate confusion.
We support the sentiments conveyed in the amendments that development in areas at risk of flooding should have financially sustainable adaptation strategies.
This means significant infrastructure improvements in infill areas that are close to transit and to jobs and it should be clearly understood that this will require both public and private investment.
We strongly believe that public investment in such infrastructure is a more environmentally and more socially justified use of public money than subsidizing sprawl on the urban edge.
I want to express support for Option 6 because I think the idea of having a guidance document that ensures that cities, developers and other jurisdictions have the proper guidance tools is an important step.
Three things are really critical: one, the idea of a regional plan is very important; two, interim guidance is actually worthwhile; and three, the idea of having infill development, climate adaptation, sustainable transportation and affordable housing. We need all these things, to work together versus having different agencies and different players within different local governments working at cross purposes. We need to bring the different elements together.
Chair Randolph mentioned that the first meeting of the Commission in April of 2011 was set for a vote on the amendments.
Mr. Scott Zengel commented: The Bay Area Council’s primary objective is to focus on business and economic prosperity.
We have had a major focus on sustainable development for many, many years.
There is a great process executing on SB 375 called the Sustainable Community Strategy and it’s a four year process whose goal is to plan our transportation and land use for the next 25 years.
This process is happening in each major, significant region in our state, a four year process to plan for 25 years.
The magnitude of sea level rise is tremendous and we would like to see much better cooperation and coordination between all our transportation, land use agencies, and of course, BCDC.
The prudent, conservative and rational way to proceed is to look at option six and take whatever we decide and to focus on and put it in a guidance document. A stand-alone guidance document is the most conservative approach.
We support number five generally speaking.
Commissioner McGrath commented: Regarding Policy 6, I’ll take a development that wouldn’t be approved today but exists and that’s Strawberry Point in Marin County. In order to protect that in the long-term there’s going to be a loss of either public access or some of the Bay or perhaps both.
But my dilemma in Policy 6 is making sure that we won’t repeat the abovementioned mistake because the national flood information program/ground surface elevation misleads the public to a level of safety that doesn’t exist from an engineering perspective.
So I would challenge you to try to look again at Policy 6 and provide recommendations for us that enable us to make that distinction. That doesn’t mean no development. It means the criteria is being sure that that development footprint will not result in the eventual loss of Bay and public access.
Commissioner Lundstrom added: What it comes down is that local government has the legal authority for land use planning.
To have any regional ideas actually integrated and brought in by local government you need the buy-in.
There’s a lot of resentment out there about ABAG and what they’re manufacturing in terms of making us do housing. No reality, that’s the way it’s perceived.
In order to make this work you have to tie it into our local land use planning and this is an opportunity for BCDC to have a buy-in.
Commissioner Gibbs responded to some of the comments made by the panelists: First, to Mr. Hancock. You noted that we did not have the presence in the South Bay that we should have. I just wanted to note that our most knowledgeable, distinguished and charismatic Commissioner, bar none, Mr. Eric Carruthers, is from the South Bay and you should take advantage of his presence there.
Secondly, to Mr. Campos. I want to hold out your testimony as a model of what this Commissioner would hope to see because you were very specific about your concerns and you related them to specific language that is in the proposed amendments.
You made another very important point. You noted that often throughout the document there’s prescriptions or absolutes and that you preferred a balancing test or a cost/benefit test for some of the proposed policies.
Ms. Johnck you raised two issues. You raised the issue of discouragement of private investment. Alienation is the word you used to describe this; more specifics would be appreciated on this.
Your second concern was about our public process. There are some people who would like to delay this forever and we are in the process of knocking down several of the reasons for that delay.
Another reason that was put forth for possible delay was the lack of distribution of materials in various languages other than English. This is going to be promptly taken care of and I salute the staff and the Director for this.
This Commission is made up of largely local elected officials and we have extended the public process through April. We have been at this now for two or three years. If that is not enough time for everybody to put forth their views then it’s a mystery to me exactly how much time would be needed.
And finally, to the extent that we really do mean some of these policies as guidance it has been proposed that we make that clear, absolutely clear, even if we have to restate the obvious and I think that’s important to do.
I think we have a framework that we can work with and I think we’re on a timetable that can accommodate everybody’s needs and a chance to have input.
Chair Randolph agreed with Commissioner Gibbs and added: Commissioner this is on point and reflects the general desire of the Commission to move as expeditiously as we can to very specific language, very specific kinds of fixes that will address the kinds of questions raised today and that have been raised over the last couple of months.
Ms. Johnck added: My choice of words here is to wake everybody up and we are making progress. To the extent that there’s a cloud on what is possible over a piece of property, that can turn away investment.
To the extent that there is some good guidance around a serious issue like climate change, this could also attract investment.
Commissioner Carruthers commented: I really support what Commissioner Gibbs did say. We need specific language and the letters that I have gotten in our packet that are the most useful are those that have specific suggestions about what to change.
FEMA has not produced something that we could consider a national standard and so we have to proceed with a certain amount of uncertainty and we don’t want to cloud development or investment.
Mr. Zengel stated that he supports the efforts of BCDC to establish a regional plan which could take five years or longer. What I didn’t hear is what should the Commission do while we’re waiting for or participating in the preparation of the plan?
Mr. Zengel replied: You guys have been doing a great job at looking at the 100-foot band on a project-by-project basis. So I say, continue the status quo with your analysis on a project-by-project basis.
Commissioner Carruthers answered: Status quo is the policy that’s there now that is quite negative on infill development.
We have to adopt current policies for the future for our 100-foot jurisdiction. We can’t just go along with the status quo with the 100-foot jurisdiction. You’re silent on that.
Mr. Zengel replied: Taking the September 3rd document is – I mean, that’s something that we’re not prepared to accept. So the current amendments, the current Bay Plan that’s in effect is not the September 3rd Plan. So that’s what I would propose.
Mr. Campos added: I disagree with the characterization of the existing Bay Plan policies with respect to sea level rise as opposed to flood protection as being more restrictive than the September 3rd proposal.
Our coalition supports the adoption of interim guidelines and we think that April is plenty of time.
Commissioner Carruthers continued the conversation: The concerns that we’ve heard up to now is that the policies that we’re considering adopting would have impact beyond the 100-foot shoreline band and one of the remedies has been to publish guidelines for the area inland of the 100-foot shoreline band. I don’t hear anybody talking about what we should or should not do for the 100-foot shoreline band.
Mr. Campos replied: And I think that’s a very cogent observation and is something that has been overlooked or obscured to some degree.
Commissioner Nelson added: I have to comment on the alienation of capital. Agencies such as ours with regional planning responsibilities are responsible for tackling problems head-on which informs the investment of capital and I don’t consider this to be an alienation of capital.
One of the areas where we clearly have common ground is a call for a regional adaptation plan.
I also heard common ground on the value of interim advisory guidance and that we needed to clarify that it’s, in fact, advisory.
What I’m not clear on is whether you think the existing Bay Plan adequately addresses these issues. I wrote down that I think we have agreement that the existing Bay Plan doesn’t adequately address climate change issues. Mr. Campos, do I have that right?
Mr. Campos replied: I think that we agree that the Commission should take action to adopt updated language, whether in the Bay Plan or a separate document.
My point about the existing document is that it doesn’t really address sea level rise.
Commissioner Nelson interjected: Referring to the current Bay Plan, you’re right, it doesn’t discuss climate change, however, given the state’s guidance to all state agencies to incorporate the risk of sea level rise up to 55 inches by the end of the century, it certainly suggests to us that if we don’t amend our plan we have to evaluate that existing language about flood-prone lands in a way that incorporates the risk of sea level rise.
Executive Director Travis joined the conversation: The Commission amended the Bay Plan in 1989 to specifically address sea level rise.
Two policies were put in place. One, to prevent damage from flooding, structures on fill or near the shoreline should have adequate flood protection, including consideration of future relative sea level rise, and, two, local governments and special districts with responsibilities for flood protection should assure that their requirements and criteria reflect future relative sea level rise and assure that new structures and uses attracting people are not approved in flood-prone areas or in areas that will become flood-prone in the future.
Commissioner Kondylis added: One of the resounding themes that we hear is that BCDC is trying to expand its jurisdiction. But as sea level rises isn’t it true that our jurisdiction is going to expand by nature?
Executive Director Travis replied: It will. And when that happens we’re going to be facing the cost of the damage of flooding. So we’re trying to move out in front of that.
Commissioner McGrath commented: I really appreciated both Commissioner Gibbs and Commissioner Carruthers mentioning the possible gathering of our recommendations for those zones outside the immediate jurisdiction into a separate document.
What has to be done to manage sea level and Bay level rise and prevent serious damage to the resources of the Bay has to be done mostly outside of our jurisdiction through our recommendations.
The large developments that are considering sea level rise now have very complicated CEQA documents. I would like to hear from Shiloh as to what her specific fear from CEQA is.
Chair Randolph added: I think it would be helpful to the Commission when we hear recommendations for what language might be used, if this was put in a separate document then what language would remain in the Bay Plan, which is really what our jurisdiction is all about.
Commissioner Carruthers explained: We have done other documents with footnotes and in places where there is apprehension this could be clarified through their use.
I don’t want to see everything go into a guideline document or a best practices document, so I can see some overlap.
I don’t see taking everything that is worrisome out of the Bay Plan and relegating it to a guideline document.
Chair Randolph then moved on to the public hearing portion of this item.
Ms. Diana Keena commented: I am a planner with the city of Emeryville. We support Option 4, stating that the climate change policies are for BCDC permits within the BCDC jurisdiction only in the Bay Plan, and option 6, creating a stand-alone document for advice for local jurisdictions.
Mr. Ian Wren stated: I am a staff scientist with the San Francisco Baykeeper and I was a bit concerned about some of the issues raised surrounding environmental justice.
Considering that many lower income communities are situated in low-lying areas around the Bay subject to sea level rise, a failure to implement this policy would pose a significant risk to such communities in terms of public safety, economic losses and higher insurance rates.
Under our current system there is no mechanism requiring cities to start planning for increased flood risk associated with sea level rise.
This amendment sets in motion a regional strategy for assessing our current level of protection and will enable local and regional agencies to face the harsh realities associated with funding the protection of existing development.
After examining the forecasted increases in future flood risk and associated storm surges I don’t see how this is any different than earthquake preparedness.
I would encourage you to adopt policies that call for enforceable actions within your jurisdiction and reject Option 6.
Mr. David Lewis with Save The Bay commented: I encourage you to pursue Option 1 and finish these policies with the comments that have been submitted.
There is a significant percentage of opposition that has been fomented based on false assertions.
Core principles have already been articulated by the State of California, adopted by the Governor in the State Climate Adaptation Strategy, that explicitly ask you to be clearer about encouraging and discouraging what should and shouldn’t happen in vulnerable areas that are in your jurisdiction.
This is not something that should wait five years, Commissioner Carruthers is right on point.
It’s also objectionable that many of the people who have spoken to you and represented their views have not disclosed their clients. The hidden agendas are not so hidden to most of you.
In your jurisdiction you have a responsibility to give developers clear guidance and this has not squelched economic activity in the past.
Ms. Cecily Barclay stated: Although I am a practicing land use attorney I have not talked to a single client about these suggestions.
The purpose of our submitting written comments is threefold.
First, there have been a lot of understandable requests by the Commissioners for specific text amendments.
Second, we think a guidance document has merit and we would like people to see what it would look like if we took the amendments and put them into a guidance document, saying that local agencies should be doing the following, and use the words “encourage” and “use it as a guidance.”
Third, to look at the Plan and evaluate what additional amendments need to be made that are specific to what the Commission wants to apply to itself.
Brad Benson with the Port of San Francisco commented: I’m here today representing the City and County of San Francisco’s comments to the proposed Bay Plan findings and policies.
We saw a really high level of public policy discussion today and I think this process is moving towards a good result.
First in our written comments is the idea of planning for a range of sea level rise rather than just focusing on worst-case scenarios. We think a range implies a best and worst-case scenario.
We’re recommending that you define infill development as it’s used throughout the document in the findings and specifically include the ABAG priority development areas in the definition.
We’d also suggest that you leave local governments a variety of financial strategies that may not be project-based.
We think it’s important to recognize local flood risk management roles in the form of local building officials and also flood plain management administrators.
We’re also very keen to get to a solution about how to refine these future inundation maps and have some recommendations along those lines.
Commissioner Lai-Bitker commented: I regret that I won’t be here to vote on this in April. Joe LaClair is going to make a presentation to Alameda County and there will be 14 cities there and I will make sure that our county staff is there as well.
Upon completion of Commissioner Lai-Bitker’s comments Chair Randolph moved on to Item 10.
10. Commission Briefing on the San Francisco Bay Subtidal Habitat Goals Project and Eelgrass Restoration in San Francisco Bay.
Ms. Marilyn Latta of the State Coastal Conservancy made the following presentation: We are here today to update you on this project and provide information regarding the state of Eelgrass and oysters in San Francisco Bay and the potential for increasing these habitats.
I will be giving a brief update on the overall planning process for the Subtidal Goals Project. This is a sister effort building off of the Baylands Habitat Goals planning effort that was completed in 1999.
This is a regional 50-year plan to improve subtidal areas in the Bay and is a non-regulatory document.
We’ve developed three types of goals: (1) is science goals to address data gaps in the Bay; (2) protection goals to maintain quality and function of these habitats as we move forward; restoration goals that are based on quantifiable targets for achieving restoration at specific sites using a phased approach.
The audience for the document is primarily resource managers in providing guidance for future projects in the Bay and existing projects.
Over 90 percent of the Bay bottom is soft substrate made up of mud and shell mix.
We are planning for a 10 year review of this document in 2020. The 10 year review period will allow science to fill some of the existing data gaps. At that time we might make adjustments to the goals as necessary.
The six subtidal habitat types that we focused on in the planning effort are: (1) submerged aquatic vegetation; (2) rock habitats; (3) macroalgal beds; (4) soft substrates (5) shellfish beds; and (6) artificial structures.
San Francisco Bay is a cold and murky environment and that fact has prevented much of the research from occurring on the Bay bottom. To assist with this problem we’ve developed conceptual models that better illustrate the habitats that exist in the Bay.
We had three consultant reports done as background: eelgrass, oysters, and a creosote piling study. The San Francisco Estuary Institute did an inter-disciplinary assessment of all of the unused creosote and artificial structures in the Bay.
We’ve produced several types of maps, habitat distributions, habitat stressors and the location of our proposed restoration locations.
We’ve also developed a map that outlines parcel ownership which will be very helpful for many people.
We have developed recommendations in the areas of climate change, invasive species, bettering oil spill response, improving marine debris collection and prevention and increasing public education in these areas.
We’ve recommended a potential climate change adaptation approach called, living shorelines. This technique has been used successfully on the East and Gulf Coasts for several decades to protect private property that’s vulnerable to hurricanes and storm surges. We’re hopeful that natural bio-engineering techniques could help buffer against sea level rise and allow for a smoother migration of habitats.
We released our draft report in June and completed a voluntary public comment period.
The final document and the website will be completed at the end of December and released in January of 2011.
Dr. Kathy Boyer presented the following: I developed an appendix to this Subtidal Habitat Goals document which addresses specific issues related to Eelgrass constraints and opportunities.
We value sea grass beds, including eelgrass, for a number of reasons. They stabilize sediments and reduce flow velocities and sometimes erosion. They sequester carbon. They can provide habitat for herring. Species that depend on the Eelgrass include pipefish and a whole suite of different invertebrates that support higher trophic levels.
Worldwide declines in sea grasses are rampant mainly due to human-derived reasons.
We don’t know much about the historical distribution of eelgrass and that makes it tricky to determine restoration goals.
The eelgrass model for San Francisco Bay developed by Merkel and Associates predicted about 23,000 acres of Eelgrass potential as opposed to the 3,500 acres that we have currently.
We’ve set an increase of 8,000 acres of eelgrass as our 50 year goal and we’re recommending a phased approach to this.
We’re recommending a combination of transplant and seeding techniques in order to restore areas.
We’re interested in seeing if there can be a synergy between other subtidal and inner-tidal restoration projects such as combining eelgrass and oyster restoration projects.
Chair Randolph asked if Eelgrass restoration might raise issues of navigation during low tide.
Dr. Boyer responded: Most of these areas are pretty shallow parts of the subtidal so if boats are going in really shallow areas it would be possible for them to get the Eelgrass caught in their motors.
Commissioner McGrath commented about restored versus natural beds and the densities seem to be different. He asked, have you looked at the existing models, specifically Crown Beach, to see if they are comparable and does beach nourishment inadvertently give us some hope for eelgrass?
Dr. Boyer answered: Maybe. Crown Beach is really different from the other eelgrass beds. Eelgrass at this site is annual. There are big differences among the beds in terms of how big they are, how patchy, how big the plants are, what invertebrates they support and we need to get a handle on that.
Commissioner Nelson asked Dr. Boyer what has been concluded regarding the effectiveness of eelgrass restoration efforts in the past.
Dr. Boyer responded that the effectiveness of restoration techniques within San Francisco Bay has been pretty successful for the most recent projects.
11. Commission Briefing on the San Francisco Bay Native Oysters and Aggregate Mining Activities.
Dr. Ted Grosholz made the following presentation to the Commission: We know that there is limited information about the current and historic distribution of the native oyster.
There is significant evidence of substantial presence historically in the Bay.
I know that the Commissioners have heard a presentation questioning the presence of oysters in the Bay as being largely unsupported by science.
This is a matter of opinion to some degree. I’m happy to discuss this matter and will show some information that I have that provides a case for oysters being here historically.
We know that from 2006 to 2007 there was a large fresh water period which eliminated much of the existing poplution in the North Bay. They range from the North Central Bay down to certain areas in the South Bay. Historically they were more abundant but a lot of habitat has been lost in this area.
We know that distributions can fluctuate a lot from year to year. We have been trying to determine the best areas to start restoration efforts in order to optimize our efforts.
There has been a lot of monitoring over the last three or four years so we know a lot more now about Bay Area distributions of native oysters.
Oysters increase the diversity of invertebrates and fishes by providing a structure that establishes habitat for species and by being a food source themselves.
We are not likely to be able to establish large enough areas to be able to affect water quality beyond just a few meters.
However, creating these benthic habitats right now will probably be very important for the Bay in the future.
We do have some successful pilot restoration programs and we expect that the long-term success of this will be borne out by these.
Commissioner McGrath asked that from a sediment perspective we know that historically there were huge beds of shells and we know where they are.
The question that I have is: Have you done any inter-disciplinary work with sediment experts, and are we talking about Olympic oysters as the native oysters not the imported oysters, and are these the same as those found in Puget Sound?
Dr. Grosholz replied that it’s the same species as from Puget Sound but a different population.
In regards to your first question the answer is, no we haven’t done cores. That’s a little bit out of my area.
Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence is my response to Dr. Cohen’s contention that native oysters did not exist here in abundance in the modern era.
We have certain observations that clearly indicate that there was a small fishery for native oysters prior to importation.
Dr. Cohen has stated that there were little or no native oysters in the recent middens examined. If you actually look at the archeological literature we see that Native Americans have been shifting from shellfish to fin fish over the last thousands of years.
There are a lot of reasons to think that we really have had a historic population of native oysters here.
We don’t have a lot of information that is specific but restoration can’t reconstruct the past. That’s not the goal. We are doing our best to try and reconstruct native habitats in a way that increases the ecological value and the ecological services. That’s the best we can do. We can’t bring it back. San Francisco Bay has changed dramatically.
Commissioner Vierra stated: I understand that the Ocean Protection Council funded a native oyster restoration project about five years ago. Were you involved in that project and can you talk a little bit more about that?
Dr. Grosholz replied: Yes, I was involved with that project. They didn’t fund any restoration but they funded all the monitoring studies that I talked about.
Commissioner Carruthers commented: I found the ideas about natural shoreline protection very interesting.
I would like to see that information widely dispersed because our flood control agencies around the Bay are really seriously addressing sea level rise and I would hope that these kinds of techniques could be incorporated in some of the agency work that is being done.
Dr. Grosholz replied: Right. That’s the idea is to integrate the eelgrass with the oysters in a way that will create living shorelines. That’s the goal.
Ms. Latta added: We’re at such an early stage that we want to go slow with this idea and not promise that this will work in the Bay.
We have presented these ideas to a number of agencies and have been talking with some of the major regional restoration project managers to look at how we might incorporate this idea into the designs being put forth.
Chair Randolph wanted to know if these oysters were genetically linked in any way with the oysters in Tomales Bay?
Dr. Grosholz replied that the oysters in Drake’s Bay and Tomales are distinct from San Francisco Bay genetically. However, they are closely related. There is a California group that is distinct from the Northern group.
Brenda Goeden made the following presentation: We are going to focus our attention today on the physical habitat in the Bay, the sand and shell mix that exists in isolated areas in the Bay.
Historically San Francisco Bay was a riverbed and was inundated with rising seas. Much of the sediment found in the Bay is fine grained, however, some is coarse grained or sand. Large historic beds of oyster shells are located in South San Francisco Bay and are mined at one site adjacent to the San Mateo Bridge.
Oyster shell is used for livestock and agriculture as feed and soil amendments and is an important source of calcium for nutritional supplements.
Sand is hydraulically mined and washed aboard a barge then transported directly to the sand yards to transport for the customers, a very efficient process.
Since the 1970s we have seen an increase in Bay mining activities as the construction industry has needed inexpensive sources for aggregate production.
Through the CEQA process additional studies of sandmining were undertaken including hydrodynamic modeling efforts, an entrainment analysis and a benthic survey.
After several years of examining sand mining and its potential impacts we’re a lot closer to understanding the transport processes of sand in the Bay, the quantity of sand available and the potential impacts of removing large quantities of sand.
Currently 1.39 million cubic yards of sand is authorized to be mined from the Central San Francisco Bay and 850,000 cubic yards from Suisun each year.
The sand mining industry does not mine that total level of sand currently and has not mined the total volume even in the 1990s.
Sand in the San Francisco Bay is a limited resource. It has habitat value.
The Commission permits for shell and sand mining are going to be renewed in 2011. We look forward to working with the agencies and the industry in reaching a conclusion to this process.
Chair Randolph asked: What’s the rate of replenishment of sand?
Ms. Goeden replied: That is unknown at this time. The USGS is currently looking at a provenance study of where the sand comes from but what we don’t understand is how much is coming in and how much is going out.
Commissioner Hicks had a question about the oyster shell mining: I gather that this is a finite resource. Do you have any idea how long it’s going to last?
Ms. Goeden answered: There is not a volume estimate of the amount of shell in the Bay. One of the problems is that it is mixed with mud so it’s hard to say exactly how long it will last but it is a very large resource.
Commissioner Carruthers stated: Could you clarify what is happening next year?
Ms. Goeden replied: All of the sand mining permits that BCDC has issued are up for renewal. The resource agencies will have to do any incidental take permits, State Lands Commission will issue leases, the Water Board will also likely issue a new water quality certificate all once the CEQA document is complete.
Commissioner Carruthers added: And what is our role in that?
Ms. Goeden replied: The permit will probably come before the Commission sometime mid to late 2011 with a proposal to renew the sand mining permits. We will probably get two or three applications. The CEQA document will inform the decisions for the Commission.
Commissioner Nelson commented that there is a fair amount of evidence that the Bay is losing sediment in parts of the estuary where we’re not mining.
Has USGS looked at the relationship between the loss of sediment in the Central Bay where we do mine and what’s happening in parts of the Bay where we don’t mine?
Ms. Goeden replied that the USGS is working on both of those things. The science currently is not fine enough to really give us conclusive findings on whether the sand mining is impacting other areas.
Commissioner McGrath commented: We have an interesting procedural question here. What’s the current thinking about how best to integrate the two coastal management agencies in considering this?
Ms. Goeden answered: That is a really good question. We have the State Lands Commission who has jurisdiction over both the Bay and the coast. They will be making a determination on the lease and the mineral resources.
Mike Bishop commented: I am the marine operations manager for Hanson Aggregates and I oversee the sand mining operations in the Bay.
The studies that have been done on sediment transport are very new and it’s all very new science. We believe that it is quite speculative at this stage.
The traditional, terrestrial sources of sand locally come from about 88 miles away round trip. One barge load of sand carries about 108 truckloads of sand and that equates to 9,500 truck miles per barge load. So if we took an average year of sand mining and we trucked it instead, that would equate to six million truck miles. So sand mining eliminates somewhere in the region of 13,000 tons of greenhouse gases because this sand is a local resource near the metropolitan areas in which it is used.
Hanson believes this is environmentally sustainable and a sound mining method for sand. We are committed to the sustainable practices of balancing environmental, economic and social interests as we operate our businesses.
12. New Business. No new business was discussed.
13. Old Business. No old business was discussed.
14. Adjournment. Upon motion by Commissioner Wieckowski, seconded by Commissioner Richards, the meeting adjourned at 4:47 p.m.
Approved, as corrected, at the San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission Meeting of November 18, 2010
R. SEAN RANDOLPH, Chair