Minutes of July 18, 2013 Commission Meeting
1. Call to Order. The meeting was called to order by Chair Wasserman at the MetroCenter Auditorium, 101 Eighth Street, Oakland, California at 1:09 p.m.
2. Roll Call. Present were: Chair Wasserman, Vice Chair Halsted, Commissioners Addiego, Bates (represented by Alternate Butt), Cortese (represented by Alternate Scharff), Gibbs (represented by Alternate Arce), Gioia, Gorin, Jordan Hallinan, McGrath, Pine, Sartipi, Sears, Spering (represented by Alternate Vasquez), Techel, Wagenknecht, Ziegler (represented by Alternate Brush) and Zwissler. Assembly representative Lisa Feldstein was also present.
Chair Wasserman announced that a quorum was present.
Not present were: Association of Bay Area Governments (Apodaca), Alameda County (Chan), City and County of San Francisco (Chiu), Department of Finance (Finn), U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Hicks), State Lands Commission (Lucchesi), Senate Rules Committee (Nelson), Governors Appointee (Randolph), and California Natural Resources Agency (Vierra).
3. Public Comment Period. Chair Wasserman called for public comment on subjects that were not on the agenda. Comments would be restricted to three minutes per speaker. There were two people wishing to make public comments.
Mr. Jason Flanders addressed the Commission: I’m the Program Director at San Francisco Baykeeper. I want to thank BCDC for its opposition to AB 1273 which proposes to take the environmental review process and approval out of the ordinary rubric and the public trust determination for the proposed Warriors Stadium. It would take it out of the purview of BCDC. We don’t think any project should be given special treatment.
It doesn’t make sense to remove the public trust determination from BCDC who has unique expertise over San Francisco Bay and shoreline uses.
We strongly oppose the stadium project on the grounds that we do not believe it’s consistent with the public trust. It does not promote water-borne commerce as has been historically defined under the public trust.
Ms. Maureen Gaffney spoke: I am with the San Francisco Bay Trail Project. Before you are a set of the newly updated and completely redesigned Bay Trail Map. A companion mobile web map is available from our website.
The production was funded by the Coastal Conservancy, MTC and the Bay Trail Non-profit. We are delighted to present the new Bay Trail Maps to the Commission and staff in recognition of your invaluable partnership in completing a shoreline path through 47 cities and all nine Bay area counties.
Executive Director Goldzband added: In this material you will find a card that, if you remember the old Thomas Brothers Maps, lists out all the different parts of the Bay Trail and those correspond to the different cards that you can take with you as you go by. This is a tremendous help for those of us who want to hike it and don’t want to bring the whole thing.
4. Approval of Minutes of the June 20, 2013 Meeting. Chair Wasserman entertained a motion and a second to adopt the minutes of June 20, 2013.
Commissioner McGrath offered the following change to the minutes: On page 34 in paragraph five, last sentence; I would like the first comma before “yes” to be removed.
MOTION: Commissioner Wagenknecht moved, seconded by Vice Chair Halsted, to approve the amended June 20, 2013 Minutes. The motion carried by voice vote with Commissioners Butt abstaining.
5. Report of the Chair. Chair Wasserman reported on the following:
a. New Business. I would ask for any suggestions for new business. We made this change so that if you want to get things on future agendas we give this as the opportunity rather than kidding ourselves that we can actually discuss new business at this meeting that’s not on the agenda.
Commissioner Addiego mentioned: I had the opportunity to speak Peter Grinnel who is the Executive Director of the San Mateo County Harbor District last evening. We were talking about the BCDC policy of a 10 percent live-aboard of all the marinas in the Bay area. I was asking him how it would affect marinas when something like Pete’s Harbor closes, is that 10 percent allocated in place or does a new marina automatically get 10 percent?
I was wondering if that’s something that the Commission might be interested in looking at the policy.
Chair Wasserman replied: We’ll talk about that. My answer to you is, yes. That did come up when we had a report two or three meetings ago on Pete’s Harbor. I think we then said, we would revisit it. We’ll do that at the appropriate time sometime later this year.
b. Willie B. Kennedy. I am sad to report that former San Francisco Supervisor and long-time BCDC Commissioner Willie B. Kennedy recently passed away. I would like to entertain a motion to adjourn today’s meeting in her memory.
MOTION: Commissioner Arce so moved, seconded by Vice Chair Halsted.
c. Yuki Kawaguchi. At our last meeting we approved a contract with GreenInfo Network for mapping and graphic services. This marks the end of the Commission's over 30-year contractual relationship with cartographer Yuki Kawaguchi. Mr. Kawaguchi's services over the years enabled the Commission to communicate its policies and other information in a clear and forthright manner which created and elevated the Commission's high standards for clarity. We thank Mr. Kawaguchi and wish him well and I'd like to entertain a motion to approve a resolution of gratitude that was prepared by the staff and is in your folders.
MOTION: Commissioner Sears so moved, seconded by Vice Chair Halsted.
Mr. Kawaguchi was present and was recognized by those in attendance by a round of applause.
d. New Alternate. On July 15, Secretary John Laird appointed Abe Doherty, Policy Specialist for the Ocean Protection Council, to serve as an alternate for Amy Vierra of the Resources Agency. Mr. Doherty has almost fifteen years of state service with the Coastal Commission and the Coastal Conservancy and has focused on rising sea level and climate change adaptation. Amy is about to take maternity leave and we expect to see her back next year.
I will also note that this is Commissioner Feldstein’s last meeting. She is resigning her position to devote herself to the pursuit of her PhD. We thank you very much for your service and wish you very well.
e. Engineering Criteria Review Board. You will remember from our last meeting that three members of BCDC’s Engineering Criteria Review Board have resigned. On July 5th staff provided a recommendation that I appoint Mr. Robert Battalio and Mr. Jim French to serve on the ECRB, subject to your concurrence. The recommendation includes their extensive qualifications and I believe that these two engineers are eminently qualified to serve on the board. Unless any Commissioner has any issues or questions, I intend to appoint them to the Board. Seeing none, I will do that.
f. Meetings Concerning BCDC. I want to report on a couple of meetings that we have had over the last couple of weeks. Larry Goldzband and I had a very productive meeting with Natural Resources Secretary John Laird and his staff in Sacramento. We discussed a variety of issues, including BCDC’s work on shoreline resilience and the rising Bay, the progress of the Joint Policy Committee and BCDC’s budget and proposed budget change proposals. We also provided him with a copy of our new Strategic Plan and discussed our desire to move to the regional headquarters building. Secretary Laird was enthusiastic about BCDC’s work and, a few days later, he approved BCDC’s four Budget Change Proposals relating to funding some additional staff work for rising sea level, technology improvements which are long overdue and tenant improvements to BCDC’s space should we move to the state building. On July 12, the Commissioner Working Group on Rising Sea Level met at BCDC and heard from representatives from Chevron, Union Pacific, Kaiser, PG&E and San Francisco Airport on how they are planning to deal with a rising Bay. All of these organizations recognize the threats posed by rising sea levels and all are addressing them in their planning efforts, and I think they were a little suspicious when they got their invitation. We put them at ease. They welcomed further involvement in this process. We plan to host a similar meeting primarily focused on the public sector, including BART, the Port of Oakland and others, in August, if we can schedule around vacations. We are working on scheduling a third one that will be primarily umbrella organizations and other interested parties.
Some Commissioners asked whether there was parking close to here. The answer is, not to our knowledge. However, there is an app called, “Park Mobile” that will alert you to when your meter has expired and in many places, albeit not all, you can re-up and still not interrupt your current activity. I’ve used it and it’s quite wonderful.
We are coming up on Larry Goldzband’s one year of service with us. We will do an annual review with him, hopefully, next week. If any of you have comments that you would like to convey to us, please let Vice Chair Halsted or myself know. At a subsequent meeting we will give a short summary of that review.
If any of you have comments about my performance as Chair, we would welcome those as well.
g. Next BCDC Meeting. We are not going to have any meetings in August. The first meeting that we would have had in September falls on Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year. We are not going to have that meeting. The next meeting will be on September 19th. That will be a very full meeting. Probable agenda items for that meeting include:
(1)A presentation by the Natural Resources Agency on its work with the various departments and other organizations within the Agency and throughout the state government on adaptation due to rising sea level and other aspects of climate change.
(2)A briefing by BCDC and San Francisco Port staff on the progress of the San Francisco Waterfront planning process.
(3)Commissioner David Pine will provide the Commission with an overview of the San Mateo shoreline.
h. Ex-Parte Communications. If you have received communications on a regulatory matter that you have not otherwise disclosed and want to put on the record, now is the time to do that. Anybody wish to do that?
Vice Chair Halsted stated: I did attend a meeting with the Bay Trail people talking about a permit that BCDC had issued and this should be on record.
6. Report of the Executive Director. Executive Director Goldzband reported: I contacted SFO’s Director of Government Relations within a couple of hours of the Asiana accident and assured her that we were available to answer any questions that might be raised about the accident’s effects on the Bay. Linda Scourtis of our staff, from whom you will hear later today, contacted the state’s Office of Emergency Services and discovered that no foam or other response-related material entered the Bay. With my approval a few days after the accident, Brad McCrea of our staff gave SFO the okay to make emergency repairs to its runway, adjacent areas and shoreline. We shall receive a report from SFO after those repairs are completed. While we do not expect any complications, we shall let you know if there are any other issues that we need to address.
As Chair Wasserman noted earlier, the Natural Resources Agency gave preliminary approval to each of BCDC’s four budget change proposals, known as BCPs. Those BCPs are due in expanded form to Resources immediately after Labor Day for final approval before they are sent to the Department of Finance. We are working as teams to develop more detailed justifications for each.
We have one new staff member to introduce. Ian Howell has joined the Permit staff for a limited-term period. Ian holds a Master of Environmental Studies degree in Resource Management from the University of Pennsylvania and a Bachelor of Music degree in Vocal Performance from New York University. Ian has taught at the university level, researched for the Open Space Institute in New York, worked as a Youth Program Coordinator in San Francisco and has been a Stewardship Volunteer with the Peninsula Open Space Trust.
You have in your packets a letter from the Little Hoover Commission to BCDC inviting us to participate in its inquiry into governance and adaptation issues arising from climate change. We are arranging a discussion with LHC staff during the next week or so, and I suspect that we shall provide the LHC with a great deal of information about BCDC’s expertise and success in the arena. We shall let you know if BCDC is asked to participate in the Little Hoover’s public hearing in August.
Finally, we can’t let a meeting go by without an update on the Warriors, although I hope that this will be the last one for a while. On July 3, six days after the Senate Natural Resources Committee heard AB 1273, I sent an e-mail to all commissioners and alternates saying that we would examine the amendments adopted by the Committee, drafted by the Committee consultant, and reviewed by the Legislature's Legislative Counsel. Those amendments now have been published. I am pleased to tell you that those amendments comport almost fully with the language that BCDC staff suggested to the consultant. In sum those amendments eliminate the bill’s legislative public trust determination, require that the State Lands Commission make its determination in a public meeting and work with BCDC to do so, and that any public trust determination be made in the "best interests of the state," and only after the EIR is certified, all local approvals are provided, and a major permit application is submitted to BCDC. BCDC's McAteer-Petris authority and discretion would not be affected by any determinations made by State Lands (except the public trust determination) or any other provision of the bill, and the language created to ensure local public processes to determine such issues as parking and public benefits remain in the bill. Please let me know if you have any questions or concerns. We do not plan to place AB 1273 on future BCDC agendas unless you believe that it would be beneficial to do so or unless the bill is slated for changes in the future.
Also, I would be terribly remiss if I did not commend to you the hard work of the BCDC staff on this issue, led by Steve. Great work, well done, and successful (so far, at least — we'll keep an eye on the bill as it moves through Appropriations, the Senate floor, and back to the Assembly for concurrence).
That completes my report Mr. Chairman.
Chair Wasserman called for any questions.
Commissioner Arce commented: Sitting here today, does BCDC oppose AB 1273?
Executive Director Goldzband replied: Not in its current form. There is no letter to that effect. BCDC opposed 1273 as it was heard by the Senate Natural Resources Committee because that’s what I was instructed to do.
After the Senate Natural Resources approved AB 1273 with conceptual amendments that had yet to be drafted by Bill Craven, the Committee consultant, we worked with him to draft the amendments.
And those comport with what we think BCDC would agree is what BCDC wanted to have happen. Those amendments have been adopted by the Committee and are now going on.
The bill is not a two-year bill but it does not include the legislative determination.
Commissioner Arce continued: Sitting here today, is it accurate to say that BCDC has no position on AB 1273?
Executive Director Goldzband answered: What we will do is, we will send a note saying that BCDC has not taken a position on AB 1273 as it moves forward post-publication, but that the opposition to 1273 was based on a previous bill.
The Resources Agency will know that, that does not apply to the bill as currently drafted.
7. Consideration of Administrative Matters. This matter was discussed out of sequence. It was discussed just prior to moving on to Item 10.
8. Briefing on the LTMS Management Plan Twelve Year Review. Now we will move on to Item #8 which is a briefing on the twelve year review for the LTMS Management Plan. This will feature a panel consisting of Lieutenant Colonel John K. Baker, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers; Jason Brush, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Bruce Wolfe, Executive Director of San Francisco Bay Regional Water Quality Control Board and, our Executive Director, Larry Goldzband. Before the panel speaks, Brenda Goeden of our staff will provide a brief update on the progress of the LTMS 12-year review and then we’ll have a couple of comments from Commissioner McGrath.
Ms. Goeden presented the following: Today I will brief you on the LTMS, the Long-term Management Strategy for the Placement of Dredge Material in the San Francisco Bay Region.
As you know, the LTMS Program is focused on maintenance dredging in San Francisco Bay. The LTMS study area goes from the mouth of San Francisco Bay all the way up to the confluence of the Sacramento/San Joaquin River.
The LTMS Program grew out of a period of conflict in San Francisco Bay when the environmental community and the fishing community was at odds with the maritime industry over concerns about the impacts of dredging and dredge material disposal in San Francisco Bay.
Toxicity of the sediment was a concern as was the turbidity in the water upon disposal and its impact on native and listed species that migrate through or live within the Bay.
Navigation was also an issue because in some cases permits were so delayed that dredging didn’t happen in time for the permit to be concluded. And in addition, the dredging that was disposed of at Alcatraz built up over many years and created a mound that became a navigational hazard.
Dredging and dredging material disposal became so contentious that in the San Francisco Bay fashion there was a protest that was organized by the fishing and environmental community. There was an on-water protest that prevented any disposal of dredged sediments from taking place.
The LTMS agencies represented here today are the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the San Francisco Bay Regional Water Quality Control Board and the State Lands Commission as well as BCDC. These agencies began a stakeholder process that involved all the interested parties, the ports, the refineries, the environmentalists, fishing communities, the local communities and the general public to develop a program that was environmentally sound and provided for the navigational needs for the Bay area.
The groups agreed on four over-arching goals and a framework for their implementation.
The first goal is to maintain in an economically and environmentally sound fashion the channels necessary for navigation in the Bay.
The second is to dispose of dredge material in an environmentally sound manner.
The third is to maximize beneficial reuse or the recycling of the sediment into habitat, in construction projects wherever possible and to establish a cooperative permitting framework.
A key feature of the program was to allow time for budgeting and planning to change the way dredging and dredge material disposal happened in the Bay area.
This included a 12-year transition period that started in 2000 and, every three years reduced in-bay disposal by about 400,000 cubic yards and it completed the transition in 2012.
There were a number of beneficial use sites that were planned and implemented during this time.
In addition, the LTMS agencies worked closely with the resource agencies in developing programs to protect Bay resources including listed species while allowing the permitting to move forward more expeditiously.
There was no doubt that beneficially reusing sediment to create marshes and beaches, maintain levees and other construction uses costs more than simply disposing of dredge material in the Bay. But short-term additional costs have to be measured against the long-term gains, especially considering increased sea level rise.
Some of the challenges were the limitation of a single off loader as opposed to multiple off loaders for different sites. In addition less beneficial reuse sites were created than were anticipated during this transition period and some of the restoration projects were delayed while others are still in the planning phases.
Actually getting the sediment to the restoration projects is also a challenge. When you have wide mudflats like we do here, then you have to pump material across the mudflats and that takes additional equipment and energy.
The benefits of this program are significant. Where we reused dredge material at restoration sites, we create healthy habitats in a much shorter period of time than natural sedimentation would allow.
These habitat benefits assist endangered species and native species and create healthy ecosystems Bay-wide. Wide healthy marshes also clean urban runoff, they provide flood storage and act as a buffer against storms.
The contaminant testing program is also of note, as are other project components. Dredge material that goes back into the Bay must meet standards that are protective of water quality and the fish that live there. All dredged sediment is tested to show water quality standards are met.
The high level of coordination between the agencies, including the resource agencies, provides a very comprehensive regulatory program that is unique in the nation.
As the program progressed, a review was necessary to evaluate how the program was functioning overall. The LTMS Management Plan provided guidance and metrics for this evaluation. In 2012, four public meetings were held to evaluate the program and take input from stakeholders.
The public provided comments and the agencies improved the analysis and reporting as appropriate.
Some of the high-level findings include that the dredging community was able to meet in-Bay disposal targets as the program progressed and the transition period was completed. We did meet our in-Bay disposal volume targets through the twelve years.
In 2013, we are now at our lowest limit of in-Bay disposal (l.25 million cubic yards annually). To continue to meet our goals, beneficial re-use and ocean disposal remain very important.
Over the 12-year period approximately 20 million cubic yards of sediment were used in habitat restoration projects and some construction projects.
That amount of beneficial re-use was possible in part due to the large deepening projects in the Bay because they not only provided sediment for these projects but they also helped defray the cost of transporting the sediment to these projects. That deferral of cost also assisted the maintenance dredging projects in paying for beneficial reuse site development.
Some of the additional findings that were arrived at through the review process are as follows: the overall goals and management plan remain valid and relevant today, navigation in the Bay has remained safe, environmental protection has improved since the early days of the program, and the DMMO has improved the permitting and testing process. The reduction in suspended sediment levels coming from the Delta and the rising seas due to climate change has made beneficial more important today and into the future.
Because of the challenges in federal funding the LTMS Program needs to develop a new funding strategy for the program and to assist in further beneficial re-use.
Several stakeholders have suggested shallow-water placement of dredged sediment to allow the tides and currents to feed marshes. Policy changes and additional scientific understanding is needed to make this a reality. In addition, change at the national policy level is needed to maximize our efforts.
In the mean time we are re-doubling our efforts to match up even smaller restoration projects with dredging projects in a new program called SediMatch.
The LTMS agencies are supporting the development of a regional sediment management plan for San Francisco Bay because dredging is only one part of the sediment system and it needs to be considered in context with other sediment issues. Thank you for your attention.
Now, I would like to introduce the LTMS Management Committee. We have Larry Goldzband from BCDC, Lieutenant Colonel John Baker from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Jason Brush with the U.S. EPA and Bruce Wolfe with the San Francisco Bay Regional Water Quality Control Board.
I would suggest we take questions after the panel has been heard.
Chair Wasserman directed the panel members to take their seats. Commissioner McGrath made some comments.
Commissioner McGrath stated: In 1990 I started working at the Port of Oakland and I worked on beneficial re-use projects for 16 years.
I wasn’t always a fan of this endeavor. Some of these projects were done outside of the LTMS process.
There are very significant benefits to this program. Perhaps most significantly is an understanding among the agencies and the public that dredged material is a resource.
The questions of sediment quality, which were quite controversial when I started, are being well managed by the agencies and dredge material is largely a signature of what is going on in the Bay.
Looking forward and specifically, the two long-term challenges, first, finding feasible ways to reduce costs and make re-use possible is the greatest challenge.
One tool that has been adopted quite successfully is the combined approval of partial in-Bay disposal and re-use at Montezuma for a portion of maintenance dredging material by the Corps.
The larger cultural question of how to proceed with innovation is also important. Regulatory processes aren’t designed to stimulate or encourage innovation yet sometimes that’s what is required.
Re-use is technically difficult. The science is difficult. The public perceptions are difficult. It’s particularly important in looking at this to consider timeliness.
To move forward with predictable costs and predictable timeframes and to achieve business opportunities is of tremendous economic value. It tends to keep them at the table and looking for solutions rather than complaining to their legislatures.
So finding a way to continue to focus and improve the cost effectiveness of what’s being done and second, to begin to look at the processes and try to find ways to deliver timeliness and take advantage of the political and economic value that that represents.
Executive Director Goldzband commented: We wanted to do this panel because it wasn’t all that long ago that that picture that Brenda pointed out of the protest on the Bay happened. It was 1989 and it was less than 25 years ago.
LTMS has only been around for about a dozen years. Since we’re at that transition point now where LTMS needs to look to the future we really thought that because mud lock came right to BCDC, that you all should get a really good taste of some of the issues that we are going to have to grapple and which we will then come back to you with at some point, probably during the winter or spring of next year.
Mr. Bruce Wolfe of the Water Board spoke: I think LTMS has largely met its goals. We’re conducting dredge material disposal in the most environmentally sound manner.
From a water quality improvement perspective, we’ve developed a very consistent approach that minimizes the impact from the act of dredging and the placement of dredged material.
The program takes a regional or watershed approach to the issue of dredge material management rather than a site-by-site or project-by-project approach.
The program recognizes that there’s a net reduction in the amount of dredged material that is in the Bay system and associated with that there is a net reduction in the pollutants that are adhering to dredge material. This is significant in that when our Board developed clean-up plans, otherwise known as a total maximum daily load, rather than say that every individual dredging episode had to demonstrate a reduction in mercury; we are able to say, because the overall program is reducing dredge material that contains mercury, we would view the dredging as long as it was consistent with LTMS as being in compliance with the Mercury Clean Up Plan.
We saved a significant amount of bureaucratic challenge to address all of that for the dredging community.
The coordinated agency efforts have really become a model. It’s essentially a one-stop shop where the four agencies are working together to review applications and speak with one voice.
This is significant in that it provides a model for looking at other regional permitting such as, how do we address project permits for projects that proposed to address impacts of sea level rise, how can we work as coordinated agencies to address that.
There are ongoing challenges. We recognize that conditions have changed somewhat. There was very little discussion 12 years ago about the potential impacts of sea level rise.
The recognition that we need to optimize our re-use of sediment was inherent from the get go but even more so now. The challenges continue for us to identify those opportunities for re-use but at the same time look at how we can make that economically feasible.
There are challenges from the federal contracting but I applaud the Corps in the efforts over the last couple of years to look at ways that they can shake loose from some of those bounds of contract restrictions.
One of the challenges moving forward as we try to re-use more dredged material within the Bay is, how we can clearly determine when that re-use, if we’re putting it back in the Bay, could be considered re-use that’s benefitting wetland establishment, sea level rise protection and when would we be calling it just, simply, disposal. This is something that we do need to look at.
There has been some work already done funded through the Army Corps to look at if we do some deposition of material in the south Bay, where does it end up? Does it end up in a location that we could say is beneficial? We need to do a little bit more work on that.
What are things that we might need from the Commission? One of the things we might need from all of the agencies is to make sure we stay focused on resolving the issues.
We also need to make sure that we constantly ask ourselves, is the information we’re asking from the regulated community, from the dredgers when they’re doing sampling or submitting monitoring material to us, we need to keep asking ourselves, is this information we’ll really use, do we really need it? Are there opportunities to save money here?
We constantly need to push ourselves to make sure that as we implement the program we are continuing to improve the program and stay consistent with our goals.
Mr. Jason Brush of the EPA spoke: I echo much of what has been said. EPA has been a vocal supporter nationally recognizing sediment as a resource and not a waste product. Our interest in the LTMS goes back to the very beginning in promoting that concept.
We also are charged with the responsibility of designating the ocean disposal sites which is a key component under the LTMS as a safety valve to make sure that when beneficial re-use is not practical and that in-bay disposal is to be avoided, that we have that as an option.
Ocean disposal proportion has remained largely on target as well at around 17 percent overall.
What would be needed from the Commission and all of you for LTMS? LTMS is moving forward as really something special. It is a rare example of good government, particularly the DMMO where it is undeniably faster for the regulated community and more efficient with better environmental outcomes than it is without it.
California is lagging a little behind in investing in infrastructure such as off loaders as was discussed. We are going to need partnerships from local and state government to continue to leverage resources and provide that assistance.
Mr. John Baker addressed the Commission: I am the Commander of the San Francisco District for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. I concur with everything that all of my agency partners have briefed with the overall success of this program in accomplishing its four goals.
I want to thank BCDC and the staff for the teamwork and their professionalism as we’ve endeavored on this work together.
The Corps’ mission is to deliver vital engineering solutions in collaboration with our partners to secure our nation, energize the economy and reduce risks from disaster.
We’ve been serving our nation in San Francisco Bay since 1866. We’ve been dredging in San Francisco Bay for over 140 years. Currently we are not only the largest dredger in San Francisco Bay but we’re also a regulatory agency that permits all dredging activity.
We’ve been successful in accomplishing our four goals and it’s an example of success not only in this local area but across the entire West Coast of the United States and even across the entire country.
The Corps of Engineers is committed to be a partner and a teammate in this. We will work through our challenges together and we’ll continually implement our best practices and lessons learned and ultimately our actions will speak louder than our words.
Executive Director Goldzband made a request: I would like you to talk about speed dating and what you’re setting up in terms of mixing and matching folks in terms of dredging and supply and demand.
Lieutenant Colonel Baker answered: We were going to call it, Match.com. Brenda came up with the better name of SediMatch. It’s not a mystery where folks need dirt or material and where by quantity, by quality; and then we know which projects produce the material.
Then it becomes a question of, how do you match up the supply versus the demand in time and space. There is a lot of art and science to that because there are policies and budget constraints and it’s not as easy as just doing a math problem.
Executive Director Goldzband commented: I’ve been here almost a year and I can tell you that there is no doubt that all the programs that I have tried to become familiar with and become part of, the LTMS Program at BCDC is the most complex.
It has very rich partners in terms of how much they have to do. It has very difficult targets to truly understand and they seem to move a bit.
And there are a lot of exogenous variables, mostly funding. Nobody around here should ever use the term, dredged spoils. I was corrected immediately by Brenda on my third day.
Getting your arms wrapped around this subject is really pretty difficult to do. I don’t think that there is much doubt that LTMS has been successful.
The real question that I have to put out there, especially because I was on the receiving end of more than one telephone call in the Governor’s Office during the early 90s about mudlock, is, how it can remain successful.
Targets have been met but it is valid to argue that they’ve been met through a fortunate combination of circumstances, that is, deep-channel dredging, the availability of Hamilton and the availability of funding.
That leads one to believe that should Hamilton not be available and Hamilton is pretty much done. And, if there still is deep-channel dredging to do, how does one get dredged materials from one place to another and how do you pay for it?
That ultimately brings up in a policy discussion the issues of public funding, meaning federal funding versus matches on the public side. And, where does the private sector stand in all of this?
All of this needs to be put through the meat grinder. It’s worthy to note that the in-Bay disposal target volumes have been met during each of the three year periods which means that the regulatory agencies didn’t have to come down from above, clamp down and allocate where dredged material should go. That is a success in and of itself.
Going forward however, I would argue that it’s more important than ever for the continued success that we take a look at the needs of sediment along the shoreline to create marshland and to promote the creation of and the bolstering of existing marshes to combat rising sea level.
It is a perfect example of the Match.com that John talked about. This is not without challenges because budgets are not just tight, they’re effectively reduced.
We can look back and say, it’s been successful and we need to then say, okay it’s been successful but we can’t be complacent. We need to figure out a way for it to become more successful given that now there are probably more challenges.
The Corps deserves congratulations and it’s not easy for other regulators to say that. The Corps has a very distinct regulatory framework. We can look at the Corps contracting challenges and try to figure out how to make them work better and how to make them work in the Bay area world in a way that they might not need to work in other locations.
So, where does BCDC go from here? I would argue we need to create a regional advocacy organization which would include the Coastal Conservancy, the Bay Planning Coalition, Save the Bay, various partners of both Save the Bay and the Bay Planning Coalition and the Corps of Engineers so that we can create a regional consensus surrounding a long-term fix that is no more expensive than the current system.
By that I mean, not just monetarily but also in terms of all resources so that the agencies involved have more capability to be more creative in their contracting program and to be less bound by what comes out of the Pentagon than they are now.
We need to leverage the need for productive fill in the Bay for environmental purposes to ensure continued support for productive dredging for economic purposes.
You need to have both of those ways to look at productivity. We also need to remember that the protest on the Bay was not long enough ago for people to have forgotten. We need to make sure that we never get in that kind of position again. I don’t think we will.
To do so, we need to remind them and create support for the LTMS going forward. I am going to ask for Commissioners’ support on this. John Coleman and I have been talking over the past month about how we can get that group of folks together and create over the next couple of months a real regional consensus going forward that we can then take to Washington.
One of the things I asked Colonel Baker about was, when was the last time that the Corps and its partners went to every congressional office around the Bay area to talk about LTMS and talk about dredging?
Colonel Baker found out and I think it was about seven or eight years ago. We’re going to get this group together, figure out a plan and go to the local congressional offices when the members are in the local areas and we’re going to head over to D.C. at some point in the fall and see what we can do to convince the Administration to look at the Bay Area in a way that it might not be looking at now.
We can’t ask the Corps to advocate on our behalf. It’s not only not ethical for me to do so, I think it’s illegal for John to actually do that.
We can ask the Corps to provide us with information. They will be more than happy to do so. This is how we plan to start this process so that LTMS can have even more success over the next 12 years than it’s had in the previous.
Chair Wasserman asked for the one public speaker on this item to step forward.
Mr. John Coleman addressed the attendees: First and foremost, on behalf of the Bay Planning Coalition (BPC), I would like to thank the staff at BCDC for providing the opportunity to speak and provide written comments on the briefing to the Long Term Management Strategy (LTMS) team before the Management Plan Final Report is issued in August 2013.
BPC also appreciates the work of the LTMS staff in holding numerous meetings in order to look back on the last twelve years on what has worked and what improvements can be made into this decade.
We also appreciate the accomplishment of LTMS creating the Dredge Material Management Office (DMMO) to coordinate dredging permitting and authorizations.
When counting the nine Bay Area counties and Sacramento and the San Joaquin Valley, our GDP ranks us 17th in the world economy. Much of this is due to what we grow and manufacture here in California and the critical infrastructure involved with the movement of goods in and out of our ports.
We are talking about hundreds of thousands of jobs and a multi-billion dollar economy that is thriving as a result of that.
Infrastructure is critical to ensure that we maintain and increase our GDP. We’re not only talking about roads, bridges and highways, we’re also talking about dredging, i.e. LTMS.
If we want to make sure that we keep those jobs and have better paying jobs then we need to keep our ports and harbors at the authorized depths. We need to make sure that the businesses that are operating here stay here in order to be able to move their products and their goods out of our ports and into the world markets.
It’s also accurate to state that in parts of the Bay sediment is in short supply. We also need to re-establish critical wetlands for climate change, sea level rise adaptation, air and water quality habitat restoration and for the health of the San Francisco Bay and Delta.
In addition, the lack of sediment is critical to the rebuilding of the levees which protect critical economic interests and infrastructure such as wastewater treatment plants, roads, rail lines, ports, airports, homes and businesses. The economic impacts to infrastructure from climate change and reduced sediment supply can be mitigated by the potential beneficial reuse of sediment. This potential needs to be evaluated from the following perspectives: (1) Extent of exposure (2) Determining what is critical to save (3) Climate change related stresses (4) Assessing levels of vulnerability, and (5) Risk assessment.
Sediment reuse alone is not going to solve the problems that we currently face, or the pending or still unknown consequences of climate change. Reuse needs to be integrated into a Bay-wide plan that also includes funding. With the current ban on earmarks on congressional legislation, it is making it difficult for us to do the job and more difficult to meet the future 20-40-40 requirements with that moratorium in place.
The ports themselves cannot continue into the future being the main source of funding in order to do this critical work.
We also need greater flexibility when it comes to beneficial use. Such as: (1) the ability to amend levee maintenance permits to include use of dredged material to widen levees as part of the restoration objectives at the Salt Ponds and other subsided areas with restoration sites. (2) Expand the definition of beneficial use to include strategic in-Bay placement in order to restore both planned projects like the Salt Ponds as well as mudflat restoration as well as working in line with the Subtidal Habitat Goals Project (the USACE’s Dredge Material Management Plan identified and the three historic mudflats). (3) Restoration of the Bay Farm borrow pit. These are all in line with the Subtidal Habitat Goals and could possibly be used to help expedite the re-use of dredged material in a less expensive manner as well as meeting long-term environmental benefits.
From a technical side, we need to start looking at what our long-term needs are going to be. Do we know how much needs to be dredged and over what period in order to maintain the channels to the depth that they are over the next 50 years? Do we know where that material is going to go?
Fifty years may sound like a long time but we all know that in any environmental process decades fly by very quickly and we need to start looking at this from a long-term perspective.
We also need to look at the economic cost of moving sediment further from the Bay especially since there is less funding to do this. The ports are not going to be able to absorb these costs down the road.
Without taking costs into consideration we are increasing the probability of losing shipping business to other ports of entry because of the cost differentials that are present.
Any beneficial re-use sites should be considered available by LTMS agencies when it is fully permitted, it has all infrastructure and equipment available onsite needed to handle the material, to identify a site which material is not the same as having a site which is available to accept material and this creates problems from a planning perspective.
We ask for greater flexibility, regulatory decisions based on sound science, placing a higher economic value on sediment and its re-use and consider the economic impact to those and those decisions and how they relate to the overall objectives of LTMS.
To conclude, the economic revival and future of our region is dependent on the movement of goods and dredging is needed in order to make that happen.
Chair Wasserman asked for comments or questions from the Commission.
Commissioner Gorin commented: This is especially timely for Sonoma County because we’re very supportive of the creation of tidelands and restoration of the salt marshes in Napa and Sonoma County.
I have heard of a potential project towards Port Sonoma perhaps considering using dredged materials to restore the marshlands there.
The dredged materials, are they safe or are they environmentally benign? Are they okay to be used in the restoration of marshlands?
Secondly, the economics. We potentially have a developer looking at great expense of restoring the marshland. How do we pay for that? Help me understand the economics behind this.
Mr. Wolfe replied: In terms of the sediment quality, the Dredged Material Management Office (DMMO), has established protocols on what they expect to get in terms of monitoring up front. So as part of any application for dredged material placement, they can review the quality of that and essentially make a call at what is appropriate to be placed in an area where there might be tidal action ongoing and what should be otherwise covered.
We need to make sure that we’re collecting information that we can really use, that really drives the decision making. We have a good handle on the quality of the material and by-and-large the bulk of it is safe for re-use.
Ms. Goeden addressed the economics of LTMS: There is a couple of different models for restoration projects using dredged material.
There is a private/public partnership on the Hamilton Project that actually took an act of Congress where the Army Corps of Engineers paid for 75 percent of the total project development cost and the State Coastal Conservancy picked up 25 percent.
The Port of Oakland 50 foot deepening project actually was part of the economic engine that helped make that happen because we went to Congress with industry and the environmental community saying, we want to see this happen.
Congress listened. They authorized it and then appropriated a substantial amount of funds. So you had public and private together getting the public agencies able to sponsor and move the project forward.
The Montezuma Project is a large wetlands restoration project in Collinsville. It’s a private project. They are relying primarily on tipping fees. As dredged materials come unto the site they charge more money for the contaminated material that is placed deep within the wetlands with secure levees. It costs them more to develop that part of the site.
For projects that bring clean material they charge less but there is a tipping fee that is charged primarily to the dredgers and it is a private enterprise.
The third model that I can point to is the Bair Island Model, which is one that we’re looking more towards in the future.
Fish and Wildlife Services had the property. They are developing a wetlands restoration site. They want to use dredged material on Inner Bair Island and were able to use about 300,000 cubic yards on that site.
It was primarily the Corps having a dredging project immediately adjacent costing less to take the material and pump it right over their levee than to haul it up to Alcatraz.
It was challenged in that we needed more containment levees to hold the dredge material and there was nobody to cover the cost of that.
We could have re-used quite a bit more dredge material at Inner Bair Island but unfortunately the funding for just the levees themselves wasn’t available. The Bair Island Taskforce tried to get that to move forward but was unable to do it.
On the Petaluma River, the project you are referring to I think they are looking at the tipping fee model perhaps. This is yet to be fully laid out.
Commissioner Gorin added: As we look at the vulnerability of Highway 37 in this area and seeking an adaptation strategy, the tidal wetlands there to perhaps ameliorate some of the effects of Bay level rise; this might be a great strategy for us. Thank you.
Executive Director Goldzband spoke: I think the first two economic models mentioned by Brenda she didn’t mention the word, “earmark” which is that, in previous times you could rely upon your local legislature to work on your behalf. What we’re going to wind up having to do in this regional participation process is to try to get our projects into the process from the beginning, through the Corps process, through the President’s budget and so on because of the days of earmarks are essentially over.
We need to be able to convince folks that what we’re trying to do here in the Bay has enough substance behind that it merits national attention and merits the Corps and the EPA and the rest of the folks who deal with this to actually take a look at it in relation to what’s going on through the rest of the country. This is a lot harder to do.
Mr. Wolfe continued the conversation: As we noted through this discussion of SediMatch and Match.com, we have been able to get the message out to the restoration community that, one, there is an opportunity to re-use dredge material for restoration projects but, two, it’s more than just saying, hey, I have a project – I’m ready to go.
We need the restoration community to be working with us all on the logistics. And whether the restoration community is able to bring any money to the table is certainly a challenge but it’s not just a matter of identifying the sites, it’s identifying and addressing the logistics of getting the material.
Commissioner Zwissler inquired: The projects that were described sound like special, one-off projects. What’s the baseline that has to occur on an annual basis that has to get dredged and how does that get funded? Is there a funding mechanism for just that or are you talking about, there is no funding if there are no earmarks or there is no dredging if there are no earmarks? I’m just kind of confused about the ongoing, day-to-day versus big projects, 50 foot deep channels et cetera.
Lieutenant Colonel Baker answered: There is a federal funding process for this. There is an annual budget process, which in every year provides operations and maintenance money and this is one of six civil works appropriation line items that we receive.
Generally, in the San Francisco District we are funded to maintain our seven high, deep draft, high-use ship channels each year.
We are provided money and our budget process is we state what our capacity to do work is. Congress gets it and then we either get a Congressional budget or we get our allowance, which we hope is often followed then by a work plan, which is the leftover amount.
There are over $600 billion worth of infrastructure that the Corps of Engineers has built in its 238-year history that we are entrusted to maintain. We estimate that in any given year to maintain all that infrastructure it would take approximately $60 billion to keep them operational.
The current civil works operations and maintenance appropriation is $2 billion a year. That is what we are really competing with.
Commissioner Zwissler asked a follow-up question: Has the work that has been done over the last few years been done on the back of those special projects or did you have enough funding to do the necessary work?
Lieutenant Colonel Baker replied: I don’t know that we fully maintain all of our federal ship channels to their authorized depth every year. We get what is given to us and then we try to do the very best. It’s suboptimal from the onset.
Executive Director Goldzband stated: That is what I was pointing to when I said that we’ve been fortunate in that we’ve had these two very large projects which have helped LTMS considerably. And now we have to figure out how we go on from there.
Commissioner Arce spoke: I chair the San Francisco Commission on the Environment and we passed a resolution that some other counties have passed as well in support of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s proposal to expand the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary to include the traditionally excluded area at the mouth of the Bay.
I am curious how the proposal to expand the Monterey Bay Marine Sanctuary to include the mouth of the San Francisco Bay impacts everything else that we’re doing with LTMS.
Lieutenant Colonel Baker responded: I don’t know the exact status of it right now. I can describe the impact on the Corps of Engineer’s mission and our interests. The area that you talked about, this exclusion area is just outside the Golden Gate and it is called the doughnut hole because it is not part of the Sanctuary, which extends to the north, south and west of the Golden Gate. It encompasses the San Francisco Main Ship channel and the deep ocean disposal site. (Clarified by USACE staff in minutes review).
In the area of the “doughnut hole” All the sediment that is pushed out by the tides and flushed out into the ocean creates what people call the, “ebb tide delta”. It’s a semi-circular sand bar that impacts navigation.
The San Francisco main ship channel, the ship channel through which everything going to Oakland, Richmond, Stockton, West Sacramento; it all goes through that ship channel first. This is the most important ship channel that we have to maintain for this entire San Francisco Bay Area.
We currently work with EPA and it also has beach-grade quality sand which is significant. In that sanctuary exclusion area there are two pre-approved dredged material placement sites that have been approved by EPA.
One of those is almost full. The second one is just off the shore of Ocean Beach. What we would like to do is be able to dredge that sandy material and then take it down the coast, place it off the shore of Ocean Beach and nourish that beach to the benefit of protecting the Great Highway and then the waste water treatment plant there.
Right now we’re not overly regulated because it’s an sanctuary exclusion area. Our concern is that we not be further constrained in executing our mission with additional regulatory requirements that might come with inclusion in a national marine sanctuary.
I have met with Maria Brown who manages that sanctuary for NOAA and I think a lot of the concerns by the people working on it have been allayed through just face-to-face discussion and expressing each other’s interests and concerns.
Mr. Jason Brush commented: We had similar meetings at EPA with NOAA and the intent of those meetings was to ensure that there were no unintended consequences in terms of foreclosing the use of particularly clean sand for beach nourishment.
I’m very confident that we’re moving forward on that.
Commissioner McGrath commented: I want to do whatever I can to help. The total Corps of Engineer’s budget is only $5 billion for all the facilities they maintain.
Dredging is paid for by the end users. There is a tariff called the, “Harbor Maintenance Tax Fund” that in California generates not only enough money to maintain the major commercial ports and all the non-commercial ports but about twice that much money.
The problem is not that the money is not generated by the end users but that Congress has to appropriate it to the Corps of Engineers.
I think that identifying that money is there and the coalition building is the right way to go.
Ms. Ellen Johnck addressed the Commission: I am an environmental consultant. I think where we are going in the future with dredge material placement is encouraging to third parties.
We’ve had great support for 238 years from the federal government in keeping our navigation systems going. Money is going to be continually hard to come by.
The state of California has been a terrific support. Where the LTMS agencies have been really helpful is to facilitate these kinds of projects, Oakland/Hamilton going forward with building partnerships, overcoming regulatory barriers in order to achieve our goal to marry up dredge material placement and the beneficial use thereof with our navigation and for flood control protection.
I would encourage you to think more about bringing third parties to achieve our multiple goals and encourage the LTMS agencies to help us bring the next iteration of the Oakland/Hamilton coalitions together.
Chair Wasserman commented: I want to thank the panel for a very important and interesting presentation. We heard an interesting label in our meeting on rising sea level with the industry groups. It came from the PG&E rep.
That term was, “slow moving emergencies.” To a great extent I think that describes our rising sea level problem.
When we talk about adapting to rising sea level and try to be forward thinking, in a very real way the problems that have been discussed here address the very same problem and are at some level on the leading edge of that problem because there is the material available now to address the rising sea level in a forward-looking way.
You’ve talked about how we do not have the resources to adequately deal with that. I think the effort of going to Washington becomes even more important in that context.
7. Commission Consideration of Administrative Matters. I tend to skip Item 7, Administrative Matters. We all received a report of these in our packet. Are there any comments, any objections, any questions?
Commissioner McGrath had a question: The Sonoma Land Trust is a pretty large habitat restoration project. I am a little surprised to see a project of this magnitude on the Administrative Calendar.
Are there no issues at all that would benefit from public hearing or is there time urgency or –
Mr. Batha replied: There are no issues that I’m aware of. The reason that it is on the Administrative Calendar is that the work within the Commission’s jurisdiction is relatively minor. The work in the Commission’s jurisdiction consists of breaching a couple of levees, and dredging some channels through some marshes to speed tidal circulation into the area.
In the staff’s view, such work meets the criteria for “minor repairs and improvements” for which the Executive Director is authorized to issue a permit unless the Commission disagrees.
Commissioner McGrath further inquired: And the public access improvements are consistent with the Bay Trail Plans for this area?
Mr. Batha replied: It is and also most of the public access is well outside of the Commission’s jurisdiction at this time.
10. Overseas Reymar Incident Update. Ms. Scourtis presented the following:
Unlike the Cosco Busan incident five years prior when a container ship hit the Bridge and spilled 53,000 gallons of heavy fuel oil into the Bay, no oil was released when the Tanker Reymar hit the Bay Bridge in January.
Nevertheless, the San Francisco Board of Pilot Commissioners and the Coast Guard immediately initiated independent investigations about the incident. The Coast Guard reported that their investigation is expected to be released this fall and staff will update the Commission on the results. The Harbor Safety Committee reviewed best maritime practices included in its Safety Plan for navigating the Bay in fog. The Committee’s Navigation Work Group worked with the Coast Guard to develop supplemental temporary safety guidelines which became effective in February.
The supplemental guidance requires that reports on changes in visibility on the Bay be called into the Coast Guard Vessel Traffic Service or VTS. The guidance also instructs large vessels passing under the Bay Bridge from the south not to transit when visibility is less than one-half nautical mile.
This means that ships leaving the Ports of Oakland, San Francisco or Redwood City, Anchorage 9 or other points south of the bridge should not transit beneath the Bridge if visibility is less than that distance.
The guidelines are implemented through the VTS and will remain in place while the investigations continue.
Additionally, the Pilot Commission temporarily suspended the license of the bar pilot involved. Following negotiations begun in April, the pilot and the Pilot Commission reached agreement July 1 that suspends the pilot’s license for five months total. It also places the pilot on probation for two years and requires remedial training in vessel bridge management that includes the pilot observing the actions of other experienced pilots during 30 different transits under the Bay Bridge.
Chair Wasserman commented: I just wanted to make a note on this. One of the consequences of a rising tide is it’s going to reduce the windows of time in which certain vessels will be able to pass under the bridges.
As we think of its effect on commerce, as we think forward, there is clearly a rippling effect.
Ms. Scourtis stated: Interestingly, just in the past few months another working group of the Harbor Safety Committee, the PORTS Committee, a real time transit information service, has been discussing the need for what is called an “air gap sensor” to be located on the Bay Bridge.
Caltrans has agreed to purchase an air gap sensor and the next discussion will cover funding for operations and maintenance.
This will assist pilots in sailing the Bay under the Bridge as sea level rise increases. The reason the bar pilots are concerned that we have it sooner rather than later is to accommodate the ultra-large container vessels that come through the Bay occasionally.
9. BCDC Participation in Golden Guardian Exercise. The second briefing is about the staff’s participation in the state’s Golden Guardian Exercise, which was held May 15th.
Golden Guardian is California’s annual statewide program designed to test emergency plans and procedures for catastrophic events.
Golden Guardian 2013 focused on the Bay Area and was based on a 7.9 magnitude earthquake centered on the San Andreas Fault six miles outside the Golden Gate.
Next year’s exercise will test response to an earthquake and tsunami in the northern part of the state.
A cyber-attack on state government is proposed for the 2017 exercise.
FEMA and CalOES, previously CalEMA, and now the Office of Emergency Services, worked together at the state operations center near Sacramento to practice responding to regional emergencies.
Prior to the exercise and building on the regional scenario, agencies designed simulated events that would affect their individual jurisdictions.
The PG&E center provided a centralized communications facility for local and out-of-area participants, including Solano and Santa Cruz County representatives and consultants to MTC.
State and federal agencies were assigned to CalOES Headquarters. BCDC was located there with other technical experts including state and federal EPA, the State Lands Commission and the Coast Guard.
Commission staff focused on exercising our role in addressing local and regional needs to repair or temporarily replace in-Bay and shoreline facilities affected by the quake.
As follow up, staff attended an earthquake emergency management course the last week in June through CalOES’s Specialized Training Institute and will expand on this training in August.
BCDC is training a second staff person to act as backup for oil spill and other responses.
In a longer term collaborative effort, staff will begin to investigate the benefits of developing a BCDC regionwide emergency permit.
Staff will need to contact county emergency offices to discuss their plans for designated staging and landing areas as well as general types of response operations.
Internally, planning staff will need to coordinate closely with senior regulatory and legal staff to research CEQA implications and develop appropriate conditions and permit language.
Executive Director Goldzband made a quick comment: This was the first time that BCDC had ever participated in the annual exercise. It was sort of funny because the day the exercise was going on I got a phone call from Linda saying, we’ve got this problem in Mountain View with Moffett Field.
Linda did not say this was a drill at the beginning of the call.
Executive Director Goldzband added: Or if you did I didn’t hear it so I didn’t hear this as a drill. Thankfully after about three minutes I recognized that it was a drill.
It is really important for BCDC to be involved in these exercises. I am really happy that we have both Linda and now Sarah as a backup to do this.
I want to commend Linda once again that she was on point for the SFO accident.
The long term process of making sure that we have an emergency regionwide permit that allows disaster response to happen as it needs to happen is incredibly important.
Chair Wasserman announced Item 11.
11. Briefing on the Completion of the Pond 9/10 Trail at the Napa Plant Site.Now we will take up Item 11, a briefing by staff and California Fish and Wildlife (the department) on their efforts to complete the public access for the south and east sides of Ponds 9 and 10 at the former Cargill Salt Plant in Napa. Adrienne Klein will begin the briefing.
Ms. Klein presented the following: I manage the BCDC Enforcement Program. The Napa/Sonoma Marsh Salt Pond Restoration Project is a 45 hundred-acre restoration project located on former Cargill-owned salt ponds located in the northern portion of Highway 37 in Napa County.
On June 10, 2005 you issued BCDC Permit Number 2004-008 to authorize the first phase of this large-scale restoration project.
Three years later, on January 18, 2008, you issued Amendment One to this permit to authorize the second phase of restoration encompassing 1,460 acres at the south central and north units of the former salt pond operation (located near the city of American Canyon and the Napa County Airport).
Amendment One required 6.2 miles of public access, one mile of which is located along the southern and eastern sides of the north unit commonly referred to as, “former Salt Pond Numbers 9 and 10.”
This one mile long section has not yet been constructed, though its completionm was due by the end of 2012.
On February 7, 2013 you approved the Department’s request for Amendments Three to the permit for Phase III of its restoration effort, which authorized restoration and management of activities at Ponds 6 through 8 located on the west side of the Napa River.
At that public hearing you heard from a number of concerned parties including Commissioners Techel and Wagenknecht that this one mile long section of public access required under Amendment Number One was overdue.
You directed the Department and staff to work to identify the steps necessary to complete construction of this section of the Trail, develop a realistic schedule for completing the work and return to you this month with a progress report.
In response to your direction, the staff of the Department has met twice this year to create a roadmap forward with staff from BCDC, ABAG’s Bay Trail, the Coastal Conservancy, Napa County Regional Parks and Open Space District, Napa County Airport and Ducks Unlimited which is being funded by the Coastal Conservancy and ABAG to assist the Department. Also in attendance were Supervisor Wagenknecht and representatives from the offices of Senators Lois Wolk and Noreen Evans.
The roadmap includes four major steps. First, the preparation of a supplemental EIR. Second, securing funding for planning and construction. Third, securing permit amendments from the resource agencies. And, fourth, securing approval for a public railroad crossing from SMART, the Sonoma Marin Area Rapid Transit, and the California Public Utilities Commission.
It will take two more years to complete these steps making this one mile long segment of public access trail available by the end of 2015.
Staff recommends that you support this timetable, though no action by you is required today. We intend to provide you with another progress report in November or December of this year prior to amending the permit to further extend the due date for the public access.
Currently, the permit requires this public access to be completed by the end of this year.
I would now like to introduce Scott Wilson from the Department who will provide you with a more comprehensive progress report.
Mr. Wilson addressed the Commission: I am the Acting Regional Manager of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife in our Bay Delta Region.
I am here today with Larry Wyckoff who is our Senior Environmental Scientist Supervisor for our Napa/Sonoma Marshes Wildlife Area.
The summary that Adrienne provided outlines the plan that the Department has worked on with BCDC and all of the partners to complete the Trail segment.
The two remaining pieces that have proven to be the most problematic to complete the Trail segment are the need to move a small portion of that trail segment out of the airport runway safety area and also all of the work to get the railroad crossing approvals and in place.
We are working with all of the partners and we have a consultant onboard. We’re looking to go to our NOP, our public scoping within the next month or so and the public draft of the supplemental EIR later this year.
During our scoping period we will also be meeting with all the regulatory agencies so that they can provide input on the project before the public draft comes out and we can begin to understand what would need to be in the permits that we would obtain from all those agencies.
We will need to come back to BCDC for a permit amendment probably about the end of the year, when the environmental review is completed and we have the design and any other details about the project.
We then put together all the funding components and would plan to start construction, if we get all the approvals and all the funding in place, by next summer.
As it was indicated in the status report, my understanding is that because of the amount of wetland fill that will be needed to place the Trail in this area there’s a two year construction window for geophysical-related issues.
Chair Wasserman called for any questions or comments from any Commissioners.
Commissioner Wagenknecht commented: This is immensely different then when we talked about it last and immensely better. We’re thrilled that we have a timeframe and we have a roadmap to get to there.
I’d like to make sure we’re keeping everybody on point and can we keep this six month check in so we can keep everybody moving to this direction?
Executive Director Goldzband responded: There is no problem with that. We’ll probably get back to you before the six months because we will need to work with all involved.
Chair Wasserman called for the two speakers of this item to come forward.
Mr. Barry Christian addressed the Commission: I want to thank the Commission members and the Commission staff for your efforts in moving this forward. This is a very popular project in my local community for the city of American Canyon and for the County as a whole. It’s one of the ten priority projects for the Napa County Regional Park and Open Space District.
The concept of a trail going north along the Napa River is described in the General Plan for the city of American Canyon. I’m encouraged by the progress and cautiously optimistic. Thank you.
Ms. Maureen Gaffney made public comment: I am with the San Francisco Bay Trail Project. A quick thank you to our grantee, Ducks Unlimited for their quick and responsive work on this challenging project. Their donation of more than 40 hours of project management saved not only money but time, effort and beauracratic wrangling.
The supplemental EIR work is underway. The Trail design is 99 percent complete and geotechnical work is complete.
The Bay Trail looks forward to the completion of the supplemental EIR by the end of the year and to construction of this beautiful one mile segment of the Trail by 2015.
Funding partners of the Coastal Conservancy and Napa County Parks continue to state their intention to financially support the project and the Bay Trail continues to fund the current design and environmental review tasks.
I’d like to thank the staff for their continued support on this complex and sometimes vexing but very important project. Thank you.
Commissioner McGrath commented: I know it’s sometimes hard for wildlife agencies to embrace public access and see it as an equally important mission but we’re now engaged actively in restoration of over 30,000 acres of wetlands and it’s because the public supports such efforts and sees the pairing of public access opportunities done well with respect to habitat and habitat together that these projects receive the political support that they need to go forward.
Chair Wasserman moved on to Item 12.
12. Briefing on the Napa County Waterfront and Related Issues.Now we will take up Item 12, which is a briefing on the Napa County waterfront by Commissioners Brad Wagenknecht and Jill Techel.
Commissioner Wagenknecht spoke: I’m from Napa County and I represent the First District which the southwest corner of Napa. I have most of our marshlands in my district.
Jill Techel, the Mayor of Napa became the appointee of ABAG. Most of what we provide is the water and the wetlands that help the Bay breathe.
Napa County is about 500,000 acres. We have about 50,000 acres in grapes. It’s about one-tenth of our land mass.
We have five cities that go right down the Napa River and all of them have urban limit lines around them.
The largest city, the city of Napa, has had its growth limit line since the late 70s.
We have a thing called Measure J and we just updated with Measure P which just gave it a longer lifetime. This says that we are not going to change the ag zoning in any of or our ag parcels without a vote of the people.
We are going to talk about four restoration projects, the Napa/Sonoma Marshland Area, the Napa River Flood Control Project, the Rutherford and the Oak Knoll Restoration Projects.
Commissioner Techel addressed the attendees: So the theme here is of these different water areas within our county and how it relates to the wine that is produced in each one.
Our flood project has been called a project ahead of its time. We’ve been flooding in Napa for a long time.
In 1965 we got an authorized project and it was the Corps of Engineers and they were going to deepen the channel, they were going to straighten it, they were going to rip-rap the banks, they were going to create levees and floodwalls. And in order for this to go forward we needed to pay for 50 percent of it with local sales tax.
And we went to the voters in ’76 and ’77 and they rejected it because they didn’t want this cement project to go through the middle of town.
We continued to flood and in 1986 we had a particularly devastating flood and no one could get in and out for four or five days.
What we understood was that the resource agency issues were, if we followed the original authorization we’d have too much siltation, we’d have insufficient oxygen, we’d lose wetland habitat which in turn would have lost the Steelhead habitat. If we left existing bridges we’d have to deepen the river and if we left contaminates in place we’d have continued pollution of the river.
We formed a community coalition and it brought everyone to the table. It brought the 40 agencies, the Chamber of Commerce, the Sierra Club, the Friends of the River and all other interested parties to the table.
We came up with a living river design. The idea behind it was, we’re going to let the river flow where it naturally wants to flow instead of harboring it in we’re going to create more places for it to go.
We had to go to the voters to convince them that this was the right way to go and of 27,000 votes we passed by 308 votes.
We wanted to maintain the natural slope, width and depth of the river. We wanted to restore the connection of the river to its floodplain. We wanted to allow it to meander as much as possible. We wanted to maintain the features mudflats and continuous fish and riparian corridor along the river.
Restoring the wetlands was a big part of this. It gave us more area for the water to go to and this helped us with the flooding.
Key to our project was where the River oxbows on itself. When we had too much water it just went everywhere. We had to do the downstream work. This bypass project really helped us out.
We did do the wetlands and this was an area that had been leveed off and used for farmland. We took down the levees and now this is the wetlands.
We took down some of the buildings in the downtown area and terraced over the area and we left it in a natural state.
We put floodwalls on the other side of the river so we could match all of our interests.
Since we’ve started this project we’ve had $ billion in private investment in downtown which also meets our economic needs. So it’s environmentally sensitive and it’s got eight miles of trails.
Last year we finished the creek work. There were creeks that went into the river and we were able to widen them and we cut back the slopes and put woody debris back into the river for the fish and daylighted much of the creek. Now going through town are gorgeous creeks that no longer flood in the rainy season.
The bypass project will start construction next summer and will go out to bid. This will really provide protection for downtown.
We are going to be putting in a dock this summer and we understand the challenges of dredging.
Commissioner Wagenknecht continued: We’re going to talk about the Oakville to Oak Knoll Restoration Project and the Rutherford Restoration Project.
We’re working on 10 miles of restoration of the river. Some of the grape growers in the Rutherford area got together and said, the river is falling apart around us and we’ve had some flooding events.
They started the Rutherford Dust Association. They’ve come up with a restoration plan for the Rutherford Reach. They have come up with money for this from three sources.
One of them is that they tax themselves for the ongoing maintenance. The second one is, the flood control project that we voted in by two-thirds for the city of Napa, there was money for county restoration and so we had Measure A, money that we were able to put into that. They used that to match grants and loans from other spots.
That model worked so well that the Oakville neighbors got together and did a similar project on the Oakville to Oak Knoll Reach Project.
We have changed the course of the river in some spots and using the living river principles to follow its more normal way of being.
Another part of this project has been the fisheries. For the last five years we’ve had a screw trap that we put in the middle of the Napa River and it catches the little fishes as they go by and we’ve had good reports on the effectiveness of this.
Our number one project that was a problem for us was the Zinfandel Bridge. There was a large wall that the fish had to get over for most of the year. We’ve worked a fish bypass and this has opened up additional spawning and habitat for salmon and Steelhead.
We have a number of things that are trying to work on the sediment load and TMDL. We have erosion control plans that are required on all of our vineyards.
Finally, we’ve done some talking about the Napa/Sonoma Marshland Restoration. We’re trying to restore thousands of acres of marsh.
Sonoma County Water has brought down a pipe to the end of Buchli Station Road to leach the salt content out of the bitterns of where they were producing salt. This has brought recycled water to our AG users.
Our plan is to bring the Trail all the way up into the city of Napa. The community is very excited about this possibility.
Commissioner Wagenknecht shared the list of who had donated the wine and wine glasses with the Commission. A raffle was conducted for the donated items.
Chair Wasserman called for comments or questions on this item. He thanked the presenters for their report on Napa County. It might be useful for us to have a report on some of the funding for these projects because a number of these projects are representative of some of the things that we are going to have to face.
13. Adjournment. Upon motion by Commissioner Arce, seconded by Vice Chair Halsted, the meeting adjourned in memory of Willie B. Kennedy at 3:49 p.m.
LAWRENCE J. GOLDZBAND
Approved, with no corrections, at the San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission Meeting of September 19, 2013
R. ZACHARY WASSERMAN, Chair