August 8, 2019 Enforcement Committee Meeting Summary

Three members of the Enforcement Committee attended the August 8, 2019 BCDC Enforcement Committee meeting, which was held at the Bay Area Metro Center, located at 375 Beale Street, San Francisco.

At the meeting, the Committee received three briefings: the first on the eight inactive cases opened prior to 2000 and the efforts to resolve those cases; the second on the steps for calculating an initial penalty amount as part of developing a penalty policy; and the third on the staff practice for determining when violations have resulted in significant harm to the Bay or public access and a discussion of proposals to formalize a definition of significant harm.

Regarding the inactive cases, the Committee directed staff to:

  • Develop a strategy for resolving open and inactive paper violations, including  exploring whether it is possible to begin assessing pre-determined fines to expedite case closures. 
  • Provide regular updates on the progress being made to resolve the oldest cases.
  • Provide regular updates on recently closed cases.
  • In recognition of the two distinct goals of reducing the backlog of cases and focusing on process improvements and policies, the Committee asked staff to make a recommendation on the level of staff resources that should be invested to resolve the pre-2000 cases.

Regarding the steps for calculating an initial penalty amount, the Committee directed staff to:

  • Brief the Committee on the current method used to prioritize cases, including the method to determine the impacts of a violation.
  • Develop a scoring system to rank the gravity of a violation as part of an enforcement penalty matrix that will use factors for establishing a recommended penalty. The Committee also recommended that staff pursue developing a separate scoring system for public access violations and Bay fill violations.  
  • By November, develop and present a specific penalty policy or penalty matrix proposal.

Regarding the discussion on potential harm, the Committee directed staff to:

  • Pursue a definition of “significant harm” that establishes the qualities and characteristics of a violation rather than delineating specific examples of activities that would be deemed to constitute significant harm.
  • In developing the definition, recognize the differences in the potential harm resulting from violations in the Bay versus violations in the shoreline band/upland.