July 19, 2007 Commission Meeting Minutes

Approved Minutes of July 19, 2007 Commission Meeting

  1. Call to Order. The meeting was called to order by Chair Randolph at the MetroCenter Auditorium, 101 Eighth Street, Oakland, California at 1:10 p.m.
  2. Roll Call. Present were Chair Randolph, Vice Chair Halsted, Commissioners Baird (represented by Alternate Potter), Bates, Bourgart, Fernekes, Goldzband, Kniss (represented by Alternate Carruthers), Kondylis, Lai-Bitker, Lundstrom, McGlashan, Mossar, Moy, Nelson, Peskin (represented by Alternate Owen), Wagenknecht, and Waldeck. Also in attendance Legislative member Charles Taylor.
    Not Present were: 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), Governors Appointee (Jordan Hallinan), U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (Schwinn) and State Lands Commission (Thayer).
  3. Public Comment Period. There were no public comments
  4. Approval of Minutes of June 21, 2007 Meeting. Chair Randolph entertained a motion to adopt the minutes.

    MOTION: Commissioner Carruthers moved, seconded by Commissioner Lai-Bitker to approve the June 21, 2007 minutes. The motion passed with one abstention.

  5. Report of the Chair. Chair Randolph provided the following update:

    1. New Commissioner Member. Senator Elaine Alquist, who serves as one of the non-voting representatives of the California Legislature on BCDC, has appointed Charles Taylor as her alternate on BCDC. Mr. Taylor replaces Mary Ann Ruiz. Staff has prepared a draft resolution of appreciation for Mary Ann Ruiz for her service on the Commission. Chair Randolph welcomed a motion and second to adopt the resolution.

      MOTION: Commissioner Carruthers moved, seconded by Commissioner Fernekes to adopt the resolution. The motion passed unanimously.

    2. Next BCDC Meeting. The next BCDC meeting will be held on August 2nd at the Ferry Building in San Francisco and the following matters will be taken up:
      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 will be held on an application to construct a residential development along the shoreline in Benicia.

      Consideration will be given on whether or not to take position on a few bills that are pending in the Legislature.

    3. Ex-Parte Communications. In case any Commissioners have inadvertently forgotten to provide staff with a report on any written or oral ex-parte communications, Chair Randolph invited them to report on them at this time. There were no ex-parte communications noted.
  6. Report of the Executive Director. Mr. Travis provided the following report:
    1. Permit Statistics. During the first half of 2007, BCDC received 70 permit applications for permits, amendments and other regulatory actions. BCDC has 30 days to determine whether each application is fully complete and can be legally filed. On average, it has taken staff 17 days to complete this initial review and an average of 21 days to issue the permit once the application has been completed. Although the law provides BCDC with 120 days to complete this process, BCDC has completed them on an average of 38 days. To date, this year, three major permits have been issued, 10 administrative permits, five region-wide permits, 17 amendments, two federal consistency determinations, and three emergency permits. There are 30 applications pending.
    2. Regional Meeting. On Friday, October 26th, the Association of Bay Area Governments will be joining with the Metropolitan Transportation Commission to hold a joint ABAG General Assembly and an MTC Transportation Planning Forum. In recognition of BCDC’s regional partnership with ABAG and MTC, BCDC and the Regional Air Quality Management District have been invited to join as sponsors of this forum. The forum will focus on a series of policy questions related to transportation and land use priorities. As a sponsor, BCDC will not have any financial obligations, but sponsorship will ensure that BCDC members will be able to participate in the conference. Therefore, unless the Board directs otherwise, Mr. Travis will confirm that BCDC is willing to be recognized as a sponsor of this important regional forum. Commissioners are invited to attend. The conference will be held at Oakland Marriott City Center from 9 a.m. until 2 p.m.

      Commissioner Bates said according to his calendar there is also a Regional Airport Planning Commission meeting scheduled the same morning as this conference. Mr. Travis said that the Regional Airport Planning Commission will not be meeting on October 26th and he will note this change.

    3. Vacation. Mr. Travis advised the Commission that he will be on vacation next week (7/23-7/27) and Steve McAdam will be serving as acting executive director while he is away.
  7. Commission Consideration of Administrative Matters. Commissioner Bates said there was a question of concern about a permit for the Golden Gate fields and asked if it had gone through. Mr. McAdam said this project is on the listing today. This project is for the resurfacing of the track itself and staff finds no problems with it.

  8. Public Hearing and Vote on a Climate Change Action Plan. This is a public hearing and vote on a plan for addressing the impacts of climate change. Leslie Lacko presented the staff’s report and provided the following information:
    The Climate Change Action Plan will enable BCDC to address the Bay-related impacts of climate change, including sea level rise, increased storm activity, and changes in fresh water inflow, all of which will affect biota, habitat, public access, and shoreline development.

    The Climate Change Action Plan was developed with three overarching goals: (1) to employ the full range of BCDC’s planning, regulatory and administrative authorities to address climate change issues; (2) to produce a sustainable regional response that includes specific adaptation measures; and (3) to maximize BCDC’s effectiveness and efficiency in addressing climate change issues through partnerships and collaboration with other organizations.

    BCDC currently has two major climate change efforts underway. The first is an update to the San Francisco Bay Plan policies pertaining to climate change, and the second is, in partnership with the Joint Policy Committee, BCDC is working on a regional strategy for climate change. It will go before the JPC on Friday, July 20, 2007.

    Under the first climate change action plan goal of employing a full range of BCDC’s authorities, the staff proposes to coordinate the Commission’s existing efforts through an intra-agency task force, and eventually, under a climate change program.

    Other actions proposed under the first goal include: (1) incorporating recommendations for compliance with AB32 and the BCDC’s comments on CEQA documents; (2) developing public access design solutions; (3) providing assistance to local governments; (4) revising the limits of BCDC’s authority by pursuing new Legislation; and (5) seeking additional funding for data acquisition and scientific research.

    The second action plan goal is focused on continuing and expanding BCDC’s regional approach to addressing climate change, by participating in the Delta Vision Process, not just as an interested party, but as part of the Committee of State Agencies, by developing an estuary-wide plan to address climate change which includes adaptation and mitigation, and by incorporating shoreline adaptation strategies into transportation planning.

    The third action plan goal is focused on expanding the partnerships that BCDC is already developing. For example, the BCDC staff already participates on the California Action Team Scenarios Committee to identify research and funding needs for the 2008 report to the Governor, and through this effort funding has been secured for two important studies on sea level rise; a hydrodynamic analysis, and a socioeconomic assessment of the impacts.

    Staff believes that a state and JPC partnership could bring additional resources to the efforts of the Bay Area Climate Team.

    In addition, BCDC should expand its collaborative working relationship with NOAA’s coastal states organization and climate program office in order to bring more focus and resources to the San Francisco Bay shoreline and associated management issues.

    Some inquiry calls have been received about why the action plan is so focused on adaptation rather than mitigation or reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Ms. Lacko said the inquiries bring BCDC back to a 20-year old debate within the climate change realm, which is the discussion between mitigation and adaptation. Perhaps if the planet had been listening 20 years ago, and actively pursued mitigation there would be little discussion about adaptation today. But the planet did not, which is not to say it is too late.

    The credible and, frankly, conservative scientific analysis now shows that the planet will experience 1 to 3 degrees of warming no matter how drastically we mitigate emissions.

    Research also shows that the cost of failing to adapt could greatly exceed the costs of integrating adaptation into our planning processes now. Adapting to climate should not, and will not, take away the necessity of reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Mitigation is still necessary and still the central focus of the state and the region. However, it is foolhardy to develop mitigation strategies now, that may have to be changed later because we failed to anticipate sea level rise and storm activity.

    Mitigation and adaptation are both necessary for climate protection. Through BCDC’s partnership with the JPC and the State Climate Action Team those agencies are being involved who have authority over emissions reductions in the planning processes.

    David Lewis, Executive Director of Save the Bay, said he is grateful that BCDC has stepped up and taken this leadership role on this urgent issue. BCDC is being proactive in developing an action plan to guide the Commission’s work. They are convening other agencies to collaborate and pushing for greater attention to shoreline impacts, including sea level rise, and this is commendable.

    Mr. Lewis made the following suggestions: (1) BCDC, and every state agency, should aggressively pursue the State of California’s official policies and goals for greenhouse reductions in California. In addition to highlighting the need for adaptation to sea level rise, the Action Plan can be more assertive in reducing global warming and its impacts on the Bay where it can.

    Adaptation and prevention is no longer a dichotomy. Because BCDC has now attained a prominence and visibility on this issue it is more important, that at a minimum, BCDC’s language also reflect the importance of this prevention goal.

    BCDC also has within its existing authority some ability to shape projects and policies that come before it to reflect that need for prevention: (1) BCDC has tools to shape what a permit finally looks like when it comes to them; (2) to the extent that BCDC feels like it is constrained in its authority from doing what is being suggested, then the action plan should call out that this is one of the reasons why additional authority may have to be sought.

    Mr. Lewis said he would be happy to work with the staff in flushing these things out.

    Arthur Feinstein, said he will be speaking first as Chair of the San Francisco Bay Joint Venture. He expressed his appreciation for BCDC taking the lead in the Bay Area and addressing climate change and sea level rise.

    Mr. Feinstein also sits on the Board of the Citizens Committee to Complete the Refuge. He asked BCDC to look closely at extending its authority. As sea level rise moves up, the undeveloped lands along the shoreline will become ever more important. If there are no plans for the undeveloped lands to stay open, habitat will be lost and there will be significant affects on the Bay.

    MOTION: Commissioner Kondylis moved, seconded by Commissioner Carruthers to close the public hearing. Motion carried unanimously.

    Chair Randolph said there are a few references to “The California Ocean Protection Council” and he asked what this group is. Ms. Lacko said the California Ocean Protection Council was created under Governor Schwarzenegger as a funding organization for ocean related research. Recently this organization has approved their new strategic plan. In their strategic plan is a goal to address sea level rise and they have been trying to identify research needs.

    Commissioner Potter said California Ocean Protection Council is chaired by the Secretary for Resources, and on the Council sits the Secretary for Cal EPA, the Chair of the State Lands Commission, a member of the Assembly and Senate, and two public members. The funding they are administering is coming out of the recent bond acts.

    Chair Randolph noted that in Action Item 2, it states that BCDC should develop an inter-agency climate change task force. He asked how this differs from the State Climate Action Team or the Joint Planning Committee. Ms. Lacko said this would be an interior agency task force where BCDC staff, each who represent the different divisions within the Agency would meet.

    Chair Randolph said in Goal 1, Action #4 where public access is talked about what would be the sequence and the timeframe; how much of this activity would be anticipatory planning for scenarios that may actually begin to impact us at some uncertain time in the future, and how much is aimed at actual regulatory or administrative changes that would be implemented more immediately.

    Ms. Lacko said it is important with climate change to take both a long-term and short-term look. There are some actions in the Plan that are more long-term, i.e., developing an estuary-wide plan. And then there are actions that can be taken up now under BCDC’s existing authority to plan for sea level rise. The increase in storm activity is projected to happen sooner, so it makes sense to address storm, wave, and flooding issues that will happen in the next 50 years.
    Mr. Travis said it does not make sense to move everything up to where we think the shoreline will be in 100 years, rather, it is how do you design something so that it can either be inundated occasionally, moved easily, or float, etc. BCDC will be working with the design and planning professionals to come up with different techniques that can be used.

    Commissioner Kondylis asked if BCDC can look into requiring consideration of carbon footprints which contribute to climate change. Mr. Travis said if the law is applied conservatively agencies are limited in their authority. The challenge is, for instance, if someone proposes to put in a subdivision in one of the areas that BCDC thinks will be inundated by 2100, none of the four regional agencies has the authority to say they cannot build there.

    Currently, the focus is on education in bringing this problem to the awareness of the community in the Bay Area and working through partners and with local governments. It is hoped that as local governments become aware of the problems they will better deal with this issue.

    Ms. Lacko said the two studies that will be funded through the California Climate Action Team, will be taking the digital surface model that BCDC used to make the maps, and make further analysis in order to have clear projections for San Francisco Bay. The other study will build off of this information and do a socioeconomic analysis. The studies are due to be complete by September 2008.
    Mr. Travis mentioned that the data BCDC is using comes from the Inter-Governmental Panel on Climate Change U.N. which will then be downscaled by the California Climate Change Action Team.

    Chair Randolph asked about Action Item 3, Goal 1 where it makes reference that BCDC should recommend compliance with AB32 and then further down it refers to CEQA. He asked Ms. Lacko to advise the Commission more about the Attorney General’s interpretation. Ms. Lacko said the interpretation is controversial because there is no baseline established for emissions. The Attorney General’s office is commenting that any drop in the pool, any greenhouse gas emission, is a cumulative impact and so it must be analyzed. This is an aggressive stance and they are anticipating court challenges.

    Attorney Reynolds said she is not aware of any specific guidelines that the Attorney General has done, therefore she has nothing to provide the Commission that would stipulate how CEQA fits in with AB32. The Attorney General has done comment letters on CEQA documents. She could provide these letters to any interested Commissioners.

    Commissioner Bates said everyone is moving to try to determine what the Attorney General is looking for and what the standards should be.

    Commissioner Bourgart commended the staff for this comprehensive document. He recommended removing the last sentence of Action #3, Goal 1 (page 3) that begins with, “To assure that these comments are constructive . . .” He would like to have a full discussion by experts, i.e., Attorney General, Counsel for various local agencies who have been subject to the comments, etc. before he votes on this Plan.

    Commissioner Mossar said her concern is that people, governments, and organizations will continue in a business-as-usual sense thinking someone will solve the problem later. She asked if BCDC, in an effort to raise local jurisdictions’ awareness, could develop a series of model ordinances. Ms. Lacko said the answer is yes. On page 4, Action 4 of the Plan it captures this by providing assistance to local governments. In the policy update there are some adaptation strategies being applied. BCDC is far away from having a model ordinance, and staff is not even sure that having a model ordinance is the right thing for shoreline management.

    Commissioner Mossar said she is not seeing language in the Plan that states BCDC is committed to taking the next step – language that says, “This is not all we are going to do”. To her the Plan implies that BCDC is going to be nice neighbors and work with everyone, but let other people figure out the details.

    Mr. Travis said this is not the intention. The approach that BCDC is looking at is to work with other agencies in developing a body of information. Commissioner Mossar asked if there could be a statement that would recognize what BCDC’s intention is regarding being involved in these endeavors. Mr. Travis said maybe the best thing he can do, is to work through ABAG, and have all 26 local governments in the Bay Area invite him in to present his PowerPoint presentation.
    Commissioner McGlashan said that the mere fact that BCDC published the maps a few months ago has had a significant effect on the Marin County-wide General Plan Update.

    Commissioner McGlashan suggested adding a sentence to the Action Item #5 on page 4 which reads: “By using interactions with local governments, we should work to provide more detailed direction over time directly from BCDC.”

    Commissioner Carruthers said this Plan is a beginning piece of work and not the final product. He would like to see, at some point, where BCDC acknowledges the limitations of its scope. He said he feels a little uneasy about adding wording in this document that would say BCDC is going to give direction to local government.

    Commissioner Lundstrom said she looks at this as an Action Plan. She suggested that staff whittle down the list to short, medium, and long range next step plans. It was suggested to re-visit this Plan one year from now.

    Commissioner Halsted reiterated that the recommendation on the agenda for the Joint Policy Committee meeting is that the Climate Protection Team, together with staff from existing regional technical assistance programs, explore systems needs in detail with local governments and other relevant clients, and develop a consolidated regional assistance program which meets collective needs.

    Mr. Travis said this Plan will be provided as background material for the next BCDC workshop on strategic planning. Commissioners can decide then how it wants to handle this item as part of its strategic planning.

    MOTION: Commissioner Bates moved, seconded by Commissioner McGlashan to approve staff’s recommendation with the suggested change in wording “giving direction to local government”.

    Commissioner Bourgart asked the maker of the motion to consider an amendment to the motion. On page 3, Goal 1, Action Item #3, eliminate the phrase “in a manner consistent with the Attorney General’s interpretation of AB32 requirements in relation to CEQA.” The maker of the motion, Commissioner Bates, denied the amendment to his motion.

    Commissioner McGlashan said there are two unanswered questions: (1) if BCDC agreed to Mr. Lewis’s request how would it affect the way the Work Plan would work; and (2) get someone from the Attorney General’s Office to work with BCDC’s legal team to see how to deal with this issue.

    Commissioner McGlashan said these are two things that could be left open until staff can review them and report back to the Commission in two months.

    Maker of the motion, Commissioner Bates, said he would be willing to incorporate this into the motion.

    Mr. Travis asked the commission to allow staff to incorporate an assessment of this item in the background material for the strategic planning workshop in October. Commissioner Bates agreed to the October update.

    Mr. Travis suggested eliminating the language “in a manner consistent with the Attorney General’s interpretation of AB32 requirements in relation to CEQA” as requested by Commissioner Bourgart. Commissioner McGlashan said he would prefer to keep the language in the Plan until October when there can be a good discussion around this item.

    Commissioner Mossar said she would also like to leave the language in as recommended by staff.

    Commissioner Bates asked for a straw vote.

    Chair Randolph asked Commissioner Bourgart if he would be more comfortable if the word “consistent” were changed to “consultation”. Commissioner Bourgart said this would be acceptable. Commissioners Bates and McGlashan agreed to this amendment as well.

    Chair Randolph clarified that the motion is being moved as amended with Commissioner McGlashan’s recommendation and with the change of phrasing regarding the Attorney General’s office, and staff will provide background information and a progress report as part of the strategic planning workshop. Motion carried unanimously.

    MOTION: Commissioner Kondylis moved, seconded by Commissioner Carruthers to close the public hearing. The motion passed unanimously.

    VOTE: The motion carried with a roll call vote of 18-0-0 with Commissioners Potter, Bates, Bourgart, Fernekes, Goldzband, Carruthers, Kondylis, Lai-Bitker, Lundstrom, McGlashan, Mossar, Moy, Nelson, Owen, Wagenknecht, Waldeck, Vice Chair Halsted and Chair Randolph voting “YES”, no “NO” votes and no abstentions.

  9. Briefing on the Draft Water Trail Plan. Chair Randolph said that Item #9 is a briefing on the draft of a Bay Area Water Trail Plan. Ms. Sara Polgar presented the staff report as follows:

    This project began with the passage of AB1296, which was adopted into law in September 2005, and incorporated into BCDC’s enabling legislation. BCDC was appointed the lead for planning the water trail in cooperation with the Coastal Conservancy and the Association of Bay Area Governments, as well as other agencies, non-profits, and other interested and appropriate parties.

    It directed BCDC to submit a plan for the water trail to the Legislature by January 2008.

    The implementation recommendations that are in the draft plan were developed based on the information and guidance from the Steering Committee meetings, as well as other issue focus workshops, etc.

    Going forward the Conservancy will be initiating the environmental review of the plan. A finalized plan will go to the State Legislature in January. Kick-off for the implementation of the water trail will be less than one year from now.

    The first half of the Plan introduces the water trail vision, potential benefits from the trail, background information, and some overarching principles that guide recommendations made in the rest of the trail plan.

    The second half of the Plan has the core recommendations.

    The water trail vision is a network of launch and landing sites (trail heads) that enable people in human powered boats and beachable sale craft to enjoy the natural, cultural, and scenic richness of San Francisco Bay through point-to-point trips, including both single and multi-day trips.

    The Plan also defines the target trail user groups which are non-motorized small boats.

    The trail will need to improve existing access and create new access that is better suited to the diverse needs of the trail user groups identified previously.
    The Trail Development and Management will address potential impacts due to trail use that might lead to disturbance of sensitive wildlife or Bay habitats.

    The trail project will improve safety on the Bay for trail users through education and outreach.

    The education outreach and stewardship is a primary need that the trail fulfills, both in promoting opportunities for point-to-point excursions on the Bay, as well as in educating trail users about boating in a manner that protects wildlife and habitat, promotes safety and encourages stewardship of San Francisco Bay.

    The Plan also recommends an organizational model for the trail. This management structure is still being discussed, but what is envisioned at this point, is a core project management team of agency staff led by the Conservancy with a close circle of committed Advisory Committee members to provide expertise.

    The Plan identifies a set of existing and planned access points as a water trail backbone. These are sites with the potential to be designated as trail heads. Additionally the Plan identifies a subset of these backbone sites as high opportunity sites. These are existing access points that require no access improvements and do not have significant safety wildlife or other concerns. The plan recommends that implementation efforts focus on these high opportunity sites first.

    The Plan recommends a process for fully designating an access site as a trail head that involves review by the Advisory Committee and ultimately a decision by the Project Management Team.

    Penny Wells, President of Bay Access, said she is quite happy with the way this Plan has turned out and she is supportive of it. She said because of Will Travis’s unwavering support we are here today talking about this. Commissioner Bates’s wife introduced the Legislation that created this project. BCDC staff has worked very hard on this Plan, particularly Sara. She thanked everyone for their support.

    This Plan will not only guide and direct the implementation of the water trail, but she is hopeful that it will resonate with people and inspire the end-users of the trail and the Legislature to help fund it.

    Jim McGrath said his perspective comes from his different roles and experience. He is President of the U.S. Windsurfing, Vice President of San Francisco Boat Sailors Association, on the Board of Bay Access, and serves as President of the Berkeley Waterfront Commission. He has concerns, both about the stewardship concept and about the balance in the Plan.

    During the stakeholder meetings for this project he sometimes heard fairly minor impact described as significant.

    Kayaks represent the slow 2 percent of the boats that are on the Bay. There is an area of about 50 feet around his kayak that does disturb about one millionth of the Bay. If there were 200 kayaks in the Bay they would not disturb 1 percent of the surface of the Bay. The idea that kayaks will threaten the population to rafting birds on the Bay strains his credibility.

    In creating stewardship you create a sense of wonder. He took his students out on the Bay and they walked away from the trip with an understanding of the Bay and its wonders, its mysteries, and the importance to preserve and restore it. In order to create stewardship you need to create a broader vision. He asked that stewardship be a goal.

    Arthur Feinstein said there is some concern in his community and that is why the Bill included language that added a protection element for wildlife. In an average day, the diving duck spends 10 percent of its time preening, 25 percent of its time feeding, 56 percent of the time it is resting to conserve energy, and 11 percent of its time on discretionary movement because that takes calories and they have to replace it with food, which takes energy too. These scamp scoters have suffered up to 70 to 80 percent declines nationwide. Scientists of the U.S. Geological Survey are concerned that the decline could be caused by disturbance.

    Kayaks have an impact. There is an energy constraint on these birds and a disturbance makes a difference.

    The trouble he has with the document is that there should be monitoring at every site. Money should not only be spent on signage, but on monitoring and enforcement.

    Barbara Salzman, representing the Marin Audubon Society, said the very presence of people to many species of wildlife makes them flush, leave, and move.

    More people will be attracted to the Bay through the educational and stewardship program which means increasing impacts to the many species of wildlife that depend on the Bay.

    Her 30 years of experience shows that some people do not get the message either because they do not care about the message; they won’t or can’t read the signs, or whatever other reasons. Enforcement has been a great concern to her and it is not clearly defined. The enforcement appears to rely primarily on stewardship and education or local governments. She believes more work needs to be done in this area.

    It is unclear how the stakeholder group will be called upon to participate and at what point in time.

    Commissioner Lundstrom commended Sara and all the interest groups who contributed to this Plan. Safety on the water is reflected on the maps so paddlers do not go in no go zones. The Harbor Safety Committee has put out safety tips and it has been distributed nationally. This is a tremendous exciting opportunity and she commended the draft plan and the vision.

    Commissioner Bates said he would like the record to show that he did not bring this to his wife’s attention; she brought it to his attention.

    Commissioner Bates asked if once this plan is developed, will it be presented to the Legislature, and then the Legislature will assume that they will enact this into law; or how does it get implemented. Ms. Polgar said it will be presented to the State Legislature. The implementation will be initiated by the Coastal Conservancy and the kick off for this will be the completion of the environmental review. Commissioner Bates said then there is no need for any enabling Legislation once the Plan is delivered.

    Ms. Polgar said once sites become part of the trail, the responsibility and management ownership of the site remains with the local jurisdiction. The Conservancy is implementing the project as opposed to actually taking over any kind of site management.

    Mr. Travis said there are three ways in which this Plan can be implemented: (1) the Conservancy can provide grants; (2) local government can incorporate it in their planning; and (3) there may be some opportunities through the regulatory program where someone could provide a launch site.

    Commissioner Mossar said the Bay Water Trail has excited Palo Alto’s Parks and Recreation Commission. She asked Ms. Polgar what steps should be followed by those who are interested in being a part of this project. Ms. Polgar said this is a project about partnerships. At the end of next spring when the implementation will be kicked-off, sites will then be designated as part of the trail. Also, by incorporating components of the priorities for offering access on to the water might be another way that local jurisdictions will have a part in this. In addition, there are components of the program, i.e. development of the signage, development of launch design guidelines that provide opportunities for local jurisdictions.

    Commissioner Nelson said he agrees with Jim, Barbara and Art’s comments. He has been out on the Bay in his Kayak and there are times when he looked eye to eye with a Clapper Rail who didn’t particularly care that he was there and did not seem disturbed. He has also been the kayaker going through a stretch of the North Bay where he could not find a way around a raft of ducks and suddenly ducks are flying. Access is important and that access has a real stewardship component, and that access can also have an impact.

    Commissioner Nelson said the Commission has to strike a balance of both resource protection and the public uses of the Bay. He asked Mr. Travis if there might be a way to address this issue in the Strategic Planning Process.

    Ms. Sweeney said staff undertook a study in 2001 looking at this very issue. BCDC partnered with the Bay Trail Project. There are not a lot of studies that are very specific to this issue, and particularly specific to San Francisco Bay.

    Staff has gathered what it could and has made some assumptions about the applicability of other studies to the Bay. Staff is always looking at ways to fund new studies, but at this point, there is not much more that can be done on this issue aside from identifying the gaps in scientific knowledge and looking for ways to support those gaps being filled.

    Commissioner Potter asked if during the course of the development of this plan if comments were solicited from the Department of Fish and Game and the Fish and Wildlife Service on the potential impacts of the implementation of the Plan. Ms. Polgar said she did get comments, as well as participation, from both of them at meetings. Their strategies were pulled into the Plan.

    Ann Buell, the Coastal Conservancy Project Manager for the Water Trail, said from Proposition 84 there are funds penciled in to be used to implement the water trail; approximately $2 million. A very small amount of these funds can be contributed towards planning. The Conservancy is concerned about monitoring and they are hoping to get some funds from the Coastal Impact Assistance Program (CIAP) grant opportunity.

    Commissioner Potter said he would like the Commissioners to be copied on recommendations for sites at the local government. He is particularly concerned about the flushing issue and the wildlife impacts and he would like to take a look at sites around the sensitive habitat.

    Ms. Polgar said there is a programmatic EIR that is being done on the Plan.
    Commissioner Carruthers said maybe the Plan could be more concrete about the need for implementation of the trail to include programs and funding to address the issue of interface between wildlife and the users. He suggested that educational materials be developed and available at every rental institution, stores, etc. and it could be made an issue in whatever organizational structure there is in that community.

    Ms. Polgar said the Plan has an extensive set of recommendations about the education, outreach and stewardship and a primary component is the coordination aspect of making use of existing networks to develop consistent messages.
    Ms. Polgar pointed out that this is the second draft of the Plan and the final Plan will go to the Legislature in January, but there will be another opportunity to see the final Plan.

    Ellen Johnck, Executive Director of the Bay Planning Coalition, said there is a system of additional opportunities for access and they can be incorporated and identified for incorporation in the project.

  10. Briefing on Mechanisms for Integrating Scientific Information into the Commission’s Processes. Steve Goldbeck provided the following briefing:

    Before the Commission today is a staff report on a strategy to better incorporate scientific information into the Commission’s Regulatory and Policy processes, dated July 13, 2007.

    The staff report responds to the direction in the Commission’s Strategic Plan to explore how BCDC can better incorporate scientific information into its permit process.

    The report summarizes the policies that guide the Commission’s use of scientific information, the Commission’s current use of scientific information in its regulatory and policy decisions, and options for expanding and improving these practices.

    The Commission has, since its inception, used the best available science for its policies and permit decision making. However, there are challenges and room for improvement.

    Good science takes time and it is not free. There usually is not time in the short processing deadlines for Commission action to undertake new scientific studies. Therefore, staff or the experts that we consult with, typically take information from existing studies and apply it to the technical questions that face the Commission. In many cases, definitive information is not available to address the specific questions that are facing the Commission.

    The Commission’s budget has neither included adequate resources to fund scientific studies, nor to retain technical experts.

    There are many scientific uncertainties that face the Commission in its program. These include:

    1. climate change impacts;
    2. sediment movement in the Bay;
    3. public access and wildlife compatibility;
    4. impacts of contaminants on Bay organisms;
    5. wetlands monitoring needs;
    6. fish population declines;
    7. fresh water diversions; and
    8. introduction of exotic species to name a few.

    Staff has identified a suite of strategies to expand the use of science in the decision making process for the Commission:

    1. Use existing methods, and where necessary expand them, or develop new processes and mechanisms to better integrate science into permit review and policy development. One example of this is that the Technical Advisory Committee could be reinvigorated to a help form focused Technical Advisory Committee’s with the specific expertise to address particular topics.
    2. Encourage scientific exploration outside the exigencies of regulatory decisions or specific policy matters to expand knowledge of estuarine processes, critical Bay resource issues and related topics. This would entail the staff working with technical experts to identify the kinds of studies that would best inform the Commission’s management program and then encouraging research institutions to undertake the research.
    3. Expand collaboration with Bay Area research universities, institutions and agencies, such as the San Francisco Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve, the San Francisco Estuary Institute, U.S. Geological Survey and the many excellent Bay Area universities to work on the research priorities identified as part of strategy 2.

      Two examples are: Subcategory 3.2.c. to work to obtain a seat on the California Sea Grant Advisory Board and/or the committees that determine Sea Grant’s research priorities, and cultivate a relationship with the California Sea Grant College Program.

      Subcategory 3.3 to work to establish a NOAA Coastal Services Center for the West Coast.

    4. Improve the integration of social science into regulatory and policy decisions, particularly in regards to environmental justice issues.

    Strategic Priorities. The strategies outlined in the staff report far exceed the staff resources available to carry them out. Therefore, they will need to be implemented over time and revised to reflect changing conditions. In the process of implementing these strategies the staff will consult with the Commission as staff refines the strategies for integrating science into Commission regulatory and policy decisions.

    Unless the Commission directs otherwise, staff intends to: (1) make more use of technical advisory committees; (2) encourage more research on topics addressing Bay management issues; (3) work more closely with the California Sea Grant program and seek representation on the Sea Grant Advisory Board; (4) work to establish a NOAA Coastal Services Center for the West Coast; and (5) implement the other strategies outlined below as time and funding allow.

    There was no public comment.

    Commissioner Waldeck asked if San Francisco State has an oceanography or marine department. Mr. Goldbeck said they conduct a lot of research on the Bay.

    Chair Randolph asked what was the connection between social science and other scientific input in strategy 4. Mr. Goldbeck said staff would like to encourage both kinds of research on Strategy 4. Staff believes a range of science should be brought to bear on this on interviews and questionnaires to testing and sampling.

    Chair Randolph said, in regards to Strategy 3, staff may want to contact the Carl Sagan Center, which is a study institute affiliated with NASA.

    Commissioner Nelson asked if there were some particular partnerships with agencies that are central to this endeavor. Mr. Goldbeck said that there are many excellent candidates and staff are discussing which agencies to approach first. Two that are obvious candidates are the San Francisco Estuary Institute and the U.S. Geological Survey.

    Commissioner Potter encouraging the San Francisco Estuary Institute to develop a joint powers authority.

    Commissioner Carruthers asked what the priorities are over the next year. Mr. Goldbeck said staff has already contacted the Sea Grant people and they are open to the idea of including membership on some of the Boards. The Coastal Services Center for the West Coast would take Congressional action and staff will be working with congressional representatives regarding a pilot study to look at the benefits and impacts of establishing it.

    Staff will also sit down with potential partners about more intensive collaboration, but again it would have to be done within existing staff resources.
    BCDC is applying for a federal Coastal Impact Assistance Program grant that would include research on several topics including climate change and sediment dynamics.
    Commissioner Carruthers asked if there is any scientific undertaking to address issues that a peripheral canal might raise. Mr. Goldbeck said staff does not know of a good scientific analysis that is up to date about the impacts of a potential peripheral canal. Since there is not a specific proposal he does not know what it would entail to be able to do this analysis. As this issue moves forward staff is engaged in tracking the processes and will bring back to the Commission what the issues are and put together science input.

  11. Consideration of Strategic Plan Status Report. Mr. Travis called two things to the Commissioner’s attention: (1) the next strategic planning workshop is scheduled for October 18 and will be an all day session; and (2) on page 4, number 10 the deadline will be missed by 5 days and he would like to change the deadline.

    MOTION: Commissioner McGlashan moved, seconded by Vice Chair Halsted to change the deadline as requested. The motion passed unanimously.

  12. New Business. There was no new business.

  13. Old Business. There was no old business.

  14. Adjournment. Upon motion by Commissioner McGlashan, seconded by Commissioner Lai-Bitker, the meeting adjourned at 4:03 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,
Will Travis
Executive Director

Approved, with no corrections, at the San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission Meeting of August 2, 2007

R. Sean Randolph, Chair

 
 
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