March 6, 2008 Commission Meeting Minutes

Approved Minutes of March 6, 2008 Commission Meeting

  1. Call to Order. The meeting was called to order by Chair Randolph at the Ferry Building in San Francisco, California at 1:10 p.m.
  2. Roll Call. Present were Chair Sean Randolph, Vice Chair Halsted, Commissioners Baird (represented by Alternate Potter), Bates, Bourgart, Brown (represented by Alternate Tim Smith), Gioia, Goldzband, Gordon, Jordan Hallinan, Hicks, Kniss (represented by Alternate Carruthers), Lundstrom, Maxwell, McGrath, Moy, Nelson, Peskin, David Smith, Silva, Thayer (represented by Alternate Kato), and Wickowski. Not Present were: Department of Finance (Finn), Speaker of the Assembly (Gibbs), Alameda County (Lai-Bitker), Marin County (McGlashan), and Napa County (Wagenknecht).
  3. Public Comment Period. There were no public comments.
  4. Approval of Minutes of February 7, 2008 Meeting. Chair Randolph entertained a motion to adopt the minutes of February 7, 2008. MOTION: Commissioner Peskin moved, seconded by Commissioner Gioia to approve the February 7, 2008 minutes. The motion carried with 4 abstentions.
  5. Report of the Chair. Chair Randolph reported on the following items:
    1. Committee Appointments: It was mentioned at the last BCDC meeting that there are vacancies on some of the important committees on which BCDC serves. Fortunately, three Commission members have volunteered to take on these assignments. He asked for the Commission's concurrence in their appointments. First, Rich Gordon has asked to serve on the Joint Policy Committee; second, Alice Lai-Bitker has agreed to serve on the Regional Airport Planning Committee; and Dave Smith has offered to serve on the Enforcement Committee.
      MOTION: Commissioner Halsted moved, seconded by Commissioner Gioia to approve the appointment of Commissioners Gordon, Lai-Bitker, and Smith to the above mentioned committees. The motion carried.
    2. Next BCDC Meeting. It will not be necessary to hold a second Commission meeting this month. Therefore, the next meeting will be in four weeks on April 3, 2008. It will be held at the Ferry Building. At that meeting the following matters will be taken up:
      1. A public hearing and vote on amending BCDC's regulations that specify the activities that can be carried out under a regionwide permit.
      2. A public hearing and vote on whether to take positions on pending legislation that impacts the Bay.
      3. A briefing will be heard 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. This matter was going to be taken up today, but CalTrans recently decided that it would be unsafe to build the access way. CalTrans will have an opportunity to explain its position and the public will be heard at the next meeting.
      4. A briefing from Dr. Andrew Gunther on some of the latest scientific research on climate change.
      5. A report on the progress BCDC is making in carrying out its strategic plan. If anyone has forgotten to provide staff with reports on any written or oral ex parte communications, please submit them now. There were no ex parte communications noted.
  6. Report of the Executive Director. Mr. Travis provided the following report:
    1. Attorney General. While Alice Reynolds is on maternity leave, Joel Jacobs will be representing the Attorney General's Office at BCDC meetings. Mr. Jacobs had a conflict today, so Chris Tiedemann will be serving as Deputy Attorney General at today's meeting.
    2. Budget. In the fiscal year that begins on July 1, 2008 the State General Fund support for BCDC will be reduced by 10 percent which amounts to $457,000 and four staff positions. Through attrition and redirection of staff to work, paid by grants and contracts, the cuts can be accommodated without laying off staff. Since the last BCDC meeting, Governor Schwarzenegger has issued an executive order that directs BCDC to reduce the General Fund expenditures by 1.5 percent or $23,000 in the current fiscal year. This will be accomplished by deferring the purchase of a needed copier and postponing the purchase of some general office supplies. The first legislative hearing on BCDC's budget will take place next Wednesday, March 12, before the Assembly Budget Subcommittee #3 on Natural Resources and Environmental Protection. Mr. Travis will keep the Commission apprised on the status of the budget as it moves through the legislative review process.
    3. Personnel. In addition to the spending cuts this fiscal year, the Governor has imposed a hiring freeze. However, that has not prevented BCDC from adding another unpaid intern to its staff. Her name is Ericka Montana and she is working in the planning unit on GIS data that will allow BCDC to identify and analyze priority use areas that are at risk of inundation from sea level rise. Ericka is completing her master's degree in natural resource management and environmental planning at San Francisco State University.
    4. AB 2094. AB 2094 was introduced by Assembly members Mark DeSaulnier and John Laird at the request of BCDC. It will allow BCDC to become a voting member of the Joint Policy Committee and would give BCDC the explicit authorization to address global climate change and sea level rise in its planning work. Mr. Laird introduced a bill last year that would have accomplished the latter objective, but it ran into difficulties that had nothing to do with BCDC. Therefore, he has kindly agreed to incorporate BCDC's objectives into this new measure.
  7. Commission Consideration of Administrative Matters. On February 22, 2008, staff sent the Commissioners a listing of the administrative matters. Bob Batha is available to respond to any questions. There were no questions.
  8. Vote on Proposed Amendments to the Commission's Dredging Regulations. Ellen Sampson presented the following staff recommendations: Staff recommends that the Commission adopt proposed changes to BCDC's regulations that would allow certain dredging and disposal activities to be authorized administratively, that is, through a minor permit rather than through a major permit. The staff report includes a summary of the comments from the public, as well as staff's response. The main effect of the regulation is to change the current limitation on these types of projects from a five year period of time to a ten year period of time. The stated minimum disposable volumes at Alcatraz disposal site would be corrected. Chair Randolph asked for a motion and second on staff's recommendation.
    MOTION: Commissioner Bourgart moved, seconded by Commissioner Lundstrom to approve staff's recommendation. The motion carried unanimously.
    VOTE: The motion carried with a roll call vote of 21-0-1 with Commissioners Potter, Bates, Bourgart, T. Smith, Gioia, Goldzband, Gordon, Jordan Hallinan, Hicks, Carruthers, Lundstrom, Maxwell, Moy, Nelson, Peskin, D. Smith, Silva, Kato, Wieckowski, Halsted and Chair Randolph voting "YES", no "NO" votes and Commissioner McGrath abstaining.
  9. Public Hearing and Possible Vote on Permit Application No. 3-07 from the City and County of San Francisco, Recreation and Parks Department, to Maintenance Dredge the West Basin and Entrance Channel and Create a Sand Trap to Reduce Sediment Accumulation Over a Ten-Year Period at the San Francisco Marina. Chair Randolph explained that Item #9 is a public hearing and vote on an application to undertake maintenance dredging at the San Francisco Marina.
    Brenda Goeden provided background information on this project. As conditioned, the project would result in the following:
    Dredge up to 210,000 cubic yards of sediment from the San Francisco Marina's West Basin with disposal at the state and federally authorized Alcatraz disposal site over ten years.
    In addition, the applicant proposes to create and maintain a sand trap adjacent to the marina entrance, which is designed to capture sand that would otherwise enter the marina. To create and maintain the sand trap, the applicant would dredge 550,000 cubic yards of sand over ten years to be used as construction material. The sand would be placed at either an authorized upland location or outside the Commission's jurisdiction. In evaluating this proposed project the Commission should consider whether the project would be consistent with the McAteer-Petris Act and the San Francisco Bay Plan policies on dredging, water quality, subtidal areas, and whether the creation of a sand trap would minimize maintenance dredging and impacts to subtidal areas.
    Frank Felice from the San Francisco Department of Public Works presented additional information about this project: He has been doing dredging permits for approximately 16 years and is familiar with the site, the issues, and some of the concerns that have been raised with this application in the past.
    He has worked diligently with BCDC staff on this permit and has addressed a number of their concerns.
    Commissioner McGrath asked about the potential impact of disruption of sand transport on down coast beaches. Also, there is an indication that a couple of acres will be deepened from minus 25 to minus 55. There are no details about the habitat impact that this would have and whether or not it has been reviewed by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
    Mr. Felice said he has a copy of a map showing the hydraulic ridge on the bathymetric map and he can provide a copy of that.
    The 550,000 cubic yards of sand referred to in the permit is an "up to" number. The initial effort will be to excavate a hole large enough to remove the physical ridge that is currently there and intercept the material that is entering the entrance channel.
    In 1995 the first pilot study was completed and in 2000 he came back to BCDC for the first five year permit on this activity. There have been difficulties in the past in being able to coordinate the dredging activity with the physical area. He adjusted the physical area to address concerns about subtidal habitat by reducing the physical area of the excavation from about 450,000 square feet to 150,000 square feet.
    He attempted to address staff concerns when he began working on the initial permit re-authorization.
    Commissioner Peskin asked if this is being done in conjunction with a proposal to put in additional break waters. Mr. Felice said this permit is separate from that activity and the two are completely independent utility activities.
    Commissioner Nelson asked Mr. Felice to give him a sense of the relationship between the expected dredging in the sand trap and the anticipated dredging down the road in the marina itself. Mr. Felice said there is a major dredging program for the marina itself (210,000 yards) as part of this permit. The sand trap is to address two issues:
    A ridge that is developing on the outside of the tip of the marina which the bathymetric map clearly shows, and was included in his report to BCDC staff. There is a navigational hazard component to this effort. The second effort is to dredge to a depth to intercept material that would be coming around the tip. There is quite a build-up of material at the tip of the jetty and he is trying to intercept that material from coming in by trapping it in advance.
    Commissioner Nelson asked Mr. Felice what the results of the pilot project were. Mr. Felice said the hole is filled up but he was not able to establish a large enough hole or a consistent excavation pattern, but he was able to physically reduce the area and make it deeper in order to have a better attempt at this again. Because of these reasons the pilot project was not completed.
    Commissioner David Smith said it appears that the scale of the project proposed today is significantly larger in area and material than the earlier pilot project. He asked if it is necessary to have such a large scaled pilot project at this stage given that the initial pilot project was not completed. Mr. Felice said the volume that was approved by BCDC in 2000 is approximately the same amount that he is proposing today. It is a longer length of time, but he is committing to an initial excavation, and if necessary, an annual excavation of between 25 and 50,000. Because this is occurring over a ten year period the larger numbers show up.
    Commissioner McGrath asked if anyone has assessed the recreational impact dredging might have on Last Chance Beach. Mr. Felice said the primary work will be in the larger rectangular area (referring to Exhibits B and C).
    Commissioner Peskin asked if any hydrodynamic analysis or sand transport analysis has been done, as to the impacts to that beach and to Aquatic Park. Mr. Felice said a conceptual report was done on sand deposition in the area and it was submitted to BCDC staff, the Corps of Engineers, and other agencies on the DMMO for review.
    The report focused on the need to localize the area that had been proposed before, which was across the full jetty. Over time, with the jetty in place, the whole area has elevated. He is trying to go back to some historic point. Everything is in flux and he is trying to do the best he can to eliminate the silt and sand mixing and then having to be disposed of at the various disposal sites within the Bay which is taking up volume for other dredge activities.
    Commissioner McGrath asked what the current schedule is for this operation because he would like BCDC to have time to consult with the Department of Boating and Waterways to find out about beach impacts. Mr. Felice would like to get started in June.
    Commissioner Peskin said he would like to hear from Phil Williams & Associates at the April 3, 2008 meeting regarding this item.
    Commissioner Nelson requested staff look at how BCDC policies regarding maximum feasible public access and how it would apply to this project. Ms. Goeden said for the maximum feasible public access, dredging projects, are within the water so BCDC does not normally do an analysis of or require public access as part of the project. She said staff could go back to look at Last Chance Beach more carefully and review the analysis in conjunction with USGS and PWA. Commissioner McGrath said he believes this consultation is vital. He needs to have findings about recreational impact before he can comfortably vote to approve this project.
    Ms. Goeden said as stated in both the summary and recommendation, there is a current study being done on sediment transport in this area by USGS. Unfortunately, between the timing of the permit and this study, USGS was unable to provide the results of the study, and therefore staff could not analyze them for this dredging permit to move forward as scheduled.
    There is a special condition in the permit to look at the study, and if the study identifies potential impacts to the shoals or recreational areas, staff could re-evaluate the project, and the City could either re-design the sand trap or eliminate it. With good luck it is possible that this could be done by June. With bad luck it might be after the beginning of the dredging season. Commissioner Peskin asked why the month of June is important.
    Ms. Goeden said the reason June is important is because in San Francisco Bay there are a number of endangered species that require dredging to take place when they are not present. For this project the dredging period would last through November 30, 2008. Mr. Felice said he believes there are some navigational issues with the entrance channel and developing navigational issues with where he is proposing the trap to be. The other part of this permit is the physical maintenance dredging within the marina which he would want to perform in the season. Commissioner McGrath asked Mr. Felice if it would be possible to go ahead with the normal maintenance dredging in June, but to put off the establishment of the basin in order to try to minimize long-term dredging until it has had peer review.
    Mr. Felice said one of the maintenance issues is in entrance channels one and two. He is proposing to dredge channels one and two, as well as the trap at the same time. Commissioner McGrath said he has no problem with his dredging in annual volumes what was historically dredged. What he is concerned with is the expansion of it into a new area that might effect the beach.
    Commissioner David Smith asked if what is being contemplated by Mr. Felice might include monitoring both of the dredging in the marina itself, as well as in the sand trap area.
    Ms. Goeden said in the special conditions the monitoring takes up pre-dredged surveys of both the maintenance area for the entrance channel and the sand trap itself. They will then complete the first round of dredging of the sand trap and the entrance channel, and then after that they would get a post dredge. On an annual basis thereafter the sand trap would be monitored. A comparison from the pre-dredge from the first year to the post-dredge of the second year would then be monitored, and from thereon post-dredge to post-dredge would be monitored. There is the potential to look at sediment grain size graphs which could be included in the monitoring. Commissioner Wieckowski asked for clarification on page 3, under post-dredging requirements of the report. It specifies that if the episode stops for six months then they only need notification to the Commission. If, however, the dredging is suspended for six months then the Commission may require the permittee to do certain things. He asked what the difference between a stop and a suspension would be.
    Ms. Goeden said this condition is a standard maintenance dredging condition that is in almost all maintenance dredging permits. Initially it was intended for the dredging contractors who started dredging projects and then they would get a bid to go do someone else's work and they would not finish the first dredging project. Staff was having a hard time getting post dredge surveys from those contractors. She will look at this special condition more closely for this particular project.
    Commissioner Wieckowski said this might be a way that the Commission can keep the monitoring up and require the applicant to provide the information.
    Mr. Travis suggested that staff get with the applicant to get further information and bring this project back at the next meeting. The public hearing will be continued at the next meeting, the staff will offer their recommendation, and the Commission can vote at that time.
    Commissioner Potter noted that under the special conditions for the sand trap monitoring the term "if increased significant erosion is determined". He asked if "significant" is defined and whose determination is significant. Ms. Goeden said "significant" would be on behalf of the Commission. If staff was seeing erosion that caused concern they would bring it back to the Commission for determination. Commissioner Potter asked the frequency of monitoring. Ms. Goeden said the monitoring would be in the form of the post-dredge survey annually, and in comparison between the volumes dredged, both in and outside, of the entrance channel and the sand trap.
    Commissioner Carruthers asked whether or not monitoring the beach itself is part of the post-dredging monitoring. Ms. Goeden said this is not included in the current special conditions.
    Commissioner Gioia asked staff when BCDC allows disposal at the Alcatraz Disposal Site. He also asked if this is considered a small dredging project under the definition.
    Ms. Goeden said the small dredgers are usually projects that dredge, on average, less than 50,000 cubic yards per year and they have a limited depth of 12 feet. Staff has done analysis in the past through the development of the Long-Term Management Strategy for the Placement of Dredged Material in the Bay Region. This analysis showed, that given the number of small dredgers that may be dredging in a given year, disposal totals less than 250,000 cubic yards. What staff has seen over the years is that not that much material goes to Alcatraz from small dredgers. There are disposal volume limits at Alcatraz of 300,000 and 400,000 cubic yards a year. This is reviewed on a regular basis by the Dredge Material Management Office to make sure that BCDC is not sending too much there.
    Commissioner Potter said he had inferred from the language in the staff report that one of the special conditions was the monitoring of Aquatic Park and Crissy Field, but they are not.
    Ms. Goeden confirmed that they are not. It is something staff considered, but the cost of doing monitoring at both of those locations might be difficult to handle for the Marina. Mr. Felice said this would be more of a regional issue. He feels it would be a bit much to ask of a project when he has determined that the normalized impact is going to be very local.
    Commissioner Nelson said there are two different types of impacts: the first is physical slumping into the excavated area; and the second is interruption of sediment transport. Also, as he reads the map it does include monitoring of Last Chance Beach but not of Crissy Field.
    Ms. Goeden said she will provide a topographic map of the beach and a delineation of 500 feet around the sand trap at the next meeting.
    Commissioner David Smith asked staff if there is a feel for how long the monitoring needs to be done in order to see if this experiment is successful. Mr. Felice said if he cannot show a correlation over time, then it is not to his benefit to continue the project. Within the confines of the permit language, if there is ever a situation at the staff level that they are not convinced it working, then the permit is subject to revision and discussion.
    Commissioner McGrath said Phil Williams and Associates did two years of monitoring after the Crissy Field presentation. He believes, after reading the report, that perhaps some seasonal monitoring needs to be done. As a mechanism to not bog down the Commission he suggested consulting the Department of Boating and Waterways on monitoring. There were no comments from the public.
    Chair Randolph said this agenda item will be held over to the next meeting. He requested Ms. Goeden to work with the applicant taking forth the Commissioners questions and comments. Ms. Goeden said the map that she provided to Commissioner McGrath was the bathymetric map provided by San Francisco Marina dated July 2006.
  10. Commission Consideration of a Court Report Services Contract. Chair Randolph said agenda item 10 is the consideration of a contract for court reporting services. Mamie Lai provided the staff recommendation as follows:
    Staff recommends that the Commission authorize the Executive Director to enter into a $112,000 contract for a three-year term beginning April 15, 2008 to March 14, 2010 with Peters Shorthand Reporting to provide the Commission with specialized court reporting services for Commission meetings and other meetings as required.
    The staff further recommends that the Commission authorize the Executive Director to: (1) amend the contract as necessary, including revising the amount or duration of the agreement so long as the amendment does not involve substantial changes to the services provided; and (2) to enter into similar contracts in the future subject to the availability of funds, given that the Commission has an ongoing and continuous need for specialized court reporting services.
    Peters Shorthand Reporting has been BCDC's reporter for the last two and one half years.
    MOTION: Commissioner Gioia moved; seconded by Commissioner Lundstrom to approve staff's recommendation. The motion carried.
  11. Consideration of Strategic Plan Status Report. Mr. Travis explained that he was able to avoid a lay-off by moving staff from some general fund activities to reimburse them from grant activities. Consequently, there are a number of items on the strategic plan where deadlines will have to be delayed, and in a couple of cases, the objectives will need to be dropped.
    MOTION: Commissioner Carruthers moved to approve the requested changes to the strategic plan; seconded by Commissioner Silva. The motion carried.
  12. New Business. There was no new business.
  13. Old Business. Commissioner Goldzband asked if there is any news on the deputy AG's new baby. Deputy Attorney General Jacobs said that Alice Reynolds is on maternity leave (she had a baby girl) and he will be attending the BCDC Commission meetings until she returns.
  14. Adjournment.Upon motion by Commissioner Peskin, seconded by Commissioner David Smith, the meeting adjourned at 2:10 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,
WILL TRAVIS Executive Director

Approved, with no corrections, at the San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission Meeting of April 3, 2008