June 11, 2020 Enforcement Committee Meeting Summary

Four members of the Enforcement Committee Chair Scharff, Commissioner Gilmore, Commissioner Techel and Commissioner Vasquez attended the fourth online only virtual June 11, 2020, BCDC Enforcement Committee meeting.  The public was able to participate by submitting written comments by email prior to the meeting, and by phone or accessing the meeting via a web link posted on the Commission’s website.

At the meeting, the Committee received two briefings. The first briefing focused on staff changes that have resulted in one enforcement analyst moving to the Permits Unit and another enforcement  analyst having volunteered and having been selected to temporarily serve the State of California in contact tracing related to COVD-19.  The Committee was advised that more information will be available in July on filling the vacant position and that there are efforts to determine the best way to potentially reorganize other BCDC staff to address shortfalls. The Enforcement Program Manager also explained that the enforcement analyst assisting with COVID-19 has prepared his most critical cases for their next steps to assure ongoing work during his absence.  The Committee was then informed that since the previous meeting on May 14, 2020, 10 new cases were opened, and 3 of these cases were subsequently closed because they were duplicate reports of existing cases.  During the same period, 13 cases were closed resulting in a caseload of 262 cases.   The Enforcement Program Manager stated that the staff shortfalls were not projected to lead to any case stagnation given the use of the Case Management Aged Case Report and Case Closure Reports so that ongoing case resolution would be effectively tracked.

The second briefing provided a proposed framework for a Penalty Policy that will integrate the use of a table for calculating an initial gravity-based penalty, and then apply adjustment factors to derive a penalty, consistent with the 2019 Enforcement Audit recommendation that BCDC develop a penalty calculation worksheet.  The Commissioners expressed their support for a user friendly policy for use by Staff, the Enforcement Committee and the Commission and provided direction that further details be included in the proposed policy regarding the categorization of violations resulting in minor, moderate, and major potential harm.  Likewise, the Committee provided direction that the manner in which a violation will be categorized based on the deviation from a legal requirement or the requirement of a permit term should be explained so that the regulated community can clearly understand the outcome of their violations.  The Commissioners also asked for specific details in the types of acceptable documentation that will be required when ability to pay is raised by violators as a defense and consider how this information may be impacted by confidentiality considerations.

For details on each briefing, contact Priscilla Njuguna (415-352-3640, priscilla.njuguna@bcdc.ca.gov.

The next Enforcement Committee meeting is scheduled to be held from 9:30 AM to 12:00 PM on June 24, 2020.  It is anticipated to also be an online only virtual meeting with no physical location for attendees and participants to congregate.