2005 Annual Report
January 27, 2006
Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger
Members of the California Legislature:
With pride I am submitting the 2005 annual report of the San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission (BCDC), which describes our work under the McAteer-Petris Act, the Suisun Marsh Preservation Act, the federal Coastal Zone Management Act and the California Oil Spill Prevention and Response Act. We hope this brief report demonstrates to you that BCDC remains committed both to making San Francisco Bay a more productive ecosystem and to sustaining the vitality of the region that surrounds the Bay.
Last year was the 40th anniversary of BCDC's creation as the nation's first state coastal management agency. Under the Commission's stewardship, the century-long practices of diking, draining and filling that had reduced the Bay's size by one-third ended. Over the past four decades nearly seven square miles of Bay habitat have been restored, public trails and parks have been opened along 100 miles of the Bay shoreline, and over $15 billion in attractive waterfront development has been built. Last year alone we approved $382 million in development, which will open 4.5 miles of the Bay's waterfront for public use and enjoyment. The wetland restoration projects we approved in 2005 will enlarge the Bay by 3,807 acres. Thus, we are maintaining our long-running record of advancing economic prosperity in the Bay region, while at the same time protecting and enhancing the Bay's natural resources.
Even though the operation of our small agency costs each Californian about only a dime a year, the State's budget difficulties continue to impair our ability to carry out the mandates of state law. The 2005 Budget Act did not reverse the cuts we have suffered over the prior three years, which have reduced our staff size by nearly a third to its current level of only 33 positions. Clearly we need additional staff to provide the level of services the public deserves. But through the dedication of our staff, in 2005 we processed 218 permit applications, each in an average of only 39 days.
To generate additional General Fund revenue, in 2004 we increased our permit fees and are further increasing them in 2006 so that applicants pay their fair share of our permit operation costs. To reduce our expenditures, we continue to cancel nearly half our Commission meetings and forego our past practice of providing a detailed annual report. Instead, we hope you will find that the attached statistical summary provides an adequate overview of our activities in 2005.
To supplement this statistical information, we have highlighted our most important accomplishments last year.
--AB 1296 by Assemblymember Hancock was enacted into law directing BCDC to develop a plan for a Bay Area Water Trail that will make it easier and safer for the recreational use of small watercraft on the Bay.
--To better acquaint the public about BCDC's role in managing Bay resources, we are partnering with KTEH, Silicon Valley's public television station, on a four-hour documentary entitled, "Saving the Bay," which will be broadcast by PBS in 2006.
--Our staff continued to work with environmental organizations and business interests on measures that will make our regulatory process even more efficient.
--To advance the San Francisco Bay Trail Project, we worked in partnership with the Association of Bay Area Governments to develop a website where the public can easily locate shoreline public access areas and the Bay Trail, redesigned the signs used to identify BCDC-required public shoreline areas and assisted the Bay Trail Project to make its signs visually compatible with ours, and provided funds to construct segments of the Bay Trail.
--We updated the strategic plan which we use to guide the development of our budget requests and work program.
--We issued regulatory approvals for the following significant projects and activities:
- The restoration of 630 acres of wetlands at the closed Hamilton Army Airfield in Marin County by the California Coastal Conservancy and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The project both achieves environmental enhancement and advances maritime commerce by using material dredged from the Port of Oakland and Bay navigational channels to accelerate the wetland restoration process.
- A plan developed by the California Coastal Conservancy and the Department of Fish and Game to improve wildlife habitat on 10,000 acres of former salt ponds in the North Bay.
- The conversion of the closed Fort Baker Army base in Sausalito into a public park and conference center by the National Park Service.
- An eelgrass restoration project in the Eastshore State Park.
- The seismic upgrade of the portion of Interstate 880 near the Oakland waterfront. As part of the project, Caltrans will improve shoreline trails and pay for additional waterfront access improvements in the future.
- Two restaurants in Rincon Park along the San Francisco waterfront.
- A pilot project in San Rafael to test the feasibility of desalinating Bay water for domestic use.
--We continued to make progress on updating our San Francisco Bay Plan, which guides us in making permit decisions, by initiating studies dealing with legacy contaminants and recreation. In other planning initiatives:
- We revised the provisions in our Bay Plan policies dealing with seawater desalination facilities, salt ponds and transportation.
- We updated our guidelines that are used in the design of public access projects along the Bay shoreline.
We look forward to the challenges and opportunities we will face in 2006 as we continue to work to make the Bay better for future generations.
R. SEAN RANDOLPH
R. Sean Randolph, Chair
Anne Halsted, Vice Chair
James T. Chappell, Alternate
Chris Potter, Alternate
Susan S. Chang, Alternate
Irma Anderson, Alternate
Tim Smith, Alternate
John Leonard, Alternate
Jose Cisneros, Alternate
Mark McClure, Alternate
Gayle Uilkema, Alternate
Jerry Hill, Alternate
Mike Dillabough, Alternate
Eric Carruthers, Alternate
John Silva, Alternate
Beverly Johnson, Alternate
Steve Messina, Alternate
Susan Adams, Alternate
Nicholas Jellins, Alternate
David Owen, Alternate
Grace Kato, Alternate
Harold Moskowite, Alternate
Senator Elaine Alquist
Mary Ann Ruiz, Alternate
Assemblymember Leland Yee
Sevag Sarkissian, Alternate