Statement of Chair Zack Wasserman
Commission Approval of the Fill for Habitat Bay Plan Amendment
October 3, 2019
I would like to take a minute to express my thanks to the Commissioners and our staff for what BCDC just accomplished.
Megan noted in her opening remarks that the Bay Fill Policies Working Group was created four years ago. We tasked that group with two goals. First, it was to learn about and analyze the substantial fill-related habitat research and projects that were underway, including the 2015 Baylands Ecosystem Habitat Goals Science Update. Second, it was to determine whether and how BCDC should change its laws and policies to better support those efforts. With Commissioner Nelson’s leadership, the active participation of the Working Group’s members, and a lot of terrific staff support, the Working Group has accomplished both goals.
Many of us thought it likely that the group’s efforts would result in BCDC changing both the physical and policy landscapes in which large-scale habitat restoration projects can be built. Based on the Working Group’s initial recommendation, the Commission voted two years ago to begin the formal Bay Plan Amendment process. The Working Group and our staff have fulfilled their objectives in about 14 months – delayed only due to a shortage of staff.
The Commission has acknowledged publicly that BCDC must pivot from its original, fundamental purpose of limiting the amount of fill placed in the Bay to explicitly allowing more fill to create larger-scale multi-benefit habitat restoration projects in order to adapt to rising sea levels. However, BCDC is not pivoting away from protecting the Bay – indeed, the reverse is true. By adopting this Bay Plan Amendment, BCDC is demonstrating the leadership required of all public agencies when they are faced with unforeseen circumstances. The Bay’s future will include more natural habitats that will not only persist in the face of rising seas, but also serve to protect the communities around them. Approving this amendment, to quote BCDC’s mission, will help us “to protect and enhance San Francisco Bay, and encourage the responsible and productive use of its resources for this and future generations.”