December 6, 2007 Commission Meeting Minutes

Approved Minutes of December 6, 2007 Commission Meeting

  1. Call to Order. The meeting was called to order by Vice Chair Halsted at the Ferry Building in San Francisco, California at 1:10 p.m.
  2. Roll Call. Present were Vice Chair Halsted, Commissioners Baird (represented by Alternate Potter), Bates, Bourgart, Brown (represented by Alternate Tim Smith), Goldzband, Jordan Hallinan, Kniss (represented by Alternate Carruthers), Kondylis, Lundstrom, McGlashan, Mossar, Moy, Nelson, Peskin, David Smith, and Thayer (represented by Alternate Kato).

    Not Present were: Governors Appointee (Randolph), Department of Finance (Finn), Speaker of the Assembly (Gibbs), Contra Costa County (Gioia), San Mateo County (Gordon), U.S. Army Corps. of Engineers (Hicks), Alameda County (Lai-Bitker) , Napa County (Wagenknecht), Association of Bay Area Governments (Vacant), and Regional Water Quality Control Board (Vacant).

  3. Public Comment Period. David Lewis, Executive Director of Save the Bay, said he is concerned with some inaccurate public representation of BCDC Salt Pond Policies that have appeared in several prominent newspapers regarding a potential development in Redwood City on Salt Ponds that Cargill still owns and would like to develop into housing. BCDC adopted new Bay Plan Findings and Policies on Salt Ponds in 2005 which was based on a comprehensive staff report, as well as thorough public comments. The Bay Plan now strongly encourages public protection and restoration of salt ponds that are retired from active salt production. The plan also provides detailed criteria for any proposal to develop on ponds; it requires maximum water surface area retained, permanent dedication of habitat, maximum public access consistent with wildlife protection.

    In several newspaper articles BCDC’s Executive Director was quoted saying that the Commission could approve fully half of Cargill’s Redwood City’s Salt Ponds being developed, or restoration of a substantial portion. These are lesser standards than what were explicitly rejected by the Commission in the 2005 Salt Pond Policy revision and the supporting staff report.

    When the policies are not presented correctly it confuses the public and other agencies. It is premature for staff to render a judgment on a project that has not been officially proposed yet, has no local approval, and no CEQA assessment.

    Mr. Lewis believes it is important to correct the record for Commissioners, press, and the public.

    Mr. Lewis distributed a copy of the Relevant Bay Plan Findings and Policies and the staff report discussion that rejected some of the previous criteria that were in the old plan policies, as well as the newspaper articles regarding this matter.

    He requested that Commission staff respond to future press inquiries about development on the Salt Ponds by sharing the Bay Plan Policies, and where a particular project is not yet nearing local approval, staff should underscore that it is premature to speculate how the Commission would act upon it.

  4. Approval of Minutes of November 1, 2007 Meeting. Vice Chair Halsted entertained a motion to adopt the minutes with the correction that she called the meeting to order in Chair Randolph’s absence.

    MOTION: Commissioner Mossar moved, seconded by Commissioner Lundstrom to approve the November 1, 2007 minutes as amended. The motion passed unanimously.

    It was suggested that Mr. Travis have a chance to comment on Mr. Lewis’s remarks. Mr. Travis explained that it is sometimes difficult to get the media to report things accurately. He and staff always strive to be accurate in reporting information in order that it is reported correctly. They will continue to do their utmost to be accurate when they speak to the press.

    Commissioner Nelson said that BCDC will need to look down the road at issues that this project might raise regarding climate change. Mr. Travis said he has added a slide of this property to his PowerPoint presentation about climate change because there needs to be a strategy that identifies those areas which have to be protected. He noted that there are other areas where there will be opportunities for restoration of wetlands, and in this particular property, Save the Bay has taken the position that this area should be restored to wetlands. However, the property owner has suggested developing a plan to come up with a resilient design that has some wetland restoration in it and will provide flood protection not only for the project, but for the area around it. Under BCDC’s policy, both solutions could be found consistent. There will probably be a plan that will have some restoration, some protection, and some opportunities for new kinds of development.

    Commissioner Mossar asked if Save the Bay and BCDC are in agreement on what the wetland policies are with regard to salt ponds. Mr. Travis said Save the Bay’s reading of BCDC’s policies is that this is an area that the whole of the site has to be restored to wetlands. BCDC’s reading of the policies is that a detailed analysis and environmental analysis should be performed. BCDC’s policy on salt ponds states that maximum restoration of the site should be provided consistent with the project. Mr. Travis believes that the planning should be allowed to go forward because it would be irresponsible for the staff to come to a conclusion as to what could happen without an analysis.

  5. Report of the Chair. Vice Chair Halsted provided the following update:
    a. New Commissioners. There are new Commission members joining BCDC today. First, the Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has appointed David Smith as EPA’s representative on BCDC. Mr. Smith is the Chief of the Wetlands Regulatory Office in the Water Division of the EPA’s Region Nine. He replaces Karen Schwinn who will stay on as his alternate.

    Second, the Association of Bay Area Governments has appointed Fremont Vice Mayor Robert Wieckowski to represent South Bay cities on BCDC. Mr. Wieckowski will replace Dena Mossar when her term on the Palo Alto City Council ends this month. Mr. Wieckowski, who served as Ms. Mossar’s alternate on BCDC, has selected Palo Alto City Councilmember Peter Drekmeier as his alternate.

    Third, ABAG has appointed San Francisco supervisor Sophie Maxwell to represent West Bay cities on BCDC. She replaces Joe Fernekes whose term ended last month. She has appointed South San Francisco City Councilmember Mark Addiego to serve as her alternate.

    Staff has prepared draft resolutions of appreciation for Dena Mossar, Joe Fernekes, Cliff Waldeck and Steve Messina whose terms on BCDC ended last month.

    Vice Chair Halsted asked for a motion to adopt the resolutions.

    MOTION: Commissioner Kondylis moved, seconded by Commissioner Carruthers to approve the resolutions as presented. The motion passed unanimously.

    b. Rich Gordon. Congratulations are in order for one of the BCDC Commissioners. San Mateo County Supervisor Rich Gordon has been elected president of the California State Association of Counties.

    c. Next BCDC Meeting. It will not be necessary to hold the next two regularly-scheduled meetings on December 20, 2007 and January 3, 2008. Therefore, the next meeting will be in six weeks from today on January 17, 2008. At this meeting, which will be held at the MetroCenter in Oakland, the following matters will be taken up:
    A public hearing and vote on an application to undertake maintenance dredging at the San Francisco Marina Yacht Harbor.
    A public hearing and vote on amendments to BCDC’s regionwide permits.

    A public hearing on amending BCDC’s regulations that deals with dredging permits.

    Consider approving a contract for hearing reporter services.

    A briefing on the status of the studies being undertaken to determine whether it is feasible to provide a pathway for pedestrians and bicyclists on the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge will be heard.

    Consider a report on the progress BCDC is making in carrying out its strategic plan.

    Ex-Parte Communications. If any commissioners have inadvertently forgotten to provide the staff with a report on any written or oral ex-parte communications they were invited to report them at this time. There were no ex-parte communications to report.

  6. Report of the Executive Director. Mr. Travis provided the following report:

    a. Introduction. Jim McGrath has been appointed by Governor Schwarzenegger as the newest member of the San Francisco Bay Regional Water Control Board.

    b. Oil Spill. A short report has been provided to the Commissioners outlining the Commission’s role in oil spill prevention and response. Commissioner Joan Lundstrom, who chairs the Harbor Safety Committee of the San Francisco Bay Region, will provide a more detailed briefing

    As to the spill, BCDC does not own any boats; it does not have any oil spill containment and clean-up equipment; and none of the BCDC staff are trained to handle hazardous material. Therefore, BCDC’s role in responding to an oil spill is largely limited to issuing any emergency permits needed for the clean-up operations. In the case of the spill from the Cosco Busan, no such permits were needed.

    Congressman George Miller offered the best assessment of oil spills, which is, “Once the oil gets in the water, the battle is lost.”

    Around the world the experience is much the same. After an oil spill, if everything goes perfectly well, things will still be a mess. Very little of the oil will be contained and recovered. Most of the wildlife that are exposed to oil will perish.
    Unlike the open ocean coast, when there is a spill in the Bay, no matter which way it goes, it is bound to hit land. With seven million people living around the Bay, that spilled oil will reach somebody’s favorite beach, recreation area, wetland or wildlife refuge. This is why BCDC’s focus remains on doing the best thing it can about oil spills, which is to prevent one from ever happening again.

    Mr. Travis introduced Commissioner Lundstrom to offer her assessment of this situation.

    Commissioner Lundstrom explained that if one gallon of oil hits the water there is three mile sheen. This particular spill was a relatively small spill (58,000 gallons), but even so, once it is in the water the battle is lost. San Francisco Bay has some unique characteristics from a maritime point of view, and that is, it has the foggiest harbor in the United States, there are 9 bridges that span shipping lanes, and there is a mix of traffic.

    Under law, the Harbor Safety Committee meets publicly. Of significance, last year the Harbor Safety Committee got the ferry operators together to agree on a protocol and ferry lanes were designated on the NOAA charts.

    Another issue the Harbor Safety Committee addressed was the opening and closing of the UP Railroad Bridge over the Carquinez Straits. They are looking at getting a wind gauge on the bridge because currently the bridge will not open when the winds are a certain velocity.

    The Governor has put out a directive to the State Office of Spilled Prevention and Response, in conjunction with the Office of Emergency Services and Department of Fish and Game, to look at the lessens learned from this spill and in future prevention. The Oil Spill Office has turned to the San Francisco Harbor Safety Committee in asking it to look at prevention aspects.

    They will be looking at the speed of the vessel (speed limits might be recommended); the issue of fog relative to this incident; statistics on other bridges that have been hit over the past 15 years; the protection around the base of the bridges (fendering); and looking at keeping the port system running (the physical ocean real time system information).

    The State Board of Pilot Commissioners has agreed to provide the investigation of this spill to the Harbor Safety Committee. The Bar Pilots have agreed that when they do their own internal best practices it will also be shared with the Harbor Safety Committee.

    Vice Chair Halsted asked if there was representation from BATA on the Harbor Safety Committee. Commissioner Lundstrom said they will be included at a follow-up meeting since this issue only just emerged last week.

    Commissioner Carruthers asked what the timing for funding real time information is at the legislative level and can the Commission help stimulate the progress of such funding. Commissioner Lundstrom said new legislation must be introduced at the end of January. The Harbor Safety Committee will get back to BCDC once it develops the specifics and will look forward to support from BCDC.

    One of the bills is to look at the funding that is accessible to the Oil Spill Office. The Harbor Safety Committee would like to have funding earmarked from the Oil Spill Office of $250,000.

    Commissioner Kondylis asked if this kind of spill constitutes fill in the Bay so then BCDC would have some regulatory authority to impose fines. Mr. Travis said BCDC’s legal counsel, Tim Eichenberg, has been speaking with the Attorney General’s Office regarding this issue to see if there is a claim of action that BCDC can file.

    Mr. Eichenberg said he knows that there has been three lawsuits filed; two by the fishermen and one by NOAA. He believes BCDC could have a chance of success under the OPEA. Under this law BCDC can get damages to natural resources. The damages under the McAteer Petris Act for illegal fill might not be as sound, but both the OPEA and illegal fill are being reviewed.

    Commissioner McGlashan said an idea that came up out of Marin County’s emergency response was management of storing boons and other emergency response material. There might be a role under the conservation part of BCDC’s mandate to request storage facilities for public agencies that are pursuing development around the Bay.

    Commissioner Lundstrom said she sits on the Technical Advisory Committee to the Oil Spill Office, and she represents local government. All of these questions of inventory, volunteer training, etc. are being reviewed. They are looking at how things can be done better.

    Commissioner Carruthers asked if there is training exercises for emergency responses. Commissioner Lundstrom said, in her vision, the people who could carry out this type of role would be the fire departments.

    Commissioner Mossar said there should be consideration of how responses in the south Bay would be handled. Commissioner Lundstrom said all the Bay area is being considered.

    Commissioner Potter asked if the $250,000 figure that Commissioner Lundstrom stated was per annum. Commissioner Lundstrom said it was per annum for operation and maintenance. Funding that has been received previously from the OSPR fund has had a total budget of between $150,000 and $200,000. The $250,000 she spoke of earlier is basically a dedicated funding source from the Legislature and one that the Harbor Safety Committee has not had in the past.

    c. Sand Mining. Sand has been commercially mined from the bottom of the Bay since the nineteenth century. The sand is used to make concrete and asphalt, as well as for other construction purposes. Much of this sand mining takes place on publicly-owned property leased by private operators from the State Lands Commission. BCDC permits are required for all sand mining operations.

    In 1999, a company called Hanson Aggregates, Inc., a multi-national corporation headquartered in Great Britain, acquired sand mining rights from two local companies. An investigation by BCDC staff found that Hanson, and the companies it had purchased, had mined significantly more sand than authorized by BCDC permits. BCDC settled these alleged violations in September 2004, when Hanson agreed to pay a penalty of $373,000, which was the largest fine paid to settle a BCDC enforcement case in the Commission’s history.

    Staff has been working with the Attorney General’s Office on their investigation of allegations that Hanson, and its predecessors, illegally took sand from State property and underpaid royalties owed to the State. As a result of these investigations, in October 2003, the Attorney General intervened in a lawsuit filed by a whistleblower against Hanson, along with the companies Hanson had acquired, seeking $200 million in damages.

    Last Wednesday, the Contra Costa County Superior Court approved a settlement reached by the Attorney General, the State Lands Commission, the whistleblower, and the sand miners under which the companies will pay $42.2 million. Of the total amount, $23 million was paid last Friday.

    Hanson has recently been purchased by Heidelberg Cement, a German multi-national corporation, which operates in the United States under the name of its subsidiary, Lehigh Cement.

    BCDC is currently working with the company on its applications for new State Lands leases and an extension of its BCDC permits which expires next year.

    Deputy Attorney General, Alice Reynolds, is available to provide more detail on the settlement her office has negotiated with the sand miners.

    Ms. Reynolds provided an overview of where the funds from the settlement will be allocated. A proposal has been presented from the three parties who participated as plaintiffs to the Court. The proposal was accepted by the Court. The total settlement amount will be split into thirds. The State Lands portion of the funds will be paid to the general fund, the Attorney General’s Office portion will go to the false claims section of the office, and the remaining one third will go to the private whistleblower.

    d.Documents. Mr. Travis called the Commission’s attention to four documents:
    The first is a memo transmitting pages with corrections that need to be inserted into the Commissioner’s reference copy of the San Francisco Bay Plan.

    The second document is a report on a tidal barrage of the Golden Gate. A barrage is another name for a dam across the mouth of an estuary. In the 1940’s John Reber came up with a plan to improve the Bay. His plan called for putting a dam south of the Bay Bridge and another dam about where the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge is and making the north and south bays a giant fresh water reservoir. The Reber Plan was studied for a couple of years, Congress held hearings on it and appropriated millions of dollars so the Army Corps of Engineers could build the Bay Model in Sausalito to see if the plan would work. Ultimately, the Corps concluded that more water would evaporate out of the south Bay reservoir than would flow into it so the plan was never carried out.

    Given the current concern about the impact of sea level rise on communities around the Bay, and the fascination with using the tides to generate electricity, it is only a matter of time before someone else like John Reber comes up with a proposal to dam the Golden Gate and install generators powered by the tide into the dam.

    Rather than take years and spend millions of dollars to look at the feasibility of such a scheme, BCDC invested $500 to pay a Coro Foundation fellow to spend one month inventorying the basic pros and cons of such an idea and identifying the key issues that would have to be studied to determine the ultimate feasibility of such a proposal

    The Coro fellow, Kirstin Conti, was a good investment for BCDC. Her report concludes that like the Reber Plan, any plan for barrage at the Golden Gate, should collect dust on the shelves for a very long time.

    The third document is a report on tidal energy development in the Bay which was prepared by Sahrye Cohen. This report will help staff be better prepared to respond to proposals such as those being investigated by San Francisco and PG&E and others.
    The final document is a short report describing the final settlement reached by the Attorney General’s Office regarding Paradise Cay marina in Marin County.

    e.Personnel. Steve McAdam is retiring at the end of the month so today will be his last day serving at a BCDC meeting. Steve’s retirement party will take place after the first of the year.

    To handle the day-to-day management of BCDC, and to be a trusted advisor in providing BCDC with thoughtful strategic advice, Ms. Caitlin Sweeney will become the new Chief Deputy Director.

    The second change in staff came about, in part, because of the Climate Change Action Plan BCDC adopted. It calls for BCDC to add a member to senior staff to oversee the efforts of all staff divisions in dealing with climate change. Mr. Travis has appointed Steve Goldbeck as Deputy Director for Climate Change. Steve will continue to serve as Legislative Director and play a key role in managing the dredging program. Steve is a great strategic thinker and has a solid scientific background which is essential in dealing with the nuances of climate change.

    With these two appointments, BCDC can continue to advance BCDC’s goal of being one of the finest examples of good government in the nation and help BCDC evolve as it endeavors to remain relevant during the changing times in which we live.

    In the year 2007, Jeff Blanchfield, Jonathan Smith, and Steve McAdam retired from BCDC. Between the three of them, they had nearly a century of experience in working for BCDC. BCDC now has a new Chief Deputy Director, a new Deputy Director for Climate Change, a new Chief Counsel, and a new Chief Planner and their average tenure in their new position is approximately 3 weeks so there may be some changes in style in which things are done.

    Andrea Gaut will not be returning now that her maternity leave is over because she will be moving to Boston with her husband and new baby. Therefore, in addition to having to fill the Senior Planner vacancy created by Caitlin’s promotion, a Principal Permit Analyst position is needed to fill the vacancy of Ms. Gaut.

  7. Administrative Listing. On November 20, 2007 staff sent Commissioners a listing of the administrative matters that staff prepared.

    The first item deals with the expansion of a house in Mill Valley. A copy of a letter from the next door neighbors who are concerned about the impact of the expansion on their views and privacy has been provided. Because the house expansion does not involve any Bay fill, BCDC staff has explained to the neighbors that the Commission’s authority is largely limited to dealing with protecting public access, which includes public views from public areas. And since the expansion will not adversely impact the public’s visual access to the Bay the neighbors will re-double their efforts to work with Marin County to address their concerns.

    Steve McAdam is available to respond to any questions the Commission may have about the matters on the listing. There were no questions.

  8. Public Hearing and Vote on Permit Application No. 7-07 from the City of Oakland to remove and replace the Embarcadero Bridge over Lake Merritt Channel in the City of Oakland, Alameda County. Vice Chair Halsted explained that Item #8 is a public hearing and vote on an application to replace a bridge over the Lake Merritt Channel in Oakland. Karen Wolowicz will provide background information on this project.

    Karen Wolowicz presented the following information:

    A permit application to remove and replace the existing Embarcadero Bridge over the Lake Merritt Channel within BCDC’s Bay and 100 foot shoreline band jurisdiction in the City of Oakland has been received.

    Exhibit A, of the summary, is a vicinity map while Exhibit B is the public access exhibit. In total, the project would result in the permanent guarantee of approximately 28,000 square feet of public access along the bridge over the Bay and the shoreline band, and outside of the Commission jurisdiction.

    This project would also result in temporary fill during construction, approximately 17,000 square feet of pile supported replacement fill, and approximately 7,900 square feet of new pile supported fill in the Bay.

    The additional fill in the Bay is mainly for new public access improvements, which include the 28,000 square feet of new permanently guaranteed public access, new sidewalks, bicycle lanes, a multi-use path, and restroom improvements that are all a part of the Bay Trail connection and are ADA accessible.

    As the summary indicates, the Commission should consider, if as proposed, the project would be consistent with its laws and policies regarding fill in the Bay, public access, protection of fish, other aquatic resources, and wildlife, mitigation, safety of fill, transportation, and appearance design and scenic views.

    Joel Peter and Cathy Garrett, the applicant’s representatives are here today to answer any questions.

    Mr. Peter, with the City of Oakland, explained that his role in this project is to inform BCDC of other projects in the vicinity in order to give a context of what is going on along the Lake Merritt Channel and the waterfront at this location.

    At this point Mr. Peter provided a slide presentation noting the related projects that he is covering at 12th Street near the Lake.

    The City of Oakland has been working on design guidelines for people who build along the Bay Trail. The overall concept is to take BCDC’s shoreline spaces document, adopt it into part of Oakland’s plan and add a couple of overlays on top. He is looking for wider trails where possible, dual trails both bike and pedestrian, improving the quality of trail materials and minimizing riprap on the shoreline. Overall the Embarcadero Bridge would utilize a Marina style Cathy Garrett, with PGA Design, said the reason the bridge is being replaced is that in 1997 the final strategy report of CalTrans was completed and identified it as seismically deficient. This provided the trigger event for funding to flow both federally and from the state and at local levels. The Federal Highway Bridge program is funding this bridge.

    The goal is to provide a replacement bridge that is fitting to the context, both in a planning sense as well as in a physical presence sense. The Estuary Policy Plan, the Bay Plan and others are impacting this.

    The existing bridge is vulnerable seismically and has potential failure due to column damage. The bridge is 40 years old; it is 478 feet long, and today it measures 37 feet wide. The sidewalks are extremely modest. There is one lane each way approaching both from the west and the east.

    The bathroom is going to conflict with the public access right of way that was shown on the new plan and it will be upgraded as part of the project.

    The new bridge itself will be reduced from 9 spans to 4 spans and the profile is being raised to allow for kayak and small craft access under the bridge. On the bridge and its approaches there will be multi-use access on the south side, which is the view side out to the estuary. It will be 12 feet wide. which is significantly bigger than the current 5 feet. The sidewalk on the north side will be increased to 5 feet and there is going to be a commuter bike lane – going both directions on the bridge. The new bridge, barrier to barrier on the road bed only, will be 36 feet and will include the commuter bike trail.

    BCDC’s Design Review Board had some discussion about the design elements and the plan will coordinate with the marina zone of the guidelines.

    In summary, the Embarcadero Bridge is compliant with the Bay Plan, the McAteer Petris Act, CEQA and BCDC’s amended management program for the San Francisco Bay segment of the California coastal zone.

    The reasons for replacement of the bridge are due to seismic concerns, it improves pedestrian and bicycle connectivity along the Oakland waterfront, and it improves small boat access.

    Vice Chair Halsted opened the meeting to the public hearing. There were no public comments.

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

    Commissioner Kondylis asked if there is any attempt in the City of Oakland to put in light fixtures that do not let light escape into the sky. Mr. Peter said the City of Oakland has the “Dark Skies Initiative” and the light fixtures comply with this initiative. They cast light downwards.

    Ms. Wolowicz presented the staff recommendations as follows: The staff recommendations contain special conditions that require the permittee to take a variety of measures. Special conditions in the recommendations include; (1) permanently guaranteeing and maintaining public access areas; (2) providing future public access connections to neighboring parcels; (3) providing, and noticing the public, regarding the vehicular and public access detour and the construction period of the new bridge; and (4) providing notice of the 18 month closure of the public access restroom until the new ADA restroom is constructed to the southwest of the bridge.

    Other conditions include specific plan review by BCDC staff for the bridge and various design elements, a restriction on construction during Herring spawning or hatching season, the removal of temporary fill in the Bay following project completion, and construction and removal activities to minimize impacts on natural resources.

    Ms. Wolowicz said she would also like to correct all non-substantive typographical errors in the recommendation and include the following sentence on page 12 at the bottom of the second paragraph: “The City of Oakland is also working with NOAA Fishery Service to determine the best available construction techniques to avoid any potential impacts to fish and wildlife, and the City will incorporate those measures as part of their construction practices.”

    As conditioned, the staff believes that the project is consistent with BCDC’s laws and policies regarding fill, public access, fish and wildlife, mitigation, safety of fills, transportation, and appearance, design and scenic views and recommends that the condition adopt staff’s recommendation.

    There were no public comments.

    MOTION: Commissioner Carruthers moved, seconded by Commissioner Mossar to approve staff’s recommendation on Permit Application No. 2-07. Motion passed unanimously.

  9. Public Hearing and Vote on Staff Recommendation to Transmit the Draft Water Trail Plan to the Legislature. Vice Chair Halsted explained that Item #9 is a public hearing and vote to submit BCDC’s draft San Francisco Bay Area Water Trail Plan to the Legislature as required by state law. Joe LaClair presented staff’s recommendation as follows:

    Staff recommends that the Commission transmit the final draft of the San Francisco Bay Area Water Trail Plan to the Legislature as required in Section 66694 of the McAteer Petris Act. In 2005 BCDC’s law was amended to require that the Commission prepare a plan for the Bay Area Water Trail. The Draft San Francisco Bay Area Water Trail Plan recommends policies, guidelines and procedures for implementation of the San Francisco Bay Area Water Trail.

    The trail will be a network of launch sites and trail heads for non-motorized small boats such as kayaks and canoes offering a unique way to experience the Bay.

    A collaborative stakeholder process has occurred in order to develop the trail plan.

    The Coastal Conservancy was designated as the lead for implementing the water trail plan. In that role, the Conservancy is preparing a programmatic environmental impact report that will assess the environmental effects of the implementation of the water trail project. It is possible that the conservancy will make some changes to the draft plan based on information which is developed in the environmental review process which should be completed in the summer of 2008.

    Vice Chair Halsted opened the public hearing.

    Paul Kamen, of the Berkley Waterfront Commission spoke in favor of the plan. However, there is one deficiency in that it does not adequately identify the reasons this is being done, as well as the inherent environmental benefits of the plan. The standard paradigm for non-motorized boating is somewhat different from what the water trail will support. Most people with Kayaks keep them in their garage, but it still involves a large vehicle to get it down to the water. One of the most important components of the water trail is its support for on-site storage. He would like to see an additional statement in the water trail plan, that at least makes an attempt to estimate the environmental positives, in order that they can be balanced more rationally against the relatively minor negative environmental impacts that might occur at some of the local locations.

    Jim McGrath, with the San Francisco Board Sailors Association, said he enthusiastically supports the report and its being sent to the Legislature. He would have liked to have gotten around to some more sites, and in this case, he could have endorsed quite a few of them and taken the EIR further, and been more specific about habitat concerns and identify them. He would have liked to have seen some consideration of overnight facilities. He echoed the concern about the tenor of not reaching out to build the relationship to create a stewardship program for the users. This represents an opportunity to bring educational and stewardship programs to the existing users.

    Ann Buell, Project Manager with the State Coastal Conservancy said she supports BCDC’s staff recommendation to transmit the draft Water Trail Plan to the Legislature. The Coastal Conservancy has worked closely with BCDC staff. The Conservancy will continue to work with BCDC, ABAG, other public agencies, and stakeholders in this process. The EIR CEQA review has begun and is expected to be completed by next summer. She believes the draft Water Trail Plan is ready to be sent to the Legislature.

    Mr. LaClair said staff recommends that the Commission transmit the draft plan to the legislature.

    MOTION: Commissioner McGlashan moved, seconded by Commissioner Potter to close the public hearing. Motion passed unanimously.

    Commissioner Nelson said there have been concerns raised by the Audubon Society regarding possible wildlife impacts. He asked whether those discussions were incorporated in this document since the Commission last saw it. Mr. LaClair said there have not been substantive changes to the document. Staff has continued to work with Arthur Feinstein, Barbara Salzman, and Beth Huening. The fundamental approach for site designation that has received their support is that the plan does not promote designated sites within the water trail until they have gone through a planning process that identifies how the site will be managed to protect wildlife and that there is implementation of signage and education.

    Commissioner Bates asked Mr. LaClair how he would respond to the comments by Mr. Kamen and others about the nature of the way the document is drafted. Mr. LaClair said staff tried to strike a balance between the interest of protecting wildlife and the interest of advancing the recreational interests. He believes that staff has implemented the precautionary principle in terms of how the plan is drafted in order to make sure that there are a number of strategies and approaches in the plan that will ensure that wildlife is protected, and at the same time making sure that opportunities for recreation are provided and expanded throughout the Bay. The Plan strikes a balance, but there may be some opportunity as the Plan is finalized, and after the completion of the environmental review, to take a look at the tenor of the document with regard to access.

    MOTION: Commissioner Bates moved; seconded by Commissioner Carruthers to approve staff’s recommendation to transmit the draft Water Trail Plan to the Legislature.

    Commissioner Lundstrom asked if the Coastal Conservancy will be the lead on education and safety. Mr. LaClair said they are and they continue to work with Prevention Through People, which is the subcommittee of the Harbor Safety Committee to address the navigational safety issues on the Bay.

    Vice Chair Halsted asked for a hand vote on the Motion on the floor. The motion passed unanimously.

  10. Briefing on Delta Vision. Vice Chair Halsted said Item No. 10 is a briefing by John Kirlin, Executive Director of Delta Vision, which is the blue ribbon panel convened by Governor Schwarzenegger to develop a sustainable plan for the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.

    Jessica Hamburger introduced John Kirlin. She noted that this is the first in a series of speakers that have been invited to keep Commissioners up to date on Bay Delta planning and decision making.

    The Delta Vision Report has been revised several times since the draft was released. Mr. Kirlin will be highlighting those changes in his presentation.

    Mr. Kirlin provided the following presentation:

    The Delta Vision operates under an Executive Order which was signed by the Governor in 2006. The Order creates a process in which one part is the Task Force. The Task Force adopted a vision at its last meeting and it will be on the website very soon.
    The purpose of the Executive Order is to develop “durable vision for sustainable management of the Delta”.

    The Task Force consists of 7 members, chaired by Phil Isenberg.

    A strategic plan will be recommended by November 2008.

    The Delta is part of the largest estuary on the west coast of America so it is a tremendous natural resource; it is a resource for recreation for many people; and it is also part of the water supply of somewhere between half and two thirds of Californians.

    Those most dependent on uses of water from the Delta and the Delta Watershed are within 60 miles of San Francisco. The San Joaquin and the Sacramento River basins are 27 percent of the land area in the State of California.

    The vision has three types of recommendations: it sets priorities, establishes a sound foundation on which to go forward, and frames the policy in ways that progress can be made.

    Set priorities: (1) ecosystem function and water for human use are co-equal values which should be integrated over time; (2) California’s water supply is limited and must be managed well to be adequate for the future; (3) the Delta is a valued place which should be protected; (4) the Delta is an estuary and should function as a productive estuarine ecosystem; (5) beneficiaries should pay; and (6) resilience is an important goal for ecosystems, water systems, and governance.

    Establish sound foundations: (1) the reasonable use and public trust principles provide the constitutional foundation for policies; (2) effective governance is critical and requires adequate, ongoing revenues; (3) incentives for action by governments, individuals, firms and non profits need to be aligned to support the vision; (4) work with natural processes to achieve goals wherever possible; (5) ensure robust scientific support for policy making Frame effective policies: (1) California needs effective statewide water policy within which to make decisions about water supplied from the Delta watershed and the Delta; (2) comprehensive action requires joining action on major issues: conservation and construction; storage and conveyance; (3) reduce reliance on levees and link levee protection levels to allowed land uses; (4) design for resilient ecosystems; and (5) design for resilient water systems.

    Task Force’s vision: (1) states that a comprehensive vision, together with integrated and linked actions, is the key to success; (2) the Task Force recommendations are integrated, designed to work together as a whole to achieve success; and (3) the Task Force recommendations are also linked, meant to be implemented together because they are tied to, and dependent upon one another.

    There are 12 recommendations, the first four being: (1) the Delta ecosystem and a reliable water supply for California are the primary, co-equal goals for sustainable management of the Delta; (2) the California Delta is a unique and valued area, warranting recognition and special legal status from the State of California; (3) the Delta ecosystem must function as an integral part of a healthy estuary; and (4) California’s water supply is limited and must be managed with significantly more efficiency to be adequate for its future population, growing economy and vital environment.

    Delta Vision is focused on this broad charge and there have been four other important Delta focused efforts going on simultaneously. (1) There is a process focused on the Suisun Marsh that is nearing completion and development and a plan; (2) the Department of Fish and Game is finishing an ecosystem restoration program focused on the Delta; (3) there was an effort, called Delta Risk Management Strategy, to assess the risks associated with levees and to develop strategies in response to those risks as they were analyzed. This report is coming to completion now; and (4) there is the Bay Delta Conservation Plan which is focused on providing a legal basis for permitting of pumping activities, particularly state and federal water projects, and others who have been operating without endangered species take permits.

    The Task Force also recommended some near term actions, things that should be done soon consistent with the vision: (1) preparing for disasters in or around the Delta; (2) protecting the Delta ecosystem and water supply system from urban encroachment; and (3) starting work soon on short-term improvements to both the ecosystem and the water supply system.
    Governance: (1) the current boundaries and governance system of the Delta must be changed; (2) it is essential to have an independent body with authority to achieve the co-equal goals of ecosystem revitalization and adequate water supply for California – while also recognizing the importance of the Delta as a unique and valued area; and (3) this body must have secure funding and the ability to approve spending, planning, and water export levels.

    Areas that are interdependent with BCDC are (1) spatially overlap of the Suisun Marsh; (2) ecosystem is a single estuary so what happens in the headwaters of the Tuolumne River has some impact on what is happening here in the Bay and certainly has relevance on what is happening in the Delta; (3) some of the risks and changes – the diversions in watershed, seismic events, sea level rise, invasive species, etc.

    The Task Force would like to begin a conversation about how it can work with BCDC effectively in the future.

    Commissioner Kondylis said regarding recommendation number 3, the Delta ecosystem must function as an integral part of a healthy estuary. She asked if the San Francisco Bay Estuary Plan has been considered by the Task Force in their deliberations. Mr. Kirlin said the Task Force knew of the existence of that plan and did not go to the level of looking at those recommendations. This is the sort of thing that needs to be done in 2008. When he cited the list of relevant entities, he was talking about those that focused just on parts of the Delta. He did not mean to dismiss the San Francisco Bay Estuary Plan.

    Commissioner Kondylis asked about number 7, “A revitalized Delta ecosystem will require reduced diversions or changes in patterns.” She said this sounds like it is an either/or rather than looking at pieces of both. Mr. Kirlin said the intent is to shift the conversation to upstream and other diversions inside the Delta, and secondly to say it is not only the volume of the diversions, but the timing and pattern of those diversions. The intent is not either/or but a suite of options.

    Commissioner Kondylis asked about conveyance as specified on page 10. Mr. Kirlin said the Task Force expects the direction of the process to move to a dual conveyance; a preferred direction, not a preferred alternative. The Task Force asked for a process to begin to assess the options that are available on conveyance and storage against a set of criteria of the vision.

    The Task Force asked that the CalFed program staff take the lead in developing this assessment and bring it to them by June 2008. The Task Force put the decision about conveyance in the context of the larger argument about a comprehensive vision and they believe the preferred direction is towards dual conveyance.

    Commissioner Kondylis said that any conveyance that removes the fresh water that is presently flowing through the Delta imperils the Suisun Marsh. If this happens Suisun Marsh will become a salt water marsh. Mr. Kirlin said the Task Force did not go to that level of detail. The Task Force has not talked about where historical salinity has been, where any desired future salinity would be, but what they have said is this should function as an estuary. There is discussion about the importance of making the Delta function more like an estuary with tidal influence and tidal exchanges, and all of those discussions have ended up identifying restoration of tidal action to Suisun Marsh a high likelihood, but other areas are identified there as well.

    Commissioner Goldzband asked how the Task Force is dealing with the issue of climate change in terms of a policy issue, and also temporally. Mr. Kirlin said the Task Force has recognized the uncertainty in this and argues that with a statewide water policy you need far more resilience, far more redundancy, and more regional self-sufficiency, and you also need immediate conservation. You need to figure out how to get and use water more effectively.

    The Task Force also talks about a decision structure to support this, and that is why the governance structure is needed. The answers are not known for sure so you need to do things that maintain your options for the future, like protect your edges, reduce your demand, have redundant systems, etc.

    Commissioner Goldzband said the Task Force says to protect the edges, but where will the edges be in 40 years? How does the Task Force look at governance without really knowing where those edges are and without scaring local officials? Mr. Kirlin said this is a challenging issue because it does not take much sea level rise to impact many places. He believes the Task Force will go through iterations of adaptations. Acknowledging that this needs to be dealt with is a start.

    Commissioner Nelson said he believes the Task Force is right by talking about the need to integrate in a more meaningful way than we have recently and by tackling the issues that largely have been “sacred cows”.

    Commissioner Nelson said a Southern California business interest submitted three initiatives for the ballot that would authorize the state to either move forward with parts of a Delta Vision process or not. He asked if the Delta Vision process has had a chance to think about those initiatives. Mr. Kirlin said he has not had a chance to read the ballot language.

    Commissioner Carruthers asked what the Delta Risk Management Strategy is doing and will what they come up with be dealt with in parallel to what the Delta Vision is producing. Mr. Kirlin said there will be conflicting advice but there is also a lot of commonality.

    The PPIC report that came out in January 2007 synthesized a lot of information that had been developed over the past 15 years and added new ways of talking about this notion of variability. His sense is, that in contrast to Delta Vision, they focus on conveyance. Additionally, the PPIC report does not frame the decision the way the Task Force has in that you have to balance the two values of ecosystem and water.

    The DRMS report, which is the risk management on levees, was very levee-focused and it came out of the concern about these levees and they have not gone into anything like what the PPIC report proposed. Delta Vision believes we ought to reduce our reliance on levees.

    Vice Chair Halsted noted that BCDC is about to lose its quorum and asked for a motion to adjourn and reconvene as a committee of the whole.

    MOTION: Commissioner Kondylis moved, seconded by Commissioner Nelson to adjourn and reconvene as a committee of the whole. Motion passed unanimously.

    There were no comments from the public.

    Mr. Travis said staff will be asking that BCDC be provided some greater opportunities for participation in this ongoing process.

    Commissioner Kondylis asked that the final draft be provided to the Commissioners when it is available.

  11. Consideration of Strategic Plan Status Report. Vice Chair Halsted said Item 11 is a status report on the progress in carrying out the strategic plan, one point of which was the Delta Vision participation.

    Mr. Travis provided a status report. The report indicates which staff member has been assigned the lead responsibility for achieving each of the plan’s objectives. More updates will be provided in the coming months as progress is made.

  12. New Business. Commissioner Kondylis asked if the Commission has had an update on the 2007 revised CCMP (Comprehensive Conservation Management Plan). Commissioner Nelson made the observation that BCDC will have to keep track of more than just one effort. Mr. Travis said regarding the CCMP, staff will arrange to provide a briefing for the Commission on the new updated CCMP.

    Commissioner Mossar noted that Mr. Travis will be a television star next week in the City of Palo Alto in the Council Chambers at noon. She will have his presentation on sea level rise taped. A preview of this presentation can be heard on KQED radio on December 7. The tape will be available for anyone who wishes to use it.

  13. Old Business. Mr. McAdam said it has been an honor and privilege to work for BCDC for the last 30 years. It has been a pleasure working with BCDC’s terrific staff, and a total enjoyment working with Mr. Travis.
  14. Adjournment. Upon motion by Commissioner Potter, seconded by Commissioner David Smith, the meeting adjourned at 3:30 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,

Will Travis
Executive Director

Approved, with no corrections, at the San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission Meeting of February 7, 2008

R. Sean Randolph, Chair

[an error occurred while processing this directive]