Minutes of April 2, 2009 Commission Meeting

  1. Call to Order. The meeting was called to order by Chair Randolph at the Ferry Building, Second Floor in San Francisco, California at 1:00 p.m.

  2. Roll Call. Present were Chair Sean Randolph, Vice Chair Halsted, Commissioners, Bates (represented by Alternate Balico), Chiu, Goldzband, Gordon, Jordan Hallinan, Hicks, Lai-Bitker Lundstrom, Maxwell, McGrath, Moy, Nelson, Reagan, Shirakawa (represented by Alternate Carruthers), Wagenknecht and Wieckowski (represented by Alternate Drekmeier).

    Not Present were: Secretary of Resources (Baird), Business, Transportation and Housing Agency (Bourgart), Sonoma County (Brown), Department of Finance (Finn), Speaker of the Assembly (Gibbs), Contra Costa County (Gioia), Marin County (McGlashan),
    U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (Smith), and State Lands Commission (Thayer).

  3. Public Comment Period. Chair Randolph asked for public comment.

    Mr. Stephen Knight, Save the Bay Political Director, stated that the March 5 Commission re-think from officials with DMB Associates and the correspondence dated September 30, 2008, from Cargill Salt -- which were provided to this Commission -- give a misleading impression that the 2000 appraisal of Cargill’s Redwood City salt ponds is a reliable estimate of their value.

    In fact, the recent proceedings from October 2008 have only reinforced the finding that this appraisal was faulty and should not be used as a basis for estimating the value of these properties. There is no accurate or current appraisal of the value of the Redwood City salt ponds and no basis for claims from DMB or Cargill that the appraised value now would be anywhere near the inflated value suggested in that appraisal nine years ago, which has now twice been discredited by the courts.

    He wanted to underline the point that the specific factual problems with the appraisal back in 2007, that was found by the court, has been fully reiterated in the remand in October 2008.

  4. Approval of Minutes of March 5, 2009 Meeting. Chair Randolph entertained a motion to adopt the Minutes of March 5, 2009.
    MOTION: Commissioner Reagan moved, seconded by Vice Chair Halsted, to approve the March 5, 2009 Minutes. The motion carried unanimously.

  5. Report of the Chair. Chair Randolph reported on the following:
    1. New Commissioner: The San Francisco Board of Supervisors has appointed their board president, David Chiu, to represent them on BCDC. He replaces Aaron Peskin, whose term on the Board ended a few months ago. Chair Randolph welcomed new Commissioner Chiu.
    2. Next BCDC Meeting:As part of the Commission’s budget reduction plan, the April 16, 2009 commission meeting has been cancelled. Therefore, the next BCDC meeting will be in five weeks, on May 7, 2009. At that meeting, which will be held here at the Ferry Building, the Commission will take up the following matters:
    1. We will hold a public hearing and vote on an application to make improvements to a San Francisco Municipal Railway bus storage facility along the shoreline of Islais Creek in San Francisco.
    2. We will hold a public hearing and vote on an application to build an aquatic recreational facility along the shoreline of the Oakland-Alameda Estuary in Oakland.
    3. We will hold a public hearing on making revisions to the Commission’s Bay Plan to address climate change.
    4. We will receive a briefing on the work of the regional committees on which members of the Commission serve.
    5. Finally, we will consider a status report on the progress we are making in carrying out our strategic plan.
    1. Ex-Parte Communications:Chair Randolph invited Commissioners who have engaged in any as-yet-unreported ex parte communications to report on them at this point.

      Commissioner Gordon reported a meeting he had with DMB Saltworks, who presented to him the plan they were preparing to present to the City of Redwood City.

      Commissioner Reagan reported that he had received an update from folks at Potrero Hills Landfill on the status of their project.

      Vice Chair Halsted reported on some discussions she had with the people from Treasure Island about some ramps and bridges at Treasure Island, which may be on BCDC’s docket in the future.

  6. Report of the Executive Director. Executive Director Travis provided the following report:
    1. Budget: As usual, he began his report with some information about BCDC’s budget.
      1. The Governor’s directive to close most state offices the first and third Fridays of each month has been revised. Although BCDC staff still has to take two furlough days without pay each month, they will rotate those days so the office can remain open every weekday. The office will be closed during lunch, from 12:00 to 1:00 p.m. The Commission doesn’t get many visitors or calls then so this is a pretty easy way to help accommodate the ten percent reduction in staff resources. This furlough measure, along with typically holding only one Commission meeting a month, will help the Commission keep its expenditures down. Also, there are some negotiations underway between the collective bargaining units, the administration, and the legislature that would reduce the unpaid furlough to one day a month. If this revision is approved by everyone involved; it would probably go into effect in June or July.
      2. The Legislature has begun its consideration of the Governor’s proposed budget for the 2009-2010 fiscal year that begins in July. Because the Commission hasn’t requested, and the Governor hasn’t proposed, any revisions in BCDC’s budget, the Legislature hasn’t scheduled any hearings on the budget.
      3. The Commission is again able to pay the per diem expenses for attending Commission meetings.

        As always, staff will keep the Commission apprised of any changes in the budget situation.

    2. Bay Restoration Authority. Staff has provided a roster of ABAG’s appointments to the governing board of the new Bay Restoration Authority, which was created by the enactment of legislation sponsored by Save the Bay. BCDC supported the bill, and staff urged members of the Commission to try to secure seats on the new authority’s governing board as a means of providing close coordination between the work of BCDC and the new authority. Two of the seven members of the new board, Supervisor John Gioia of Contra Costa County and Supervisor Charles McGlashan of Marin County, serve on BCDC; and the chair, Sam Schuchat of the Coastal Conservancy, and another member, John Sutter of the East Bay Regional Park District Board, are quite familiar with BCDC’s programs. Therefore, we think the Commission can look forward to a long and constructive working partnership with this important new agency.

      Executive Director Travis also noted that the Restoration Authority has the capacity to set up revenue districts, or a taxing district or districts -- it could be Bay-wide or limited to one particular area -- and, using the revenues from that, could pay for the restoration of wetlands around the Bay. It is not empowered to acquire land. It was set up because a lot of land was acquired but the money isn’t available to complete the wetlands restoration, which was estimated by Save the Bay to cost about $1.4 billion over the next 20 years or so.

    3. Statement of Economic Interests. As a reminder, members of the Commission must file their annual Statement of Economic Interests, commonly called a Form 700. The completed form should have been received in the Commission’s office or postmarked by April 1. If the deadline was missed, please get the form to staff as quickly as possible. John Bowers, BDCD legal counsel, can help if there are any questions about the forms.

  7. Commissioner Consideration of Administrative Matters. Executive Director Travis stated that the administrative listing was sent to the Commissioners on March 20th. Caitlin Sweeney is available to respond to any questions Commissioners may have about the matters on the listing.

  8. Consideration of Contracts for Federal Grant Program Implementation. Mr. Joe LaClair, Chief Planner presented the staff recommendation. He recommended that the Commission authorize the Executive Director to enter into contracts necessary to implement a federal grant program administered by the EPA. The Commission has been awarded a grant for $600,000, which is part of a $5 million grant that the San Francisco Estuary Project obtained to improve Bay Area wetlands and creeks and conduct environmental education.

    The $600,000 grant was awarded to the Commission to study Marin County’s Corte Madera Bay wetlands and assess their resilience to sea level rise and their wave attenuation benefits, and to develop a conceptual design to protect wetlands from the erosive effects of sea level rise. This project will be conducted in cooperation with Marin County Flood Control District, which will be conducting studies of the watershed to improve stream health and flood protection.

    The Commission will need to contract with ABAG in order to receive the funds, and, since much of the work involves field work and technical tasks, the Commission will need to contract with other agencies and firms to conduct some of the work.

    BCDC staff will manage the project and will obtain the needed permits to install field equipment, and it will draft the guidance that will be used by local governments at the conclusion of the project.

    Mr. LaClair concluded by recommending that the Executive Director be authorized to enter into contracts for funds with ABAG and also for professional services.

    Commissioner Lundstrom remarked that she has sat on the Corte Madera Creek Flood Control District for a number of years and was the chair of that, and within the past year they started looking at the examination of this watershed-wide approach. She said this is very timely and is of very great benefit for a whole creek system. And, this particular creek manages to flood about every three or four years. We’re looking at the upstream part, and it’s interesting that some of the engineers involved live in Ross Valley and are very, very knowledgeable about the whole area, so I’m sure that this coordinated effort will be of great benefit to all.

    Mr. LaClair responded that the partnership with Marin County was instrumental in BCDC obtaining the grant funds.

    Chair Randolph asked if anyone from the public would like to speak to the Item. Seeing none, he asked for a motion and a second to approve.

    MOTION: Commissioner Lundstrom moved, seconded by Commissioner Carruthers, to authorize the Executive Director to enter into contracts necessary to implement the federal grant program award. The motion carried unanimously.

  9. Briefing on Bay Delta Conservation Plan. Ms. Karla Nemeth, California Natural Resources Agency, provided the briefing. The Resources Agency is the convener of a steering committee that’s shaping the development of the Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP). That includes water agencies that supply water to communities in the Bay Area down to San Diego, through the Central Valley; environmental organizations; the California Farm Bureau; and other interested entities.

    We all acknowledge the major challenge it is to restore an ecosystem in an area such as the Delta. There’s half a million folks who live out there and the Delta supports a robust agricultural and recreational economy. We need to balance all of these needs against the ecosystem restoration and water reliability objectives of the plan.

    Secretary Chrisman is meeting periodically with elected officials from the Delta counties to ensure that there is a formal way that they can become engaged in the process to make sure those counties and communities are kept whole as we continue to develop a plan.

    Essentially, native species in the Delta have experienced record decreases in their population levels in recent years. That’s created several lawsuits that have threatened the reliability of water supplies for about 25 million Californians. As water moves through the Delta, naturally coming out of the Sacramento River and outflowing to the Bay, and through the San Joaquin River and outflowing to the Bay, the overlay of the operation and conveyance of water supplies on that system has water released from Oroville and Shasta Dams, through the Sacramento River, down to the state and federal water project pumps in the southern part of the Delta.

The judges have said that the effects of the operation of those pumps, in terms of their creating reverse flows in that central part of the Delta that draw the fish into the pumps, is in violation of the Endangered Species Act. As a result, the state and federal water project pumps are required to operate at a reduced level when smelt are in that pump area.

When we have these kinds of conflicts between water supply for human use and the environment, one approach is to take a look at that on a project-by-project basis whereby a project proponent would propose a water supply project and attempt to mitigate damage to endangered species on a species-by-species basis.

But what the Endangered Species Act allows for and the Natural Communities Conservation Planning Act allows for is to engage in a conservation planning process to help recover species over time and address multiple species needs at once. And that’s what this process is, it’s a habitat conservation plan and a natural communities conservation plan.

At the heart of the conservation planning process is a conservation strategy of individual actions that are implemented over time to help contribute to the recovery of species. And there are lots of other very critical elements that ensure the success of a conservation plan and that are required by law to complete the plan -- and that is who funds it; how it’s implemented; who governs the actual implementation of the plan; how do we allow for adaptive management - that is, new science coming into the process to help us change course as needed to be as effective as possible. The Natural Communities Conservation Planning Act also requires the involvement of an independent science panel during the development of the plan.

The outcome of all this is a conservation plan that lays out a whole suite of actions -- that are taken in exchange for permitting operations of the state and federal water projects in this case -- that contribute to the recovery of the species over time.

In the Bay Delta Conservation Plan we essentially have two objectives -- stable and healthy fish populations and reliable water supplies.

Today I’m going to focus on our latest thinking on the conservation strategy, but as I mentioned there are a lot of other very critical elements in the plan. We just completed 12 scoping meetings for the environmental review documents associated with this plan and we heard a lot about trust and a lot about governance, and it’s critical that the system or the plan as proposed has the credibility in terms of governance to meet both the fish objectives and the water supply reliability objectives of this plan.

So essentially we’ve been shaping a conservation strategy to meet the recovery objectives of nine fish species. We also need to look at terrestrial species, plants and wildlife in the planning area -- which is the statutory Delta -- where we have about 37 other terrestrial species that are proposed for coverage in the plan. It can happen in a variety of ways in terms of developing conservation measures specific to those species, and one of our key objectives is that we want to continue to develop in partnership with the Delta counties that have their own habitat conservation plans in place for terrestrial species. We want to support those local planning processes as we approach the needs of terrestrial species in this plan.

We’ve approached the development of the conservation strategy by building off of decades of science in the Delta and developing the CALFED process. We started by identifying biological goals and objectives for fish species. That includes their mortality rate, their fitness as a species, their geographic distribution in the Delta, and a variety of other metrics that we use to determine the health of fish species.

We also went through a process of identifying various things that stress these fish species. You saw earlier the conceptual representation of how water conveyance facilities and flows impact species, but there are other important stressors on those fish species -- a lack of physical habitat for spawning and rearing, a lack of food supply, water quality issues in the Delta, and a whole host of other things.

So the objective of this plan is to address all of these kinds of stressors collectively with the understanding that addressing them collectively will be more effective at contributing to the recovery of fish species over time than doing one thing at a time or addressing one stressor in isolation of the others.

In terms of the conveyance and flow issue, essentially what we’re looking at doing is, as water moves through the system currently to the pumps at the southern end of the Delta, you’re creating a reverse flow situation in a couple of key areas. One is in the central part of the Delta. The other is with river water coming out of the Sacramento River that would otherwise flow out to the Bay. When the pumps are turned on and moving at a particular pace, water actually reverses course and goes back into the Delta. In parts of the San Joaquin River the operation of the pumps also tends to, from a fisheries perspective, draw fish into the bottom channels towards the pumps.

The conservation plan does include a peripheral canal, and, in terms of flows, the expectation is that, with a new diversion point at the northern part of the Delta and the operation of the existing pumps at the southern end of the Delta we can resolve some of these reverse flow issues. Water moving out of the Sacramento River will no longer be subject, or will be subjected in a much more minimal way, to the pull of the pumps, and can go out and proceed out toward the Bay.

Similarly, water from the San Joaquin River will flow all the way up into the Delta. The objective, in terms of changing flows in the Delta, is to create a more natural east-west pattern of water movement in the Delta than we have today.

So, in terms of dealing with the conveyance and flow, we have a few conservation measures that we are looking at. In the near term we have the proposal for tidal gates operating in the central part of the Delta which can be opened and closed seasonally, depending on the presence of fish, to help manage the hydrology in a way that’s more beneficial for fish in the southern part of the Delta.

As I mentioned, we also have a northern diversion point as a long term conservation measure for the Delta and that includes a diversion off the Sacramento River in the northern part of the Delta with a conveyance facility around the Delta connecting to the existing state and federal pumps. We have identified an eastern alignment for this facility for the purposes of creating the plan. As you create the plan you’re required to mitigate impacts to biological resources as part of the plan so the environmental review documents are looking at alternative alignments for this kind of a facility. They are also looking at through-Delta water conveyance and a broader range of options for meeting this particular project’s objectives.

For the purposes of completing the draft plan, the Bay Delta Conservation Plan has selected an eastern alignment. The capacity that we’re looking at is 15,000 cubic feet per second. That’s the existing capacity of the state and federal pumps. Its actual operation would be lower than that. Those are some of the key details that we’re working through.

And there’s a few key areas that I want to point out where we’re looking at the relationship of flows in the estuary and the health of fish and a way to balance water supply reliability with fish needs, and that’s bypass flows off of the northern diversion. We’re looking at that from a number of perspectives, one being what flows are required -- it’s called sweeping velocity -- to bypass that diversion point so that fish don’t get stuck in any kind of a diversion. Another aspect of flows is making sure we have enough water in the system to provide for adequate migratory corridors and food transport into the Delta.

Also from an operational perspective we’re looking at Delta outflows to the Bay. We’ve been modeling outflow requirements under existing laws that are enforced by the State Water Resources Control Board. We’re also looking at outflow requirements that are both higher and greater than that. The expectation is that we’ll have a lot of these details filled out by the summer and a better understanding of their anticipated benefits to fish species.

We’re also looking at, from an operational perspective, how we operate the Delta Cross Channel, particularly when we move towards more habitat restoration in the Delta, how that’s operated to get food transported into the middle of the estuary.

From a habitat restoration perspective, we’re looking at restoring three different kinds of habitat: floodplain restoration, tidal marsh restoration, and channel margin restoration. In terms of floodplain restoration, we are looking at increasing the inundation in the Yolo Bypass area, which would essentially provide about 23,000 acres of floodplain for the purposes of spawning and rearing habitat for the fish species we are attempting to recover in this plan. That’s growing cattails and tules and those sorts of things.

In terms of tidal marsh restoration we’re looking at about 5,000 acres in the Cache Slough area, about 7,000 acres in Suisun Marsh, and about 2,500 acres in the western part of the Delta. And then, in the eastern Delta on the Cosumnes and Mokelumne Rivers, we’re looking at about 1,500 acres in those two areas, as well as about 5,000 acres in the southern part of the Delta. It roughly totals out to about 22,000 acres, geographically distributed to meet the distribution needs of the different species in the Delta.

Ultimately, we’re looking at about a potential low range of 55 to 60,000 acres of habitat restoration in the Delta. The remainder of the 60,000 acres would essentially be available to be restored throughout the Delta depending on the performance over time of these habitat restoration projects. The notion is that we want to restore habitat throughout the Delta, but we want to make sure we know enough about how it’s performing and we’re learning from that performance as we move on.

We’re also taking a look at channel margin restoration in all of those areas and in the northern part of the Delta along Steamboat and Sutter Sloughs, as well as in the southern part of the Delta along the San Joaquin River.

And finally, as I mentioned, we are also looking at ways that we can manage other stressors on the fish species. That includes removal of invasive species, managing methyl mercury production, addressing herbicide and pesticide issues in the Delta, establishing no-wake zones where we will have done some of the channel margin restoration, boat inspection for invasive species -- a whole variety of actions that can help mitigate some of these stressors on fish species.

We’ve identified about 50 individual conservation measures that we are currently analyzing for their effectiveness, anticipated benefits to fish species, and the scientific uncertainties surrounding those benefits.

Our goal by December of this year is to get to a full conservation strategy that helps to achieve recovery of species over time. There are several different layers of analysis we still need to do. The feasibility of some of these conservation measures, how practical they are, how much they will cost, what their biological effectiveness will be, and so forth.

So essentially where we are is continuing to develop not just the conservation strategy, but also the governance structure and the implementation schedule of the plan. Our permit term that we’re looking for, the planning horizon, is 50 years. We still need to do a cost analysis and apportion out funding appropriately. There are lots of other elements that we need to complete.

Our expectation is that we will have a preliminary draft of the entire plan available this summer. We’ll be out talking to folks about it, particularly in the Delta, but also other places in the state, in advance of having a draft plan available at the end of this year. And then the expectation is that we would have a final conservation plan available by mid-2010, on which the state and federal fishery agencies would base their issuance of incidental take permits under state and federal endangered species acts.

Concurrently there is an environmental review process going on under CEQA and NEPA and the expectation is that that process will also issue a record of decision on the plan.

Chair Randolph asked if Commissioners or anyone from the public had questions.

Seeing none from the public, Chair Randolph asked, regarding the 55 to 60,000 acres referenced as being possible for restoration, what is the status of that land now? Is it marshland, is it farmland that would be converted to marsh, or something else? Ms. Nemeth responded that it’s a little of both. What they are looking at is using public lands first and then working on a willing-seller basis with private lands. It’s a key issue for Delta counties in terms of conversion of agricultural lands.

Commission Carruthers stated that there’s something that he feels really ignorant and very confused about -- the health of the Delta. It depends in part on the upstream inflows. What process is there in the state that’s planning for the management of the upstream inflows? Are we going to build new dams, how many new dams, what kind of conservation are we going to require among the different users? Ms. Nemeth responded that this conservation plan is focused on the statutory Delta and dealing with conveyance issues and how that relates to water supply. It clearly backs up on available storage and how we operate the system smartly. Those kinds of other issues mentioned were addressed pretty extensively in the Delta Vision process. As the state moves to implement that process -- there’s a lot of different pieces of legislation out now -- a key part of that is also going to be conservation. The Governor has expressed his policy for a 20 percent reduction per capita water use by 2020. All of that is going to be part of the state’s overall water picture.

Commissioner Carruthers asked if any kind of a body had been identified or designated to carry that out? Say, in a way that’s parallel to or anything like the Delta Vision organization? Ms. Nemeth responded that right now the administration is working with the legislature on determining what body undertakes that set of issues. Governance is something they’re hearing a lot about. There are a lot of different approaches and plans and it’s safe to say that all of it is on the table.

Commissioner Reagan commented on what the Five Delta County Coalition has been doing. He stated that after the Delta Vision Blue Ribbon Task Force got done with their work and the Coalition didn’t think the governance question was appropriately answered, it worked with the Delta Vision cabinet committee to design a governing body. The Coalition arranged to have a couple of seats at that table. It was told last Friday that the legislature is getting out in front of the ability of that body to formulate that. So the focus has shifted to the legislature.

On the 55,000 to 60,000 acres of ecosystem restoration, this is on top of another 8,000 acres that was in the Delta smelt biological opinion that the federal judge ordered to be revised, and on top of other existing inundated areas that have been collected over the last 25-30 years in Sacramento County, Solano County and Yolo County. He also noted that the Delta Vision articulated something on the order of a hundred thousand acres eventually, and these are some of the near-term bites at it.

Ms. Nemeth stated that there are a couple of caveats to that. One, the habitat restoration that we’re contemplating in the Bay Delta Conservation Plan, whether or not it will be additive to existing biological opinions she doesn’t quite know. That’s something that the fishery agencies will resolve. But the notion is that what is designed in the Bay Delta Conservation Plan supplants those existing biological opinions.

Also, 55,000 to 60,000 acres is a minimum that they are looking at. They are having a discussion as to whether or not they have a specific target, or a range, and there are a lot of issues that need to be addressed in terms of how the restoration is sequenced out over time, and making sure that it’s moving in tandem with the proposed water operations in the Delta so that they are managing all of the pieces at once. So there are a lot of critical details that they are going to continue to develop and hopefully have by the summertime.

Commissioner Reagan remarked on the dual conveyance, with the through-Delta improvements being in the medium term, and then the engineered conveyance, the peripheral canal, being a longer-term thing; and the governance on how that operates, so that the State Water Project continues to provide those assurances to Northern California that only water surplus to the needs of communities up here would be exported. Those attempts to basically have a constitutional public trust doctrine decide how they can breach existing Senior water rights and allocate water under a beneficial use doctrine and public trust doctrine for the state is a fight that is probably going to be joined very shortly. He stated that Napa County, Solano County, Yuba County, Yuba City, and Butte County have already filed litigation to protect their senior water rights. So, that’s waiting for a court date.

He stated that there are also 1,300 miles of levees in the Delta and in the Suisun Marsh which are not in the statutory Delta but were included in these planning processes by executive order. The Suisun Marsh specifically is in the Commission’s oversight. There has been a ten-year process by the Suisun Marsh Charter Group to develop a new Suisun Marsh Plan.

Those operational decisions that Ms. Nemeth was describing are part of the very complicated math that they have to do. And there’s obviously other socioeconomic impacts to the communities within the Delta. We have been suggesting for a year and a half that -- as was done when the State Water Project was created and as was done during the CALFED time -- the interests of the communities in that wide area should be considered as co-equal value, which has not been incorporated into the current Delta Vision and is not part of the charter that BDCP started with. That’s part of what we’re working to try to get into the writings of anyone talking about this.

Commissioner Lundstrom asked -- since this study is all about managing the flow of water through the whole system -- whether it’s factored in the level of water to be maintained in the Sacramento and San Joaquin Rivers to the Ports of Sacramento and Stockton. Those are maritime highways to those ports, and when people think of siphoning water off for whatever purpose, including the peripheral canal, is that factored in? Ms. Nemeth responded that they will have to address that issue.

Commissioner Lundstrom commented that she was thinking -- particularly in terms of the future, with climate change and variable levels of rainfall and water coming in, -- about the need to maintain a minimum water level for navigation to the Ports of Sacramento and Stockton.

Commissioner Balico stated that he lives in Hercules -- that’s in Contra Costa County -- so it’s always been a question for them about the proposal of the peripheral canal again as a solution for the whole problem of the water mess in the state. It is challenging to address something that’s been there forever. There are 5,800 of these water rights that you need to address. We actually believe, in Contra Costa, that creating the peripheral canal will really drain the Delta.

And, as Mike Reagan mentioned, we also would like to see a protection or some kind of guarantee to the whole region, the northern side of it, before creating such a peripheral canal. And you have a very challenging path because you have to balance your water supply for the region. And siphoning water down to Southern California, I think that needs to be addressed politically.

Why don’t we try really finding a technology of desalination, instead of siphoning all the water out of Northern California and bringing it down to Southern California?

Ms. Nemeth responded that, as she mentioned, the other ways to meet the project objective -- the alternative ways will be analyzed in the EIR/EIS. Those kinds of issues, like desalination, we heard a lot about that as an alternative way to meet water supply needs. Also, salinity management in the Delta, for agricultural and municipal and industrial uses for communities in the Delta, is pretty important in terms of how the plan is put together. They are proposing a northern diversion point. That diversion point and a canal would be operated in tandem with the pumps at the southern end of the Delta as a way to manage salinity conditions in the Delta to meet water quality needs of folks living there. And just, kind of “back of the envelope” in terms of the portion of deliveries that would move through a northern diversion point versus a southern diversion point, it’s about one-third existing pumps in the southern part of the Delta and two-thirds out of that northern diversion point, really, for the purposes of salinity management in the Delta.

Commissioner Nelson started his comments by disclosing that when he doesn’t have his BCDC hat on he works at the Natural Resources Defense Council on Delta issues. He further stated that his comments will be confined to his thoughts that are relevant to his role as a Commissioner.

He first remarked that a couple of folks previously had already asked questions about governance, and that’s going to be a really interesting issue to watch because some of the proposals within BDCP have been quite different from some of the recommendations that have come out of the Delta Vision process. He doesn’t think it’s impossible to reconcile them, but there are a lot of issues on the table and it’s going to be an interesting challenge to figure out how to reconcile the BDCP governance recommendations with the recommendations that have come out of Delta Vision about the legislature’s considerations on governance issues. Not an easy issue, not a simple one, because there aren’t simply two proposals on the table -- as you mentioned, there are many. But that’s going to be a really interesting one to watch and a critical one to the success both of BDCP and of the Delta Vision effort.

Commissioner Nelson stated that his first specific question was with regard to the analysis of conveyance. A number of Commissioners had commented on the isolated facility issue. The Delta Vision Task Force laid out a list of issues, both in their letter to the Governor and their final strategic plan, that read much like a list of recommendations for BDCP; that in order to resolve these difficult conveyance issues the agencies needed to do X, Y, and Z. He wondered if at some point BDCP is going to prepare some sort of a clear analysis that tracks the very specific recommendations with regard to conveyance and how exactly BDCP is incorporating those recommendations.

The recommendations cover a full range of alternatives, a full range of operational scenarios, specific recommendations for additional protections for the health of the Delta, and it’s been hard to figure out which ones are being incorporated and which ones may not be. So that would be helpful, because this Commission has tracked the Delta Vision process, and is now getting a helpful briefing on BDCP. It’s not yet clear to the Commission how those two things are going to come together. So, could it get some clarity on that? And some clarity about what kind of Endangered Species Act assurances the contractors of the projects are hoping to get out of this process?

Ms. Nemeth responded that one of the things the contractors are looking for is greater reliability, but what form would that really take, in terms of there’s a lot of different ways to formulate that but it’s not clear exactly where BDCP is headed in terms of the nature of those ESA assurances. She stated that the answer to the first question is yes, absolutely. Today she can’t do that but it’s a really good point and she knows it’s been considered. The BDCP absolutely can be compared with the very specific recommendations that came out of the Delta Vision process.

In terms of regulatory assurances, essentially what they are looking at is an endangered species incidental take permit for the continued operation of the state and federal pumps at the southern part of the Delta. In the northern part of the Delta, any new diversion or facility, the maintenance of those facilities, the actual implementation of the plan itself, could result in take of species. So all of that is what would be contained in the permits for the state and federal water project operators.

There’s a whole series of issues related to how we adaptively manage the plan and what’s an unforeseen circumstance that, you know, they just didn’t consider; how they would manage that information and how it would fit within the boundaries of a permit. They’re all excellent questions, they’re all really some of the toughest nuts to crack that they’re looking at over the course of the next three or four months. What constitutes a reliable water supply is a question that will be answered by this plan. How much water does the estuary need is a question that this plan will propose an answer to and, you know, folks will look at it and make their comments and, you know, that’s part of the process that we’re engaged in.

Commissioner Wagenknecht asked for information about the North Bay Aqueduct intake. Ms. Nemeth responded that it’s in an area where they are proposing habitat for smelt, so that creates all sorts of issues. They’ll need to mitigate for that completely and there’s a lot of different ideas on the table, potentially moving that intake right away; but absolutely it’s an issue they’ll need to address.

  1. Briefing on Climate Change Bay Plan Amendment Background Report. Chair Randolph again mentioned that BCDC is going to have a Public Hearing on these proposed Bay Plan revisions at the next Commission meeting. The purpose of today’s conversation is to let Commissioners focus in and really read into the key issues, as preparation for when they review the background report that’s going to be sent to them in the near future.

    Executive Director Travis noted that the report will probably go out Tuesday of next week (week of April 7). He reviewed it and thought the Commissioners would find it to be a remarkable document. BCDC staff will also be updating the maps on the websites to show the impact of sea level rise of about a meter around San Francisco Bay. And one of the things in the report is that the updated projections are that we’re now looking at 1.4 meters over the next century, about 55 inches, or 16 inches in the next half century. The maps on the BCDC website will represent the absolute state-of-the-art. Staff has been working very closely with USGS and everybody will be able to use BCDC’s website and see the whole Bay and then go right into areas of particular interest. Executive Director Travis concluded by stating that staff thinks there will be a lot of interest in those maps when they’re published.

    Commissioner Goldzband remarked that the thing that he was really struck by when the maps appeared was the sort of Holy Grail-like thought process surrounding them and by the people who looked at them, basically looking at the maps and thinking this was sort of “the word from on high.” It is without a doubt “the best stuff that’s out there.”

    One of the issues that regulatory bodies face is the way that the private sector and the public takes a look at what they do and decides whether or not they plan based upon that. So, when you put up the new maps what is the plan of BCDC to disseminate information about them in such a way that the private sector and the public has a better understanding as to what these maps actually not only say but how they can or should influence the way planners think?

    Executive Director Travis responded that he thought that Commissioner Goldzband would see that in the report. People always would like to have absolute certainty and they say, “okay, on this date the water will be exactly this high,” and obviously nobody can tell you that. But what we can do and what we’ve done in the report and the approach we’ve taken is this is essentially an issue of risk management.

    And what we have found is if you take a 100-year floodplain map -- not a FEMA map, the current FEMA maps use actuarial data from the past and they are now updating them so they’re looking to the future, but -- if you look at a good flood map that shows, “here’s your 100-year floodplain,” what that really means is that in any one year you have a chance, a one-percent chance that the area will flood. You will see that, by mid century, with a 16 inch rise what is a 100-year floodplain becomes a 1-year floodplain. That is, it is a 100 percent chance of happening in any one year. So as you’re moving toward that your risk gets higher. But you can make thoughtful decisions, you can make truly good reasoned decisions; you can say “given this risk, given the cost of protection, given the cost of relocation, what are thoughtful and prudent measures we can take?”

Executive Director Travis concluded by stating that he thinks staff will be explaining that in the report, and they will be helping Bay Area local governments and the citizenry and others to really look at this issue in a constructive fashion.

Ms. Leslie Lacko began the briefing by acknowledging Tim Doherty, who developed the sea level rise maps and conducted the GIS analysis for the shoreline impacts and wrote chapter two of the report. Adam Parris, who’s currently in the Philippines, conducted GIS analysis on the ecosystem impacts on the Bay and wrote that chapter of the report. He was assisted by Sahrye Cohen, who’s no longer with BCDC, and also by Jessica Hamburger, regarding the Delta Suisun Marsh and the freshwater inflow issues. And then Jessica later returned to lend her editing talents to the project, which was greatly appreciated. And Sara Polgar also helped edit the final draft, and her help was most appreciated. And then, of course, they had very valuable guidance from Joe LaClair and Steve Goldbeck and Executive Director Travis.

Ms. Lacko stated that what they tried to do in the report was to conduct a vulnerability assessment. This was done with both qualitative and quantitative data, including a review of literature and original GIS analysis. They focused on three planning areas, or systems: the shoreline environment, the Bay ecosystem, and governance. The key sectors within each system -- a sector is really any logical way to divide up a system, so it could be, for example, a different shoreline land use -- were identified and analyzed to ascertain their current and expected challenges and then to project climate change. You really are using whatever the best information is that is available to you, and recognizing that the vulnerability assessment as you move forward with adaptation planning will be conducted again with better information and newer information and in that way a vulnerability assessment is really, it’s self-adaptive, and it must be a given that there’s still a fair degree of uncertainty in climate change planning.

The last few steps of a vulnerability assessment involve making some mostly qualitative conclusions about a sector’s sensitivity to climate change and its adaptive capacity. The adaptive capacity is a measure of a sector’s ability to rebound and then adapt to impacts of climate change.

The last step is to weigh the sensitivity and the adaptive capacity and make a conclusion about a sector’s vulnerability and then look at the sensitivity and adaptive capacity and sort of rate that sector’s vulnerability.

The sea level rise data was provided by the USGS. Staff worked with the California Energy Commission Public Interest Energy Research Program to fund USGS to take the original topographic data that we used to make our original maps and improve that. They ran that through a hydrodynamic model and assembled a number of different sets of typographic data. And then they took that data and used the average highest tide of each month, which captures most of the highest storm surge in any given year, and then added a sea level rise scenario on to that.

So while this data is really the best available for mapping, there are limitations for its use. The data captures most of the storm surge but it doesn’t capture wave activity. We do have wave activity in the Bay - certainly enough to cause erosion and overtop levees. And then consequently an area that floods from wave activity during winter storms, such as the Embarcadero in San Francisco or perhaps Jack London Square, is not counted as vulnerable because it’s not currently below the water level that shows up in the data.

Importantly, where the elevation of land is below future water level, it’s shown as vulnerable whether or not shoreline protection currently exists. This is because adequate information isn’t available about shoreline protection height or strength, and even in some cases where shoreline protection exists.

Even without this information though, the data is still reliable for drawing important conclusions about impacts and certainly it doesn’t mean that an area that’s low lying and behind the levee is not vulnerable in some way to sea level rise.

Sea level rise scenarios have been estimated, but they may not adequately reflect future contributions from ice sheet melt. We selected two sea level rise scenarios based on higher greenhouse gas emissions and took the more risk adverse. Those scenarios are 16 inches of sea level rise by mid century -- that’s 40 centimeters -- and 55 inches of sea level rise by the end of the century -- 1.4 meters. These scenarios are generally consistent with the efforts of other state agencies; the scenarios that they are using at this point.

Our analysis shows that approximately 180,000 acres of shoreline are vulnerable to flooding with 16 inches of sea level rise, and approximately 213,000 acres are vulnerable at 55 inches. When the areas of vulnerability are mapped it is clear that most of the flooding occurs under the 16 inch scenario by mid century.

With 55 inches of sea level rise, the additional 33,000 acres of vulnerable area is really scattered around the perimeter of the area that’s vulnerable under the lower scenario.

The area inundated by the 16 inch scenario is already subject to some degree of vulnerability. It’s largely the same as the 100-year floodplain. So, a 100-year flood is a flood that’s predicted to occur on average once every 100 years, and so has a one percent chance of occurring in any given year. A one-year flood is a flood that has a 100 percent chance of occurring once during a year. The most significant finding really that comes out of the USGS analysis of the data is that the area within the current 100-year floodplain is roughly equivalent to the average monthly high tide in 2050. And so, in other words, the probability of flooding within the current 100-year floodplain will increase from one percent per year now to 100 percent by mid century. And because flood protection is generally constructed to last 100 years, the most protective approach is to construct shoreline protection for 55 inches of sea level rise under the 100-year scenario.

Most shoreline impacts will occur from flooding caused by the combined effects of sea level rise and storm activity. During a storm you have low air pressure that causes a rapid rise in sea level, called storm surge, and then you have water levels that are also elevated by rain runoff and extreme high tides which occur more often in winter when storms are more frequent, and the coincidence of these events is more likely to occur during El Nino years, which are also becoming more frequent. High winds then produce waves which, when generated on elevated water, run further up on to the land surface and cause more damage than they otherwise would have.

So the combined effects of sea level rise, storm surge, tributary flooding, high tides, high winds, and more frequent El Nino events will likely cause severe flooding and erosion long before shoreline areas are permanently inundated by sea level rise.

Some of our findings are that approximately half of the shoreline development vulnerable to 16 inches of sea level rise is residential, which totals 66,000 acres of residential area. Over 82,000 acres of residential development is vulnerable to flooding by the end of the century.

Where residents are not directly vulnerable to flooding, access to important services such as commercial centers, health care, and schools would likely be impeded by flooding of those service centers or transportation infrastructure that links people to them.

The range of impacts can be more difficult for low income communities because they generally have less financial flexibility and fewer resources to pursue alternative housing or transportation. A disproportionate number of low income residents are vulnerable to a 55-inch rise in sea level in five Bay Area counties: Contra Costa, Solano, Sonoma, Marin, and Napa.

Large commercial and industrial areas are vulnerable to flooding, especially in San Francisco, Silicon Valley and Oakland. Approximately 72 percent of San Francisco and Oakland Airports is vulnerable to a 16 inch sea level rise, and 93 percent is vulnerable to 55 inches of sea level rise. This can disrupt the transport of as much as 30 million passengers and approximately 1 million metric tons of cargo.

Also, flooding of highway segments in the regional transportation network can disrupt the movement of goods from ports which handled approximately 25 metric tons of cargo in ‘07/’08.

Water-related industries are also affected by sea level rise, although the flooding is less wide spread and more targeted in localized areas.

Generally, the Bay Area’s transportation infrastructure is not only vulnerable to flooding but it causes those secondary impacts to residents and businesses. There are a number of situations where you have a major highway that’s directly adjacent to the bay. And also situations where you have not only a highway that crosses a wetland, but we also have railroads that cross wetlands as well. And in that case, the flooding there is particularly serious because multiple users -- both freight and passenger service -- use a single rail line in many areas around the bay.

The waterfront parks and our public access really provide great opportunities to enjoy the bay and remind us of the bay’s important role in the region. There’s 23,000 acres of waterfront parks, 14 percent of which are vulnerable under the lower scenario and 18 percent are vulnerable under the higher scenario.

And 57 percent of BCDC-required public access -- public access that the Commission has required over many years -- is vulnerable to 16 inches of sea level rise; 87 percent is vulnerable under the higher scenario. The decline of these opportunities certainly would affect the quality of life here in the Bay Area.

To address widespread flooding from storm activity, shoreline protection projects will certainly be desired and needed in many places. Generally, shoreline protection is a shorter-term solution, but we expect that the Commission will see many applications for shoreline protection, and choosing the appropriate form of shoreline protection -- one that both protects public safety and minimizes ecosystem impacts -- is seen as critically important.

In the long term what the region needs to do is engage in a very open and vigorous public dialog to make difficult decisions about what to protect and where and what kind of new developments are appropriate in vulnerable areas, and where areas should not be developed.

The ecosystem chapter looks at some of the historic modifications of the bay that affect the ecosystem and make it hard for the ecosystem to be resilient to climate change and to adapt over time. Those modifications include filling and diking and reduction of habitat areas, reduced freshwater inflow, and then continuing stressors like pollution and invasive species, and some of the changes we see now with rapid declines of certain native species.

The natural adaptation mechanism of tidal marshes is to migrate upland, and it’s constrained by shoreline development and also by sediment supply. Marshes rely on sediment to migrate upland to retain their flood protection benefit and to remain viable habitat. And more and more data is showing a decline in the sediment entering the bay. USGS documented widespread erosion of tidal flats in the north and south bay, so how we manage sediment in watersheds affects our ability to adapt to climate change. What happens to tidal flats affects the ability of tidal marshes to maintain adequate sediment.

Reduced freshwater inflow changes the salinity in the bay (various slides were shown that detailed the projected freshwater inflow salinity changes over time in different sectors of the bay).

Finally, in chapter 4 we look at governance, and one of the things we look at, of course, are the limitations, the Commission’s limitations, in the shoreline. And I think you know what those are. But the other thing that we look at is local governments. There are 46 cities and nine counties that have shoreline on the bay, and they have much broader authority than BCDC has. There’s also a fair amount of data about what their needs are for addressing climate change.

And one of the things we looked at was a statewide survey of local governments and how they’re addressing climate change, and then we followed up that survey with some targeted interviews. And essentially what we found -- it’s not surprising -- is that local governments want to address climate change, they want to act on climate change, they don’t have the resources and they don’t have the staff and what they want are tools that come in a format that they’re used to seeing and used to using, like GIS or sample ordinances, and that enable them to address the impacts.

The other thing generally that we found was that not only are there 55 local governments, but there’s 20 federal and state regional agencies that have some kind of purview or authority over San Francisco Bay and the shoreline, and that some kind of framework to organize those governments and their actions is needed on this issue.

We identified short-term and long-term adaptation strategies. Both are needed. And of the short-term strategies we also identified which ones were appropriate for the current Bay Plan amendment. Those that are more long-term may at some point become long-term objectives of the Commission, and in some cases are already long-term objectives of the Commission.

Some strategies for protecting the shoreline: the first is to identify priorities for protection of development. The second is to integrate soft shoreline protection into hard shoreline protection structures whenever feasible. And then we have to provide compensatory mitigation when shoreline protection cannot be avoided or will cause adverse impacts. The latter two are strategies that we can integrate into our current Bay Plan amendment, and the first one is really a longer-term objective.

The second set of strategies is to protect the bay and shoreline with a flood zone overlay. The flood zone overlay would be something similar to those areas designated on our maps and would involve a number of strategies for reducing development in those flood zones. And most of these we identified as long-term objectives in part because we don’t have authority to do any of these things. But we looked at things like clustering development in one area of a parcel that’s set back from the edge of the shoreline, requiring rolling easements to accommodate sea level rise, and purchasing development rights. What we would like to incorporate into this Bay Plan amendment is to require that public access is sited and designed and managed to avoid significant adverse impacts to sea level rise and sustained sea level rise into the future.

And then we also identified strategies to protect the bay. Restoring wetlands is the first and most important strategy. As ecosystems are compromised they are less able to be resilient to and adapt to climate change. Restoring them now will improve the likelihood that they will adapt in the future.

Also, we talk about prioritizing wetland restoration. That’s really a longer-term objective, but a need nonetheless, so that we don’t have little restoration projects which can be very expensive that ultimately just become inundated.

We need to create buffer zones for marsh migration. So in those areas of the bay where there is an opportunity for marshes to migrate, we need to ensure that that land somehow remains available to them, perhaps through purchase or other avenues. And then in the Commission’s permitting we can actually require buffer zones -- for restoration projects, that is.

And then engaging in regional sediment management is another strategy that we identified to manage, as best we can, for an adequate sediment supply for ecosystems.

And all of these are identified, except for one, as objectives or strategies that can be incorporated into the current Bay Plan amendment.

Finally, we have regional coordination and action strategies. The first strategy here, comprehensive regional planning for sea level rise in San Francisco Bay and shoreline, these are all long-term objectives. This one is the objective that the Commission incorporated into their strategic plan at the last strategic planning meeting and that is now posted on our website. It remains an important strategy and a viable strategy for San Francisco Bay.

Other strategies include integrating mitigation and adaptation --which we currently do through the Joint Policy Committee and should continue doing.

And the third is to provide adequate funding to local governments and adequate funding for research. Not from BCDC -- we hardly have adequate funding ourselves -- but to help locate that funding. And that wraps up the adaptation strategies.

Chair Randolph thanked Ms. Lacko for her briefing and stated that, although there is no public hearing on this, there is a request to speak.

Mr. Stephen Knight stated that he just wanted to again point out that Save the Bay has identified what it sees as a vulnerability in the approach being taken to the change in the Bay Plan policies around climate change. Among the properties covered by the Bay Plan at greatest risk from impact from sea level rise -- as demonstrated by Ms. Lacko’s presentation and BCDC’s excellent inundation zone maps -- are managed wetlands and salt ponds, which are not currently available for potential changes through this process because they were not noticed as being available for change. So we just wanted to reiterate our concern and encourage the Commission to re-notice the plan and expand the number of policies. As we saw in that last slide with the salt ponds and managed wetlands in the south bay being impacted, if the Commissioners feel they want to address that in those aspects of the Bay Plan they will not be able to unless they take this step.

Chair Randolph then asked for questions or comments from Commissioners.

Commissioner Reagan asked if, as the staff looked at this, did it expand the analysis to -- basically, most of the flooding that we see occurs when there’s a high tide event and a storm event at the same time, and the various drainages have no place to drain into. Have we expanded this into tributaries to identify those other inundation areas on a short-term duration during storm events? Ms. Lacko responded that this has been done only in a qualitative sense. We don’t have data to do that kind of GIS analysis. One of the objectives in the climate change program is to develop a head of tides study to look at those tributaries where water is coming down and tide is coming in and flooding events will occur. We discussed that in the report, but at this point we don’t know where the head of tide is and so it’s certainly a limitation of the analysis.

Commissioner Reagan noted that this GIS data is available for the whole central valley. He has heard scenarios that are pretty alarming for the food security for the area, the amount of damage and the numbers of acres that would be lost may cause us to have to look at the possibility of putting a Dutch-style series of levees to protect from those outcomes as an alternative adaptation strategy that needs to be looked at. They would be placed here, in the Bay, at the levees, or the series of locks, either at the Golden Gate or in the Carquinez Strait.

Ms. Lacko responded that staff report on a tidal barrage –- a big dam across the Golden Gate –- (it was sort of a preliminary analysis) the findings were essentially that the effects on the bay ecosystem would be so detrimental we would essential lose the entire ecosystem. And that’s essentially what’s happened in the Netherlands.

Executive Director Travis (who recently returned from a trip to the Netherlands) said that what the Dutch did after the 1953 flood was devastating, and they developed a national policy of “never again.” And they have now -- they came around to our way of thinking or maybe we came around to what they’d already thought about, I think it’s the latter; there is no never again, you can’t achieve it. So what the Dutch are doing is taking a risk management perspective as well. There are, I’ll call them nuclear options you could explore, but they in essence wipe out an area now to protect it in the future. And what the Dutch did was wipe out vast areas of estuaries in which they’ve found they have now lost them and they are still vulnerable. So they are looking at much the same approach that we are looking at.

Chair Randolph recalled that when BCDC was being set up there was a proposal for a barrage across the north bay too; he’s not sure we want to go back there.

Commissioner McGrath commented that it’s an interesting line of reasoning and fascinating. Of course, our jurisdiction is so limited, what we really have is perhaps our bully pulpit. But it seems that this question of flood base level going up is going to drive a lot of things and including –- none of the flood control network for the bay, except that plan for the salt ponds, is going to work because there is going to be at least six inches more of initial elevation and perhaps quite a bit more. There are a few people such as Mitch Avalon of Contra Costa County that are beginning to start thinking that through. So there’s a question here.

Commissioner McGrath asked Ms. Lacko if there is any indication that the National Flood insurance effort, the mapping effort that’s underway and that is the cornerstone of the insurance system, will begin to be revised as we take into account greater sea level rise, because it seems that that drives what you have to do physically to not flood areas; it drives what areas might be coming into the floodplain and the insurance piece, so it seems like that’s the biggest land use tool. Have there been any discussions and is there any indication that that effort is going to start up in the next year or two?

Ms. Lacko responded that Sarah Polgar of Commission staff has been coordinating with FEMA in their remapping effort. It is her understanding that that information isn’t public yet but, yes.

Commissioner McGrath followed up by asking if there will be some effort -- it’s not yet a deadline or has legs of any sort, but -- can we tie into that perhaps with some recommendations in terms of our resources? Ms. Lacko responded that BCDC is already tying in with them.

Executive Director Travis concurred, and stated that staff also met with the insurance industry just last week to tie in there. As staff has gotten into this they’ve found that the Commission has something that is far greater than jurisdiction. There are essentially three ways that government agencies can exercise power. One is they have jurisdiction, they have broad sweeping regulatory authority and they say you’ve “got to do it this way, you’ve got to do it that way.” The Commission doesn’t have that. The other way is they have money. They say, “well, here’s the way we think you ought to do it and we’ll provide you funding to do it.” The Commission doesn’t have that.

But what the Commission does have is trust. BCDC is perceived as being an even-handed broker that has some ideas. And with a combination of the trust and the ideas, staff thinks that we can actually go farther and have a greater influence in achieving our mandate than if we had either the money or the regulatory jurisdiction because, to some degree, that would strip us of the trust. So maybe it’s making lemonade out of lemons, but that’s the approach that staff is taking.

Commissioner Nelson stated that he wanted to first put one number in context, and that was the 180,000 acres that were at risk in the 16-inch scenario. The number he wanted to throw out was that that’s something on the high side of 250 square miles of bay land that is vulnerable, and if you add the Delta, the other half of the estuary of which the Commission doesn’t have jurisdiction, there’s at least three times that in the Delta. So in the San Francisco Bay/Delta estuary there’s well over a thousand square miles of land that is potentially vulnerable.

That means that we are, unfortunately, at the leading edge nationally in terms of starting to wrestle with places where climate change is going to affect the maps that we tend to think of as fixed, and we’re going to have to start thinking of those maps as not fixed, as dynamic maps; and that presents extraordinary challenges for us and for others, and -- I hadn’t thought of this, but in hindsight now I wish we would have flip-flopped our discussion with BDCP because BDCP is trying to write a plan for roughly the next 50 years of Delta management.

You can make a case, for example, that with 16 inches of sea level rise maybe you need some sort of a peripheral canal managed very carefully and designed and operated and governed very carefully, but what happens if you design it so that it doesn’t withstand 55 inches of sea level rise. Potentially you’re spending 10 or $20 billion for a facility that you might need 50 years from now and it might be gone a hundred years from now.

So this really does raise extraordinary challenges and BCDC is in a good position and I do think that means we’re in a position where we can offer broad recommendations to BDCP, to FEMA, to the legislature, and especially to local governments on how to tackle that issue.

Commissioner Nelson asked if the first report takes a look at the extent to which, or the limits in which, tidal marshes can keep up with sea level rise during historic sea level rise events? Marshes -- the Delta is a great example -- have been able to accrete enough sediment to keep up with sea level rise. As sea level gets fast enough it swamps that ability and where there are sedimentation limits you face limits there as well. But, has staff been able, in doing this work, to distinguish places where habitat might be able to keep up with sea level rise, and other places where the pace might swamp it?

Ms. Lacko responded that staff didn’t take it as far as distinguishing particular areas. There is some work out there, some USGS work, that shows where some areas might not be as viable, but we’re not at a point where we can actually speak specifically to certain areas. But staff certainly does have the discussion of that issue in the report and it looks at what kind of sediment supply is in the bay now, what the newest information is on sediment supply from local tributaries -- which appears to be a larger percentage of the sediment supply than we had previously thought. But there’s no hard data on where one place might be better than another.

Commissioner Carruthers stated that his understanding is, in Santa Clara County, that the Santa Clara County Water District is working on studies and plans as to what kind of upgrade of flood control would be necessary to protect Silicon Valley. Does the BCDC plan discuss relationships with local governments around such potential activities that might be going on?

Ms. Lacko responded that it does so only in broad terms. And it’s an interesting question; it’s been the topic of much discussion. But they have started a program and Sara Polgar is developing a work program to do more local government outreach. She started on that just a couple months ago and has since then been making connections and talking with local governments, flood control districts -- and actually FEMA, too -- to find out what they’re doing. And one of the elements of her work plan, although it’s still in draft form, is to do a regional survey to see where people are at and see where coordination is feasible.

Commissioner Carruthers said that he was struck by Commissioner Reagan’s remarks regarding loss of agricultural land. Does staff have a figure for the number of acres of agricultural land that would be lost? Ms. Lacko said yes, although she would have to go back to find that out.

Commissioner Lundstrom remarked that, as a long-time city councilperson who also serves on a flood board in an area that floods -- and most of the area that floods is in private hands, in private property hands -- that they might be a flood control board of elected folks, but what they can actually have jurisdiction of is very limited. But she would simply like to encourage that the more concrete information you have that you can give to local government, that would be a tremendous help, because local governments do not have the staff to do that, they don’t have flood control engineers on staff. They might be sharing one. Many small flood control districts in Marin County share two flood control engineers, one of whom is just borrowed now to be a public works director. So everyone might be quite aware of it’s going to flood, but translating that to the analysis -- like, a number of jurisdictions all over the Bay Area are all seismically retrofitting bridges over creeks --.

So one of the helps would be what kind of flooding in these specific areas do you envision, and also in vulnerable areas. While you might not have mapped them, they do – a higher vulnerability for tidal, to get the high tide flood runoff and wind, you can pick out flood streams coming to the bay and make suggestions that these are more likely to have flooding in our January/February rains or storm runoffs.

So staff’s information is not just the trust part, it’s also providing information, and you said like even a format, one, two, three, a checklist, all of that is very, very helpful. But we’re all aware of these maps and our citizens are aware of them, but translating it into building bridges, rebuilding bridges, levees, and I don’t know how legally, any legal part in terms of telling people you can’t build in a flood plain is --.

She recalled Executive Director Travis, who was at the Coastal Commission at the time and I believe it was First English, wasn’t that the case? The U.S. Supreme Court said you can’t just tell people that they can’t have any use of that land. And it was a church building a church, a recreation.

Executive Director Travis responded that it was a church campground, and the local government said “you’re in a floodplain, you can’t build there,” and the court said “you can’t deprive everybody of all their use of the land,” so they went back in and they built a campground and a flood wiped it out. Commissioner Lundstrom concluded by stating that the legal background of that would also be a help.

Vice Chair Halsted remarked that at MTC she has raised this prospect a number of times, when they have flooding of 101 and 80 and various things. She was sure that BCDC would be making some sort of official presentation to CalTrans and to MTC, so -- to give them enough information to be thinking about those infrastructures which are so key to them.

And then, secondly, she stated that last night she heard an international expert on global health talk about the risks to global health over the next 50 years and was really quite stunned when he said that in fact sea level rise and global warming are the highest level risks for global health, and there are so many different aspects to this that don’t just meet the eye if you’re reading the newspaper. She is hopeful that other sorts of agencies will take leadership as well on the social and other aspects of these changes.

Ms. Lacko noted that a couple of health-related impacts of sea level rise are covered in the report, one of which was vector-borne disease, which could increase. There’s no hard data on that yet, but staff did find enough to put that out there as a possibility. And some of the other public health impacts are really related to water quality, flooding of wastewater treatment facilities and what that can do in the bay. And then, once again, access to emergency facilities and health care facilities that are near the shoreline.

Executive Director Travis remarked that one of the fascinating things about being engaged in this whole issue of climate change and sea level rise is he gets to meet a lot of really interesting people. And he was talking with a consultant recently and her major client is the Pentagon, and she said “it’s been a long time since I have been in a meeting with anybody with five stars on their shoulders where we’re talking about national security and they are not talking about climate change.” That is perceived right now –- economics are perceived to be a greater threat to the United States than terrorism, but in the long term it’s climate change.

Chair Randolph noted that within the deliberations of the Joint Policy Committee, BCDC has taken the lead on adaptation, and so the work that Leslie and her team are doing on this will sort of go into that system in terms of supporting the overall climate change policies that are being developed now through the Joint Policy Committee and out into the community. And so there’s a long way to go there, too, but that’s going to be a helpful mechanism. And the Commission will come back to this topic in its next meeting.

Ms. Ellen Johnck, the Bay Planning Coalition, added that they are going to be quite involved in this topic. She expressed her appreciation that Executive Director Travis and BCDC staff are working on this, along with MTC and the Joint Policy Council. She added that, as we talk about potential sea level rise and the focus is on water as a threat, as the enemy, she is thinking about how can – and this is kind of an old adage, a cliché -- how can we turn a threat into an opportunity?

We have been working on integrated watershed management over the last several years; what opportunities are there with this potential sea level rise and flooding to be further integrating with the flood control districts and watershed management planning? How can we look at water as an opportunity, this very scary scenario, but can we be thinking of innovation to be absorbing -- how are we looking at our land. And this is going back in the garden, designed with nature.

How are we looking at our natural areas too, as an absorption, as a redesign to work with this resource, if you will, rather than as a threat. And here again our sewer systems, is there any way –- of course, we have a moat around San Francisco. And this is just thinking more about looking at the opportunities --. And did the BCDC report or could it come up with some additional ideas in this area? And, of course, they claim they have some ideas and our engineers work on some of these ideas.

  1. Consideration of Strategic Plan Status Report. Executive Director Travis suggested that two objectives be dropped from the Strategic Plan. Both were predicated on the availability of funding and, although at this point there hasn’t been any further direction for additional budget cuts this year, staff feels it would be most prudent to drop the two objectives (listed on page two) and carry them over for consideration in the updated Strategic Plan.

    As previously mentioned, the next all day Strategic Plan workshop is scheduled for Thursday, September 17th.

    MOTION: Commissioner Goldzband moved, seconded by Commissioner Carruthers, to approve dropping two objectives. The motion passed unanimously.

  2. Closed Session to Discuss Pending Litigation; BCDC v. K.M.C., Inc., Marin County Superior Court, Case No. CV 075497. [This litigation concerns Thomas J. Moseley’s marina at Paradise Cay in the City of Tiburon, Marin County. The Commission is authorized to discuss pending litigation in a closed session pursuant to Government Code Section 11126(e)(2)(A).]

    Upon returning to Open Session, Chair Randolph stated for the record that the Commission approved the stipulated modification to the judgment in the Paradise Cay case.

  3. New Business. There was no new business

  4. Old Business. There was no old business

    Chair Randolph entertained a motion to adjourn.

  5. Adjournment. Upon motion by Commissioner Maxwell, seconded by Commissioner Lai-Bitker, the meeting adjourned at 3:25 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,

WILL TRAVIS
Executive Director

Approved, with no corrections, at the San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission Meeting of May 7, 2009

R. SEAN RANDOLPH, Chair