Commission Remembers Joe Bodovitz (1930-2024)

The Commission is very sorry to learn that BCDC’s first Executive Director, Joseph E. Bodovitz, passed away in early March at the age of 93. Joe’s contributions to California’s conservation policies cannot be overstated. He began his professional career as a journalist working for the San Francisco Examiner. He moved to SPUR (San Francisco Planning and Urban Research) where, in 1964, he began to work on Bay-related issues. This resulted in his leading a staff and consultant team that drafted the original San Francisco Bay Plan as BCDC’s first Executive Director. Perhaps as proof that “no good deed should go unpunished,” when BCDC’s first Chair, Mel Lane, was asked by Governor Ronald Reagan in 1972 to chair the new California Coastal Commission, Mr. Lane hired Joe to be its initial E.D., as well. Nobody in the entire State of California was more influential in developing California’s coastal zone management policies than Joe Bodovitz.

Seven years later, Joe became Executive Director of the California Public Utilities Commission, which he led for seven years. He then served as head of the California Environmental Trust and later as the project director for BayVision 2020, which attempted to reduce the silo effects and redundancies caused by the myriad regional planning and implementation government bodies in the Bay Area developed during the post-World War II period.

Joe was born Oklahoma City in 1930. He studied English Literature at Northwestern University and served in the U.S. Navy during the Korean War. After the war, Joe completed his graduate degree in journalism at Columbia University. Joe was always generous with his time in his efforts to help BCDC.

Joe routinely answered my questions about how he made decisions in light of competing perspectives and how he used his experience to forecast issues. His advice was always relevant, even though much has changed in how we work in 2024.

Larry Goldzband, BCDC’s current E.D.

Chair Zack Wasserman will request that the Commission’s April 4, 2024 public meeting be adjourned in Joe’s memory.

For more information about Joe about his career, please see the website of the library of the University of California, Berkeley: Protecting the California Coast: New Interviews with Joe Bodovitz and Will Travis – UC Berkeley Library Update.