Minutes of October 21, 2010 Commission Meeting
1. Call to Order. The meeting was called to order by Chair Randolph at the MetroCenter Auditorium, 101 Eighth Street, Oakland, California at 1:12 p.m.
2. Roll Call. Present were: Chair Randolph, Vice Chair Halsted, Commissioners, Bates, Chiu, Gibbs, Gioia, Gordon, Jordan Hallinan, Hicks, Lundstrom, Maxwell, McGlashan, McGrath, Moy, Nelson, Reagan, Sartipi (represented by Alternate Richards), Thayer (represented by Alternate Kato), Wagenknecht, Wieckowski, and Ziegler. Legislative member Charles Taylor was also present.
Not Present were: Resources Agency (Baird), Sonoma County (Brown), Department of Finance (Finn), Governors Appointee (Goldzband), Alameda County (Lai-Bitker), and Santa Clara County (Shirakawa).
3. Public Comment Period. Chair Randolph asked for public comment.
June Guidotti, Potrero Hills landowner, said, I live in the center of Potrero Hills landfill. I want to make a change: I have always asked for five cents/ton for the Suisun Fire Department. My attorney said to raise it to what Steve Chappell for the Duck Clubs is making: sixty cents/ton, the settlement of his lawsuit.
At the last meeting, I gave a letter to your recorder from David Lewis that said, on Executive Order S-1308, you can ‘t expand in the wetlands habitat. He said he would support the letter today.
When Barbara Kondylis of the County turned in her four pages to you, the quarry was not in the General Plan for the solid waste, as the Guidotti parcel was. Today the quarry is still under Protrero Hills, but is not following the rules for protecting the marsh.
I submitted the comments on the appeal from 1990 from John Van de Kamp that no EIR has been done on the water.
My granddaughter has been burned from the power being turned up. There is no protection for my family; it’s like living in a power plant; they almost electrocuted her. I want this to stop. I want you to follow the Executive Order of the Governor and deny this today.
You have never gotten to see the volumes that the Harrisons, Judge Beaman, etc. have written on the degrading of the Suisun Marsh and the way the public is treated living next to these people.
George Guynn, longtime resident of Suisun City, said, I am here to speak against Item 8. The project still raises substantial issues regarding its consistency with the Suisun Marsh Preservation Act, the Suisun Marsh Protection Plan, and the Solano County component of the Suisun Marsh Local Protection Plan.
Cumulative impacts of past dumping and mitigation measures and plans for future impacts are not adequately addressed. The project does not meet CEQA standards; a new EIR is needed. The appeal should be denied until Measure E is enforced.
Until you can come up with reasonable mitigation, the project should be denied.
The landfill expansion will create an even bigger problem for June Guidotti, with many more plastic bags being blown onto her property.
Sandra Threlfall, Executive Director of Waterfront Action, said, I am here to say thank you for participating with the eight other public agencies to create Gateway Park at the east side of the Bay Bridge terminus. This is a dream come true. We had the pleasure of Brad McCrea coming to make a presentation for us.
One of the elements that really resonates is that nine public agencies are all on the same track. I ask for your support in making that roadway a scenic highway, so that when people come across the bridge, they are truly getting the grand entry to the East Bay.
I was very disappointed to hear that for Middle Harbor Shoreline Park, which was an incredible cooperative deal between BCDC and the Port of Oakland, creating habitat restoration and public access, the Port has terminated their contract with East Bay Regional Parks for maintenance, environment, security, and educational programs.
East Bay Regional Parks has done an outstanding job of putting this very difficult-to-find huge waterfront park on all their maps and websites.
My concern is that their deal with BCSC should be for safe public access and educational programs available. I am alerting you to what I perceive as a major threat to the condition and environment of Middle Harbor Shoreline Park.
David Lewis, Executive Director of Save the Bay, commented, one of my privileges for my last 13 years since I’ve been in this position has been to observe one of your fellow Commissioners, now Alternate, Barbara Kondylis and her service on the Commission. I want to commend to you her letter on the proposed appeal.
Commissioner Kondylis has the best knowledge of any Commissioner currently serving on BCDC of the Suisun Marsh. She has local knowledge of the history of this project. Her letter focuses on the core issues about why this appeal should not be approved.
First, the inconsistency of the expansion with the Local Protection Plan. Second, the adverse impacts to the marsh that are not mitigated and not proposed to be mitigated. Third, at heart, this is not a limited waste disposal facility.
I agree with this conclusion and commend her comments to you.
Steven Chappell, Executive Director of the Suisun Resource Conservation District, stated, the SRCD does support the staff report and recommendation to approve the Potrero Hills Landfill permit. We feel that in reviewing the additional mitigation measures and conservation strategies that have been added since it was originally proposed, the project has addressed the issues that were raised originally, and will provide opportunity to work with the landfill in future operations, to ensure the long-term preservation of the marsh.
Duane Kromm, former Solano County Supervisor whose district included the Potrero Hills Landfill, now representing the Solano Group of the Sierra Club, said, you have before you a letter signed by Ken Brown, Sierra Club Chair. I would like to highlight a few items from the letter.
I want to commend staff on their effort to put in additional preservation and conservation measures, beyond what Solano County approved when I was on the Board.
When you get to Spring Branch Creek, the concept of burying a creek for the profitability of a landfill makes me wonder what the Commission’s task is for protection of Suisun Marsh. Is your task primarily to make sure the landfill is profitable, or is it to make sure that the habitat of the landfill is not severely impacted? When I read the staff report regarding Spring Branch Creek, there is a fairly long, convoluted, and bizarre discussion about the financial implications of not allowing Spring Branch Creek to be covered as part of the landfill expansion. The staff accepted Potrero Hills’ information because they didn’t have the expertise or experience to be able to truly evaluate it. You hired a whole panel of expert biologists when you looked at the conservation issues regarding the landfill, but you didn’t hire a financial advisor or consultant to help you analyze the information that was provided by the landfill.
Measure E was passed by two-thirds of the Solano County voters in 1984. It limits to 95,000 tons the amount of garbage that can be imported into Solano County. The County refused to enforce it. The Sierra Club and other affiliated environmental groups sued the County and won in Solano County Superior Court. The judge ruled that Measure E is enforceable. The ruling is being appealed.
Your staff report glosses over that issue. If Measure E is enforced, there are abundant other problems that are raised. The Potrero Hills Landfill folks have said that they will go out of state to haul garbage in. What kinds of bugs and invasive species plants will that bring in?
Jane Bogner, Sierra Club and Chair of the Solano County LTF for Integrated Waste Management, stated, I agree with Duane Kromm and I have a few more issues I’d like to cover for you to consider.
The Sierra Club does oppose the expansion of Potrero Hills Landfill given its closeness to Suisun Marsh, and opposes the importation of waste from around the Bay Area to Solano County.
The BCDC staff is now recommending for approval of the expansion, requiring mitigation as well as enhancement of public access. The proposed viewpoint, with trails and signs, etc., will be of limited use to the public, in my view. It is little more than an acre in size and does not offer views of the marsh. The staff’s language of the maintenance of the viewpoint and possible trail is extremely vague.
I would suggest that BCDC turn its public access requirement into something more meaningful, by increasing the amount to $50,000 a year. This is hardly a stretch, given the landfill settlement of a CEQA lawsuit for the Suisun Resource Conservation District of about $300,000 to $500,000 a year, depending on the flow of garbage into the landfill. A meaningful amount from the landfill would significantly enhance the Solano Landtrust’s ability to carry on their work.
If BCDC is determined to approve this expansion, the least they can do is require a more meaningful contribution to the enhanced public access to the marsh.
David Tam of SPRAWLDEF said, helicopter shots show that the landfill sits on more than a seasonal creek; it’s really part of a valley. Power in a democratic society comes from the legitimacy of the elected officials in fulfilling their statutory responsibilities. I and others do not read Section 29409 of the Suisun Marsh Preservation Act as being anything but a complete bar to an expanded landfill in the Suisun Marsh. I completely concur with the letter and historical analysis supplied to the Commissioners yesterday by Barbara Kondylis.
I’d like to acknowledge on behalf of SPRAWLDEF the legitimacy of the Suisun Conservation Resource District in accepting this project. SPRAWLDEF is a non-profit California corporation which can be pragmatic too. When we recognize that something is inevitable, we basically do what we can to make it a win-win situation.
I think the acceptance was premature in the case of SCRD. We welcome the alliance of the Solano Group of the Sierra Club, the Northern California Recycling Association, and Save the Bay in this matter.
The staff report gives a great number of substantial conditions, which do not equal no significant adverse ecological or aesthetic impact on the marsh. Landfilling is a declining industry. We don’t need this landfill; we do need attention to the problems of global warming.
Finally, I’d like to acknowledge two men who couldn’t be here today: Roberto Valdez and SPRAWLDEF’s attorney Kelly Smith.
Barbara Kondylis, BCDC Commissioner Alternate, stated, I hope that you all got my letter and the four attachments. They define my sentiments on why I believe this project is not consistent with the Local Protection Plan or the Marsh Act or the Preservation Plan.
I would like to tell you a story. A farmer is sitting on his front porch on a Sunday night. A friend comes along, and they are sitting there talking. A pig walks by with a wooden leg. The friend asks, “Well, what’s with the pig with the wooden leg?” The farmer replies, “This is a wonderful, remarkable pig. Last Tuesday I was out on my tractor, and it fell over on me, and the pig came to my rescue, dug me out, and saved my life.” The friend says, “Yeah, but why does the pig have a wooden leg?” And the farmer looks at him in surprise and says, “Well, with a pig that good you don’t eat it all in one sitting.”
For me, the pig is the marsh, the farmer is BCDC staff. While some would say that the pig wasn’t damaged significantly, or that the damage had been mitigated to a less than significant level, I don’t think the pig would have agreed, and I don’t agree.
So, what I’m asking you today is please don’t cut off another leg. This is something too precious, too special, and too enforceable in the law, to do what you are being asked to do today. I know you’ll do the right thing.
Arthur Boone, President of the Northern California Recycling Association, said, we have been involved in litigation for five years against the Potrero Hills Landfill Expansion. We continue to be opposed, and we urge you not to grant them a permit today.
My strongest feelings came about six months after we first started talking about this. I climbed up on the hills surrounding the landfill. It was March, all the grass was green, the wind was blowing, and I looked down at the creek running down through the small landfill that’s there now, and I said, I don’t think a landfill belongs there.
I have studied the law, and I don’t understand it completely, but I think there’s plenty of room in the requirements of what kind of projects can be built within the marsh that you can reject this permit.
I don’t believe that all of the attempts of the staff and the proponents have come in to really deal with the fact that we’re taking a house, a little over a square mile of property inside the marsh, draining into the marsh, and taking all its fresh water away.
When they built the C&H sugar plant in Crockett, I was told that a hundred years ago, they took water out of the river and they got fresh water for all their processes at the plant. I was told that they can’t do that today because of the salt water intrusion.
What we know is that everybody in the Bay Area has their straw in the Sacramento River somewhere upstream of there, and we all live that way. We keep taking more and more out of what comes in and basically preserves that brackish place between the salt and the fresh. What this project will do is give the salt water a little more room to come on up the Bay.
I believe that what the exception in the Statutory Statements are, that essentially, you can’t give them a permit if this project does that. They are basically removing fresh water from coming in to the brackish water of the marsh because of the location of the facility.
The other thing is, David Tam’s data is very correct. Landfills today are all fighting for material. The economy’s in a bad situation. More and more people everywhere are recycling, and we don’t need this landfill. If this landfill never expands, we’re not going to have garbage in the streets, I assure you.
John Moore, General Counsel for the Northern California Recycling Association, stated, I am here mainly to make sure that the issue before you is properly framed.
The announced and stated purpose of this landfill expansion, as revealed in the EIR and other documents that you have, was to provide for the statutorily mandated 15 years’ worth of capacity for Solano County solid waste.
Once that EIR was published, we looked at the numbers and found that if that landfill had to close, and if we had to provide for the 150 tons per day or so that’s generated in Solano County, lo and behold, there’s another landfill in the county at Hay Road that’s fully permitted to accept that capacity; the essence being that we don’t need Potrero Hills to be expanded to provide for Solano County’s waste.
In 1984 the Solano County voters clearly said, we don’t want other peoples’ waste. We found out that in 1995 and following, the elected representatives of Solano County, not including Supervisor Kondylis, decided we’d rather have the money from the landfill so it’s OK.
The Legislature in its wisdom has delegated oversight to this Body, mindful that local parochial politics might not always provide the environmentally wise choice. The choice before you today is this: Do you allow further degradation of the marsh area within your jurisdiction, particularly Spring Branch Creek, so that a publically traded company can make more profit on this landfill, or not? It’s just that simple.
4. Approval of Minutes of October 7, 2010 Meeting. Chair Randolph entertained a motion and a second to adopt the Minutes of October 7, 2010.
MOTION: Vice Chair Halsted moved, seconded by Commissioner Wieckowski to approve the October 7, 2010 Minutes. The motion carried unanimously by voice vote, with Commissioners Ziegler and Bates abstaining.
5.Report of the Chair. Chair Randolph reported on the following:
a. Next BCDC Meeting. Our next meeting will be held in two weeks on November 4. That meeting will be held at the San Francisco Ferry Building. We will take up the following matters:
We will vote on a permit application for renovations at the San Francisco Marina. We’re holding a public hearing on this application today.
We may continue our public hearing on making amendments to the Bay Plan to address climate change.
We will receive a briefing on shellfish and sand mining in the Bay.
Finally, we will consider a status report on the progress we are making in carrying out our Bay Plan.
b. Ex-Parte Communications. That completes my report. In case any members of the Commission have inadvertently forgotten to provide our staff with a report on any written or oral ex-parte communications, now would be a good time to do so.
Commissioner Wieckowski stated that he had talked with Allan with the Bay Plan, as well as represented from Genentech, and Holland & Knight that testified after the hearing.
Commissioner Nelson stated that he had received a couple of calls from members of the public about the climate change policies.
Commissioner Reagan stated that he had met with the proponents of Potrero Hills to try to get their sense of what the impacts of the staff recommendations were on the projects that we approved.
Vice Chair Halsted stated that she had met with a number of people who had input on the climate control.
Chair Randolph stated that he had had phone calls with many, many people on the Bay Plan.
Commissioner Lundstrom stated that she had talked with the head of the Flood Control Engineers of the Bay Area concerning the Bay Plan – climate change that deals with levee protection.
Commissioner Gibbs received a phone call Zack Wasserman, Counsel to the East Bay Economic Development Council, regarding his membership’s concerns with the climate change amendment.
Commissioner Jordan Hallinan stated that she had requested, via email, additional information from Ellen Johnck that everyone else had already received.
Commissioner Gioia asked a process question about identifying ex parte communications for issues about which we have an application before us. He had gotten lots of information from people about the Bay Plan amendment from people for and against it; were we required to report every communication? Chief Deputy Director Goldbeck responded that the Bay Plan Amendment was quasi-legislative and doesn’t require that you disclose, but you are welcome to disclose if you like.
Chair Randolph said, Travis is not here, he’s in Washington D.C. so Steve Goldbeck will give the Executive Director’s Report.
6. Report of the Executive Director. Chief Deputy Director Goldbeck provided the report, as follows:
a. Budget. With the approval of the state budget finally behind us, our first priority was to reimburse you for per diem costs in attending Commission meetings this fiscal year. We mailed the checks on Monday.
There are some unallocated spending reductions in the budget that may affect us, but we don’t have the details yet. We do know that the furlough program ends this month so tomorrow is our last unpaid furlough Friday. Thereafter, our office will no longer be closed three Fridays every month.
Unfortunately, the approval of the budget did not result in the Governor rescinding his hiring freeze. As a result, we still are not able to hire a deputy director to head up our regulatory program.
As always, we’ll keep you apprised of any significant news on budgetary issues as we learn of them.
b. Interns. The Commission has secured the volunteer services of two interns to assist with work in its planning program. Keven Kahn, a recent graduate from UCLA’s Master’s program in Urban Planning, also holds a Bachelor’s degree from UC Berkeley in Geography. Kevin has served several internships with federal and local agencies.
Bobek Talabi holds a double Bachelor’s degree from the University of Washington in “Program on the Environment” and “Community, Environment, and Planning.” Mr. Talabi has worked as a professional planner in Washington state, and as an assistant coordinator to the SF Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve’s Coastal Training Program.
Mr. Kahn will assist with the Commission’s work on the Regional Airport Systems Plan update and responding to the many comments you’ve received on the proposed Bay Plan amendment addressing climate change. Mr. Talabi will assist primarily with the Commission’s Climate adaptation training program, and other projects. I hope you will accept their offers to assist the Commission in its work.
7. Commission Consideration of Administrative Matters. There is no Administrative Listing, and that completes my report so we can move on to Item #8.
8. Vote on Appeal No. 1-05; Potrero Hills Landfill, Inc., Modifications to Marsh Development Permit No. MD-88-09 for Phase II Expansion Project. Chair Randolph stated, Item #8 is a vote on an application to expand the Potrero Hills Landfill, which is located in the secondary management area of the Suisun Marsh. We held a public hearing on this application on June 17. Tim Eichenberg will provide us with some legal background and then Ming Yeung will present the staff recommendation.
Tim Eichenberg, Staff Chief Counsel, stated, we want to provide some background to you on reviewing projects under the Marsh Act, and our rationale for the staff recommendation.
Under the Marsh Act, the commission has original permit jurisdiction in the primary management area of the Suisun Marsh; and appellate jurisdiction over marsh development permits issued by Solano County, in the secondary management area, which is where this landfill is located.
The Commission reviews an appeal of a marsh development permit issued by the county to de novo, to determine if it is consistent with Solano County’s local protection program, not the Marsh Act or the Commission Suisun Marsh Protection Plan. So it’s the County’s LPP that governs your decision.
The Commission initially found that the appeal of the County’s marsh development permit authorizing the expansion of the landfill raised a substantial issue in 2005. However, action on the appeal was postponed after the Solano County Superior Court set aside the Environmental Impact Report that was certified by the County.
The Commission resumed action on the appeal after the court approved the revised Environmental Impact Report in November 2009. In May 2010 the Solano County Superior Court also ruled that Measure E, adopted by the County in 1984 to limit the importation of out-of-county waste to 95,000 tons per year, was constitutional and enforceable, as you heard in the Public Comment period.
However, the ruling did not enjoin or invalidate the County’s use permit or the County’s marsh development permit, and therefore, this permit is before you today and does not affect your review of this appeal.
The staff recommendation is based upon information in the Environmental Impact Report, the scientific panel report which you authorized, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service draft biological opinion, the information provided by other public agencies, the applicant, the appellants, and the public.
After analyzing the applicable LPP policies that address upland grasslands, agricultural uses and streams such as Spring Branch Creek, we are recommending approval with conditions to ensure consistency with these LPP policies for a number of reasons.
First, the Marsh Act specifically authorized the development of a landfill at Potrero Hills, so long as the operations would not have a significant adverse ecological or aesthetic impact on the marsh. The LPP contains a similar provision. It allows for a continuation of existing non-agricultural uses in the secondary management area, if they are conducted so that it will not cause adverse impacts on the marsh. And as noted in the staff recommendation, the court-approved Environmental Impact Report has determined that the project impacts have been mitigated to less-than-significant levels.
With respect to Spring Branch Creek, the Local Protection Plan policies that prohibit stream alterations in the watershed of the marsh, except to protect life or prevent flooding, do not apply in the marsh itself or in the secondary management area, where this project is located. The LPP policies and ordinances that do apply in the marsh allow stream alterations, such as the proposed diversion of Spring Branch Creek, if there are no reasonable alternatives, and the landfill has provided information to us indicating that alternatives to avoid the creek are not economically feasible, and would not reasonably meet the objectives of the project.
Finally, the applicant is providing additional mitigation measures to further reduce the impacts of the landfill beyond those provided in the Environmental Impact Report and those required by the County, including the preservation and the restoration of about 993 acres of grasslands, wetlands, and ponds, providing about 179,000 square feet of public access, and reducing the height and the capacity of the landfill to keep it largely out of public view.
A Closed Session has been scheduled, if the Commission wishes to confer with legal counsel on pending or anticipated litigation. Now Ming will provide the details of the staff recommendation.
Ming Yeung, Staff Permit Analyst, said, the staff recommendation includes the following physical changes to the landfill:
Expanding the landfill onto 167 acres of a 210-acre parcel adjacent to the existing Phase I site.
Authorizing wastes to be placed to a height of up to 220 feet above mean sea level, which is the current permitted height of the Phase I landfill site.
Allowing additional height above 220 feet only if the landfill can demonstrate that additional landfill height will not be visible from selected viewpoints within the marsh.
In addition to the physical landfill expansion, the proposed permit would authorize the construction of a new landfill gas-to-energy power plant and related power lines, a truck washing facility, a visitor center, water pipeline and storage tanks, and new sedimentation basins.
There are four primary differences between the county’s approval that was appealed to the Commission, and the approval in the staff recommendation.
First, the landfill height has been reduced. This height reduction results in at least a 10% reduction in landfill capacity, and the capacity may be even further reduced if it is found that additional wastes are visible.
Second, the total habitat conservation area has been expanded. It has increased from 212 acres to approximately 994 acres of secondary management area of the marsh.
Third, the addition of public access. The recommended permit requires approximately 179,000 square feet of public access, and $300,000 in funds to be provided to the Solano Land Trust for public access at Rush Ranch.
Fourth, no new roads are approved, and reactivation of the bypass road along Potrero Hills Lane is not authorized.
In addition, the proposed permit approves a number of conditions that go beyond those required by the county’s permit to ensure that the project meets the LPP policies and complies with CEQA.
Some of these conditions include: minimizing impacts to special status species, and reducing the number of gulls and corvids at the site. These mitigation measures are based on the recommendations of the scientific panel, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the EIR, and other consultants and include: installing barrier-proof fencing to protect California tiger salamander, restricting work to certain times of the year, requiring a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service trained biologist to train construction personnel, and requiring a corvid monitoring program.
Conditions have been included to restrict night lighting, to require final plan review approval for all ancillary structures, and to require Commission approval of a litter control program.
The proposed permit includes a condition to require all power lines to be underground pursuant to the LPP policy on new electric lines.
Finally, the recommendation requires both the Phase I and Phase II sites to be replanted and restored to upland grasslands upon landfill closure.
With the changes to the project and the conditions included in the recommendation, including a restriction in landfill height, the addition of dedicated habitat conservation areas and public access, and conditions to address the project’s impact and meet CEQA and the LPP policy requirements, the staff recommends that the Commission adopt the staff recommendation and approve proposed marsh development Permit 3-10 (M) with conditions.
Jim Dunbar, the appellant and District Manager for the Potrero Hills project, commented that as the applicant, we do agree with the staff recommendation. I would add that the project being presented for your consideration today is the same project concept that was evaluated in the Environmental Review process. We have worked with your staff to ensure that the project conforms with specific policies of the marsh, especially as it relates to public access and mitigation.
At the end of the process, key project objectives and components will be met. These include to provide a stable long-term source of regional disposal capacity for Solano County; to promote and encourage recycling, resource recovery, and diversion activities; to increase the efficiency of site operations, and to implement reuse, recycling, and advanced waste technologies and innovative uses of landfill-related projects, including energy.
This project has been through an extraordinary review at all levels. With this backdrop, we are pleased to present our project for your consideration and approval.
The courts have reviewed the project, and nothing in the expanded landfill permit conflicts with the terms of Measure E.
Commissioner McGrath said, regarding Spring Branch Creek and mitigation measures, I don’t see a quantitative analysis. What mitigation measures are in place for habitat?
Steve Peterson, Biologist with Environmental Stewardship and Planning, replied, from a geomorphic standpoint, this drainage is actually a series of gullies, and not a creek. We have worked with the Army Corps of Engineers, BCDC staff, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to come up with a mitigation strategy. This drainage is ephemeral; it doesn’t support a creek setting, it doesn’t have recurring vegetation, it doesn’t have an established contiguous bed and bank, and it doesn’t have an aquatic substrate.
Tim Lacy, Project Biologist, explained the Mitigation Monitoring Plan summary of actual waters of the U.S. and wetlands numbers. Two additional channels would occur on the Director’s Guild parcel and the Griffith Ranch wetland area.
Commissioner Gibbs had questions for Chief Counsel Eichenberg: First, I will state for the record that he had had a chance to review the Minutes of the June Public Hearing.
Second, I want to be clear about what authority you are advising us governs us in this matter. Is it the Solano County LPP? Chief Counsel Eichenberg responded that it was.
Commissioner Gibbs continued, in your advice to us, under the language of Policy 3 of the LPP, have you concluded that there are no adverse impacts from the project? Chief Counsel Eichenberg responded that there were, but they have been mitigated to less than significant levels.
Commissioner Nelson asked, what is the procedure for determining allowance of additional height? Staff Permit Analyst Yeung replied that it would be through Final Plan Review approval; the landfill would submit a grading plan showing where the final heights would be, and they would submit visual simulations.
Commissioner Nelson then asked about considering the availability of other landfill sites in Northern California. Chief Counsel Eichenberg responded that our policies refer to reasonable alternatives to the project. We did not evaluate the reasonable alternatives available for other landfills in the county area, because that’s not our purview under the LPP policies. We did examine the reasonable alternatives to the diversion of Spring Branch Creek, and determined that there were none.
Commissioner Nelson continued, we received some comments from the public that the LPP locally doesn’t allow mitigation; so even if the impacts can be mitigated, the LPP doesn’t allow a project to proceed that has negative impacts. Chief Counsel Eichenberg responded that we did not interpret those policies that way. We believe that when you look at the project impacts, you have to look at the entire project including the mitigation measures. If they reduce the impacts to less than significant levels, or reduce the impacts such that they are not adverse anymore, you need to take those into account.
Commissioner McGrath turned to the aesthetic impact. Three impacts were not mentioned: fences, temporal impacts (the life of the landfill would be extended for 30 more years), and traffic.
Staff Permit Analyst Yeung replied that currently fences are in place for litter control that were approved by the County. If additional fences were required, we would raise that issue. With regard to traffic, we did not evaluate that; it is covered in the EIR. That report found that traffic was mitigated to less than significant. Chief Counsel Eichenberg added that the traffic impact would be the same as it is now, spread out over 35 years.
Chair Randolph asked about the Spring Creek Branch drainage. District Manager Dunbar explained that precast pipe is along the southern edge of the property. A soil cover is over the pipe, and to catch storm water, we’re providing for a drainage swale on top of it. It will follow the same pathway and discharge at the same location.
Commissioner Ziegler asked a question about aesthetics. In the June hearing, you showed pictures of what the landfill would look like when complete. Is the visual similar now, with the adjustments that have been made? Staff Permit Analyst Yeung answered that we don’t have a simulation showing the new lowered height.
Chair Randolph referred to the Public Hearing on June 17. We would like to have those who were not present to indicate that they have read the Minutes and are prepared to vote. [A show of hands indicated those Commissioners.]
He continued, the applicant has asked for a straw vote. He asked those Commissioners planning to abstain or vote no to raise their hands.
He went on, the Closed Session listed as Item 9 would not be necessary.
Alice Busching Reynolds, Deputy Attorney General, reminded the Commissioners, the federal representatives will not be voting.
MOTION: Commissioner Halsted moved, seconded by Commissioner Wieckowski, to approve the staff recommendation.
VOTE: The motion carried with a roll call vote of 15-4-0 with Commissioners Chiu, Gibbs, Gioia, Gordon, Jordan Hallinan, Lundstrom, Maxwell, McGrath, Moy, Nelson, Reagan, Richards, Wieckowski, Chair Randolph and Vice Chair Halsted voting “YES”, and Commissioners Bates, McGlashan, Kato and Wagenknecht voting “NO”.
10. Public Hearing on Amendment No. One to BCDC Permit No. 3-07, for the San Francisco Marina’s West Basin Renovation Project, San Francisco County. Max Delaney, Staff Permit Analyst, stated, as part of this project, the San Francisco Recreation and Park Department proposes to construct two new breakwaters, remove portions of the West Mole and Scott Street Mole, replace and reconfigure existing boat docks and floats and upgrade dock utilities, place riprap to repair existing revetments, renovate two buildings along the shoreline, and construct public access improvements throughout the project site.
The staff believes the project raises five main issues:
(1) Whether the project is consistent with the Bay Plan’s priority use designation for the site.
(2) Whether the project is consistent with the Commission’s fill priorities.
(3) Whether the project is consistent with the Commission’s public access and recreation policies.
(4) Whether the project is consistent with the Commission’s policies on water quality.
(5) Whether the project is consistent with the Commission’s natural resource policies.
Mary Hobson, Project Manager from the San Francisco Recreation and Park Department, provided general information and background on the project. The San Francisco Marina is located on the Bay waterfront just east of the Golden Gate Bridge. It is bordered on the west by Crissy Field, on the east by Fort Mason, and on the south by the Marina District. The site consists of two harbors and the Marina Green in the center.
The site has a maritime history dating back prior to 1900. It came under the jurisdiction of the Recreation and Park Department through two land grants from the State of California in 1935 and 1963.
Today’s project involves renovations only to the West Harbor. It was last renovated in 1963. The major features include the Outer Basin, the Inner Basin, the Marina Green Park, the West and Scott Street Moles (which are rubble mound breakwaters), and the North Jetty (also a rubble mound breakwater).
Significant site features include the St. Francis Yacht Club and the Golden Gate Yacht Club, the latter of which is the home of Oracle Racing, the host club for the America’s Cup. The historic lighthouse, the Harbormaster’s Office, and the Degaussing Station are there.
The current condition of the harbor is extremely deteriorated. 22 slips have been lost to wave action. The remaining slips are functionally obsolete.
The project objectives are:
To provide for a safer and more modern marina with a safer, more useful life.
To protect the marina structures from damaging, wind-driven waves.
To provide a slip distribution tailored to meet market demands.
To better serve marina tenants and the general public through new and improved facilities.
The project has been ongoing for about a decade and is ready to go to construction. The ultimate goal is to construct this project by November 2012 so that it will be ready for the America’s Cup in San Francisco in 2013.
Renovation components are:
Demolition of the existing facilities, including removal of part of the West Mole.
General repairs, including repairs to the existing seawalls and perimeter riprap.
The project will include construction of new docks and slips. The proposed project will provide 350 double-loaded slips. The proposed project will provide slips from 25-90’, with an average length of 41.8’. 25 of the slips will be specially designed for ADA accessibility.
The project will include 12 new gangways and gates.
We are proposing two new breakwaters to protect the harbor.
The project will include dredging of approximately 122 cubic yards.
Land site improvements are minimal. They include renovation of the Harbormaster’s office, extensive barrier removal to the public restrooms, expansion of the tenants’ showers and restrooms, and renovation of the Degaussing Station.
The project includes a number of public access improvements.
I’d like to talk about the breakwater design. The primary goal is to protect the harbor. Secondary goals are to ensure navigational safety; to maintain water quality; and to reduce surge action within the harbor.
The original concept for breakwater design called for two rubble mound breakwaters. Since that time, we have determined that this design does not meet the objectives of the project. A geotechnical report was generated showing that fill conditions in those locations would require a more extensive foundation.
We decided to look at the option of putting in a fixed sheet pile breakwater at the two locations, but sedimentation issues arose.
After hearing options from a harbor engineering firm, we decided on an alternative breakwater design, which is a 300’ floating breakwater just east of the tip of the north jetty, and the 185’ fixed breakwater. The floating breakwater looks similar to a floating dock.
The project addresses forecasted sea level rise in its design. We did an analysis of the elevations of the moles, jetties, and sea walls, and determined that the design life of this project is approximately 50 years. Given the forecasted 16” rise in the next 50 years, we would not see any topping over of the existing sea walls. With the exception of the sheet pile breakwater, all of our improvements float with the tides and should be able to accommodate whatever sea level rise occurs. We have specified that the top of the sheet pile breakwater be placed to accommodate a rise of 16”.
The project has an adopted EIR.
We worked closely with staff to develop a public access improvement package. The goal was to expand public access to the harbor by increasing direct access to the bay shore, as well as enhancing visitor experience and educating the public on environmental issues.
The primary concerns were maintaining security to our docks, ensuring safety to our visitors, and providing access and opportunity to all the different types of visitors, including pedestrians, bicyclists, and those who arrive by vehicle.
We are proposing improvements in three general areas: the mole area with the Harbormaster’s office, along Marina Boulevard, and out on the jetty.
Finally, we are proposing to do an informational and directional signage program. The goal is to provide users with information, particularly maritime and yacht harbor history, as well as bay ecology and environmental education.
Chair Randolph thanked Ms. Hobson and opened the Public Hearing.
Paul Kaplan, a tenant in the municipal marina, said, I endorse the proposal and it has been a long time coming. I am encouraged to see the objective to get the plan done by the America’s Cup.
The floating breakwater is at least 100’ to the east of the project boundary that was considered by the EIR; it has never been the subject of public review. The San Francisco Planning Department decided on their own initiative to approve it.
It is contrary to several BCDC policies, to San Francisco Planning Urban Design policy, and to the City’s Planning Code. It will destroy an open view of the Bay, and is being done basically because it will save money; there was a mistake made on estimating the cost of the original breakwater.
Laura Thompson, Manager of the San Francisco Bay Trail Project administered by ABAG, said, for over five years, Bay Trail Project staff have been involved in this project. Since 2005, we have been requesting removal of hazards along the existing Bay Trail adjacent to the Marina Green. We’ve also been seeking the removal or reorientation of the driving lane and cars parked directly adjacent to the water’s edge along Marina Drive between Yacht Road and Scott Street.
As a result of collaboration facilitated by Supervisor Alioto-Pier’s office in 2007, the Department of Recreation & Park worked with the Bay Trail Project to bring together various Marina Green stakeholders to identify issues solutions in the area. Rec & Park developed a set of conceptual plans for two phases: first, short-term removal of the hazards, and second, long-term removal of the parking and the driving lane in the West Basin.
None of these items have been incorporated into the Marina Renovation Project. We believe there’s a clear nexus between the project and the Bay Trail which surrounds the project area.
We want to bring this to the attention of the Commission, since we’ve been unsuccessful in working through these issues outside the regulatory forum. We feel this may be our last real opportunity to address these important public safety and public access issues.
We do understand that the Recreation & Park Department has secured a grant from the San Francisco Transportation Authority for improvements to the trail along Marina Green. However, we believe these improvements and the shoreline parking issues should be addressed in the permit.
In short, we request that the Commission require the following, as part of the permit, with timeframes attached to them.
First, removal of existing hazards along the Marina Green Bay Trail, including bollards, poles, posts, rough pavement, etc.
Second, a community planning process resulting in a selected alternative, that removes, or at a minimum, reorients parking along the sea wall at the West Basin. Parking is never the highest and best use of our limited waterfront.
Thank you for considering these comments. If you agree with this approach, we would like to work with staff to develop precise language to be included in the staff recommendation.
Bright Winn, Port Captain at the Golden Gate Yacht Club, commented, a few weeks ago we had Fleet Week. It was a magnificent display, but as the boat traffic went up and down the harbor, our docks were going like this [demonstrates]. That’s because of the recent necessary dredging; we have lost all of that, and now it is a dangerous place when boats go by. We need this wave attenuator to have a stable harbor.
Shortly we will have some very important world-renowned boats coming into our harbor that will benefit San Francisco and the entire state of California. We need this harbor and we need that wave attenuator. It is three feet high. When built, it will not block the view; it will become part of the view.
With all due respect to the Marina residents, this is a harbor and not an access area for views. This is change; change is always difficult, but it is something we must have.
Keith Madding, Marina harbor tenant, stated, I am a maritime professional and teacher, and I have used this facility since the mid-70s. This is a long-awaited project, and I cannot stress how important it is, both for me and for the community.
Brad Anderson, Marina harbor tenant, said, I’m in favor of doing the harbor renovation – I think it’s overdue. Going from a 200’ jetty to a 300’ floating jetty concerns me. Secondly, it is outside the established boundary, and that is another concern. In talking about the BCDC policies and objectives, Policy #2 talks about efforts to enhance and preserve views; Policy #4 talks about not to impact visually on the bay and the shoreline; Policy #14 says the views of the bay should be maintained; Objective #3 says to provide, maintain, and enhance visual access to the bay and shoreline; Objective #4 says to maintain and enhance the visual quality of the shoreline.
I would also like to bring to your attention that the Coast and Harbor Engineer Report states that the EIR breakwaters are technically feasible but cost-prohibitive. You should take second thoughts about the breakwater: how it’s constructed and who is constructing it.
Andy Thornley with the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition echoed the request made by Ms. Thompson of the Bay Trail Project. One very important pre-existing condition in the project area is the Bay Trail, and it runs right along the bottom edge of this project.
We are trying very hard to make the Bay Trail everything it can be. It’s already an awesome resource, and we would really like you to consider adding that condition to any permit that comes out of this, such that the Recreation & Park Department is obliged to carry out a community planning process.
Presently there is vehicular access and parking for about two dozen cars, and it takes up about two-thirds of that right-of-way. The other third is used by hundreds of thousands of people – walking, biking, skating, wheelchairs, etc. We do not consider parking to be the highest and best use of that very precious waterfront.
John Hendricks, small craft harbor user of the last 30 years, commented, I am reasonably familiar with the wave action, current action, and wind conditions at the harbor and at the entrance of the harbor. My goal is to have this project result in a safe, secure, protected small craft harbor in harmony with this unique and beautiful location.
It should enhance both the public’s and the small craft harbor berth holders’ opportunity to enjoy and respect this special place. The purpose of the following comments is to give you additional information and maybe a different perspective to aid you in your important decision. I’d like to thank Park & Rec for providing an opportunity for some of the stakeholders to participate in the planning and design process over the last year and a half.
I support the project and urge your authorization of the permit application, with the exception of the floating breakwater and the proposed parking scheme, which does not designate parking for the tenants. The floating breakwater will not significantly reduce long period waves from moving into the harbor and refracting around the entrance to the harbor. It won’t slow down vessel wakes significantly. It will reduce wind wakes from the north-northeast.
The floating breakwater will be a navigation hazard, will increase vessel traffic at the entrance of the harbor, and will adversely affect the open water view from the harbor. The money saved could be used to construct more heavy-duty mooring facilities in the harbor itself.
Dick Robinson, representing the St. Francis Yacht Club, said, the club strongly supports the renovation project and urges you to pass it as presented. The project has been in the works for ten years, and for another ten years before that repairs were needed.
There is no impairment along the walking area, as stated previously. People can get by with all the views and all the recreation opportunities that are sought down there.
The harbor is in serious disrepair and needs to be overhauled. Any investment in the harbor needs to be protected by a breakwater, which will, in fact, reduce much of the dangerous surfs that have caused the harbor to lose the berths.
The funding is secured; the EIR is passed; the project stands on its own, entirely supported by boaters, the tenants, and the concessionaires. Please allow this project to go forward without further modification or delay.
Paul Manning, a harbor tenant for 20 years, said, this has been needed for 20 years. I’m part of our harbor tenants association. Two points I’d like to raise:
In terms of the parking, this is a marina. The project is fully funded through monies that the marina is raising through our rent. Part of every marina in the Bay Area includes parking for boaters that’s reasonable access to their berths. It’s important to maintain that. I’ve never seen a single accident that’s resulted from bikes, people, and cars sharing that corridor.
On the issue of the floating breakwater, it’s clear that the alternatives are not perfect. The alternative of the rock rubble pile is far worse visually and far worse for water quality. Under the circumstances, the floating breakwater is the best alternative, particularly when you look at the sediment flow.
I’m really hoping that this process moves forward.
Bruce Stone, President of the Marina Harbor Association, spoke on behalf of the Board of Directors. We are in favor of the project. We think Park & Rec did a great job of incorporating comments from the working committee and the community, and came up with a design that is reasonable and works.
I also bike and hike along here every day. I believe that the floating raft that they’re calling a breakwater will work for the purpose assigned. It is below the sight line for the view and will not interfere; it also has a functionality for youth sailing and competitions, where people can come in and tie up temporarily instead of going all the way into the harbor again.
We hope you support the project and look forward to having a safe harbor.
Chair Randolph thanked the speakers and entertained a motion to close the public hearing.
MOTION: Commissioner Wieckowski motioned to close, seconded by Commissioner Nelson. The item passed unanimously by voice vote with no abstentions.
Chair Randolph opened the floor to Commissioner questions and comments.
Commissioner Maxwell stated, I’d like some reaction from the Recreation & Park representative on the comments heard today, especially on the Bay Trail which is very important to San Francisco.
Mary Hobson responded, regarding the Bay Trail, our project incorporates some safety improvements, specifically the improvement to the intersection at Scott Street and Marina Boulevard.
The section along Marina Boulevard is more complex because it has multiple uses and multiple jurisdictions. The Recreation and Park Department only has jurisdiction of approximately 12-15’ from the sea wall. Beyond that, between that line and the street, multiple agencies, including the Department of Public Works and GGNRA, have jurisdiction. We’ve been talking to those agencies about making improvements to that corridor, but there hasn’t been any substantial public dialogue.
We’ve done our best to provide improvements to people who want to get right up to the water in that area. At this point, as far as access to the harbor, we do agree that providing parking along the sea wall is an important amenity to provide our voters.
Removing that parking will probably raise a lot of concern. There are actually 57 parking spaces there which are used by not only boaters, but also the public and visitors to the marina. We’ve done our best to make improvements to the area, but it’s a much bigger project than this renovation project can address.
Regarding the breakwater design: as the Project Manager, I put a lot of faith into the competence and expertise of my consultants. I have with me Scott Fenical from Coast & Harbor Engineering. He has done extensive study of breakwater design, and I trust his judgment. Cost isn’t the only consideration. We are concerned about potential for navigational hazards that would be the result of building the fixed breakwater as designed. We support the proposed alternative as the best alternative from various advantages.
For the visual aspect, we did some simulations of the breakwater from various angles to see if it would block major landmarks. The freeboard height is 3’ above water. We believe that people will be able to see over the floating breakwater.
We also looked at how far west we could move it. Some opponents want it moved farther west. But the way a floating breakwater works, it’s not appropriate to put it in a shallow area. It needs to be in a significantly deep region so that it doesn’t bottom out and damage itself if shoaling occurs underneath it. We’ve located it in the most appropriate spot, and we’ve tried to site it as far from the vistas as possible.
We eliminated the option to have it pile-supported; it will be anchored with cables below-water. We agreed that having the piles in view, particularly at low tide, would be an unnecessary visual impact.
Commissioner McGrath commented, I don’t see that the difference between a 150’-long structure which is rubble mound and a floating breakwater which is 300’ long is necessarily significant. It does seem to me that the driver on this issue would be wave safety and shoaling. It appears that sand will travel around that tip. I would suggest that the staff provide us with their own analysis of whether or not there are alternatives that would reduce the visual impact. You can always use the resources at the Department of Boating and Waterways, which has technical people down at Scripps to verify.
On the comments by Laura Thompson, I tend to agree with her first point that a safe Bay Trail is vital, and this project will alter that piece that people now use. There’s a nexus to say that there are people now using this public access area; I don’t think it’s inviolate, because this is in fact a marina. I think a condition that the project improve the Bay Trail wouldn’t be unreasonable. However, I think that you do need parking reasonably close to the marina for boat users.
Commissioner Jordan Hallinan asked, could Laura Thompson come back up and point out the areas she is referring to, using one of the slides in our packet?
Laura Thompson came forward and indicated the area between Yacht Road to Scott Street. She added, the idea of a community planning process would be to bring everyone together to talk about how to open up the edge of the shoreline. It’s not in our interest to move parking far away; we understand that’s important to the boaters. I think there’s enough room to work with out here that we could probably find a solution.
We’d like to have the pedestrians and bicycles on the waterfront side rather than the street side. Maybe that means moving parking to the street side, or maybe it means reorienting the whole situation and moving parking out of that area.
Commissioner Chiu inquired, you have mentioned that there are a number of agencies that have jurisdiction within that narrow stretch, yet there hasn’t been a community planning process to try to resolve some of these issues.
Project Manager Hobson replied, when the Bay Trail group approached us during the planning phase, we did in-site investigation. We determined in that strip the three jurisdictions. When we come up with a viable plan, we will need to do public outreach.
Parking in San Francisco is a hot-button topic. Whenever you take public parking away, that means one more car that’s driven into the neighborhoods. This is why we would need an open public discussion before we propose the elimination of any public parking on our property.
Commissioner Chiu pointed out an extremely crowded portion of the area for the Commissioners to see on the diagram.
Vice Chair Halsted noted, the Bay Trail can indeed get very crowded. And as someone who used to race on the Bay, I would hate to slow down the improvement. I would like to see you move on both fronts; perhaps staff can assist in some way.
Commissioner Ziegler said, I have questions that can be addressed further on. I have two sets of concerns: water quality and water rise.
What is the expected lifetime of the project, and is it a 50-year storm based on what data? I’m asking these questions in terms of sea level rise and more intense storms.
Project Manager Hobson answered, design engineers have told me that the expected sea level rise of 16” in 50 years is what we have used in this project. The design life of this project is 50 years. We took a look at the existing top elevations of the existing sea walls, the moles, and the jetty to determine whether they would be able to accommodate this sea level rise, and they do. The project does not contemplate raising the sea walls.
Commissioner Ziegler continued, on water quality, I’m looking for perhaps more discussion around storm water/polluted runoff, any type of assessment on pervious/impervious surfaces in parking areas to prevent runoff from cars. In your materials I don’t see much discussion on that front.
Project Manager Hobson responded, we were probably the first project to get to go through the San Francisco PUC’s stormwater management assessment. We have incorporated some stormwater management pieces into the project. We will be doing a demonstration rain garden and bio-swale to collect rainwater from the parking areas adjacent to the Harbormaster’s office. We will be providing informational signage for the public to inform them about stormwater management issues.
Commissioner Nelson suggested, I’m well aware of how long it could take to resolve some of the potential conflicts with regard to transportation in that area. It would be helpful if we could help resolve those issues. A suggestion for staff: it might be helpful to talk with the applicant about designing a permit condition that encourages the process to be resolved.
Also, a couple of public commenter’s suggest that the breakwater didn’t receive adequate CEQA coverage. Could you address that?
Staff Permit Analyst Max Delaney replied, the floating breakwater was evaluated under the addendum to the EIR, issued by the City Planning Department in 2010. They did not find that the breakwater would significantly obstruct views of the bay, specifically Angel Island and Alcatraz. Essentially, the addendum process does not require them to circulate that document for public comment. At staff level we did not have reason to disagree with their assessment.
Project Manager Hobson stated, the floating breakwater has been reviewed and approved by the Recreation & Park Department’s Commission as being appropriate for the site. We did present it and debate it with the public at your Design Review Board, and their opinion was that it did not pose a significant visual impact to the site.
11. Public Hearing on Bay Plan Amendment No. 1-08 Which Would Revise Various Sections of the San Francisco Bay Plan to Address Climate Change and Add a New Climate Change Section to the Plan. Joe LaClair, Chief Planner, stated, this will be the Commission’s sixth public hearing on this proposal.
Staff mailed 65 letters to the Commission and interested parties on October 14. Since then, the Commission has received over 800 letters. The Commission received about 750 copies of a particular form letter; we have provided you with a list of the authors and a copy of the letter. It is not Staff’s intent to diminish the publics input so if the Commission directs, Staff will mail out and provide copies.
Staff has proposed several public input opportunities in response to the direction provided by the Commission in its last meeting. First, we mailed, emailed, and posted a comment form to assist interested parties in providing suggested language changes to the Bay Plan to address climate change. [Staff Chief Planner LaClair described the comment form.] Second, staff scheduled a public workshop for local governments on October 29. It is open to all. Notices were sent to numerous local agencies and interested parties. Staff also proposed that the Commission schedule a meeting of the Committee of the Commission for November 2. The meeting notice will be mailed, emailed, and web-posted, with the Commission’s concurrence, today. The Committee will hear input from the public on the proposed amendments and any suggested changes or process proposals.
I’d like to speak briefly on a concern heard often, regarding the impact of the proposed amendments on the Commission’s jurisdiction, and how these policies would apply outside the Commission’s jurisdiction. [Staff Chief Planner LaClair read from Section 66653 of the McAteer-Petris Act and the Introduction to the Bay Plan.] Policies for areas outside the Commission’s jurisdiction are limited to advice and are not enforceable.
These policies do not establish de facto CEQA significance criteria, because they are not enforceable policies in these areas.
Staff stands ready to engage anyone who will help us craft a policy that protects development, the Bay, and all that we hold dear.
Chair Randolph stated, the November 2 meeting will be exclusively on the language and the surrounding application of our jurisdiction – where it extends and doesn’t extend regarding the Bay Plan. All Commissioners and alternates are invited to participate. A quorum will consist of three Commissioners.
There has been an awful lot said on this subject, and the decibel level has gotten a bit high, if one reads the headlines of the San Francisco Business Times and looks at the volume of correspondence we’re receiving.
A number of things have been suggested. One suggestion is that concerns about the language in the Bay Plan reflect a conspiracy to stop the Plan. Frankly, I don’t see any evidence of that anywhere. On the other hand, it’s been suggested that BCDC’s process has been completely flawed. I don’t see that either.
What I do think is that BCDC’s process has so far been inadequate. Given the complexity of the climate change issue, the implications for the long term of where we go, and the fact that what we do here, while not being regulatory outside our jurisdiction, are significant for the steps that follow.
I think there’s a lot of anxiety being felt right now, partly from lack of clear understanding about what this process means and what the implications of the Bay Plan are, and then of course, very specific language.
I think it’s perceived as a good step forward that we’ve held the public hearing open and deferred the vote. There’s continued anxiety now about the fact that we have indicated that the vote will be held December 2.
My recommendation is that we continue to hold the public process open, and not necessarily schedule the vote for December 2. I would like to conclude this in a few months, in the first quarter of next year. This can take a lot of the heat out of the process, if we give it a little more time, but not an indefinite amount of time.
It’s now 4:00, one hour from the scheduled ending time for our meetings. We have 32 speakers lined up who wish to speak, and we allow speakers 3 minutes to speak. If we lose our quorum, we’ll have to end the hearing, but we must be out of here by 5:00 p.m. I would ask speakers to be as concise as possible and not repeat what prior speakers have said.
Commissioner Lundstrom commented, I would have appreciated a copy of the public workshop to all of us today in our packets. Staff Chief Planner LaClair noted that the mailings went out yesterday to everyone, including the Commissioners. Commissioner Lundstrom said that this was short notice for a meeting.
Chair Randolph opened the public hearing.
June Guidotti said, I’m against you derailing this. You can’t put it through fast enough. For 26 years I’ve tried to put the front part of my parcel back to full tidal action. You just voted on #8, leaving the gate open that destruction will come to our wetlands, destruction that you need to fix.
I want you to vote this through, Executive Order S13-08, the Board of Supervisors in Solano County, Suisun, the City Council, I want the mayor of Fairfield, I want them to put this back to full tidal action, and I want the marsh protected. I’m hoping that this will be done. This is ridiculous what they’ve gotten away with all these years.
George Guynn stated, I hope you will accommodate Mrs. Guidotti. She’s got twenty-something years that she’s been fighting government, and she’s been getting abused quite a bit of that time, and it’s really a sad thing because she’s lived most of her life at her property, and her ancestors have been there since the early 1900’s.
I’m really not a fan of global warming. If you ask any scientist, they’ll tell you that anything is subject to debate. A good example is the flat earth theory before Galileo. Weather people cannot predict the weather out a week in advance. With the economy in the state it is, you should stick to sound engineering practices and leave the theories until they can be proven more successfully.
David Lewis stated, as someone who has been present at all the previous six public hearings on this, I want to take a little bit of an issue with your characterization and framing and justification for that. After the last meeting, Commissioners asked for three things:
First, local governments need some guidance on sea level rise planning and appropriate protection from future flood risks. You’ve had lots of local government input into this process through the nine counties and four ABAG representatives that sit on this Commission. It’s not a surprise. This has been out there. There’s been more process here than on anything BCDC has done since I’ve been around for the last 13 years.
Second, the Commissioners said almost to a person, we don’t need to restart or recreate this process, we don’t want delay, we don’t want to derail the process. It’s been going on for two years, and we want to finish it this year.
Third, you asked that the misrepresentation specifically from the Bay Planning Coalition and others that they may or may not represent, should stop. But those lies and misrepresentations have continued since that last meeting in emails and other correspondence and communications. It’s designed to whip up fear and anxiety among local governments. You’re about to hear more of that today, I’m sure.
The lies and scare tactics have increased since the last meeting, and I’ve seen the emails and headlines about “BCDC Land Grab.” Your Executive Director put that to rest last week, and many of you echoed it.
In fact, the Bay Planning Coalition has tried to take jurisdiction away from the Commission. The attempt by the Bay Planning Coalition to defeat these policies has really become an attack on the Commission and your credibility.
If you delay after this year, you’ll have a whole new set of Commissioners coming in, and that education process will have to start again. I encourage you to finish this process; you have lots of input on the language, and you’ve asked for more. The staff can process that and give you a final recommendation.
Tay Via, representing the Mission Bay Development Group, commented, we just want to join the voices of a lot of thoughtful people out there who do not want to derail the process, but do want to work with your staff on some very specific language on some important regional issues, especially on the infill issue and also making sure that projects like Mission Bay that have already been processed have a clear understanding with your staff about where they stand. I’m mostly here to encourage you to give us a little more time, which it sounds like you will do, so I’ll defer any comment until a later time as necessary.
Mike Hudson, Suisun City Councilman, stated, I’m somebody who is in the community. I got a lot of notice on the meeting on the 29th: it was sent out last night. I know all the elected officials in here, are very aware that November 2, about a quarter of us may change our seats. During this election, we’re going to be having this public process. I would ask that this get delayed. If I get replaced, I’m sure that my replacement will want to be a part of this; they will want to know the background. BCDC has a history of being transparent. One of their goals is to be fair and have public awareness. I would just ask that you give local government a chance to respond to this.
Suzanne Bragdon, City Manager of Suisun City, gave a letter to the Commissioners. She said, I just heard that the people around the table are well-informed of this but I just heard of this two days ago via a call from a private party.
With the final vote on December 2 – we aren’t arguing the technical matters – but it’s way too much. You can have educational sessions in Solano County; you can give us more time to be engaged. While I respect this body making decisions for us, we need to be engaged in making decisions with you.
One request: give us more time to get engaged; establish an education and outreach program. There’s not an imminent issue here: we’re talking down the road. If you’ve studied this for two years and you take another year… it’s huge. Anyway, we do want to get engaged and we do want to help you make responsible decisions, so please give us the additional time to do so.
Frank Marinello of Main Street West Partners in Suisun said, until the waterfront was redeveloped in Suisun City, it had a very low approval rating from its community. I will tell you now, after executing most of the plan, its residences and businesses are very proud of what’s gone on around the waterfront district. Even after millions of dollars in investments, we still have a long way to go. I echo Suzanne’s sentiments that we ask for more time, so that the community can evaluate this amendment and react accordingly.
Jason Garben, Economic Development Director from Suisun, said, we have worked with your staff in the past very collaboratively, and have gone from the worst place to live in the Bay Area to one of the best. I’ve got some before and after photos that I’d like to pass out for you. We’ve always worked with your staff to come up with good projects on the front end, and we’d like to do the same on this process. I’d also like to state that none of this climate change stuff is imminent. No people or properties are threatened with immediate or irreparable harm. I’d encourage you to lengthen this process and to engage a little bit more.
Hartmint Ott, President of the Suisun Waterfront District, had to leave, but Suzanne Bragdon spoke for him: please give us more time to become educated and work with you on these proposed amendments.
Dan Kasperson, Building and Public Works Director for Suisun City, stated, I have been working with staff for more than 20 years. Suisun City staff has a long history of working carefully and well with BCDC. We have the same goals that you do: we consider ourselves stewards of the Grizzly Island wildlife area and the marsh.
I would like to make one point: I don’t believe all the impacts have been properly considered. As a Public Works Director, I’m responsible for the infrastructure of the city. It has been designed around a General Plan that has been established. Suddenly, I’m looking at the possibility of another land use plan. I don’t think the cost and impact of rearranging the infrastructure for our city has been properly examined. I would ask for more consideration and more analysis of the impacts.
Mike Rice, Main Street West builder/developer in Suisun City, said, in the past 12 years we’ve donefour projects with BCDC for approval. We’ve done well in the past, and we expect to do well in the future. Right now, it’s a matter of understanding what we’ve got before us. With the inundation and sea level change, we don’t really know what we’re looking at.
We’re asking for your assistance in helping us continue as the city has done. Those of you who are familiar with Suisun know we’ve improved the wildlife habitat, reduced contamination, extended public access to the marsh, and provided an Amtrak station on the Capitol Corridor. We just need time to analyze and work with you.
Mark Joseph, Financial Services Manager for Suisun City, commented, I want to echo all the remarks, and encourage and support the Chair’s recommendation to have a few more months (or more). Local government involvement will be critical to help evaluate all the competing interests here, and I think including cities is important. The hearing next week is short notice, but if you give us a few more months, I think we can all work things out.
Mike O’Brien, Suisun City Fire Chief, stated, thank you for actually doing a 100-year plan. That’s unheard of in government. My concern is that you are going to preclude development, and although it’s advisory, when you start looking at development and start trying to get through the whole process, the advisory thing that 100 years from now you can’t build there because it’s going to be underwater, is going to affect things.
Even more concerning is the idea that you’re going to remove development, because you’ve decided it’s going to be underwater at some point. I think you need to determine the effects this is going to have on public safety and public services as a whole. As a part of the local government executive management team, I was not aware this was coming up. There are a lot of things I would like to think of. (I may need to find a fire boat.)
Our city is working on a local hazard mitigation plan. Obviously, our input to that plan hopefully will dovetail with what you’re putting together in your plan. We ask you to slow down the process, engage all affected stakeholders, recognize the whole area that’s involved. A sea rise of 55” takes us clear into Fairfield and does affect a lot of Solano County. It’s not just the edge of the Bay. We certainly would like to stop you from approving this plan; give it up to a year.
Chair Randolph commented, if any more Commissioners feel they need to leave, please let me know. We are about to lose our quorum, and we will have to adjourn the public hearing if that happens.
April Wooden, Community Development Director for the City of Suisun, said, we understand the importance of planning ahead. We are a forward-looking community. Trying to provide the layperson’s version of what you are talking about will fall on my shoulders. I’m very embarrassed to be telling you here today that I know very little about these amendments. I have one Planner on my staff, and we try to cover a large range of planning work, as well as other community issues. We need more time to understand what it is that you’re trying to accomplish and how we can work with you to achieve that.
One of my favorite quotes is from Einstein, who said, “Make everything as simple as possible, but not simpler.” This isn’t simple; it’s complex. It’s not a one-agency issue. It’s a multi-agency, multi-stakeholder issue. I was very disappointed with the October 29 meeting date, because that’s the Friday before the election, and then the next meeting is two days after the election – the timing is unbelievably inappropriate for local government. Please reconsider the timing you’ve got set up.
Commissioner Gioia noted, when I hear the comments, “ disappointment…” and “… first time I’ve heard about it…” I understand that BCDC can always do better about outreach.
But there were public notices to the cities a year and a half ago. The business and developer community engaged from Day One. They were more watchful about their interests than the cities were. I appreciate cities coming up and saying this, but I’m in local government as well; I know a lot of colleagues in local government who knew about it and some who didn’t.
The rhetoric about no one knowing about this a year and a half ago doesn’t add to the debate about time. Talking about the need to look further at this, we want to entertain, but I just had to make that comment. There are many folks who came to the Ferry Building from business and developer communities who came from Day One, but cities who received public notices, claimed not to have known.
Chair Randolph made a note of procedure that we can adjourn into a Committee and continue to take testimony almost until 5:00, but then we really to have to leave. We can do that now, but I want to make sure we have a conversation among the Commission about the timing of what we do from here. My recommendation is that we hold open the Public Hearing but not aim for a December 2 vote.
Commissioner McGrath stated, it’s probably appropriate to start that conversation now, with a little bit of time and as many Commissioners that are left here. Given the tenor of what’s before us, I think we have two unpalatable choices. One is to press ahead and make people unhappy on process. The other is to go ahead and defer, and make the people who have paid attention and given valuable input irritated.
Speaking personally, I’ve been reappointed by the Senate to the regional board, and I’ll be here three more years, and I’ve got the wherewithal to stay with it. But I don’t think we have much choice except to give it a little more time, but not a lot.
Earlier Commissioner Lundstrom wisely pointed out that this is going to matter to Public Works Directors, and this is going to matter to Flood Control people. More than a year ago they asked staff to meet with them, and this did occur. Those entities are really between a rock and a hard place.
Changing flood protection systems, standards, and policies wisely is going to take time and engagement. I would like to see at the next meeting the Flood Control people and the Public Works Directors. I am interested in concrete suggestions by the people who, at the end of the day, have to do the work.
I also think local government has to pick their representatives, then have them go to work and trust them.
Commissioner Lundstrom stated, I’ve been a City Councilperson in the city of Larkspur for a number of years. We are now going through our update of our General Plan. The citizens are concerned about sea level rise. I have referred them to BCDC for guidance. This is what needs to be clarified: that this regional agency, BCDC, is not trying to tell local government land use, zoning, what we do; it’s trying to give it a context and do the long-term viewpoint. What I would suggest is that we need to be specific about outreach for every single county around the Bay Area. It’s the Planners and standing committees who need to be shown the guidance document.
The message is how can we do it smarter? And the way to do it smarter is to do a combination of going to the folks in local government who are already focusing in this and get them engaged. We all need to buy into this and believe in it, and not be tarnished the way ABAG is.
Alternate Commissioner Kato commented, I’m totally willing to defer to your recommendation and give it more time. But I do want to state for the record that it’s not really staff’s fault that the timeline got shortened so quickly. At the last meeting it was under the direction of the Commission that we wanted to have an action by the end of this year. I want to commend staff for trying to honor the requests and decisions of the Commission.
Chair Randolph stated, I think another consideration was that we’ll be losing a couple of Commissioners by the end of the year, and we’re hoping to have those who are knowledgeable on this at the table.
Commissioner Reagan said, in trying to have the whole meeting on a Tuesday, that is when all Boards of Supervisors have meetings and most City Councils have meetings; and Election Day was incredibly tone-deaf if you want to engage local government.
I support the concept that we are going to need to take a couple of months to bring people who are busy enough with everything else that they’ve got going on. Frankly, this small state commission isn’t top dead center of everybody’s desk. You’re going to have to work yourself into the workflow of these understaffed organizations of cities and counties as we deal with the economic fallout.
Commissioner Gioia commented, it sounds like we should still go ahead with the meeting for Planners and local government that’s scheduled – the more outreach, the better. We have something on the calendar for October 29. It might be useful for the full Commission, at the next meeting, to set the timeframe and not leave it open-ended.
We cannot go to every City Council, but we can go to regional meetings.
I do appreciate that Joe LaClair laid out at the outset the issue of jurisdiction. A lot of this debate has been clouded by that issue. We said at the last Commission meeting that we want to see a specific list of proposed changes that folks may have, or that were proposed in the past. To the extent that there are specific issues identified, we want to see what those are; but this issue of jurisdiction just complicates it.
There have been some fear tactics that the Commission is intending to broaden its jurisdiction outside the 100’ shoreline ban. If we can keep the debate centered on the policy language itself, I think we’re all best served.
Getting a timeframe, and being really clear about it so there are expectations, should prevent people from coming back at the end and saying there wasn’t enough outreach, we need more time. The Flood Control folks have been engaged for a long time. The Flood Control folks in Contra Costa have been very involved and have provided some very good specific comments.
Chair Randolph agreed, and said, we need to ask staff to come back to us with a somewhat extended structured process. The message about jurisdiction is really important. When we get down to actual wording, I think the wording isn’t that difficult, but we need to get an opportunity for input through the process that staff has proposed. Have the Commission be able to consider it and understand it, and then have the people who gave us the input look at it. We need to make sure that there’s been enough of a transparent process that everybody feels that they’ve had the opportunity to digest it and understand it; but within a bounded process.
If staff can come back to us with a recommendation for what that process might look like, identifying counties and constituencies, and proceeding with the meetings we already have, that will let us see what that process might look like.
Chief Planner LaClair summarized what he had heard so far:
We should go forward with the October 29 workshop, but obviously more opportunities for local government input and engagement are needed.
Also, I think for us to describe what we’ve done so far outside of this process to local governments, because BCDC has had a very active training program for Planners and Public Works officials to address this issue of climate change. We’ve had pretty good attendance from many cities and counties throughout the region.
Then, we could cancel the Election Day Commission meeting, and come back to the Commission on November 4 with a strategy for engagement and a schedule for that.
Chair Randolph said, I’m not sure about canceling the Election Day meeting. Would anyone from the Coalition here in the room want to comment on whether that date is feasible? I see one hand in the back.
Newell Arnerich, Danville Councilmember and three-time mayor, said, I’m here to agree with everything you’re saying. We need to work with staff. We believe everything this Commission has done through the years has been right on; as a county, we don’t really have a disagreement.
There are a couple of cities that are actually much further along than the rest of the county. For the rest of us, we have come across, through some of our environmental work, and working on AB 32 and SB 375, some specific areas where the language isn’t clear, and has profound implications to some of our transportation systems and smart growth projects.
What we need is maybe 120 days to come back and work with your staff to show them some language changes. I do appreciate that this is going to have long-lasting policy decisions.
Commissioner Gioia stated, I think we should still go forward with the 29th. Everybody may not be able to come, but there will be other opportunities. However the Commission is the entity that is in charge of this process; we’re just trying to make it broader. That’s why we’re a Commission of federal, state, and local representatives. There’s a balancing here that’s going on for a regional perspective.
Commissioner McGrath commented, I would like to be a little more aggressive on the input side. Before staff can tell us how long it takes to see if agreement can be reached, we need to stop the comments.
I would like to see December 2 remain as a firm deadline for when people should suggest at least a concern, if not specific language changes. That way the staff can get their arms around a schedule to discuss each comment with each entity. Some are pushing for more action, some are pushing for less, some have a misunderstanding. But until we have all those suggestions on the table, we’ve lost control of the process.
I think some greater sense of urgency is required. That’s a couple of months to read the staff report, and I think that’s ample time.
Chair Randolph said, I think we ought to stick with our October 29 and November 2 dates, but with the understanding that a lot of people won’t be able to make those. We’ll need a more structured process beyond that, within a specific timeframe so this is a bounded process.
Commissioner Gioia suggested, on our meeting of November 4 – our next regular meeting when more folks are here – the discussion on the schedule and process should be held.
Cecily Barclay, a land use attorney in San Francisco, stated, tomorrow in this room, from 1:00-4:00, is the kickoff between BCDC and the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration Coastal Art Program, which is seeking input from local and regional governments and public works on these very issues.
I’m asking how local agencies should understand the art process, along with what the Bay Plan Amendment process is. It would be helpful for the local governments to understand what tomorrow’s meeting here is about.
Chief Deputy Director Steve Goldbeck explained, the ART project tomorrow, Adapting to Rising Tides, is a planning project that the Commission staff is doing to take the next step after looking at a vulnerability assessment of the entire region, to start focusing on the specifics of the impacts to shorelines on a much more detailed level, and coming up with a vulnerability assessment for them, and then adaptation strategies.
It is proposed to be done with local governments and entities, so that it is place-based and we’re getting that feedback as we’re looking at adaptation measures.
Chair Randolph said, we’re up to 5:00 and I apologize to those who didn’t have the chance to speak today. I would welcome a motion to adjourn the Committee as a whole.
MOTION: Commissioner Wieckowski motioned to adjourn the Committee as a whole, seconded by Commissioner Kato. The motion passed unanimously by voice vote.
12. Adjournment. Upon motion by Commissioner Wieckowski, seconded by Commissioner Richards, the meeting adjourned at 4:53 p.m.
Approved, as corrected, at the San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission Meeting of November 4, 2010
R. SEAN RANDOLPH, Chair