Minutes of December 18, 2008 Commission Meeting
- Call to Order
The meeting was called to order by Chair Randolph at the Metro Center Auditorium in Oakland, California at 1:00 p.m.
- Roll Call
Present were Chair Sean Randolph, Vice Chair Halsted (represented by Alternate Chappell), Commissioners Baird, Bates, Bourgart, Brown (represented by Alternate
T. Smith), Gibbs, Goldzband, Jordan Hallinan, Hicks, Lai-Bitker, Lundstrom, Maxwell, McGlashan, McGrath, Moy, Nelson, Peskin, and Wieckowski.
Not Present were: Department of Finance (Finn), Contra Costa County (Gioia), San Mateo County (Gordon), Santa Clara County (Kniss), U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (D. Smith), State Lands Commission (Thayer), Napa County (Wagenknecht) and Solano County (Vacant).
- Public Comment Period
There were no public comments.
- Approval of Minutes of
September 4, 2008 Meeting.
Chair Randolph entertained a motion to adopt the minutes of November 6, 2008 with one correction: Page 2, paragraph b-8 indicates that “Former Commissioner Norman LaForce was elected to the East Bay Regional Park District Board” when in actuality Mr. LaForce lost this race to Mr. Whitney Dotson.
Chair Randolph entertained a motion to adopt the minutes of November 6, 2008 with one correction: Page 2, paragraph b-8 indicates that “Former Commissioner Norman LaForce was elected to the East Bay Regional Park District Board” when in actuality Mr. LaForce lost this race to Mr. Whitney Dotson.
MOTION: Commissioner Lai-Bitker moved, seconded by Commissioner Tim Smith, to approve the November 6, 2008 minutes as corrected. The motion carried with five abstentions.
- Report of the Chair
Chair Randolph reported on the following items:
- Acting Chair
Unfortunately, a meeting came up today on a matter which is of interest to the Commission regarding climate change so before the end of today’s meeting Chair Randolph will have to excuse himself. Normally, Vice Chair Halsted would be stepping in, but she is not in attendance today so her alternate, Jim Chappell will preside over the balance of the meeting once he leaves.
Section 10252 of BCDC’s regulations stipulates that in the absence of the Chair and Vice Chair the majority of the Commission shall appoint an acting chair when neither the chair or vice chair may be able to perform the duties of the chair. Chair Randolph asked for a motion and second to appoint Jim Chappell as the Acting Chair for the balance of today’s meeting.
MOTION: Commissioner Nelson moved, seconded by Commissioner Tim Smith, to appoint Jim Chappell as the Acting Chair for the balance of today’s meeting. The motion carried unanimously.
Chair Randolph noted that Mike Chrisman, California Secretary of Resources has notified BCDC that Amy Vierra will be replacing Chris Potter. He welcomed Ms. Vierra to the Commission.
As reported at the last meeting, Jerry Hill, alternate commissioner from San Mateo County, was elected to the California State Assembly and is no longer a member of BCDC. Also, John Silva’s term on the Solano County Board of Supervisors has ended and he will no longer be serving on BCDC. Staff has prepared a draft resolution of appreciation for Chris Potter, Jerry Hill and John Silva.
MOTION: Commissioner Bourgart moved, seconded by Commissioner Lai-Bitker, to approve the resolutions of appreciation as presented by staff. The motion carried unanimously.
Departing Commissioners.Chair Randolph explained that today will be the last BCDC meeting for two commissioners whose terms are about to expire: Aaron Peskin and Tim Smith. In order to avoid putting those individuals in a position of having to vote on a resolution of appreciation of themselves, the resolutions will be taken up at the next meeting.
Next BCDC Meeting.The next regular business meeting will be in four weeks on January 15, 2009 at the MetroCenter in Oakland. At that meeting the following matters will be taken up:
- A vote on an application to make improvements to the confinement facilities at San Quentin State Penitentiary. There will be a public hearing on this item at today’s meeting.
- A public hearing and a vote on an application for a new ferry terminal in South San Francisco.
- A public hearing on whether a roadway shoulder on the upper lane of the Richmond San Rafael Bridge should be used for multiple use pathway during non-peak commute hours.
- Two briefings will be heard: (1) final plan developed by the Delta Vision Blue Ribbon Task Force; and (2) a plan for a 1,400 acre shoreline property in Redwood City.
- Consider a report on the progress BCDC is making in carrying out its strategic plan.
- Ex Parte Communications. Chair Randolph invited Commissioners to provide staff with a report on any written or oral ex-parte communications.
Commissioner Gibbs reported that he received a call from CBS Outdoor regarding the ferry terminal at Larkspur and a bus bench. He directed them to the BCDC’s Director of Enforcement.
Commissioner Lundstrom said, as a City of Larkspur council person and representative on the Transportation Authority of Marin, she received a call from staff from the Transportation Authority of Marin asking for clarification of BCDC public access policies. This is in relationship to the San Quentin proposal which is on today’s agenda.
- Acting Chair
- Report of the Executive Director
Executive Director Travis provided the following report:
The Governor has declared a fiscal emergency and the Legislature is considering a variety of approaches for dealing with the state’s multi-billion dollar budget deficit. It is expected, that at some point, BCDC will be required to make substantial cut-backs and a series of cost-cutting scenarios are being developed by staff. These scenarios would be in addition to the $100,000 savings program already instituted by BCDC staff.
BCDC staff will keep the Commission members apprised as the details of the budget unfold.
- Permit Fees
In July, the permit fees were revised by this commission. This was to comply with the directive from the Legislature that BCDC should attempt to recover 20 percent of its regulatory program costs. It was also to achieve an agreement BCDC reached with the Bay Planning Coalition and the regulated community to make fees more equitable.
Last week the State Office of Administrative Law approved changes to BCDC’s regulations that will put the new fees into affect. The new fee schedule will be implemented on January 1, 2009.
- Dutch Conference
At the last meeting information was given regarding a partnership on sea level rise planning BCDC has with a Dutch-American consulting firm, a University in Holland, a consortium of Dutch research institutes that will bring together experts from Holland with experts from the United States to discuss adaptation strategies at an international symposium to be held in San Francisco next spring.
This effort will be coupled with the federal grant BCDC received to host an international design competition. The Commission will be hearing more about this later this afternoon.
This partnership has also resulted in Mr. Travis being invited to participate as a speaker at an international conference in Amsterdam next February. Even though the conference hosts have offered to pay the costs of his attendance, because of the State’s fiscal condition he will not be able to secure official state approval to attend the conference. However, Mr. Travis believes the conference will provide BCDC with valuable ideas and information that will be useful in its sea level rise planning so he will take vacation in order to go to the conference on his own time.
Mr. Travis said he would appreciate it if the Commission could advise him if they have objections in order that he can advise the conference host whether or not he will be attending. The Commission agreed that the Executive Director can participate as a speaker at the international conference on delta and coastal development in Amsterdam, Holland.
Commissioner Nelson asked Mr. Travis to speak to the scope of the conference that will be held in San Francisco. Mr. Travis said the San Francisco conference will bring together experts on adaptation planning from Holland with people from the United States. What the Dutch are doing is partnering with several nations, including China, Vietnam, Egypt, and the United States because these all have river deltas that are similar. The ideas is to look for similarities, look for differences, share information, and develop some techniques that can be used here in the Bay Area and around the world.
Commissioner Baird mentioned that it was just reported in the Washington Post that Dr. Jane Luchenko is being appointed as head of National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration. This is spectacularly good news for ocean and coastal management.
Mr. Travis reported that there was a proposal to build a freeway through a state park at San Onofre in Southern California. Ultimately, this proposal came to the California Coastal Commission and the Coastal Commission denied approval under the Federal Coastal Zone Management Act. This decision was appealed to the Secretary for Commerce, who today, sustained the Coastal Commission’s objection. Most of the legal work on this was done by John Bowers, who is now BCDC’s attorney. Mr. Travis congratulated Mr. Bowers for this accomplishment.Commissioner Bourgart said the proposal is to exempt 11 transportation improvement projects from CEQA requirements. These are projects which are near ready to go. The concept is to accelerate projects in order to create jobs through construction.
Commissioner McGrath said one of the things that have been talked about in the discussions of the budget is some modifications to environmental standards. He asked Mr. Travis if he knows what exactly has been proposed. Mr. Travis said he has simply seen that there is some provision, as part of the economic recovery package at the state level, where there would be some exemptions from the California Environmental Quality Act for major infrastructure projects.
- Commission Consideration of Administrative Matters
On December 5, 2008 staff sent the Commission a listing of the administrative matters to act upon. Bob Batha is available to respond to any questions the Commissioners may have. There were no questions.
- Public Hearing and Vote on Proposed Revisions to the Commission’s Regionwide and Abbreviated Regionwide Permits. Chair Randolph noted that Item 8 is a public hearing and vote on an amending BCDC’s regionwide permits to advance its goal of making the regulatory program more effective.
Bob Batha, provided the following staff report:
The staff is proposing a number of amendments to the Commission’s regionwide and abbreviated regionwide permits. These permits were originally adopted by the Commission on December 4, 1986 and subsequently revised on April 16, 1996. These permits were developed to expedite the processing of projects within the Commission’s jurisdiction that raise no issues and are fully consistent with the Commission’s law and policies.
Such projects typically require a shorter application, are charged a much smaller permit fee, and are issued before listing with the Commission. Abbreviated regionwide permits do not come to the Commission at all.
The intent is to provide an efficient, effective, and expeditious process for projects that pose no issues.
The proposed revisions were mailed on December 5, 2008 and the major changes were summarized in the cover letter that accompanied the proposed changes. Chief among those changes are: (1) authorizing routine in-kind maintenance; (2) consolidating related regionwide permits; (3) updating special and standard conditions to reflect current Commission policies; (4) clarifying the criteria for determining whether a project qualifies for a regionwide or abbreviated regionwide permit; (5) clarifying the distinction between regionwide and abbreviated regionwide permits; (6) changing the format of both regionwide and abbreviated permits to clarify the specific activities being authorized by the permit; (7) specifying that certain related activities are included in the authorization; (8) expanding findings to better justify certain conditions included in the authorization; (9) including the enforcement finding; and (10) reorganizing the order of the special condition.
Mr. Batha said he had a conversation that morning with NOAA Fisheries, who have recently revised the advice they have given to agencies with regard to the sound pressure levels that are permissible to be generated during pile driving, to a formula that he does not understand. Therefore, once this is clarified he will bring back language for this item.
Staff recommends that the Commission approve BCDC’s regionwide and abbreviated regionwide permits as presented.
Chair Randolph opened the public hearing.
Ellen Johnck, Executive Director of the Bay Planning Coalition, said she thoroughly endorsed staff’s recommendations for the regionwide and abbreviated regionwide permits. This was an early topic of advocacy for bay planning back in the early ‘80s. She said the only comment she would like to make is for the Commission to wait until they hear back from Bob on the recommended language from the Federal Hydro Acoustical Task Force and NOAA Fisheries.
MOTION: Commissioner Peskin moved, seconded by Commissioner Lundstrom to close the public hearing. The motion carried unanimously.
Commissioner Hicks said from the Corps’ perspective the proposed changes to the regionwide and abbreviated regionwide permits are good. She likes the fact that BCDC will put the project address into the individual authorizations. She asked staff if they might consider identifying the drawings by title and date. Mr. Batha said this can be done but it will take a little more time on the staff’s part.
Commissioner Baird said he is somewhat perplexed with what the Commission is voting on with the NOAA comment made by Ms. Johnck. Mr. Batha said up until this morning he thought everything was up to date and current. He heard this morning that the standard that NOAA had given staff has changed. He said he would be happy to write-up new language and bring it to the next Commission meeting but that will delay the implementation of the rest of the changes. Or he could write-up the changes and have the Commission assume that staff is going to do the right thing and report back at the next meeting and go forward with the changes.
Commissioner Baird said he would be a little uncomfortable voting for something that he does not quite understand. Mr. Travis said the Commission could approve the staff recommendation today with the understanding that one change will be made, and staff will not institute that change until they report back to the Commission. This will allow staff to go ahead with everything except that one item.
Mr. Batha said this condition appears in two of the permits before the Commission (Regionwide Permit No. 3 and abbreviated Regionwide Permit No. 1). It is a very short condition that basically says that sound pressure levels generated from pile driving should not exceed 180 decibels. In talking with NOAA Fisheries, they have revised their advice to follow a complex formula that sets a peak at a higher level (193 decibels) but there is a limit as to the accumulated sound pressure levels that can be generated. He does not fully understand the formula and he cannot write a condition that BCDC can enforce until he understands it better.
Commissioner Baird said he would feel more comfortable to wait until Mr. Batha comes back to the Commission with his analysis before he votes on this item. He asked what the consequences would be if this item was delayed until the next meeting. Mr. Batha said it will delay implementation of improvements that come along with these revisions to the regionwide and abbreviated regionwide permits.
Mr. Travis said the Commission can approve all but the two that Mr. Batha mentioned and then those two will be brought back to the next Commission meeting. Commissioner McGrath said if someone were to apply for a new pier and they use this form but it does not qualify because there is a proposed Bay Trail segment in that area, would staff have discretion to state that a regionwide permit would not work in these circumstances. Mr. Batha said this is correct.
Commissioner Lundstrom said she believes staff’s proposal will be very helpful from the local government standpoint.
MOTION: Commissioner Bates moved, seconded by Commissioner Baird to adopt the recommendations other than regionwide permit No. 3 and abbreviated regionwide permit No. 1 which will be brought back to the next Commission meeting with further information.
VOTE: The motion carried with a roll call vote of 18-0-0 with Commissioners Baird, Bates, Bourgart, T. Smith, Gibbs, Goldzband, Jordan Hallinan, Hicks, Lai-Bitker, Lundstrom, Maxwell, McGrath, Moy, Nelson, Peskin, Wieckowski, Chappell, and Chair Randolph voting “YES”, no “NO” votes and no abstentions.
- Public Hearing on Permit Application No. 2-06 from the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation for the San Quentin Prison Condemned Inmate Housing Project in Marin County. Chair Randolph said agenda item #10 is to consider a contract for a design competition.
Karen Wolowicz provided the following background information:
A summary of a permit application was mailed to all Commissioners. This permit is to construct a condemned inmate housing project located on San Quentin prison within BCDC’s Bay and 100-foot shoreline jurisdiction. A storm water outfall structure is proposed in the Commission’s Bay jurisdiction, while a guard tower, a gun locker building, a resurface road, paving, security permanent fencing, and an approximately two-year construction staging area is proposed to be located within the Commission’s 100-foot shoreline band jurisdiction.
These activities are part of a larger project which includes the construction of four new buildings; the largest of which would be a 768 cell complex for the housing of over 1,100 condemned inmates located entirely outside of the Commission’s jurisdiction.
The applicant’s proposal includes in lieu public access improvements whose total project cost would not exceed $932,000. It would involve a combination of the following options: (1) a parking area and two view platforms located approximately three-fourths of a mile east of the project at Main Street and San Quentin Village; (2) a monetary contribution to fully or partially fund either a Bay Trail gap closure near Larkspur Landing and Corte Madera Creek on Sir Francis Drake Boulevard to the Marin Transportation Authority, or a monetary contribution to the County of Marin for another San Francisco Bay trail gap closure along Sir Francis Drake near San Quentin Village.
The Commission should provide guidance to the applicant and Commission staff on which public access proposal, or combination of in lieu public access proposals that provide maximum feasible public access consistent with the project as required by the McAteer Petris Act and the San Francisco Bay Plan; and if the project would be consistent with its laws and policies regarding fill in the bay and appearance design and scenic views.
The applicant Bob Sleppy provided a presentation.
CDCR’s mission is public safety.
Some of the existing problems are that the facilities present danger to officers/staff, walkways are narrow, cells are small and door fronts are not solid; multi-tier, and there are ADA compliance complications.
One of the substantial improvements that the project will bring to San Quentin is a lethal electrified fence which will bring forward a level of security which is an important public feature.
Some visual simulations were presented.
A proposed conceptual design of public access plan was shown (Option A)
Mr. Sleppy said he clearly supports Marin county and other bay trail folks potentially using his funds to seed other projects.
Acting Chair Chappell opened the public hearing.
Bill Whitney, Project Manager with the Transportation Authority of Marin, said he would like to thank the Commission for considering this project for the in lieu public access. The project by its title implies that we are enhancing and improving access to the Larkspur Ferry Terminal and the adjacent bay shoreline. The project will also encourage and attract new users to enjoy the beauty of the Bay from a newly created unique vantage point.
The north south greenway is a multi-agency approach. Over the last two years the Transportation Authority of Marin (TAM) has been implementing the product development (contact sensitive design). TAM has encouraged public participation and has received 99 percent support for the project.
A phased approach has been developed to best utilize available funds. With the development of the refined design it has been identified that there is a shortfall of $1 million. There is a potential to accelerate a discreet segment of the project where the existing shoreline pathway between the project and the Larkspur Ferry Terminal can be improved. If BCDC supports this he could improve the access along the Bay shoreline, remove existing barriers for the Americans with Disabilities Act, and improve the general usability of the path.
Barbara Tracy, with the Point San Quentin Village Association, said the Association is a public service non-profit California Corporation and is dedicated to protect and preserve the village. The village is a historic location in northern California. The Association wants to ensure compatible development and promote the health, safety, and welfare of village residents. At the moment, these things are being seriously jeopardized.
The Association membership consists of both property owners and renters who value the historic value of the village and its proximity to the Bay. In recent years the membership has been troubled by rowdiness on the beach, night time noise, vandalism, and drug dealing. The Village’s shoreline is easily accessible and therefore attractive to outsiders. Parking is a major problem with many members having no garages or street parking available to them.
If San Quentin Prison succeeds in its expansion plans, funds will be available to mitigate impact on the shoreline. The Association appreciates the efforts that prison officials have made to provide options for that mitigation should it occur.
One of the options is the installation of the public viewing platform and a very small parking area near the historic pump house, which is on prison land adjacent to the beach. Unfortunately, this could present another opportunity for the kind of beach activity that the Association is having so much trouble with. There is no provision for maintenance or patrolling in the viewing area and the Association believes that the public would receive far greater benefit from these funds if they were used to complete the bicycle and pedestrian trail from Larkspur.
Dottie Ioakimedes, representing the Board of Directors of San Quentin Village, said the Board has met with the prison officials and have voted on the Board’s stance on the improvements of the village. Though the Board would appreciate and enjoy the visual affect of landscaping between the CalTrans station and the state pump house in San Quentin Village (Option No. 1) for a viewing platform, it would add to a parking hardship that the village residents are already experiencing. Residents rely on street parking and bringing more visitors into the village would only add to the problem.
Of great concern to the residents of San Quentin Village is that there have been no agreements or arrangements made for continuous maintenance on the viewing site and that there will be no security provided.
Further, there is a public viewing station nearby, on the other side of 580 that the public can enjoy. This viewing platform has six parking spaces. The San Quentin Village is located between two excellent shoreline bay trails. The second portion of Option would link these two trails for public access to the waterfront.
The Board of Directors of the San Quentin Village Association supports the extension of multi-use pathway per Exhibit F of Bay Trail Gap Segment 9062.0.
Ms. Ioakimedes read a letter from Sherry McDonald: “As a homeowner and resident of San Quentin Village I bring to your attention a public coastal viewing platform was installed at the intersection of Main Street and Highway 580 in 2008, within 100 yards of the viewing platform proposed at the entrance of Main Street, San Quentin Village. Constructing another viewing platform with supporting parking and landscaping within the hundred yards of the existing platform is estimated to cost $900,000. This is government agency poor planning and poor judgment and a waste of taxpayer dollars when other coastal public access improvements in the area are vitally needed. Bicyclists and pedestrians are unable to access the eastern end of grand county bay coastline and the existing coastal public viewing platform at Main Street at 580 location because there is no non-motorized pathway along Sir Francis Drake from the west gate of San Quentin Prison, just past the Larkspur Landing Terminal to Main Street and San Quentin. We have been informed that a construction cost of a pathway in this location is estimated at $800,000. I strongly urge the BCDC to wisely spend our taxpayer dollars on a much needed pedestrian and bicycle pathway in East Grand County so that a larger percentage of the population can access the San Quentin Bay coastline and enjoy the viewing platform that already exists.”
Robert Moy, a resident of the Greenbrae Boardwalk community, said there are over 50 homes along the Boardwalk that face San Quentin Prison. While authority of the San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission is limited to a 100-foot shoreline band, they do have a mission as stated in the BCDC mission statement, to be dedicated to the protection and enhancement of San Francisco Bay. BCDC should do what it can with its influence to carry out this mission. He cited Dairy Hill as being a shelter to his community from the harshness of the San Quentin Prison. Dairy Hill provides a line of sight barrier shielding homes from the institution’s lighting, inmate noise, and barren environment. He believes that Dairy Hill must be preserved to retain the ambiance. Members of his community met in Sacramento with the California Department of Corrections in regards to the San Quentin expansion project, in particular the preservation of Dairy Hill. The California Department of Corrections is a very powerful organization and in their power they have disregarded the community’s concerns pertaining to the preservation of Dairy Hill.
He urged BCDC to use the bully pulpit, if not its approval process, to restrain the CDC from removing Dairy Hill. He provided photographs to the Commission.
Frances Barbour, homeowner in Point San Quentin Village, a Board member of PSQVA, served on the Ferry Passenger Advisory Committee, a staff member of the Marin County Bicycle Coalition, and a lead instructor for safe routes to schools in Marin said the only way you can ride a bike to the Ferry from San Quentin Village is through a route of fast traffic and then having to cross over to the ferry terminal. She is very much in favor of Option 3 because it will be a Class 1 path which means you can go both directions safely to the ferry from the Village.
Robert Minton said his history with San Quentin and California Prisons goes back a long way. He was among the very first teachers from the College of Marin that came in to try and teach inmates. He is well aware of the pressing needs of our prison system. We must not confuse the very emotional issues about the poor qualities of prisons with the complexities of long-term planning and land use. He is concerned that the area for the CDCR project gets glossed over. He lives on the Greenbrae Boardwalk and there are alternative sites to that location. He is a general engineering contractor and there are sites that do not require the leveling of that hill. He encouraged the Commission to not expedite the permit process when it comes to a situation like this with such long-term consequences. We must address the long-term affects of the impact of noise, lights, and sounds to humans who are living in this area. He urged the Commission to not rush to judgment on this portion of the prison system until all possibilities are addressed.
MOTION: Commissioner Wiecowski moved, seconded by Commissioner McGrath to close the public hearing. Motion carried unanimously.
Commissioner McGrath said there are two things that confuse him: (1) He heard Mr. Sleppyk say that this project would reduce parking for windsurfing; (2) he thought he heard him say he moved the gate back and there would be more parking. He asked Mr. Sleppy to clarify this for him. Mr. Sleppy said the current west gate, which is the industrial gate for construction and heavy traffic, is right up against Sir Francis Drake and it will come back a little bit and in doing so there will be room for a few parking spaces along the shoulder that would be outside the gate. There would not be any impact on windsurfing.
Commissioner McGrath asked Mr. Sleppy to talk a little about the parameter that is now surrounded by the prison and the parameter of the proposed area. Mr. Sleppy said that right now, generally speaking, there is no public access with the minor exception of the visitor parking lot. The distance in that parameter is roughly 4,000 feet. The proposed public area access plan is completely open to the public.
Commissioner Lundstrom said she sincerely questions the feasibility and reality of Option No. 3 because the transportation demand of that roadway would have to be widened from two lanes to four lanes. The Counties of Marin and Sonoma just approved a rail plan, called SMART that brings rail transportation to the terminus of Larkspur so they can go to the Ferry. She questions whether the roadway planning has taken a look at this in terms of long-range increased demand.
Commissioner Jordan Hallinan asked if staff could summarize the current public access, the proposed public access, and what the alternatives are. She asked if building on Dairy Hill is actually in BCDC’s shoreline ban. Ms. Wolowicz said Dairy Hill is located entirely outside of BCDC’s jurisdiction. In regards to the first question, what is in existence currently is available to the public but she would not say that it is public access in the sense of BCDC public access. As far as public access at the site, there is no public access at San Quentin or along any of where the CIC project site is proposed. There is not a specific Bay Trail along this area that has been constructed.
At this point, what the County of Marin is proposing is to build a Bay trail gap closure from San Quentin Village all the way to Larkspur Ferry Terminal. They will be working with the public to see what it is the public wants (Class 1 or Class 2 trail) along Sir Francis Drake. The opportunity here is to provide construction funding once they decide what will be constructed. This is the designated route of the Bay Trail but there currently is no bicycle or pedestrian access.
There are other jurisdictions working on proposals down the road to connect the gap. The county has received funding to flush out what the public wants but they have no construction funding at this time. BCDC has three options to choose from: (1) put money towards doing the Main Street improvements in San Quentin Village; (2) provide funding to TAM, which is providing the public access down near Larkspur Landing and Highway 101; and (3) provide funding to the County of Marin to provide a better access link from San Quentin Village down to Larkspur Landing.
Commissioner McGrath asked Commissioner Lundstrom, from her perspective, if Option 3 was approved to use this funding they might have to come back and dig it up again for road widening. She said yes, this is her question.
Commissioner Jordan Hallinan said it is her understanding that Option 3 is to approve the funds to be used by Marin County and then how it gets spent is out of BCDC’s hands. Mr. Travis said if the Commission decides to explore this option, the $932,000 could be made available for contribution to this option subject to review and final approval of the Commission.
Commissioner Wieckowski said since he does serve on the City Council part of the reports received are green building techniques, energy conservation and he was a little disappointed in that there was no discussion about energy savings. The other thing he wanted to mention is that as far as he can see, the public has never had access to the San Quentin site since 1864. He realizes that a lot has been learned about prison safety and how to protect the inmate and surrounding population. There was a slide showing three fences but the Commission did not hear any data about attempts of prisoners trying to escape. If this three fence configuration were located outside the 100-foot barrier what type of compromises would occur to the public safety if BCDC explored increasing the public access?
Mr. Travis said this project came to the staff and the Design Review Board and this is the first BCDC public hearing on this project. Just because there has never been access here is not a reason for the Commission to accept as a matter of policy that there should not be access provided as part of the project. BCDC’s basic policy, under the law, is that every project provides maximum feasible public access to the Bay and the shoreline consistent with the project. This typically means at the project site. The reason this has been scheduled for a public hearing today, and not a public hearing and vote, is to get direction from the Commission which is: (1) do you agree with the assessment of the Department of Corrections, that is unsafe, unreasonable, and unwise to have public access here; and (2) if you agree with them they have provided some ideas and some options as to where other public access could be provided in lieu. Which, if any, of the options does the Commission believes is favorable. Once staff gets this guidance they will go back and craft a staff recommendation for the Commission for action at its next meeting.
Mr. Sleppy said there is a worry about running prisons about people getting from the inside out and the outside in. Every state prison has an outer perimeter security road that is maintained as an exclusive area for guards to watch that fence. It is not safe or practical to allow public access along those perimeter roads, along the historic prison, as well as the new condemned part. The visitor parking lot is a place a person could pull in and park.
Commissioner McGlashan spoke strongly in favor of Option No. 2 which is the in lieu payment to the Transportation Authority of Marin for the Central Marin Ferry connection project. He said he would also like to mention, as a frequent bike commuter, getting across Sir
Francis Drake onto Anderson is terrifying. It is his belief that, one way or the other, the county will have to deal with this road. Also, if the Department of Corrections prevails and does decide to do it here, he is heartbroken about the effect it has on the local environment.
Commissioner Gibbs said there are three options before the Commission and asked if staff has evaluated or projected how many people would use each of the options. Ms. Wolowicz said staff has not done an analysis of each option and that is why it has been brought to the Commission for what they feel would provide the maximum feasible public access. Mr. McCrea said, generally speaking, the small seating area near the pump house is a quiet place by nature and is a little off the beaten track so it certainly would receive less use. Mr. Whitney said he can reference a planning study that was done for the Cal Park Hill project, which is where we are connecting to the north end, and in that study they estimated approximately 1,000 to 2,000 people each day would be using this facility.
Commissioner Gibbs said to paraphrase, Mr. Sleppy said he wanted to meet BCDC standards and it was constructed to look like an office building with a false front and false windows and that the condemned inmates themselves would not have the opportunity to look out the windows. He asked why this would be the case. Mr. Sleppy said he is not comfortable having inmates near windows and there are very few facilities where inmates do have windows. There will be natural light in the building.
Commissioner Nelson said he would like to make sure that staff will come back to the Commission with a recommendation. Since Dairy Hill is not within the 100-foot shoreline band, but BCDC would have jurisdiction with regard to its policies regarding design and scenic views. He asked staff to explain the limits on BCDC’s authority with regard to the design of a facility such as this in regards to views and design.
It was noted that the Bay Plan shows Sir Francis Drake as a scenic route. The Bay Plan policy for a project like this is to look at public access policies, and the appearance and design scenic views policies. The Commission’s approach to this has always been that the public access policies are enforceable and that the appearance design and scenic view policies are advisory.
Mr. Sleppy said in terms of Dairy Hill an initial EIR was performed and he tried hard to make all this fit within the amount of space needed for the inmates and the security boundary in this area. During the EIR process there were many design schemes reviewed for this area in order to try and save Dairy Hill. It was decided that it more feasible to take the entire site down to a common elevation which resulted in Dairy Hill being eliminated. He has tried to contain the lighting and the profile is lower overall as a result of taking Dairy Hill down.
Commissioner Lundstrom said the original designs were harsh and she was pleased to see this design.
Commissioner Tim Smith said he agrees with Commissioner McGlashan and the mitigation for access is highly appropriate. He also agrees with the Department of Corrections about the safety and concern about public access near and around a prison facility. Option 2, in his mind, is a clear winner.
Commissioner Jordan-Hallinan asked Mr. Sleppy how many gunshots per year has there been around the perimeter. Historically, in the tower at the front of the prison they would discharge 50-round bursts. Naturally, this stopped when the Ferry and other public access was granted. With that in mind there is an outdoor and indoor range on property and guns are being fired daily. The weapons inside the prison are less lethal and are used to break-up inmate disturbances. There are several thousands of rounds available to ensure the perimeter access and to preserve it from public access or inmate breech.
Commissioner McGlashan said he is troubled by trying to make a finding that maximum feasible public access is provided when we don’t have the viewpoint of the Bay Trail Organization or the Design Review Board. Option 2 from the local perspective is the most feasible of the options. This is 4,000 feet of shoreline that is committed to never being accessible. Do we have 4,000 feet of new access? There is no eminent project that staff has come in and said this is going to be built by this date to provide public access and it’s this long and it is going to provide public access about the same time that the prison is finished.
One of the questions that he would like staff to research is has the Legislature spoke finally and for all times that this is the amount of money that is available for public access.
Mr. Sleppy commented for the record that unfortunately today BCDC’s Department of Finance representative, Karen Finn, is not here. She is aware of the budget and how it was established and she would be an excellent resource to speak to this item.
Commissioner Lai-Bitker expressed her appreciation for her colleagues from Marin County to provide their perspective in terms of public access. She asked Mr. Sleppy if he will be using solar panel on the rooftop. Mr. Sleppy said, at this point, there is not enough funding. This will be an energy efficient building but he does not know about solar panels at this time.
Commissioner Baird said he believes that Option 2 makes the most sense.
Commissioner Jordan-Hallinan said she would like this topic covered in a future meeting with much more specific and comprehensive data on the public access issue.
Mr. Travis said there is some reluctant acceptance that having public access next to a prison surrounded by a lethal electric fence is probably not the best idea. The Commissioners would like to see more money be available for in lieu public access and staff will explore this issue with the Department of Finance. The general consensus of the Commissioners is that Option No. 2 seems to be the best option available but they would like staff bring this item back at the next meeting with a recommendation that embodies their questions.
Commissioner Moy said he likes the idea of Option No. 2 but he also believes Option No. 3 has certain advantages. One, it is directly adjacent to the project site; two, it gives some direct benefit to the town of San Quentin. He would also like to know what will happen with the pump hose.
Commissioner McGlashan said just in case there is any confusion, the central ferry connection is very near the site. At 1 to 2,000 people a day on Option 2 versus 6 or 7 at the pump house with local community opposition, versus the Sir Francis Drake bike path it looks like Option 2 would benefit thousands of people.
Commissioner Bates said he shares the concern about the pump house and he would like to have some exploration of the possibility of relocating it so there would be more opportunity for public exposure. Mr. Travis said staff will investigate the idea of relocating the pump house.
Commissioner Gibbs said something that might be another option would be to provide Option No. 2 and the access to the ferry but with some amount of money set aside to preserve the pump house. Mr. Travis said staff will explore this but when you start to preserve the pump house and do the Main Street work then there is very little money left for anything else.
Consideration of Contract for Design Competition Advisor and Competition Awards. Acting Chair Chappell said this item is the consideration of a contract for a design competition.One of the goals of BCDC’s strategic plan is to help develop and implement a regional strategy for dealing with global climate change. As part of this goal, last October, the Commission directed the staff to hold an international design competition to generate innovative shoreline design solutions to respond to the world’s rising seas.
Brad McCrea provided the following staff report and recommendation:
It is expected that the results of this competition will provide the Commission and all coastal managers with new ways to address sea level rise by creating resilient shoreline communities.
Since last October, BCDC has secured a $125,000 federal grant through NOAA to carry out the design competition and to publicize its results.
The staff recommends that the Commission authorize the Executive Director to enter into several different contracts; the total amount not exceeding $75,000. One contract will be awarded for $25,000 to Meckel Design Consulting to organize, promote and manage the competition and the remaining $50,000 would be spent on approximately five other contracts that would be awarded to winning entrants of the competition. Staff further recommends that the Commission authorize the Executive Director to amend those contracts as necessary so long as the amendments do not exceed a total of 10 percent of the original $75,000 contract amount and they don’t result in any substantial changes to the services provided.
There was no public comment.
MOTION: Commissioner Bates moved, seconded by Commissioner Tim Smith to adopt staff’s recommendations as presented.
Commissioner Moy asked who Meckel Design Consulting is and how they were selected. Mr. McCrea said staff put out an RFP. David
Meckel was involved in the competition for the rooftop sculpture garden at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. He also did the New American River Front competition in Memphis.
Motion carried unanimously.
Acting Chair Chappell asked for a motion to adjourn into Committee to complete the agenda.
MOTION: Commissioner Moy moved, seconded by Commissioner Nelson to adjourn into Committee. The motion was carried unanimously.
- Briefing on the Status of the Eelgrass Restoration Study as Mitigation Measure to Offset Impacts of New East Span Bay Bridge Project. Rafael Montes provided the following background before introducing the speakers who will provide briefings on the current status of the pilot Eelgrass Restoration Study within the East Shore State Park.
On November 1, 2001 the Commission authorized the Department of Transportation to initiate the construction to replace the Bay Bridge East Span.
The construction of the structure was expected to result in impacts to Eelgrass beds. To mitigate impacts to eelgrass the permit required CalTrans to do on-site and off-site eelgrass restoration mainly within the East Shore State Park.
On off-site pilot restoration study was set-up at the north basin area in Berkeley. The goal of the study was to evaluate potential construction techniques and to determine the feasibility of restoring Eelgrass in sand flat habitats of the north basin site.
In 2005 CalTrans constructed a 1.2 acre pilot project to replicate conditions associated with a full scale project soon after that. CalTrans was also to provide monitoring data to evaluate the feasibility of a full scale project and to guide the development of the final designs for the full scale project.
Jeffrey Jensen, with CalTrans, provided a presentation detailing background on CalTrans mitigation commitments.Commissioner McGrath said this kind of programs seems suited for the new Bay Restoration Conservancy that was just formed under AB1294. He asked if this might be a funding mechanism for more of this kind of work. Mr. Travis said it will be once it is established which will be sometime into the future.
There are two Eelgrass sites.
As a result of some changes in the construction methodology a reduction of the amount of effects to Eelgrass down to 1.5 acres, largely due to the shading from the permanent new structure.
A comprehensive mitigation program was developed to offset the effects to Eelgrass beds. CalTrans worked with agencies to come up with a program to minimize and avoid effects and then to mitigate. The first year was the pre and post-construction monitoring. CalTrans has done approximately 8 years of monitoring which has provided a wealth of knowledge on how Eelgrass beds in the Bay.
The next piece was an experimental transplant program. The intention of doing this experimental program was to inform CalTrans how best to carry out the central Bay mitigation program.
The next is the central Bay eelgrass and sand flats program, which is the north basin pilot program. The key thing about this particular effort is when it was permitted there was considerable uncertainty as to whether or not CalTrans could successfully restore or create Eelgrass in the Bay. Up to that point there had not been any significant projects that successfully recreated eelgrass beds. As part of this effort, CalTrans agreed to provide $2.5 million to restore or create up to 10.8 acres of eelgrass beds and 5 acres of sand flats.
The next item was the Skaggs Island restoration. In this effort CalTrans has provided $8 million to facilitate the transfer of the property from the Navy to either U.S. Fish and Wildlife, Fish and Game, or another appropriate land steward. This effort is ongoing and negotiations are continuing.
The final item is the on-site Eelgrass restoration program. Because Caltrans did not have the impacts associated with a barge access channel opting instead for a pile-supported trestle structure as a construction method, there may not be a need to move forward with this piece of mitigation.
The total restoration program commitment is approximately $12 million plus for eelgrass beds. CalTrans is moving forward even though there will be fewer impacts to eelgrass beds. CalTrans is fully committed to the entire program and will continue to fund the Central Bay program up to the $2.5 million.
This whole effort has been guided by an inter-agency review group consisting of the Regional Board, Fish and Game, Fish and Wildlife, NOAA Fisheries, the Corps, the Port of Oakland, East Bay Parks, and State parks to guide how to move forward with all the various elements of the mitigation program. CalTrans will continue working with this group.
Keith Merkel, Merkel & Associates provided an update on the pilot program at the north basin study.
The pilot program is targeting 15.8 acres as a final project for the north basin.
BCDC suggested doing this project in increments because it does include placement of the fill into the Bay to create the topography and conditions suitable.
The north basin program is simply to bring the bathymetry of north basin up to an elevation that is suitable to support eelgrass and sand flat environments. This would mean raising the bottom from something that is deeper than where eelgrass would typically grow and out in areas that are subtidal and bring it up to where it is in the shallow subtidal and inner-tidal conditions.
Eelgrass would then be transplanted into the pilot site area whose physical and biological performance would be monitored. A full scale restoration program would take place after two and a half years of monitoring.
A sand plateau was constructed between April and June of 2005. In July 2005 Eelgrass was planted. For reasons not related to Eelgrass but to better understand the physical environment, the site was built to a higher elevation than eelgrass would normally grow and then ramped down to an elevation well into the normal growing range for eelgrass. This was done was to be able to see most effectively the erosion processes occurring during normal storm events during low tides and big storms.
The physical results were good. A 90 percent goal was accomplished in terms of physical environment. The eelgrass has come back to the site but not promisingly in that it is not sticking with the site.
This program was funded for $2.5 million. Nine hundred fifty dollars had been spent with the site identification analysis, pilot program, and identification of locations along central San Francisco Bay where eelgrass could grow.
A full scale restoration in North Basin would be approximately $1.2 million. Some contingency costs would bring the total to ... $1.4 million.
Although there is a five-acre loss of sandflats, Mr. Merkel believed these can be restored in the North Basin; however, the concern would be that eelgrass beds would not take hold. He could not explain the reasons for it or have an understanding of it.
The recommendation is to look at the possibility of eelgrass restoration in the North Basin area at a reduced scale. However, experience shows that sand flats could be mitigated at the site. The sand flat mitigation should be targeted to support eelgrass permanent beds during testing conditions. If the eelgrass beds prove to be successful, there should be a push towards advancing further restoration.
The other thing that should be looked at is the idea of spreading the risk around. The best bang for the buck may be splitting this and doing the restoration that is needed to get the sand flats targeting some eelgrass but then moving and doing some re-seeding in other areas and restoring eelgrass elsewhere throughout the Bay.
There were no public comments.
Commissioner Baird asked staff if they are anticipating some adaptation at the pilot project site. Ms. Sweeney said staff is preliminarily discussing what to do next, and those options are either continuing at the site with specifically sand flat restoration or by diversifying the portfolio by trying to find alternative sites throughout the Bay.
Mr. Merkel said it is interesting to watch the site over time evolve. He went out to the site at 10 p.m. and he ended up chasing off loafing birds so the site is getting used by a lot of organisms for the sand flat values that it has. One of the elements to the pilot program was to move eelgrass from the proposed barge impact area and plant it at Brick Yard Cove off of Berkeley shore and it stuck. So, there are actually eelgrass transplants that were made as part of the early-on efforts that have been in existence for four years.
- Briefing on the San Francisco Bay Subtidal Habitat Goals Project. Acting Chair Chappell said that this item is a briefing on the status of the San Francisco Bay Subtidal Habitat Goals Project.
Ms. Sweeney noted that the subtidal goals project is a collaborative inter-agency effort between BCDC, the State Coastal Conservancy and the California Ocean Protection Council, NOAA, and the San Francisco Estuary Project. The goal of the project is to establish a comprehensive and long-term vision for the subtidal habitats of the Bay.
Significant additional resources were obtained for this project, the results of which, a project manager was hired. She introduced Marilyn Latta.
Marilyn Latta, the manager of this project, provided the following update:
The Baylands Habitat goals helped to develop a regional vision and a blueprint for tidal wetlands in the Bay which has helped to create public interest and funding for projects like the South Bay salt ponds and others.
The vision is to achieve a net improvement of subtidal habitats which includes optimizing the mix of habitat types, increasing native species richness and abundance, and increasing our understanding of these habitats.
An initial list of overarching policy issues include climate change, invasive species, fresh water inflow issues from the Delta, and sediment supply issues in the Bay.
The list of specific stressors being looked at are: activities that place or remove structures in subtidal areas; activities that change sediment inputs; removing or disturbing bottom sediment shell and rock; and activities that increase contaminant input.
The preliminary research priorities are to create a series of GIS maps, understanding the productivity of these habitats and their food chain relationship amongst each other, sediment dynamics in the Bay, and looking at what types of restoration priorities and methods work best.
The committees have decided that they want to: increase abundance of eelgrass and native oyster habitats based on their function and value to the Bay; work towards decreasing the abundance of artificial substrates; and improve conditions of other habitat types.
In addition SFEI has been hired to look at creosote pilings in the Bay, as well as other artificial structures.
Committee meetings will start in spring 2009 and the project is working towards a final document in December 2009.
There were no public comments.
Commissioner McGrath said over the next ten years this Commission will see many projects that involve adaptation to sea level rise. Having a vision of what the Bay could be and needs to be will give the Commission some idea of the kinds of things that may be reasonable to ask for in mitigation.Commissioner McGlashan asked how many staff the Ocean Protection Council has active on the subtidal goals. Ms. Latta said the subtidal goals project is an interagency collaboration with four agencies including: Coastal Conservancy which includes OPC; BCDC; NOAA; and the San Francisco Estuary Project.
- Consideration of Strategic Plan Status Report. Mr. Travis provided the monthly status report on the strategic planning. Some of the objectives need to be changed and there is one that should be eliminated. He requested approval to make the changes.
MOTION: Commissioner Moy moved, seconded by Commissioner McGrath to approve the requested changes. The motion was carried unanimously.
- New Business
There was no new business.
- Old Business
There was no old business.
Upon motion by Commissioner McGrath, seconded by Commissioner Baird, the meeting adjourned at 4:25 p.m.
Approved, with no corrections, at the San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission Meeting of January 15, 2009
R. Sean Randolph, Chair