June 21, 2007 Commission Meeting Minutes
Approved Minutes of June 21, 2007 Commission Meeting
- Call to Order
The meeting was called to order by Chair Randolph at the MetroCenter Auditorium, 101 Eighth Street, Oakland, California at 1:14 p.m.
- Roll Call
Present were Vice Chair Halsted, Commissioners Bates (represented by Alternate Balico), Fernekes, Goldzband, Jordan Hallinan, Kniss (represented by Alternate Carruthers), Kondylis, Lai-Bitker, Lundstrom (represented by Alternate Messina), Mossar, Moy, Nelson, Peskin (represented by Alternate Owen), Thayer (represented by Alternate Kato), Wagenknecht, and Waldeck.
Not Present were: Governors Appointee (Randolph), Resources Agency (Baird), Business Transportation and Housing Agency (Bourgart), Sonoma County (Brown), Department of Finance (Finn), Speaker of the Assembly (Gibbs), Contra Costa Couty (Gioia), San Mateo County (Gordon), U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Hicks), Marin County (McGlashan), and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (Schwinn).
- Public Comment Period. There were no public comments
- Approval of Minutes of May 17, 2007 Meeting
Vice Chair Halsted entertained a motion to adopt the minutes.
MOTION: Commissioner Goldzband moved, seconded by Commissioner Balico to approve the May 17, 2007 minutes. The motion passed.
- Report of the Chair
Vice Chair Halsted provided the following update:
- Today’s Agenda. There is one change in the final agenda for today’s meeting, which is the postponement of Item #12 to be moved to the next BCDC meeting. This item is a briefing on methods the Commission can use to better incorporate scientific information into the planning and regulatory work.
- New Commissioner Members. The Commission has three new members: (1) Hercules Mayor Ed Balico has been appointed by Commissioner Bates to serve as his alternate; (2) Fremont Vice Mayor Bob Wieckowski has been appointed by Commissioner Dena Mossar to serve as her alternate; and Karen Finn has been appointed by the Department of Finance to replace Commissioner Fred Klass.
Staff has prepared a draft resolution of appreciation for Fred Klass. Vice Chair Halsted entertained a motion and second to adopt this resolution.
MOTION: Commissioner Goldzband moved, seconded by Commissioner Owen to adopt the resolution. The motion passed.
- Next BCDC Meeting. It will not be necessary to hold the regularly-scheduled BCDC meeting on July 5, 2007. Therefore, the next meeting will be on July 19, 2007 at the MetroCenter. The following matters will be taken up at that meeting:
- A public hearing and vote will be held on an application to place an electric power cable on the bottom of the Bay between Pittsburg and San Francisco.
- A public hearing and vote on an application to restore wetlands at a closed salt plant site along the shoreline of the Napa River.
- A briefing will be received on methods BCDC can use to better incorporate scientific information into its planning and regulatory work.
- A public hearing and vote on a proposed climate change action plan.
- A briefing will be received on the status of developing a plan for a Bay water trail system.
- Consideration of a report on the progress BCDC is making in carrying out its strategic plan.
- Ex-Parte Communications. In case any Commissioners have inadvertently forgotten to provide staff with a report on any written or oral ex-parte communications, Vice Chair Halsted invited them to report on them at this time. No ex-parte communications were reported.
- Report of the Executive Director
Mr. Travis provided the following report:
Personnel. Erec DeVost has been hired to serve as an intern to do GIS work. Erec has recently received a Master’s degree in geography from Chico State.
Jeff Blanchfield, BCDC’s chief Planner retired at the beginning of 2007. To replace Jeff, advertisements were placed in national planning, coastal management, and government publications. A number of extremely qualified candidates were interviewed and ultimately Joe LaClair was promoted to the position of Chief Planner.
To assist Joe LaClair, Caitlin Sweeney will take on new responsibilities as Supervising Senior Planner. In her new capacity, she will take on more management responsibilities and handle important special projects. Unless the Commission objects, these appointments will become effective immediately.
With these appointments behind us, the focus will be placed on three other key staff members that will need to be replaced. Jonathan Smith, Chief Counsel, will be retiring at the end of August; Steve McAdam, Deputy Director, will be retiring at the end of the year; and Jenn Feinberg is leaving her permit analyst post in September and moving to Santa Barbara.
The search has begun to look for a replacement for Jenn Feinberg. The process of searching for a new chief counsel and Deputy Director will begin shortly.
Commissioner Waldeck updated the Commission on the Regional Water Board. Two long-term assistant executive officers retired and the new assistant executive officers of the Board are Tom Mumley and Dyan Whyte.
- Commission Consideration of Administrative Matters
There were no administrative matters to be taken up.
- Public Hearing and Vote on Marsh Development Permit Application No. 5-05(M) from Venoco, Inc., for Natural Gas Facilities in the Suisun Marsh, Solano County. Jenn Feinberg, Coastal Program Analyst, provided the background and recommendation on this project as follows:
This item is a proposal from Venoco, Inc., to install a natural gas well pad and drill four exploratory gas wells in the primary management area of the Suisun Marsh.
This project would involve the placement of fill over a 1.03 acre area resulting in impacts to .29 acres of managed wetlands and .75 acres of upland habitat. As a result of negotiations with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the permittee will mitigate for the temporal loss of managed wetland habitat by purchasing 4.136 acres of conservation credits within the primary management area of the Suisun Marsh and within its watershed.
Staff believes the application raises two primary issues: (1) Whether the fill would be limited to as small an area as possible; and (2) whether the proposed mitigation would be sufficient to minimize impacts to marsh habitat and wildlife.
Ms. Feinberg introduced Pat Moran, Land Manager for Venoco, Inc. who provided the following presentation:
This project is in the Grizzly Island area. The proposal is to install and drill new wells on North Van Sickle Island.
Venoco, Inc. proposes to drill four new wells from one single location. If the drilling is successful the production facilities will be installed on the same single location within the primary management area of the marsh.
The purpose of this project is to help increase the energy reserves in California, off-set the reliance on import gas, and provide an energy source to provide electricity to the local area.
In the Grizzly Island area, gas has been producing for 60 plus years. It is a prolific area of natural gas production.
Venoco, Inc. is confident that it has done a successful job in working in environmentally sensitive areas and they are in this area to minimize the environmental impacts.
Venoco, Inc. would like to start the first well in the middle or end of July. The well is tested and evaluated for a period of six months or more, the reserves are estimated, and then if it is a commercial well, production equipment will be installed.
Venoco, Inc. is committed to environmental excellence. It has received awards both onshore and offshore in federal waters. It is going to cost more money to drill from a single site but Venoco will take this risk by drilling from one location.
The total area is one acre versus four acres if there were to be four individual drill sites. There is already an existing access road and pipeline and there will be very little disturbance.
The pipeline encumbrance is 36 feet long and 15 feet wide. This total disturbance amounts to .29 acres of wetlands. This is the only impact to the wetlands area that will be affected.
A restoration and mitigation program is in place. If the operation is unsuccessful the site will be brought back to its original condition. If it is successful, the purchase of conservation credits with the North Suisun Mitigation Bank is in progress. This will offset the very little wetland impact that is being encumbered. Venoco is also funding a tidal marsh restoration with Wildlands, Inc. and is purchasing some conservation acreage with the Mulberry Duck Club to offset the impact.
Commissioner Balico asked for a point of clarification. He said that 4.136 acres will be purchased. However, under mitigation it states 3.136. He asked which is the correct number. Ms. Feinberg said the applicant will be providing two separate types of mitigation. One will be within the primary management area of the Suisun Marsh and will be 3.136 acres. There is an additional one acre of mitigation that is being provided outside of the Marsh, but within the watershed of the Marsh, and this is being required in addition to the 3.136 acres by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
Mr. Moran said that Venoco, Inc. respectfully requested a straw vote on this particular project.
There were no public comments.
MOTION: Commissioner Kondylis moved, seconded by Commissioner Lai-Bitker to close the public hearing. Motion carried unanimously.
Commissioner Mossar said it was stated that there may be production facilities present if the well is producing. She asked for further clarification of what this means. Mr. Moran said in order to process the natural gas and make it marketable there are dehydration facilities that take the water out of the gas. Over time there may also be a need for a compressor. Commissioner Mossar said visuals are very important and she is disappointed there is not an example for Commissioners to see.
Commissioner Carruthers asked how many additional structures might there be. Mr. Moran referred the Commissioners to the Exhibit Production Site Plot Plan.
Commissioner Kondylis asked where the pipeline will be that it is connected into. Mr. Moran said the existing pipeline that currently carries gas would be used. There will be no new pipelines, other than the 30 feet needed to connect that site to the existing pipeline.
Commissioner Kondylis said she has never heard of the North Suisun Mitigation Bank and she asked for an explanation of what mitigation credit means. Mr. Hute said Wildlands, Inc. took an existing site and constructed new wetlands and habitat for a number of special set of species and they will be responsible for the ongoing maintenance and monitoring. The mitigation bank is to satisfy the wetland impact. The other site is addressing salt marsh harvest mouse habitat disturbance that will occur as part of the project.
Commissioner Kondylis said a couple of years ago, when the Commission first looked at drilling, there were photos taken by staff showing abandoned drilling pads and equipment that had been left behind which prompted the Commission to start this mitigation. She asked if all the old well sites had been cleaned up. Mr. Booher said clean up for the sites Venoco is responsible for has been done.
Mr. Booher said that OXY had a site that they were trying to clean up and use that as the acreage to satisfy the Corps of Engineers. Ultimately, that project went away because the property owner did not see a need to have a separate conservation easement placed upon property that was already protected. There have been less then 10 wells approved in the marsh in the last 5 to 10 years, of which, only one of them is producing. Not many of them go into production.
Commissioner Kondylis asked staff if there is an inventory of the old abandoned sites. Commissioner Goldzband said there was a rapidly growing list that the Department of Conservation Division of Oil and Gas was collecting with regard to abandoned well sites. He said staff can call Bridgett Luther, the Director of the Department of Conservation, and ask for maps of abandoned sites.
Mr. McAdam said a couple of things to keep in mind is (1) BCDC has permitted these type of drill pads in the past and each time it has required removal of the drill pads if the wells are unsuccessful. Many of the drillers want to leave the pads in place for accessibility in the future; and (2) he likes the idea of Commissioner Goldzband’s to work with the Department of Conservation to get this information to have a ready source of in marsh mitigation.
Commissioner Nelson said the application states that Venoco has retained a biological monitor to make sure that there will not be impacts to the Salt Marsh Harvest Mouse. He asked for an explanation of what the monitor will do. Mr. Hute said the vegetation will be hand removed from the entire site and a wall will be put up to keep the mice out so that when work is being done the mice will not be able to come in and out. If there are any mice on the site they will be allowed to passively leave the site.
Commissioner Nelson said, in the application the photo of the well in production suggested that after the well is drilled and comes into production, some of the fill will be removed so that the active part of the well site would be much smaller then the whole pad. As he reads the application, if it is a dry well and it is capped and never likely to be used, all of that material is removed. If the well goes into production or is capped for later production will all of the drill pad remain in tact until the well is permanently sealed? Mr. Booher said the site is one acre in size. To get four good wells, a full acre is needed in order to have enough room to move equipment around for safety purposes and to bring in a work over rig eventually to close the wells when they are no longer productive.
It should also be noted, that in the project description, it has been stipulated that a geotextile liner will be put down so it will be easier to remove fill material that is brought in.
Commissioner Mossar said she is confused as to when a well is legitimately abandoned. Mr. Moran said if wells are producing then acreage can be held with the producing wells. The determination to abandon is when it is no longer economically viable.
Commissioner Mossar said that earlier Mr. Moran stated that there were wells that Venoco had determined were not economically viable, but now that the price of natural gas has gone up, suddenly they are attractive again. It sounds to her that economic viability is an ever changing criteria. Mr. Moran said in the immediate future he does not see natural gas prices spiking enough to hold a well bar in the ground indefinitely.
Mr. Booher said in 2001 Venoco received a permit from Solano County and BCDC to shoot seismic over the entire Suisun Marsh. Geophysical data allows one to look at locations in a much more technical matter. Since the data has been acquired over the last 7 years, less then 5 wells have been drilled in the marsh. Once a well is through pumping gas, the Division of Oil and Gas and Geothermal Resources does a good job of making sure that the well is not left there.
For this project, there would be two tanks on site to handle the waster water and condensate. They are about 15 feet high, and 12 feet in diameter and they would be painted in an earthen tone.
Commissioner Mossar asked staff if they could make Exhibits C and D transparent so they could be laid one on top of the other to see what the site would look like. Mr. McAdam said the only thing left from the drilling operation to the production operation is the well heads. Everything else goes away and then new facilities are brought in to handle production and distribution.
Mr. McAdam said the way the recommendation is currently drafted, the abandonment that would lead to removal is entirely up to the applicant. The background information for this well indicates that it could be in production from 5 to 50 years. The applicant is willing to have a deadline of 25 years where the permit would require removal at that 25 year period, or the ability for the applicant to come back and say they would like to have more time. This can be added to the recommendation.
Commissioner Goldzband asked the applicant who owns the pipeline to which this project will be connected. Mr. Moran said Venoco owns the gathering line.
Commissioner Goldzband asked if Venoco has any contracts in place at this point with regard to whom the gas is going to be sold. Mr. Moran said not for the new gas but for the existing gas in the pipeline there is, however he is not sure who it is; it is either going to be Pacific Gas and Electric or another company. Commissioner Goldzband stated, for the record, that he will be recusing himself.
Commissioner Carruthers said water extraction and condensate was mentioned. He asked what the quality of it is and what becomes of it when the tank is full. Mr. Moran said if the water that is brought out of the well is not usable again it will be trucked out. If natural gas liquids are produced, condensate gas, it will be trucked out and sold separately from the natural gas.
Commissioner Balico asked who will inform the Commission if there is a two year or more period when a well has been abandoned.
Mr. Smith requested that the record reflect, that out of an abundance of caution, Commissioner Goldzband is going to recuse himself because he does not know whether he has a conflict of interest, and as such, he has left the room.
In answer to Commissioner Balico’s question, Mr. McAdam said if the Commission finds that the well is abandoned BCDC will go after the permittee. Staff can monitor the site, as much as the Commission determines it would like, in order to determine abandonment.
Commissioner Mossar asked what would happen if there is abandonment on this project and Venoco no longer exists. Mr. Travis said then, typically, they would have sold to someone else and the successor would be responsible.
Commissioner Carruthers asked if it is possible that the state process that Commissioner Goldzband referred to is an ongoing project. Mr. Travis said it could be, but he is not sure.
Staff recommends that the Commission approve the staff recommendation on BCDC Permit Application 5-05(M) for Venoco, Inc. to construct a natural gas well pad for four exploratory gas wells in the primary management area of the Suisun Marsh. The staff recommendation requires that the applicant purchase over 3 acres of mitigation credits within the primary management area of the marsh and over 1 acre of mitigation credits outside the marsh but within its watershed.
The staff recommendation also includes a number of conditions intended to insure the project will not have an adverse impact on habitats and associated wildlife at the project site, such as restricting the timing during which work at the site can occur to protect wintering and breeding water fowl and special status species, and requiring that an environmental monitor be present at the site during all drilling activities.
Finally, to insure that the site is restored to pre-project conditions, the recommendation includes conditions requiring the removal of all fill material once the well has been abandoned and replanting of the site has been done with native vegetation.
Staff would also be happy to include the new condition on abandonment, requiring that the applicant remove all of the facilities and the pad within 25 years, or come back to the Commission for additional authorization.
Commissioner Balico asked for a correction on Special Condition II F and G – the “G” should be omitted.
Commissioner Owens asked staff if, in the past, have there been permits that have conditioned and required removal of drill pads and, if so, have those conditions been met. He also asked if this applicant has been required to remove drill pads in the past. Ms. Feinberg said that natural gas permits that the Commission has issued in the past has included a requirement for them to remove the drill pad if the wells are unsuccessful or after production has been completed.
Mr. McAdam said he has had some experience visiting sites where the drill pads were and the first time it resulted in a three year enforcement problem; the second time was much better.
Mr. Moran said Venoco has not drilled any dry holes on this site and the wells that are on location at Suisun are continuing to produce. There was a company who drilled a well on Venoco’s lease. It was a dry well and they abandoned it appropriately.
Vice Chair Halsted asked the applicant if they have reviewed the staff recommendation and agree with it. Mr. Moran said Venoco agrees with the staff recommendation, along with the suggested amendment.
Vice Chair Halsted asked for a showing of hands for anyone who intends to vote against or abstain from the vote. There were no hands raised.
MOTION: Commissioner Kondylis moved, seconded by Commissioner Mossar to approve staff’s recommendation with the suggested amendment. Motion carried unanimously.
Commissioner Kondylis asked if it would be helpful to get Solano County to do more of the monitoring and coordinating and also to have some of these conditions in the County permit process. Mr. McAdam said he would be happy to share this with the County.
MOTION: Commissioner Kondylis moved, seconded by Commissioner Lai-Bitker to close the public hearing. The motion carried unanimously.
VOTE: The motion carried by a roll call vote of 15-0-0 with Commissioners Balico, Fernekes, Jordan Hallinan, Carruthers, Kondylis, Lai-Bitker, Messina, Mossar, Moy, Nelson, Owen, Kato, Wagenknecht, Waldeck, and Vice Chair Halsted voting “YES”, no “NO” votes and no abstentions.
- Public Hearing and Vote on Update of the Commission’s Shoreline Landscape Guide
Mr. Brad McCrea disseminated a copy of the updated landscape guide. He provided the following staff report and recommendation:
As part of the Commission’s Strategic Plan goal of improving internal and external communications and coordination, the staff recently completed its update to BCDC’s Shoreline Landscape Guide.
The original landscape guide was adopted in 1984. The document offered recommendations of suitable plants within development projects along the San Francisco Bay. For over two decades the document was well received by developers, design consultants, public agencies, and organizations.
Since 1984, however, new information has emerged and important trends have evolved and over time the original guide became insufficient to address the various types of projects that are routinely proposed along the shoreline.
Ellen Miramontes, who was hired as a consultant by BCDC in spring 2006 to guide the revision process for the Shoreline Plans document, is present today to answer any questions the Commission members may have. Under her leadership 9 reviewers were invited to provide their expertise. The group included biologists, botanists, landscape architects, a wetland restoration expert, and a member of the California Native Plant Society.
The new document will provide permit applicants, design consultants, and the public with specific guidance regarding shoreline planting. This guide will also serve as a useful reference for shoreline projects that are outside of the Commission’s permit jurisdiction.
There were no public comments.
MOTION: Commissioner Carruthers moved, seconded by Commissioner Mossar to close the public hearing. The motion passed unanimously.
Commissioner Carruthers said this is an excellent document and this is one of the things that makes him proud of this agency. He believes it has commercial potential and asked if BCDC has ever licensed with a commercial publisher to distribute BCDC publications. Commissioner Kondylis said she does not believe it can be published because it was produced at the public’s expense and is owned by the public. Mr. Travis said he would explore this idea.
Vice Chair Halsted said it would be good to have this document on the website. Mr. McCrea said it will be posted on BCDC’s website.
Commissioner Jordan Hallinan asked if this document could be directed to all the cities along the Bay so they can make it available to developers that are working on projects. Mr. McCrea said it can be mailed to local jurisdictions, as well as all the developers and consultants that routinely come through BCDC’s office seeking applications.
Commissioner Carruthers asked how this plan is different from the first version. Ms. Miramontes said there are 10 more plants in this new one and it explains how to plant; guiding principles on how to approach it with different types of landscapes.
Mr. McCrea said the Design Review Board created an ad hoc committee that participated in the review of the document. It was not a requirement for the Design Board to approve the document.
MOTION: Commissioner Carruthers moved, seconded by Commissioner Lai-Bitker to adopt the Shoreline Landscape Guide as presented by staff. The motion passed unanimously.
- Briefing on Management Implications of Bay Sediment Dynamics
Steve Goldbeck provided the following briefing on Bay Sediment Dynamics and Tsunamis:
BCDC oversees dredging and disposal of sediments from San Francisco Bay. It helped organized the long-term management strategy, with its sister state and federal agencies, to manage dredging disposal in the San Francisco Bay. Today Dr. David Cacchione is going to talk about the context in which this program operates, as well as the bigger picture of sediment dynamics in San Francisco Bay.
Dr. David Cacchione was introduced and provided the following presentation:
The area of Sacramento, San Joaquin Delta, and San Francisco Bay is approximately 1,600 square miles. The water coming into the system drains about 40 percent of the land area of the State of California (36 million acres). The watershed produces water for a lot of people and for many uses.
There are four major factors that we must all think about: (1) sediment and fresh water supply to the system; (2) what is happening to sea level and to the level of water in the Bay; (3) the in-Bay and in-Delta sediment dynamics; and (4) human activity. These are four things that have changed the sediment processes and dynamics in this system.
The tidal marshes and wetlands require sediment to sustain them. If they are eroding back then we need to think about how these things will behave in the future with decreased sediment input. There has been a diminution of sediment supply to the Bay, for example, since the days of hydraulic mining 70 percent of the sediment supply has been lost. It has gone from approximately 4 million cubic yards per year to 1.1 million cubic yards per year since the days of hydraulic mining. There are many reasons why we need to be concerned about this issue.
There are suspended sediment monitoring stations in the Bay established by the USGS. These monitoring stations are ongoing. They started in 1989. He noted the monitoring station at Point San Pablo and stated that the sediment load there has decreased through time, from 1993 to present, by a factor of 1 ½ to 2 times.
The water level at Fort Point has increased about 20 centimeters over 100 years. He emphasized that there are other variations in sea level, which are caused by conditions known as El Niño and La Niña. The changes over these events (approximately 4 years) are the same magnitude as the long-term rise. On top of this there are annual changes in sea level because of winds, the position of sun and the moon and their tidal effects, as well as storms. Because of all these factors there could be some very dramatic rises in sea level.
Most of the loss of land below sea level has occurred in the shallow water.
There has been a tremendous drop, a factor of 2, in the actual mud flat area in San Pablo Bay.
Geologists know that there is active sand transport in Central Bay, but they do not know where the sand is going; is the sand being re-supplied; or how much recycling of sand occurs inside the Central Bay.
There are large sand waves outside the Golden Gate, and experts are not sure which way the sand waves are going, whether they are migrating uphill into the Bay or moving out.
There is mercury-contaminated sediment from the hydraulic mining era, and there is concern about not digging a hole where this mercury-rich hydraulic mining material would be exposed.
There have been historic earthquakes that have generated local tsunamis. There have been 6 credible local earthquake or landside related tsunamis in the Bay. The important thing to realize is that there have been tsunamis in the Bay and the question is; are we prepared for the effects of a tsunami in the Bay, both for moving sediment and for moving people.
There are currently three critical modeling efforts underway: (1) “CASCADE”, which the CALFED program is using to model changes to the San Francisco Bay Delta Ecosystem using a wide range of climate change scenarios; (2) A new modeling effort is being started and funded for San Francisco Bay. Stanford and Berkley are leading this particular charge; and (3) there is a model that was produced for the study in San Pablo Bay of a proposed aquatic transfer facility to place dredged material at the Hamilton Wetlands Project that Michael MacWilliams led.
Suspended sediment monitoring in thee Bay is ongoing and there is a South Bay Salt Ponds Restoration Project, and North and South Bay marsh studies which were done by PWA. There is also bathymetry mapping and change of bathymetry analysis that is being done for the Bay.
We need to think about studies, and public awareness programs that could be done about the effects of tsunamis. This is a seismically active area and we need studies and awareness programs.
It is very important to have high resolution bathymetric maps in all areas of the Bay and Delta. We should upgrade the present network of suspended sediment monitoring stations, not just to give concentrations of suspended sediment, but we need to know what the flux of the sediment is, which way, when, and what is driving it. This would lead to a better understanding of sediment dynamics and how the Bay is changing over time.
Dr. Cacchione strongly recommended to establish long-term monitoring sites, perhaps in the tidal marsh and adjacent mud flat areas and one or two in sand shoals. There is a new instrument, a land-based fixed mounted LIDAR, that can monitor landform changes and mud flat changes over an area of about one mile and this could be used in the monitoring efforts.
Mr. Goldbeck followed up with slides on the management aspects. He noted the Commission’s mapping of the impact of potential sea level rise due to global climate change. In terms of Bay sediment dynamics, the question is what happens to the Bay’s residual marshes where we are fighting to recover endangered species in light of sea level rise. There has been a marked decrease in sediments coming into San Francisco Bay, and those sediments are what are needed to feed the marshes in order to be able to keep up with sea level rise.
We need to better understand the sediment dynamics in the system so that the Commission can understand what the impacts are of the permits it approves. It needs to be looked at on a regional basis because these processes are working on larger areas than at the level of aggregation of a single permit.
There are also tens of thousands of acres of tidal marsh being restored in the Bay.
The waters coming into the Bay drain about one third of the State of California and drain through the Delta. Management actions taken in the Delta impact the Bay because that is where a lot of the sediments come into San Francisco Bay. The approach needed is a regional sediment management approach and the involvement of other appropriate state and federal agencies are needed.
It is important to understand and manage the entire system, otherwise the system will manage us.
Commissioner Moy said he had the pleasure of serving on the Site and Safety Commission immediately after the killer tsunami a number of years ago. The measures that were recommended from the Site and Safety Commission were to have postings of “Go to higher ground and save your life”.
As far as the Bay goes, it was thought that if there is an earthquake nearby, or even out in the Pacific, the sudden surge in rise would be one foot and would not require postings of such signage to save human life in those situations. He clarified that in that finding a maximum of one foot rise in a tsunami would be maximum no matter where the earthquake would occur in the Bay.
Dr. Cacchione said if the one to two feet rise were to happen during perigean (maximum) tides that could actually matter quite a bit. Commissioner Moy said if we were to recommend an action, the low lying coastal areas of California have more vulnerable spots than the Bay.
Dr. Cacchione said the USGS has some experts that have been called in to assess the tsunami threat and damage off Chile and Peru, and they have a modeler who can model different scenarios. He said it might be interesting to see if this modeler might have something to say about tsunamis in the Bay.
Commissioner Carruthers said relative to the cumulative affects, 30 years ago in the South Bay there was a major flooding incident because of the combination of high tide and the south wind blowing the water so that it built up in the South Bay, and in conjunction with heavy run-off from the mountains around the watershed caused the major flooding. These three effects overcome the flood protection system. If you added a tsunami to that it would be a major impact.
Commissioner Carruthers said there is recurrent talk about the peripheral canal as a method for solving some of the State’s water dynamics. He asked if there was insight as to what the effect of this might be on sediment dynamics in the Bay. Dr. Cacchione said the answer is that we really do not know, and it would depend on how it is done. There are ways of accommodating things like this, but we do not know at this time what the effect on Bay sediment dynamics would be due to that canal.
Commissioner Carruthers asked who the usual suspects would be if such a program were to be carried out. Dr. Cacchione said there are groups in the USGS in both the geological and water resources branches. There are also people at Berkeley, and Stanford, and consultants, such as Phil Williams and Associates.
Mr. Goldbeck said there is good work being done but it is his belief that USGS, Berkeley, Stanford, and the other good research institutions should redouble efforts on the Bay because there really is not adequate focus on the management issues we have now.
In terms of funding, the Ocean Protection Council just funded one of these modeling efforts, as well as allocating money for addressing shoreline erosion.
- Briefing on the Subtidal Habitat Goals Project. Ms. Caitlin Sweeney provided the following briefing:
The idea of initiating a subtidal goals project for the Bay began soon after the Baylands Ecosystem Habitat Goals Report was published in 1999. The Baylands Goals document provided recommendations for the types, amounts and distribution of wetland habitats in the Bay, but it did not focus on the subtidal areas.
In 2000, the Commission’s staff determined that a need existed to develop policies for the subtidal areas of the Bay. As a first step towards gathering information, NOAA and BCDC convened a Science Panel to discuss data needs and subtidal management concerns. The Panel concluded that a long-term management vision for the Bay’s subtidal areas was needed.
BCDC staff completed development of the new subtidal area section of the Bay Plan in 2002. Between 2002 and 2005, BCDC and NOAA continued to work towards the idea of developing a subtidal habitat goals plan, spending time making presentations to various organizations, and generally gathering support for the project. Their persistence finally paid off. In 2006 the Subtidal Habitat Goals Project was officially launched.
In essence, the Subtidal Habitat Goals Project is a collaborative interagency effort to establish a comprehensive and long-term vision for research, restoration, protection, and management of the subtidal system of the Bay.
Four primary entities serve as the Administrative Core Group for the project: NOAA, the State Coastal Conservancy, the San Francisco Estuary project, and BCDC.
There is also an Executive Steering Committee consisting of key managers from federal and state agencies to provide direction, commit resources, and provide support for the development of the project.
The Subtidal Goals Project also consists of three working committees: The Science Working Committee, the Restoration Working Committee, and the Resource Managers Working Committee.
The Subtidal Goals Project is designed to be transparent and open to the public for review and comment.
The Subtidal Goals Project will provide guidance to managers, scientists, commercial interests, and a multitude of other user groups. The resulting document will provide important information on what is known and what is not known about subtidal habitats. It will provide goals for future research needs, restoration and enhancement, and protection by specific geographic area, and/or by specific habitat type Bay-wide, and goals for management measures to reduce adverse impacts on habitats.
The information will be accessible in a variety of formats: websites, maps, and hard copy documents. For BCDC specifically, it is anticipated that the Project will lead to revisions to the Bay Plan to reflect the most recent scientific information and subtidal habitats, and to advance implementation of the resulting habitat goals where appropriate.
Process by which the goals will be developed is a four part process: (1) gathering information; (2)identifying needs; (3) using the needs to develop strategies; and (4) developing the goals.
Over the last year NOAA Fisheries has completed a draft of a subtidal habitat assessment. This comprehensive document was developed to describe what is currently known about subtidal habitats in the Bay. This assessment will be published later this year.
The Science Workgroup has been very active and has made much progress towards achieving the goals of identifying habitat types and species. Currently, each habitat is being analyzed to identify existing distribution and abundance and to identify desired abundance. By using key functions and attributes, the existing and desired condition of each habitat is being analyzed.
All the workgroups are currently involved in evaluating impacts to habitats.
As part of the process the workgroups are thinking about the development of a conceptual model to assist the working committees.
To date over $460,000 has been received from a variety of sources. The bulk of the budget is allocated to the development of the goals, including funds for document writing, layout and production, and two professional science writers have been hired.
There is a tremendous amount of agency staff and volunteer time that is going into this project.
BCDC was recently selected as the fellowship host for the 2007 NOAA Coastal Management Fellowship Program. Dan Robinson will be joining BCDC, for two years, beginning in August to promote effective and collaborative ecosystem based management for the Bay. Part of his work will directly benefit the Subtidal Goals Project.
NOAA is assisting the Project with the design of the final products in an effort to provide project information to a variety of users in a variety of ways.
In 2006, with the development of the inter-agency partnerships, and the dedication of resources, this project has really taken off. The project is estimated to be completed by December 2008.
There were no public comments.
Commissioner Carruthers said this is another project that makes him proud of BCDC. He said that the work that was done earlier aroused certain stakeholders into a flurry of concern. He asked how they are being dealt with now as this work progresses. Ms. Sweeney said the process is being made as transparent as possible. Everyone is invited to the table to participate actively in the meetings. Public comment is made available to all the working committee members and public.
Commissioner Carruthers asked if there are commercial interests, other than the sand miners. Ms. Sweeney said she anticipates working with a variety of commercial interests as the project moves forward.
Mr. Travis mentioned that much of the funding for this project comes from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. While NOAA, as an institution, is about 35 to 40 years old, they actually date their history back to 1807 when President Jefferson recognized the need to chart the coast. They are celebrating their 200th anniversary this year, and in coordination with the Smithsonian Institute, they are rolling out an exhibit called “From Sea to Shining Sea. Two Hundred Years of Charting America’s Coasts”. It is being previewed in San Francisco tonight at the Aquarium of the Bay. NOAA has extended an invitation to each of the Commission members.
- Briefing on Mechanisms for Integrating Scientific Information into the Commission’s Processes
This item was postponed to July 19, 2007.
- Briefing from Metropolitan Transportation Commission Staff Regarding Transit-Oriented Development Policy
Mr. James Corless, Senior Planner at the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, provided the following briefing:
The region, through MTC, has a commitment not just in sustaining our existing public transit system, but also for expansions and upgrades throughout the region.
It was noted that the new stations do not perform as well as existing stations because MTC had not sought land use changes (Transit Oriented Development) as much as they should have.
They have looked at putting a combination of parking, housing, and retail around the stations because the ridership with TOD is significantly higher.
Parking will be a major component in a lot of the suburban commuter stations, and a major component at some of the ferry terminals, but it cannot be the only component.
MTC’s interest is both about ridership and larger commitments to smart growth and sustainability, and climate change. MTC does not have land use authority but it does have money to fund a lot of the expansions.
Two years ago the Metropolitan Transportation Commission adopted a Transit Oriented Development Policy for the new extensions, expansions, and enhancement of transit service. There were three elements to the Policy: (1) minimum thresholds for planned housing around the corridors; (2) a requirement for corridor working groups for the cities and the transit agency to get together and work through the policy to understand how different stations would function differently; and (3) a commitment to fund the station area plans in order for the cities to do the planning that it needs to realize the key components.
MTC developed a policy that required higher densities around more capital intensive projects. Treasure Island is not part of MTC’s regional funding program and it is now going to be privately funded. Ferry terminals are unique for many reasons, one of which is, the many conflicts that exist on the shoreline including industrial uses and ports.
Hercules has gotten a capitol corridor station and ferry terminal. The train will stop right where the ferry will come in and it will be part of that focal point of the water front development in Hercules.
Treasure Island is a fascinating example. Ten thousand people are what are needed to support any kind of a larger format grocery store. The original plan for Treasure Island redevelopment had 2,800 housing units spread throughout the Island. The new revised plan for Treasure Island is 6,000 housing units, two thirds of those would be within a 10 minute walk of the ferry terminal. Treasure Island can actually start to support itself and is dropping out of the request for funding from MTC.
With this type of density it can support some retail, entertainment, some civic uses and actually become a true transit village.
The ferry terminals will be treated on a case-by-case basis. Where development can occur, the minimum goal ought to be 2,500 housing units. If the 2,500 housing units cannot be done, MTC would like to see, and they will fund, an alternative access plan.
They would like to see how, through shuttles, buses, and bikes people can get to the ferries to boost the ridership.
This policy will go before the MTC Planning Committee on Friday, September 14, 2007.
There were no questions from the public.
Commissioner Carruthers asked if the goals and policies are controversial. Mr. Corless said this was the first region in the U.S. that actually voted to tie its transportation money to local land use outcomes. It is controversial primarily in smaller but faster growing suburban areas, such as East Contra Costa County and some of the North Bay, where they do not feel they can develop as much of that kind of density to support those kinds of transit services.
Commissioner Nelson asked how MTC is beginning to incorporate the carbon footprint of ferries. His second question was how the planning process regarding ferries is incorporating issues that are within BCDC’s jurisdiction, shoreline development, dredging, etc. Mr. Corless said in terms of AB32, the region is embarking on its next regional transportation plan and for the first time it has actually started with land use. MTC has developed, with ABAG, a land use vision for the region based on a lot of local efforts. A very important change is to hang the transportation projects and investments off the land use.
Secondly, there will be very aggressive targets, one of which is the AB32 reduction to CO2 levels to 1990 levels by 2020.
MTC does not think that any level of transportation investment will get them to the AB32 levels. It will take land use, pricing of the transportation system, congestion, hot lanes, toll lanes, etc.
MTC has had a great working relationship with BCDC staff and has engaged them on each of the planning processes that are occurring around each of the ferry terminals. It has been very helpful because he does not know all the shoreline regulations, concerns and constraints, but BCDC staff does.
Mr. Travis said MTC is providing BCDC with financial assistance so BCDC can assist MTC in the planning for the ferry terminals. He is very bullish on the notion of Transit Oriented Development around ferry terminals because much of the objection to Transit Oriented Development comes because the existing transit stations along the rail corridors are in single family neighborhoods.
There are areas along the shoreline where there are opportunity sites that do not have that built in political opposition, and a new town/community can be created around those terminals.
Commissioner Balico said the city of Hercules is a 7 year project that is embraced by everyone. This is the first smart growth type of development in the State of California. The density around the development is approximately 50 per acre and this is the density that should be looked at when trying to create a TOD. The ferry system will be the best way to issue land use development.
Commissioner Jordan Hallinan said the whole idea of the TOD seems to be to reduce congestion, but in fact in building the high density areas, resources are being strained even more. Mr. Corless said the difficult question is what would have happened otherwise, not what it was like 5 years ago before the development came. The biggest increase in the commutes is over the Altamont Pass, 101 from Monterey, Mendocino and north. These folks who cannot find places to live, are now going to the affordable housing, which is in the central valley and outside the region.
This will not be perfect. Not everybody wants to live in a condo or near a ferry terminal but there is a growing market segment for which it will work. They will not live car free entirely either. In some TOD studies it is shown that people put many fewer miles on the road on a per capita basis.
Commissioner Kondylis said it seems to her that if you can keep somebody from not getting in their car and driving 2 miles to the dry cleaner it would help. She asked if any thought had been given to design the terminals so that these kinds of everyday things are available so extra trips are not needed? Mr. Corless said MTC typically leaves this up to the city and the city has to be cognizant of the market. The critical mass is to have the people, housing, infill, and density to drive the services.
- Consideration of Strategic Plan Status Report
Mr. Travis noted that the monthly report shows that there are no changes necessary. Agenda Item No. 8 from today’s meeting, Scientific Input, has been put over to the next meeting. No changes are needed.
- New Business
There was no new business.
- Old Business
There was no old business.
Upon motion by Commissioner Goldzband, seconded by Commissioner Kondylis, the meeting adjourned at 3:53 p.m.
Approved, as corrected, at the San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission Meeting of July 19, 2007
R. SEAN RANDOLPH, Chair