April 3, 2008 Commission Meeting Minutes
- Call to Order. The meeting was called to order by Chair Randolph at the Ferry Building in San Francisco, California at 1:05 p.m.
- Roll Call. Present were Chair Sean Randolph, Vice Chair Halsted, Commissioners Baird (represented by Alternate Potter), Bates, Bourgart, Brown (represented by Alternate Tim Smith), Gibbs, Gioia, Gordon, Jordan Hallinan, Kniss (represented by Alternate Carruthers), Lai-Bitker, Lundstrom, Maxwell, McGlashan, McGrath, Moy, Nelson, Peskin, David Smith, Silva, Thayer (represented by Alternate Kato), and Wickowski.
Not Present were: Department of Finance (Finn), Governor’s Appointee (Goldzband), U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Hicks), and Napa County (Wagenknecht).
- Public Comment Period. There were no public comments.
- Approval of Minutes of March 6, 2008 Meeting. Chair Randolph entertained a motion to adopt the minutes of March 6, 2008.
MOTION: Commissioner Peskin moved, seconded by Commissioner Halsted to approve the March 6, 2008 minutes. The motion carried unanimously.
- Report of the Chair. Chair Randolph reported on the following items:
a. 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 May 1, 2008. It will be held at the Ferry Building. At that meeting the following matters will be taken up:
- Continue the public hearing and vote on an application to undertake maintenance dredging at the San Francisco marina yacht harbor. The hearing on this application was opened at the last BCDC meeting and it was planned to take this matter up at today’s hearing. However, the applicant’s representative is on vacation so this will be carried over to the next meeting.
- Consider 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.
Vice Chair Halsted noted that she had a telephone conversation with some advocates of bicycles on the Richmond San Rafael Bridge and she suggested that they attend a future BCDC meeting.
Commissioner Carruthers said he had a telephone conversation with representatives of the City of San Jose and the Santa Clara Valley Water District regarding AB2594.
Commissioner Tim Smith said he had a brief conversation with the bicycle advocates.
- Report of the Executive Director. Mr. Travis provided the following report:
a. Budget: Since the last BCDC meeting, budget subcommittees in both the State Senate and State Assembly have approved Governor Schwarzenegger’s proposed 2008-09 fiscal year budget for BCDC. State General Fund reductions would have resulted in the loss of four staff positions next year, but through attrition and redirection of staff to work pad by grants and contracts, the cuts can be accommodated without laying off staff.
- Personnel:The Governor has imposed a hiring freeze, but it is limited to positions supported by State General Fund revenue. Therefore, Mr. Travis asked for the Commission’s concurrence to hire Adam Parris as a Coastal Program Analyst to work in the planning unit on a six-month project funded by the federal Coastal Zone Management Act grant. Adam will be working on the update of BCDC’s Bay Plan policies to reflect the impacts of climate change and sea level rise on Bay habitats and sedimentation processes. Unless the Commission objects, Mr. Parris will begin working for BCDC on April 14, 2008
Rosanna McGuire, a paid intern, has been added to BCDC’s staff. She will be working in the planning unit to use GIS data to identify and analyze priority use areas that are at risk of inundation from sea level rise.
- Per Diem Procedures: A memo, which was sent to the Commissioners on March 21, explained why staff is proposing to make a slight revision in the administrative procedures that guide staff when paying per diem for attending Commission meetings. The procedures the Commission adopted 32 years ago and revised 11 years later allows for payments to be made to a Commissioner or the Commissioner’s alternate (but not both) for attending a BCDC meeting. Since the procedure was last updated, the Commission has begun holding annual strategic planning workshops and new Commission member briefings where both the Commissioner and alternate are invited to attend. To reflect this practice, staff will amend the procedure so the accounting staff can authorize payment of per diem to both the Commissioner and alternate for these special meetings.
- Paradise Cay: Last November, BCDC agreed to settle a lawsuit and enter into a stipulated judgment to address ongoing violations at the Paradise Cay marina located in Marin County and to require completion of the construction of the marina by September 26, 2008 A 1992 engineering report indicated that building a 45-foot-long sheet-pile extension of the northern breakwater and placing 15 piles along the shoreline would help stabilize the toe of the jetty at the southern end of the marina. Therefore, these elements are included in the marina project BCDC approved. Based on physical changes in the and new information, the same engineering firm has now revised its assessment and concluded that neither of these elements is needed to stabilize the jetty. Therefore, unless the Commission objects, staff will amend the permit and stipulated judgment to eliminate these elements from the approved project. These changes will reduce the cost of the project, increase the likelihood construction will be completed as scheduled, and not affect the safety or stability of the approved project.
- Personnel:The Governor has imposed a hiring freeze, but it is limited to positions supported by State General Fund revenue. Therefore, Mr. Travis asked for the Commission’s concurrence to hire Adam Parris as a Coastal Program Analyst to work in the planning unit on a six-month project funded by the federal Coastal Zone Management Act grant. Adam will be working on the update of BCDC’s Bay Plan policies to reflect the impacts of climate change and sea level rise on Bay habitats and sedimentation processes. Unless the Commission objects, Mr. Parris will begin working for BCDC on April 14, 2008
- Commission Consideration of Administrative Matters. On March 21, staff sent the Commissioners a listing of the administrative matters. With the concurrence of the applicant, staff is pulling one of the items from the listing. It is Permit Application No. M07-20. The City of Larkspur needs more time to determine whether refinements are needed in the design of the project. Bob Batha is available to respond to any questions the Commission may have about the matters on the listing.
- Commission Consideration of a Contract to Disburse Funds to Remove Bay Fill. Adrienne Klein presented the following information:
Staff seeks the Commission’s support to enter into a contract to disburse $172,500 to the City of Benicia to fund removal of four steel barges from the Bay.
The four barges cover approximately 5,700 square feet of Bay surface area and are part of a boat yard known by its former name “Joe Garske Boatyard”. For nearly 50 years,
Mr. Garske operated a boat salvage and repair service at the foot of C Street in downtown Benicia. At the time of his death in 2005, Mr. Garske’s collection of vessels and equipment covered, not only his underwater properties, but also the adjacent City and other privately-owned underwater parcels and street rights-of-way. The staff has been aware of this problem for many years and, with the voluntary cooperation of one property owner in particular, a significant amount of the derelict fill left by Mr. Garske has been removed from both private and City property. However, a significant amount of the unauthorized fill also remains in the Bay.
In 1997, the Commission authorized CalTrans to seismically retrofit the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge. In granting this authorization, BCDC required CalTrans to mitigate the adverse impacts of the project, in part, by establishing an interest-bearing account in the Commission’s name in the amount of $750,000, which, over time, has accrued to over one million dollars. In three previous contracts, the Commission has authorized the staff to disburse $822,300 to remove Bay fill from Richardson Bay in Marin County, the Port of Richmond and the City of Alameda.
The staff seeks the Commission’s support to disburse $172,000 of the remaining $308,792 to the City of Benicia to remove four steel barges from the Bay. The City was unable to attend today’s meeting but it has chosen a contractor, Phil Joy, who is here to answer any questions.
Commissioner Nelson asked who currently owns the barges, and whether or not the owners should be responsible for removing the barges. Ms. Klein said the property owner is responsible for the removal of the barges; however, there is only identifying information for some of the barges. In the past BCDC staff has sent letters to the owners of those barges. Staff is reticent to pursue an active enforcement against a property owner who inherited the violation and who did not actually place the fill.
Commissioner McGrath asked when the barges were placed on the City of Benicia’s property. Mr. Travis said they were placed there over a half century ago (beginning in the 1950’s). Possibly the City should have been more diligent, but they are being quite diligent now and Mr. Travis believes it is better to reward this with a partnership by helping them out.
Commissioner David Smith asked what would be done with the barges upon their removal. Ms. Klein said they will be legally disposed in landfill and the steel will be recycled.
Chair Randolph asked for a motion and second on staff’s recommendation.
MOTION: Commissioner Bates moved; seconded by Commissioner Gioia to approve staff’s recommendation to disburse $172,500 to the City of Benicia to remove four steel barges from the Bay. The motion carried unanimously.VOTE: The motion carried with a roll call vote of 23-0-0 with Commissioners Potter, Bates, Bourgart, T. Smith, Gibbs, Gioia, Gordon, Jordan Hallinan, Carruthers, Lai-Bitker, Lundstrom, Maxwell, McGlashan, McGrath, Moy, Nelson, Peskin, D. Smith, Silva, Kato, Wieckowski, Halsted and Chair Randolph voting “YES”, no “NO” votes.
- Public Hearing and Vote on Pending Legislation. Chair Randolph explained that Item #9 is a public hearing and vote on whether to take positions on two bills that impact the Bay.
Will Travis provided the following report:
AB 2094: AB 2094 was introduced at BCDC’s request by Mark DeSaulnier and John Laird to give BCDC explicit authority to gather information and plan for the impacts of climate change. The Commission has found itself in a leadership position in dealing with sea level rise in the Bay from global warming, but it does not have a mandate to do so. AB 2094 would address this problem.
This bill would also authorize the Commission to become a voting member of the regional Joint Policy Committee. With the concurrence of the other members of the Committee, seven representatives of the Commission currently sit on that Committee, but the state law that was enacted to create the Committee some years ago gives the authority to vote only to the representatives from the Association of Bay area Governments, the Bay Area Air Quality Management District, and the Metropolitan Transportation Commission. Passage of AB 2094 would address this shortcoming.
Because this bill was introduced to achieve objectives in BCDC’s adopted strategic plan, staff believes it is fair for them to indicate that the Commission supports this measure. Therefore, yesterday, staff testified in favor of AB 2094 at the Assembly Local Government Committee, which passed the measure by a bipartisan unanimous vote. The bill will next be considered by the Assembly Natural Resources Committee on April 14, 2008.
To formally acknowledge the Commission’s endorsement and sponsorship of this bill, staff recommends that the Commission go on record of supporting passage of and sponsoring AB 2094.
AB 2954: This bill was introduced by Assemblymembers Sally Lieber and Loni Hancock to establish the San Francisco Bay Restoration Authority. This new agency would be empowered to raise and distribute funds for the restoration, enhancement, protection, and enjoyment of Bay wetlands and wildlife habitats. Save the Bay is the sponsor of this bill. Last October, BCDC voted to support the concept of creating a new regional authority to raise and distribute funds for Bay enhancements projects.
The language of this bill is evolving and staff has provided the Commission with an internal working draft rather than the spot bill that is in print; however, yesterday another draft with further amendments was received from Save the Bay and the latest draft is being provided to you today.
The proposed authority would be empowered to set up benefit assessment districts, raise special taxes or property related fees, issue revenue bonds, incur bond indebtedness and enter into joint powers agreements.
These capabilities are important tools to achieve the overall objective of providing revenue needed to acquire, restore and enhance Bay habitat, as well as provide public access and recreational amenities as parts of these restoration projects. However, as noted in the staff report, a few slight refinements are needed to ensure these new authorities are carried out in concert with the Commission’s strategic planning for the protection of the Bay, preservation of shoreline areas for priority uses and, most importantly, for addressing climate change and sea level rise in the future.
The latest version of the bill suggests that this problem be addressed by requiring that any projects funded by the new authority must be consistent with the Bay Plan. Staff recommends a further minor amendment requiring consistency with BCDC’s coastal management program for the Bay Area because that program includes the policies of the McAteer-Petris Act, the Suisun Marsh Preservation Act, and the Suisun Marsh Protection Plan, as well as the Bay Plan.
It is essential that the work of this new authority be closely coordinated with the activities of the Bay Area Conservancy Program, which is administered by the State Coastal Conservancy. Therefore, it is appropriate that a representative from the Conservancy serve on the Board of the new Bay Restoration Authority. However, as noted when Save the Bay brought this concept to BCDC last year, the governing Board of the Conservancy does not include any representatives who have to be from the Bay Area. Therefore, staff suggests that locally-elected officials from BCDC’s region should serve on the Authority’s board.
To accomplish this objective, the latest draft of the bill has slightly altered language drawn from the McAteer-Petris Act prescribing how the Association of Bay Area Governments goes about selecting its representatives to serve on BCDC. However, the language does not require that ABAG appoint the same individuals to both BCDC and the new Authority.
To address this shortcoming, staff recommended that the language be amended to empower BCDC to appoint four members of the Commission who are locally-elected officials to serve on the Authority board. This would ensure that there is both local representation and close coordination between the Commission and the new authority. This arrangement would be similar to the one that exists between the Coastal Commission and the Coastal Conservancy where the Coastal Commission’s chair serves on the Board of the Coastal Conservancy.
Staff recommends that the Commission support passage of AB2954 if the two amendments described above are incorporated. The first amendment would require Authority projects to be consistent with the Commission’s coastal management program for the Bay Area. The second amendment would empower BCDC to appoint four of the locally-elected officials who serve on the Commission to serve on the Board of the new Restoration Authority.
Mr. David Lewis, Executive Director of Save the Bay, said Save the Bay has expressed support for AB2954 and will continue working for passage of this important legislation. The staff’s description of AB2954 is accurate. The bill has 15 co-authors from the Senate and the Assembly. It is important to note that the Bay Authority that is being created in this bill is not designed to be a regulatory agency. The bill makes no changes to BCDC’s authority, or to the authority of any other permitting agency. It does not change any of the permitting requirements for restoration projects in the Bay.
Down the line, if this authority is successful and is able to raise funds, it will then be in a position to grant funds. Permitted projects would clearly have a big advantage in competing for grants from the Authority.
At the request of BCDC staff, Save the Bay has recommended some important amendments to the bill as was mentioned by Mr. Travis. Those amendments underscore the importance of BCDC’s Bay Plan as a guiding document for the Bay, including wetland restoration projects. He will work with the author to recommend that this reference is appropriately referencing the coastal plan.
The staff’s suggestion of changing the bill’s procedure for actually appointing members to the Authority is not practical or wise. All of the input that he has received since this report has been released has emphasized the importance of separating this granting agency from regulatory agencies. He does not want the roles to be blurred or the functions to be inappropriately combined. Having BCDC appoint individuals from the Commission to the Authority would suggest crossing this line.
He was warned by legislative counsel in the Assembly, as well as by committee consultants on the Senate side, not to make the changes as suggested in BCDC’s staff report because there is not another example of a State agency making appointments of local elected officials to a local agency. While this new Authority being created will be shaped by State Legislation, it will not be a state agency once it is created.
Save the Bay requests that the Commission vote to support AB2954 but without insisting on the additional amendments that would propose to take the appointment authority for local elected officials from ABAG and give that authority to BCDC.
MOTION: Commissioner Peskin moved; seconded by Commissioner Gordon to close the public hearing. The motion carried.
Commissioner McGlashan said he vigorously supports both bills. BCDC has been an incredibly helpful partner to local governments, as well as in the region, and has a strong voice of sober analysis and overall support for dealing with the issue of climate change. He believes that BCDC’s role on the Joint Policy Committee, and gaining voting authority on this agency, makes a lot of sense. He thanked Mr. Travis and the Commission in taking the leadership role in helping to raise the state of science and analysis of climate change in general.
Regarding AB2954, he feels comfortable with the staff recommendation on the appointment rather than just leaving it to ABAG. He likes the idea of the Authority and believes that BCDC’s background in land use, public access, and environmental knowledge would add value.
MOTION: Commissioner McGlashan moved; seconded by Commissioner Gioia to support AB2094, which will provide BCDC with explicit authority to address climate change and to become a voting member of the regional Joint Policy Committee .
Commissioner Gioia said ABAG is discussing whether or not the BCDC appointee should be an elected official. Commissioner Gioia said he believes it should be any BCDC official that can be appointed to JPC. The Administrative Committee is scheduled to discuss this next Thursday. He sits on this Committee and will argue for the point that it should be any BCDC Commissioner. ABAG may be taking a position to amend this issue.
Chair Randolph asked for a roll call vote.
VOTE: The motion carried with a roll call vote of 22-0-0 with Commissioners Potter, Bates, Bourgart, T. Smith, Gibbs, Gioia, Gordon, Jordan Hallinan, Carruthers, Lai-Bitker, Lundstrom, Maxwell, McGlashan, Moy, Nelson, Peskin, D. Smith, Silva, Kato, Wieckowski, Halsted and Chair Randolph voting “YES”, no “NO” votes and no abstentions.
Chair Randolph entertained a motion and a second to support AB 2954 as amended.
Commissioner McGlashan asked, through the Chair, if Commissioner Gioia or other ABAG representatives would provide their point of view on whether BCDC, as an appointing authority, would be a good or bad idea given the concern about regulatory conflation.
Commissioner Gioia said he has mixed feelings. He does not believe that ABAG, by itself, is a better appointing authority than BCDC on a general basis. The issue he needs to understand more fully, however, is the issue of delineation between regulatory and the fact that this new entity will not be regulatory. Would this would create some sort of conflict. He asked Mr. Travis whether there are other situations where regulatory authorities have appointed members to other committees or commissions that potentially have a conflict.
Mr. Travis said that David Lewis has emphasized the Commission as a regulatory agency. The Commission’s primary purpose is a planning agency and it uses its regulatory authority as one tool to implement that plan. The Restoration Authority is another tool.
The notion of having some separation is important, but at the same time, it is essential to have the planning agency have some capability of ensuring that the restoration agency is operating in the context of the overall strategic plan.
The idea the legislative counsel raised seems odd to him because in the legislation there is a provision where the State Coastal Conservancy, which is a state agency, would sit on the Board of this new local agency. Why is it okay for one state agency to appoint members but not another?
Commissioner Peskin asked why there could not be a provision in law that states ABAG appoints “in consultation with BCDC”.
Commissioner Carruthers said the overwhelming majority of projects to be funded will need to get permits from BCDC. He feels uneasy about having 4 out of 5 members of the Authority being members of the body that will also approve the projects.
Chair Randolph said one option that might resolve this issue would be to split the difference, i.e., 2 representatives from ABAG and 2 representatives from BCDC.
Commissioner David Smith asked if the Commission went along with the idea of BCDC appointing, would the members who served on the Authority have to recuse themselves from permit matters that subsequently came before BCDC. This might create a distance between the permitting and the planning aspects of the projects. Mr. Travis said it would be much the same situation as when locally elected officials have approved, and in some cases participated in the funding in their official capacity on projects that then come to BCDC.
The Deputy Attorney General said it is not uncommon, for instance, for a City Counsel to appropriate funds for a low income housing project and then vote on the permit for the project. She does not believe there is a conflict of interest in this matter for BCDC.
Commissioner Nelson said he is concerned with having 4 out 5 members of the Authority being members from BCDC. He believes this could lead to the impression that this authority is a subcommittee of the Commission and this could create a conflict.
Commissioner Lai-Bitker said she also has concern with 4 out 5 members from the Commission sitting on the Authority Board.
Commissioner McGlashan said he likes Chair Randolph’s recommendation of a two and two split.
Commissioner Bates also agrees with a two and two split.
- Briefing and Public Hearing on Bicycle and Pedestrian Access on the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge. Brad McCrea provided the following briefing:
For over 50 years the Richmond San Rafael Bridge has provided a critical transportation link between Marin County and Contra Costa County. Up to 77,000 vehicles cross this bridge every day.
Direct access for pedestrians, bicycles, and wheelchairs on the bridge has always been prohibited, requiring bicyclists to cross the bridge by boarding busses or by using taxis.
The bridge is a key component of the regional San Francisco Bay Trail, a project that is envisioned to link all counties in the Bay area, as well as all toll bridges crossing the Bay.
In the past, BCDC has expressed its general support for pedestrian and bicycle access across the Richmond San Rafael Bridge, as well as other Bay bridges.
This bridge has two decks; each with two travel lanes and a roadway shoulder. Recent traffic forecasts show that vehicle flows on Interstate 580 could be significantly improved by converting the bridge shoulders to travel lanes, thereby increasing the lane configuration on the bridge from four lanes to six lanes.
At the same time the shoulders on the bridge have been studied for uses of bike and pedestrian trail. Working in tandem with CalTrans, MTC, and the Bay Area Toll Authority a design solution has been put forward that many believe accommodates both goals of increased vehicular use and public access.
BATA determined that public access is feasible within the shoulder on the upper deck during non-peak commute hours by utilizing a movable barrier. It was recognized, at that time, that this trail design would need a design exception from CalTrans headquarters. Subsequently, CalTrans has determined that using the shoulder for bicycle and pedestrian path would pose a number of safety concerns, safety hazards to motorists and has indicated that they will not approve the trail design.
In September of 1997, BCDC issued Permit No. 1-97 to CalTrans for the seismic retrofit of the bridge. At that time BCDC did not require bike access on the bridge mostly because the issues related to motorists and non-motorists sharing the bridge had not been adequately studied. CalTrans voluntarily agreed to use its best efforts to prepare a study in consultation with MTC to determine the feasibility of providing access across the Richmond San Rafael Bridge. Further, at that time, CalTrans agreed that if public access were feasible they would ensure that the access was provided on the bridge as soon as the retrofit work was completed.
Since 1997 CalTrans, MTC, and BATA have done a lot of work to study the feasibility of access on the bridge. For example, in 1998, CalTrans concluded that a new cantilever bike path would be better than an on-deck bicycle and pedestrian facility. However, deficiencies in available data were sited that precluded definitive safety analyses. In order to address these deficiencies, CalTrans then commissioned the Mineta Transportation Institute to evaluate public access on bridges and other facilities. In 2001 CalTrans found the Mineta Report to be inconclusive on the issues of capacity, operation, safety, and enforcement.
In 2002 BCDC requested that CalTrans, MTC, and BATA prepare an additional study to assess public access on the Richmond San Rafael Bridge. That study was completed within the past year and found, in part, that traffic on the 580 corridors could be significantly improved by changing the bridge to six lanes. To enable a six lane bridge the shoulders on both the upper and lower deck would be converted to travel lanes.
- Consideration of Strategic Plan Status Report. Mr. Travis said the next all-day strategic planning workshop has been scheduled for September 18, 2008. There are two deadlines that need to be changed in the plan and he asked for a motion, second and vote.
MOTION: Commissioner Bates moved; seconded by Commissioner Kato to change the deadline. The motion carried unanimously.
- Briefing on the Science of Climate Change. It was the general consensus of the Commission to move this agenda item to the next BCDC meeting on May 1 or to a time
Dr. Gunther is available to provide his presentation. Mr. Travis suggested beginning that meeting at 12:30 and have this briefing appear first on the agenda.
MOTION: Commissioner Carruthers moved to approve the requested changes to the strategic plan; seconded by Commissioner Silva. The motion carried.
- New Business. Ms. Heather Flick requested a revision to the Strategic Plan. She asked the Commission to review and revise the Richardson Bay Special Area Plan. She asked that this be a high priority in the strategic plan. She asked for notification when this can be placed on the agenda. Ms. Sweeney said the Commission’s next Strategic Planning Workshop will be held in September and this may be an item the Commission can consider to put on their agenda.
Ms. Flick asked if this could be placed on the agenda as an emergency action item before September. Chair Randolph suggested she take this issue up with the Executive Director.
- Old Business. There was no old business.
- Adjournment. Upon motion by Commissioner Bourgart, seconded by Commissioner Lundstrom, the meeting adjourned at 3:45 p.m.
Harvey Allison asked about mooring in Richardson Bay. He said there are a number of boats permanently moored in the Bay that are causing trouble. He asked who would have jurisdiction over these boats. Mr. Travis said the local government, the State of California, and the Federal government would have jurisdiction. Since BCDC is a part of the State of California, and if these boats have been moored over an extended period of time, BCDC would have some jurisdiction.
Mr. Allison said he cannot get anyone to take responsibility to stop the sewage or address the drift aways. Mr. Travis recommended that Mr. Allison call him so they can arrange to meet regarding this issue.
MOTION: Commissioner Bates moved; seconded by Commissioner McGlashan to support AB2954, which will establish a Bay restoration authority if the legislation is amended to (a) require that any projects funded by the authority be consistent with all of BCDC’s laws, policies and plans, and (b) empower BCDC to appoint two locally-elected officials who serve on the Commission to be members of the new restoration authority (two addition locally-elected officials would be appointed to the board by ABAG).Chair Randolph asked for a roll call vote.
VOTE: The motion carried with a roll call vote of 17-2-3 with Commissioners Bates,
T. Smith, Gibbs, Gioia, Jordan Hallinan, Carruthers, Lai-Bitker, Lundstrom, McGlashan, Moy, Nelson, Peskin, D. Smith, Silva, Wieckowski, Halsted and Chair Randolph voting “YES”, Commissioners Gordon and Maxwell voting “NO” and Commissioners Potter, Bourgart and Kato abstaining.
Commissioner Gioia said because there is geographic appointments there would have to be an amendment so that BCDC and ABAG alternate appointments from the four quadrants around the Bay.
Commissioner Wieckowski said he believes it is appropriate to let the Legislators interpret whether there should be a 2 and 2 split.
Commissioner Peskin said he would be inclined to use a conservancy type of model, and to the extent that there are other bodies appointing, he would make a friendly amendment to the motion to have 1 BCDC appointee.
Commissioner Bates said he believes 2 is appropriate. The Legislature may come up with another idea. He suggested getting a hand vote from the Commissioners whether they opt for 2 appointees versus 4. With a show of hands more Commissioners were inclined to vote for 2 appointees.
Commissioner Carruthers asked Mr. Lewis how a project, such as the one for flood control in Silicon Valley, would be affected by the creation of the Authority. Mr. Lewis said the first five years of this effort will be to look at where taxes, assessments, or other financial mechanisms could be proposed. The Agency will not be able to impose those; it will propose them. This new Authority will have to be in deep conversations with other agencies because the only way that anything it proposes will be passed and approved is by property owners, taxpayers, or residents.
If the funding mechanisms are established, funds flow into this agency and it then has funds to grant the Legislature will then set up criteria for evaluating what the priorities should be. The bill does not establish any different regulatory requirements or permitting requirements. It only established an Authority that can look at ways of raising funds from people in the Bay Area, and if it is successful it can grant funds to projects that are eligible.
Commissioner Carruthers said he would like to understand what the working relationship would be. Mr. Lewis said if the Authority is established it would be up to individual agencies to collaborate or not. If an agency is successful at raising funds for people within its jurisdiction for purposes that include Bay restoration and levee maintenance on the shoreline then this may be a place where the Authority would focus less.
The importance of establishing this Authority is just to have an agency that can look at these questions and consider where to propose funds and how to raise money.
Last November, BATA finalized the project study report that included a preferred design solution that accommodates both uses on the bridge; public access and more vehicular travel lanes.
The preferred public access alternative that was identified consists of a two-way ten and one half foot wide multi-use pathway on the west bound deck of the bridge that would be separated from traffic by a movable barrier. Bike, pedestrian, and wheelchair access would be available at all times except during peak hours for west bound motorists.
Last month CalTrans informed BATA that the Department was unable to approve the non-standard features associated with that preferred alternative. CalTrans safety concerns include, in general, that freeway facilities without shoulders provide less recovery space for errant vehicles; that accidents involving long vehicles could result in an obstructed travel way; and that deployment of the movable barrier would increase the number of accidents. Congestion and emergency response time on the bridge was also stated as concerns.
Today there are some members of the public who are eager to share their thoughts with the Commission. There are representatives from MTC and CalTrans available to answer any questions.
Commissioner Bates said he personally favors some way to allow bicycles, pedestrians, and wheelchairs to operate on the Richmond San Rafael Bridge. He asked the Commission to keep moving forward on this item. Commissioner Gioia echoed Commissioner Bates’ comments.
Steve Kinsey, from MTC, said he is speaking today as the Chair of the BATA Oversight Committee. He has a personal involvement in this issue that has extended over ten years. He participated in the study in 1997 when CalTrans voluntarily agreed to meet with a number of advocates. He felt good about helping to forge a document that was published with a preferred solution. It lead to the follow-up study by the Mineta Institute.
Ten years have gone by and he has expressed frustration during this time as to the reasons for the delays in getting information out. The Mineta study was slow in coming and when it did arrive it expressed the fact that it didn’t have significant concerns about safety. It also received a non-committal review by CalTrans who felt that it was inconclusive. Several years then intervened in which use of the bridge was re-visited by MTC and CalTrans to try to correlate their models for use on the bridge. After a long arm wrestling match, CalTrans proved victorious in getting their models approved at a much earlier date which showed that the third lane would be needed.
This led to the Project Study Report with a three lane alternative and the opportunity that emerged in what MTC believed was a reasonable compromise for shared use of the facility. After almost a year of hand wringing, CalTrans was finally able to spit out the two letters “NO”.
He encouraged and thanked BCDC for its long-standing commitment to public access goals around the Bay and to the vision of a Bay Trail. There will be segments of the trail that will have been accomplished easily and there will be segments of the trail that will have been accomplished with a great challenge.
BATA and MTC worked overtime to try to find a compromise with CalTrans. This is the Bay Trail and you should not leave out segments because there are things that are hard to achieve. This is a network and everyone needs to recognize the Bay Trail for what it is and work on it.
It is clear there is not enough money to build the infrastructure needed. Everyone in the public agencies face the challenges that climate change brings and, recognizing that transportation is 60 percent of the climate change challenge, accommodations will have to be made and risks will be taken in order to achieve the transportation and mobility goals within the budgets that the public agencies have.
The concept of 1B is actually an excellent example of getting more from the same. It is a shared use solution, it accommodates the third lane interest that CalTrans has during the times of the day when it would be needed, it puts a structure in place that is similar to what is about
to be installed on the Golden Gate Bridge, it does not permanently change the structure of the bridge. During the seismic retrofit there were a lot of barriers on that bridge, and after an initial period of getting adjusted, it was found that the accident rates actually went down during the period of seismic retrofit because people were more attentive and drove at a more reasonable rate of speed.
He encouraged BCDC to hold firm to the commitment of public access and to make it clear to CalTrans that BCDC wants them to continue to work closely with MTC and BATA to find a compromise that will connect two low-income communities on a facility that exists today and could be a shining example of how to get more out of the same.
Commissioner Gibbs said CalTrans set forth some very specific objections. They were:
(1) that freeway facilities without shoulders provide less recovery space for errant vehicles;
(2) accidents involving long motor vehicles could result in obstructive travel; and
(3) deployment of the moveable barrier would increase accident occurrences. He asked
Mr. Kinsey to offer his reaction to these objections.
Mr. Kinsey said he just crossed the Golden Gate Bridge and it has no shoulders and no recovery space whatsoever. Secondly, CalTrans, in their own proposal in the Project Study Report, proposed to eliminate the shoulders to create the third lane. So in their own instances of wanting to use that portion of the bridge they were prepared to accommodate the design they would need. What he sees is a pattern of using the strongest regulations and design standards when it serves their purposes and being able to make accommodation when they see their own needs are better served.
The statistics during seismic retrofit illustrate that you can have physical structure barriers on the bridge and not have increased accident rates.
During the commute hours at the peak direction going westbound in the morning the moveable barrier would be off to the side and the third lane would be available across the entire span. It would only be during non-peak hours and weekends when the bike path facility would be in place.
Commissioner Bourgart asked if this would be an appropriate time for the CalTrans representative to respond to some of Commissioner Gibbs’ questions.
Bijan Sartipi, CalTrans District Director for the Bay Area, said with respect to the lack of safety taking the shoulder on the Richmond San Rafael Bridge, and the comparison that was made with the Golden Gate Bridge, every facility is different. The experience of the driver, depending on the confinement of the space, has a lot to do with the behavior of the driver as they are traveling through a facility.
It is not a CalTrans plan necessarily to advocate for the third lane. It is the demand of the traffic that is asking for a study. Neither of the project studies has been approved because of the safety issues.
This process was started with an idea to search and look for a solution that could be implemented. The Department looked at this in great detail and it does not want to make a decision quickly. The decision will have to be one of safety, defensible, and doable. In looking at all the data that was provided CalTrans could not get to a resolution that would be technically defensible in a court.
With respect to the decrease of accidents during construction it was noted that construction zones are different, in that the speeds are lower, there is the enforcement of the construction zone monitored by the Highway Patrol which could lead to the decrease of accident rates.
Chair Randolph opened the public hearing and reminded speakers that they have 3 minutes to speak.
Craig Murray, a San Rafael fourth generation family member as well as a development project manager with the City of Richmond, a member of San Rafael Park and Recreation Commission, and a Director on Los Molinas Valley Sanitary District said local agencies are honoring their commitment to complete the Bay Trail. It is encouraging to see important bikeway links being completed.
He attended a Bikeway Construction meeting sponsored by a Marin County Supervisor and two items were noted: (1) the main Highway 101 frontage road is being widened, and
(2) CalTrans is working with MTA in providing Class 1 freeway adjacent trail protected by
K-Rail from north San Rafael to central San Rafael.
In the mid-‘70’s there was a gas and water crisis. A water pipeline was across the bridge as an acceptable barrier at that time and K-Rail was available at that time.
He supports CalTrans in honoring its commitment by now providing the desired bike route over the existing San Rafael Bridge.
Deb Hubsmith, Advocacy Director for the Marin County Bicycle Coalition, said due to the work of BCDC the east span of the Bay Bridge is being constructed with a bicycle and pedestrian pathway. Similarly, with this project, she requested that the Commission send a direction to CalTrans that they will not approve a permit for use of the third lane of this bridge unless they provide the bicycle and pedestrian pathway simultaneously.
Through BCDC’s authority to provide maximum feasible access, they can require a bicycle and pedestrian pathway as part of any proposal to add the third lane for cars. She asked the Commission send a strong signal to CalTrans today that they will do just that.
This is part of the San Francisco Bay Trail. There have been three studies that have been done on this project over the last 11 years. CalTrans will tell you that the length of time that has taken for this project should show their commitment to the project. She said it is just more delays and it is time for BCDC to take a strong stand and help provide for alternative methods of transportation. Because of climate change there needs to be ways to reduce vehicle use and to encourage alternatives. This bicycle and pedestrian pathway that is proposed will do just that.
As was noted, there are numbers from the Project Study Report that show that accidents on the bridge actually went down when the barrier was installed for doing construction. Enforcing the speed limit of 55 or 45 miles per hour could further reduce accidents and help the climate change goals.
She asked that BCDC give policy direction today to CalTrans to say that they will require public access as part of any permit to open the third lane for cars. Ask CalTrans to reconsider and approve the design in order to provide a win-win for everyone.
Allan Jensen said he belongs to the University of California Bike Committee, a member of the Recumbence of the East Bay Club, and has worked with the Sierra Club, ABAG Bay Trail, and Trails for Richmond Action Committee Track. He commuted to work before he retired on a bicycle and rides his bike even more now that he is retired.
This is the 21st century and it should include bikes as a non-polluting conveyance to cross the Bay. Bicyclists would like to have the ability to go across any of the bridges.
The movement across the Bay that is envisioned by the Bay Trail system is approximately 500 miles. A Richmond San Rafael bridge pathway would eliminate many miles of a commute. He thanked BCDC for their consideration of this proposal.
Tim Gilbert, a resident of San Rafael, a member of the San Rafael Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee, a member of the Marin County Bicycle Coalition, the Sonoma County Bicycle Coalition, and an accessibility planner and bicycle and pedestrian designer, said he is speaking today as a commuter.
He would be one of those people who would not be in a car on the bridge if this Bay Trail connection were completed. The Zampa Bridge and the Golden Gate Bridge are good examples of how to provide this multi-modal opportunity for people to use the bridge safely. The proposal on the table now is a reasonable solution and he supports it strongly. It is his hope that BCDC can provide policy direction to CalTrans and use its power of persuasion and regulation to help this happen.
Robert Raburn, Director of the East Bay Bicycle Coalition, said there has been a misplaced trust in CalTrans to provide public access on the Bay. He asked that the Commission adopt a resolution in support of the moveable barrier proposal including the design exceptions included in the proposal.
He asked the Commission to not accept a third lane proposal from CalTrans now, or ever, without including the public access in that proposal.
He believes it is still an opportune time to provide bicycle and pedestrian access on a bridge. BCDC’s adopted resolution in 1997 noted that if a project had been proposed for the San Rafael Bridge with the cost of $305 million, BCDC would have required the permittee to provide a Class 1 path over the bridge. The seismic retrofit of that bridge is over $1 billion and there is a shortfall in the balance between public access and the expenditure for travel lanes on the bridge.
All the studies from the 1998 public access feasibility study show access is feasible; CalTrans response: rejection. The Mineta Report showed safety; CalTrans response: rejection. In 2003 when the proposal started he accepted that there be a solid barrier and accepted a third lane proposal and what has been received by CalTrans is again rejection.
David Burch, a principal planner with the Bay Area Air Quality Management District, noted that the staff report sites both the San Francisco Bay Trail Plan as well as the Bay Plan as a basis for potential action that this Commission might take.
Regional agencies collaborate on developing the Bay Area clean area plans and those plans include transportation control measures that are developed by MTC in collaboration with the Air District. Since the first clean air plan was adopted in 1991 it has included TCM Transportation Control Measure No. 9 which calls for improvements in bicycle access and facilities. It specifically sites the regional bicycle plan and the regional bicycle network that is defined in that plan as something that improves air quality. The regional bicycle network specifically includes access on the Richmond San Rafael Bridge.
The Air District staff would like to make sure that as BCDC moves forward it is aware of the fact that in addition to the Bay Plan and the Bay Trail Plan, the Regional Bicycle Plan and Regional Air Quality Plan are also a basis for that action. Whatever action BCDC might take to help further bike access on the bridge will further the implementation of the clean air plan.
Maureen Gaffney, employed by the Bay Trail Project and was a member of the Technical Advisory Committee regarding public access to the Richmond San Rafael Bridge, said she is speaking today as a resident of Marin County who would like to see access to the Richmond San Rafael Bridge.
Once or twice a week she rides her bike to work. This entails riding from Fairfax to the San Rafael Transit Center hoping that she can secure a spot on the bike rack that holds only 2 bikes and paying $3.65 to cross the bridge. She rides the express buss with a scheduled trip of 11 minutes but often turns into a 20-minute or more ride. The additional time spent on the morning ride is less problematic than the afternoon trip. On several occasions the bus has pulled into the pick-up area in Point Richmond and, upon seeing her bike, punched it to 50 mph and left her standing.
As traffic congestion and pollution worsens it is vitally important that the transportation sector, responsible for an enormous share of the regions carbon emissions be progressive and proactive in providing alternative commute options.
The current study indicates that direct access to the Richmond San Rafael Bridge is feasible and MTC and BATA have identified a source of funding to jump start this effort. It is very important to complete the Bay Trail.
Jody Zaitlin, member of the Bay Trail Board and a bicycle commuter and recreational cyclist, said it is important to bicycle access on the bridge so the gap in the Bay Trail can be completed. It is also important to reduce the green house gas emissions, which bicycle and recreational cycling will help to do across this bridge.
She hopes that BCDC takes into consideration safe approaches to this new path, as well as exits off the path. She urged the Commission to pass a resolution today in support of the alternative which has been determined to be feasible by MTC and BATA.
Laura Thompson, manager of ABAG’s Bay Trail Project, said this is part of the Bay Trail system. She pointed out the progress that has been made thus far. She said 290 miles are complete and 210 miles are being worked upon.
She spoke to the completion of yet another study showing public access feasibility on the Richmond San Rafael Bridge. CalTrans has rejected a feasible and fundable option on the upper deck which would accommodate a bicycle pedestrian pathway and an additional lane of traffic.
She supports the moveable barrier option identified in the study and ABAG is extremely frustrated with CalTrans decision to thwart public access.
You have heard testimony today from bicycle commuters who would use the Richmond San Rafael Bridge if the pathway was in place. Now is the time to open the bridge to bicyclists and pedestrians and to encourage alternative transportation and off-set future traffic demands.
She asked the Commission to request that CalTrans approve the design for the moveable barrier public access proposal and to send a clear message to CalTrans that BCDC will require public access when CalTrans applies for a permit to open the shoulder to vehicles.
Doug Faunt said he has been involved with this process for 10 years. The two principles that apply here is that cyclists should not be prohibited from travel on routes that were available in the past by ferry and provisions need to be made for equivalent direct access. Minorities need to be accommodated and it is true that bicyclists are a minority in this situation.
He has heard a CalTrans employee state: “It’s our bridge so why can’t we just do what we want with it.” The bridge belongs to the people of California and cyclists are among those people and should be accommodated with direct access. CalTrans is, again, hand waving to support the position that they have taken time and time again in many situations; a position contrary to the needs of the cycling public. He urged BCDC to provide the direct access to the cycling public. It is the right thing to do.
Michi Lee said she would use this bicycle lane if it were available. She is a bicycle commuter, bicycle tourer, and a recreational cyclist and she would like nothing more than to be one less car on the road. There are too many cars on the road. She despairs because there is no other way to get there conveniently except by driving and she feels bad polluting atmosphere and contributing to congestion. It is not feasible to go to San Francisco without taking her bike on BART and then taking a ferry into Larkspur just to be able to ride in Marin. It would make more sense to ride directly from Richmond to San Rafael.
She said a lot of her tax dollars go to transportation projects and she doesn’t believe she is getting any services that she wants in return.
Bill Pinkham said he is a long-time citizen of Richmond and is on the Board of Directors for the EBBC, and a committee member on the new Richmond Bicycle Pedestrian Advisory Committee.
It is his understanding that BCDC is charged with providing the maximum public access to the Bay and its shoreline. Richmond has more miles of Bay Trail than any other city. It has some of the last pristine eel grass habitat and coastal plain but there is no access to this rich environment for bicyclists or pedestrians coming from Marin.
Richmond is now constructing what is called the Richmond Greenway which is a new Class 1 bike trail that goes through the main section of Richmond. It starts at a point very close to the Richmond San Rafael Bridge and then goes through Richmond to a place called Baxter Creek. This is where the Class 1 trail that goes under BART begins. Also, at that point, the I-80 bikeway, which is an on-street bikeway, goes north to the Rodeo Transit Center. Therefore, a bike lane across the Richmond Bridge will connect Marin to extensive regional trails and almost all of the shore of the East Bay, as well as cities and businesses.
He urged the Commission not to miss this opportunity to help link Marin and Contra Costa counties with the least polluting means of transportation.
Sabrina Merlo said she is from the Bay Area Bicycle Coalition and she represents the 9 county bicycle coalitions on regional issues. She shared a map with the Commission members. She said we are at a moment where a lot of energy and time has been devoted to developing a plan. Almost $1 billion have been spent on resurfacing the Richmond San Rafael Bridge and there is no non-motorized access.
Ten years of work has been going into developing a design preference and a solution to the issue and she believes we are at a moment where we are about to lose a grand opportunity: First to develop non-motorized access in a very significant regional thoroughfare in a time of intense issues around climate protection. We are at a time where we can try to complete the vision that has been articulated both by the Regional Bikeway Network and the Bay Trail. In addition, as a mother, she believes we are about to lose a legacy opportunity.
She urged BCDC to stand for public access and to stay strong and spur high level conversations with CalTrans to come up with a solution and insist on public access especially with some proposal about a third lane.
Commissioner Gibbs said what is missing for him is the position of CalTrans in the area of cost benefit analysis. Many Commissioners would like to see the Bay Trail both expanded and completed. He asked Mr. Sartipi how many more accidents and what magnitude of delays would there be if this plan were to be implemented.
Mr. Sartipi said with respect to the number of accidents: there was a TRB, a Transitional Research Board study that was done for a reduction of the shoulder on freeways and highways. In this specific location there was a potential of a 20 percent increase in the number of accidents. A cost-benefit analysis has not been done at this time.
Mr. Sartipi said the anticipated number of bicycle users were looked at and, on any one of the new bridges that CalTrans has built, bicycles have been accommodated because it is the right thing to do for new construction. In modifying a bridge, such as the Richmond San Rafael Bridge, the fewer number of lanes there are, the less room there is for safety and CalTrans could not find a defensible design that could accommodate bikes in a safe manner.
The number of bicyclists that are using, for example, the Dumbarton Bridge reflects less than 100 bikes that actually used the bridge. Commissioner Gibbs pointed out that it is the middle of winter.
Commissioner Gibbs said without hearing an order of magnitude of delays, safety issues, or accidents it seems to him the benefit outweighs the cost and he will support the BATA/ MTC alternative.
Commissioner Moy said in earlier Commission hearings and meetings he heard about difficulty of access both from the Richmond side and from the San Rafael side of bikes onto the bridge. He would be concerned about the safety of the two access points. He asked Mr. Sartipi to speak to this issue.
Mr. Sartipi said if there were to be an access to the bridge, the two approaches would have to be modified to accommodate the safety issue, as well as the bridge itself. The eastern part of the bridge on the Richmond side has more challenge because of the refinery, the confinement with the hillside on the south, and all the petroleum pipes that are very close. On the San Rafael side it would be easier. CalTrans just completed construction of the trestle section and there needs to be more modification on this side in order to make it a safe access. This is more of a cost issue because there is more room in this area to be used than on the Eastern side.
Mr. Sartipi reiterated that even for the third lane, there is not yet an approved design.
Commissioner McGrath said he has a different perspective on bicycle commuting because he was a bicycle commuter at 17 when he was hit by a car on his way to work. It has not stopped him from riding; as a matter a fact he got to BART today by bicycling. He is troubled. There is a distinction between new construction and retrofit that makes this issue difficult. At the end of the day, safety, and CalTrans’ view of safety, may be something that limits feasibility. He said the question is what is the most cost-effective way to do this. If CalTrans proposes to restore a third lane without a bicycle lane they would be inconsistent with two adopted policies; the Bay Trail and the Bay Area Quality Management Transportation control methods. This is generally seen as a significant impact that requires all mitigation that is feasible.
There is nothing currently, in terms of real mitigation that works as an alternative. He asked that staff press hard on the feasibility question, recognizing that engineering feasibility may be a limitation but that does not limit in any way the pursuit of rigorous alternative mitigation measures.
Commissioner Halinan pointed out there has been a shift in paradigm, especially in the Bay Area. She said Portland, Oregon is littered with bicycles and she is constantly aware of them and the more of this kind of paradigm shift that happens then everyone begins to change their behavior. If you are a little more anxious your behavior changes so you don’t have those anxieties; so you’re not driving 65 mph if 50 mph feels more comfortable because there is a barrier there.
The concept of sharing the road with bicycles is developing more in the Bay Area and this is an opportunity for BCDC to continue this. Commissioner Halinan asked Mr. Kinsey if there are any examples elsewhere of what is being advocated with a moveable barrier.
Mr. Kinsey said the Mineta Institute study looked at similar freeway facilities. There are a number of facilities in the northwest where bicycles and pedestrians are allowed onto bridge structures. There are opportunities that exist on bridges around the country but he does not have specific examples of where the moveable barrier has been used.
Commissioner Jordan Hallinan said she would support whatever BCDC needs to do to encourage a solution that will accommodate the bicycles across the bridge.
Commissioner McGlashan said he vigorously supports the resolution to promote this alternative bicycle pedestrian feature. He believes it is incumbent on BCDC in particular to remember that policy is being created with a 30 year lifespan. It is very important to talk about bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure for the needs of the commuting future rather than always yielding to an assumed reality of more cars.
He reminded the Commission that CalTrans is proposing to take away the shoulder for a third lane for automobile traffic in the future. There can either be 3 fast lanes of cars with no shoulder or 2 fast lanes of cars with no shoulder and a new lane for bicycle and pedestrian access.
With BCDC’s mission to maximize public access to the Bay this is precisely the kind of thing that needs to be done as an agency because it increases public access to the Bay features and reduces the threat of climate change in the future. He stated that he is in strong support of the resolution.
Chair Randolph said for many years he has commuted at one time or another to work by bicycle and weekends he cycles 40-50 miles in west Marin and he is sympathetic to the benefits of bicycle and bicycle access. He does find it hard to second guess CalTrans on the question of safety. In January, during the storm, he drove over the San Rafael Bridge and passed 3 overturned big rigs. The rigs were on their sides and it looked like they had fallen over the side where those bike lanes might be.
The issue for him that has never been addressed in any conversation is utilization. He has never seen any analysis, survey, or study of what the utilization would be by the bicycle community of this bridge. He finds it hard to be an advocate for this proposal in the total absence of any kind of data or information about the likely utilization of the bike lanes if they are installed.
Commissioner Bourgart expressed great respect for all of the advocates who spoke today. He said that CalTrans has been sincere and diligent in applying its expertise to find a way to make this work. He said he does not believe that the Commission can dismiss what the traffic engineers and safety experts are saying. He takes very seriously the safety issues, both with respect to the safety for the motorists, the bicyclists, and the emergency access.
Commissioner Bourgart pointed out the second page of the CalTrans letter having to do with cost. The cost that CalTrans is estimating for this alternative is $119.4 million. And even if one were to challenge this cost and say it was $75 or $90 million rather than $119.4 million this is still a significant amount of money. There is only about 45 percent in the budget to do basic maintenance and rehabilitation and we are falling behind on just the basic aspect of the program, let alone the capacity expansion that is needed in order to accommodate the growth that has already occurred.
Commissioner Bourgart said that $119.4 million is something that needs to be taken seriously. Other things could be done with this money. For example, express busses could be purchased and if a cost-benefit analysis were performed you might find the likelihood is that more cars would be taken off the road which would reduce congestion and emissions.
Commissioner Bourgart said he asked CalTrans to do some counts on the bridges that are comparable in the Bay Area. The numbers for a 7-day period (Monday-Sunday) in February was as follows: (1) the Dumbarton Bridge had a low of 45 riders and the high was 91 riders with an average of 73 riders; and (2) Carquinez Bridge had a low of 10 riders and the high was 10 riders with an average of 37 riders. This is a very high cost per person served.
Commissioner Lundstrom said there have been a number of substantive issues brought forward today that are part of BCDC’s policy discussion. The Commission is not voting on a specific permit today, but the policy of whether BCDC wants to continue to discuss and focus on the recommended alternative by BATA. It behooves everyone to know what the safety issues. She said she would certainly not foreclose the additional information and consideration of the preferred alternative that was recommended.
Commissioner Nelson said obviously safety has to be a tremendous concern for the Commission and CalTrans as well. Issues regarding safety are a factor that BCDC needs to consider in looking at maximum feasible public access. Mr. Sartipi mentioned the potential risk of an increase in accidents if the shoulder is removed to provide bicycle and pedestrian access, but there was also some information provided regarding reduction in accidents when the bridge was under construction. It does seem that there is an opportunity for mitigation measures to be adopted that might post and enforce a lower speed on the bridge that would mitigate the potential safety impacts of providing bicycle and pedestrian access.
BCDC’s charge is to provide maximum feasible access and it would be difficult, given what is in front of the Commission now, to conclude that a view from a Taxi is maximum feasible public access on this project. He would be supportive of a resolution that would continue BCDC’s support for appropriate, safe public access on the bridge.
Vice Chair Halsted said she is truly concerned about safety and she does not want to be responsible for anyone’s death by accident. She feels that BCDC has no choice but to proceed to try and find a workable alternative. She would support moving ahead in some direction with that resolution. CalTrans should be encouraged to move further and be willing to look at speed limits.
Commissioner Carruthers referred to Commissioner McGrath’s creative thinking about pursuing aggressive mitigation or alternatives.
Commissioner Peskin said he would like to de-bunk the utilization rate argument on a couple of levels. One, is that it is CalTrans policy that on new facilities bicycle lanes are accommodated. He said he does not know what the distinction is between new and old facilities but as far as this body should be concerned the distinction is a McAteer-Petris Act permit. And in the case of utilizing a third lane on the San Rafael facility, this would require a BCDC permit. BCDC would need to then go through the maximum feasible public access deliberation. He believes it would be very difficult to find that this is maximum feasible public access.
Relative to utilization rates his experience in San Francisco after a decade of very aggressive bicycle program, is that when it was built people came and indeed the rates have tripled in the last decade. The notion that no one is using it now so no one will use it in the future is not the experience San Francisco County has had.
MOTION: Commissioner Nelson moved; seconded by Commissioner Halsted to close the public hearing. The motion carried.
MOTION: Commissioner Gibbs offered the following resolution: “That the Commission supports the MTC/ BATA alternative as an example of an approach that is consistent with BCDC’s charge to offer maximum public access. And specifically the goals are: (1) the expansion
of the Bay Trail; and (2) a future with alternatives to automobile commuting. Ask CalTrans to come back within 180 days and offer further details on the safety issues, specifically with some projections and to also offer other interested parties the chance to come back and provide any other relevant data.”
Commissioner Moy asked if Commissioner Gibbs would consider an amendment to specifically call out the eastern approach to the pedestrian, bicycle, wheelchair access.
Commissioner Gibbs agreed to the amendment.
Chair Randolph asked for a roll call vote.
VOTE: The motion carried with a roll call vote of 14-3-2 with Commissioners T. Smith, Gibbs, Jordan Hallinan, Carruthers, Lai-Bitker, Lundstrom, Maxwell, McGlashan, McGrath, Nelson, Peskin, D. Smith, Wieckowski, and Halsted voting “YES”, Commissioners Potter, Bourgart and Chair Randolph voting “NO” and Commissioners Moy and Kato abstaining.
Approved, with no corrections, at the San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission Meeting of May 1, 2008
R. SEAN RANDOLPH, Chair